Savannah DeMelo’s World Cup call-up was a surprise to many – including the midfielder herself.
Speaking on the latest episode of Just Women’s Sports’ “Snacks” podcast, DeMelo described herself as “in shock” when then-U.S. women’s national team head coach Vlatko Andonovski told her she had made the World Cup roster. While she knew she was on his radar, she hadn’t gotten called in for the team in any of the previous 2023 camps.
Andonovski had wanted to see her continue to improve with her club, Racing Louisville. And she did, becoming one of the NWSL’s leading scorers ahead of the World Cup. And after the April camp, she heard from Andonovski “weekly” about her club progress, she said.
“It definitely was a little more stressful when I did get that feedback,” she said. “And obviously Vlatko had been telling me things he wanted me to work on. So then I’m like, oh, I want to make sure I’m doing that in the game while also implementing what my team needs from me. So it was kind of that balance.”
Racing Louisville general manager Ryan Dell had told DeMelo that she remained Andonovski’s long list for the World Cup.
“So it wasn’t like a complete shock. But still, the odds were not in my favor,” she said. “So when he called me and said I made the team, I was really in shock.”
Still, the opportunity to play at the World Cup was a dream come true for DeMelo. She made her first USWNT appearance in the send-off match against Wales, and then she started the first two group-stage matches.
“It was definitely something I had always wanted. Like, obviously growing up, you want to be a part of a World Cup team. It’s like all of our dreams,” she said. “But I wasn’t getting called into camp, so it was not on my vision board. I knew I wanted to work hard and give myself the best possible chance. But no, definitely just with the help of my (Racing Louisville) teammates and the team was doing well — that’s I think what helped me get there, but I did not see it coming.”