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Tobin Heath: USWNT ‘has a massive question mark’ at World Cup

Tobin Heath is watching the 2023 World Cup from home as she continues to recovery from knee surgery. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Tobin Heath, like many, believes this U.S. women’s national team has something to prove at the 2023 World Cup.

Heath, a part of two U.S. World Cup championship teams, has played with the current team’s veteran players. But the 2023 roster features 14 players making their World Cup debuts, and mixed results in the past year have left many wondering if this team will be able to complete the three-peat — a feat that has never been achieved on the World Cup stage.

“The team looks really different,” Heath recently told USA Today. “Especially the team that’s kind of on the field now, doing the soccer thing. It’s another generation, it’s a new generation, and it’s something I’m looking forward to.”

Heath and Christen Press are taking in this summer’s World Cup from a different vantage point. While they both continue to recover from injuries, the stars are co-hosting their own World Cup studio show through their company re—inc. The first episode featured Jill Ellis, two-time World Cup champion coach with the USWNT, as guest.

Heath said being away from the team hasn’t stopped her from feeling the “nervous, exciting energy” she normally has during a World Cup.

“It’s the Wild West of women’s football, and I really think that this team has a massive question mark over it,” she said. “And I think that’s because there’s so many new and exciting players that could, at any point, just go off and have a tournament of their life. But whether that will happen or not is for us to kind of watch and enjoy.”

In the USWNT’s opening 3-0 win over Vietnam on Saturday, Sophia Smith became the youngest player in USWNT history to score a brace in her World Cup debut.

Even as the 22-year-old Smith continues to emerge, the team still has plenty of questions to address in order to go far in this year’s tournament. There’s also a level of pressure that comes with competing for the USWNT at the World Cup that’s unlike anything else, and is something Heath knows well.

“I think that winning anything, especially a World Cup if you look at the history of the tournament, is really, really hard,” she said. “I remember when after 2015 — which was like actually a big monkey off our back because we haven’t won a World Cup since that iconic ’99 moment. So we went a pretty long time before we then won in 2015, and then, of course, we won in 2019.

“But you have to remember, 2011 we got to the final. 2015 we won the final. 2019 we won the final. So really, we’ve only known World Cup finals for the last three World Cups. And that’s a lot of pressure. But that’s what it means to play on the USWNT team. The only the only outcome that anyone will be happy with is if we win the World Cup.”