The USWNT won the Concacaf W Championship tournament, largely propelled by the performances of its young players.
Those like Sophia Smith, Andi Sullivan, Mallory Pugh and Emily Fox particularly stood out during the tournament and received high praise from head coach Vlatko Andonovski following the team’s 1-0 win over Canada.
“They’re going to be here for three, maybe four World Cups,” he said, “so get used to them.”
Both Smith and Pugh both managed to find the back of the net during the tournament, ensuring that the team advanced.
Of course, there have been and will continue to be growing pains. Many have questioned the USWNT’s readiness, including Andonovski himself, for next year’s World Cup. But team veterans like Becky Sauerbrunn have pointed to the fact that there is nothing better than the experience that comes from high-pressure international competition.
“You can’t replicate these types of games with friendlies and domestic tournaments,” Sauerbrunn said Monday. “When something is really on the line, when your future is on the line, to have that pressure, to let the younger players experience that and to kind of get used to being that uncomfortable — because it is uncomfortable.
“One mistake can lead you to potentially not qualifying for the World Cup: That’s huge stakes. So, to have that pressure and to thrive under it is what this team has always been known for. So, to get these younger players under that type of environment and get them used to it I think is only going to help us in the future.”