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USWNT benchwarmer Ashley Sanchez scores 40 seconds into NWSL return

Ashley Sanchez did not appear for the USWNT during the 2023 World Cup. (Robin Alam/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

It took no time at all for some of the U.S. women’s national team players to settle back into their club teams.

Ashley Sanchez – who did not play a single minute during the USWNT’s World Cup run – entered the Washington Spirit’s match in the 62nd minute on Saturday. Exactly 40 seconds later, she scored to give her team the lead.

The 24-year-old midfielder’s success provides another example of former head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s underutilization of substitutes during the tournament. Sanchez spent the entirety of her first World Cup on the bench for the USWNT.

The goal for the Spirit marked Sanchez’s 12th career regular season goal and her fourth-consecutive NWSL game with a goal – the longest such streak in her career. She entered the World Cup riding that hot streak, and while she did not see any game action at the tournament, her streak has continued upon her return to the domestic league.

USWNT goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury also made her club return, making her 100th appearance for the Spirit in the 1-1 draw. The Spirit hold a 6-3-7 (W-L-D) record in the 2023 season.