Opponents should be afraid of what the U.S. women’s national team is capable of accomplishing at the 2027 World Cup, or so USWNT forward Midge Purce believes.
This year’s squad flamed out in the Round of 16, a historically disappointing World Cup run capped off by a 238-minute scoring drought. Uncharacteristic as the early exit was, young stars provided bright spots — particularly Naomi Girma at center-back.
The USWNT defense allowed just two shots on goal across the entire tournament. And Girma played a key role on that backline, proving that she has more than earned her roster spot at just 23 years old.
“She is class. She makes it look so, so easy,” Purce said after Sunday’s shootout loss to Sweden. “She’s so good. I mean, she was phenomenal, and I’m so happy for her. I’m so sad for her, yeah, but she has such a bright future.”
Yes, some onlookers are hitting the panic button on the USWNT in the aftermath of the World Cup elimination. A number of veterans are retiring or nearing the ends of their careers, and the squad inevitably will look different in the years to come.
But that’s not a reason to panic, and this isn’t the end of the story, Purce told her co-host Katie Nolan on the latest episode of Just Women’s Sports‘ “The 91st.” Purce missed out on the World Cup with a quad injury, but she has been an avid follower of the team’s journey.
“I think it’s so interesting the way we look at World Cups and big tournaments as if that tournament is the end of the movie, there’s nothing else to be seen,” Purce said. “This is a long journey. It’s a long story. These kids [are] probably gonna have three or four World Cups under their belt. And it’s the next one that I think everyone should be terrified for.
“They have a chip on their shoulder. They have broken hearts, they’re hurting. It’s hard and they’re good, they’re better than what they got. They’ve put out better performances individually than what they’ve received. … So I just think that there’s so much more to be excited for on the landscape of U.S women’s soccer. It’s going to be incredible.”
Players aged 23 and younger accounted for almost a quarter of the USWNT’s minutes in this World Cup, including Girma, who played every minute of all four games. Sophia Smith, 22, and Trinity Rodman, 20, also were staples in the starting lineup.
“They all started. They’re gonna be foundational players for this team moving forward,” Nolan said. “[The] silver lining [is] we have a lot of young players on this team. Talent-wise, the pool is deep for years to come.”
Of course, nothing is guaranteed at the 2027 World Cup. And the team has the 2024 Olympics in Paris up next. But USWNT defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who missed the 2023 tournament with a foot injury, is looking forward to seeing how players respond to the disappointment of losing the World Cup.
“I think for a lot of the players it’s going to be this, like, driving fuel that they use in preparation for the Olympics,” Sauerbrunn said. “And in the past, historically with this team, if we don’t win a World Cup we wind up winning the Olympics or vice versa. So I think and what I’m hoping to see is that there’s just this drive to be better, to improve the areas that maybe players feel that they struggled in.
“I think it’s going to be really interesting to see how overall, [from the] top down, how leadership approaches tactics and formations and the future. There’s this huge influx of youth and you start phasing out some of us older players. It’ll be interesting to see and I’m excited for the future because I think we already know that we have such a strong core of players and now it’s just complimenting them.”