The U.S. women’s national team is competing in the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. As you can imagine, players and coaches — past and present — have plenty to say about it, and Just Women’s Sports is keeping track.
The 1999 World Cup hero criticized the USWNT’s play after its scoreless draw with Portugal to close out the group stage, saying on the “After the Whistle” podcast that the U.S. needs “to be better in every phase of the game.” Ahead of the Round of 16 match against Sweden, though, she offered encouragement to the two-time defending champions.
“If you have any concern, look around and know someone has your back,” she wrote. “No one said it would be easy so dance in the glory of the difficult. Be brave, communicate, trust and support each other.”
Hey @USWNT YOU GOT THIS! If you have any concern,look around&know someone has your back. No one said it would be easy so dance in the glory of the difficult. Be brave,communicate❤️trust & support each otherThis is the TEAM NOW is the time #stayinthemoment 👏— Brandi Chastain (@brandichastain) August 3, 2023
Hey @USWNT YOU GOT THIS! If you have any concern,look around&know someone has your back. No one said it would be easy so dance in the glory of the difficult. Be brave,communicate❤️trust & support each otherThis is the TEAM NOW is the time #stayinthemoment 👏
“We would all be naive if we thought we could win this World Cup with the way that we look right now,” the USWNT great said on Fox Sports after the Portugal match. “So there needs to be changes. And there needs to be big changes. Whether or not Vlatko Andonovski is going to make the changes, well, that’s another story.”
Read more on the lineup changes she suggests for the match against Sweden.
Following the third group-stage match against Portugal, the two-time World Cup champion turned Fox Sports analyst called out the USWNT players and head coach Vlatko Andonovski after the “uninspiring” result.
“There’s been a shift within this team, within the federation, within the culture, the mentality,” Lloyd said on the postgame broadcast. “The importance and meaning of winning has changed. What has come from winning has become more important.”
In particular, Lloyd took issue with the players’ seemingly relaxed conduct both before and after the scoreless draw. She pointed out players dancing before the match and then smiling and laughing after the final whistle.
“Players are smiling. They’re laughing. It’s not good enough,” she said.
More on USWNT vs. Netherlands:
Following the second group-stage match against the Netherlands, the injured USWNT forward questioned the lack of substitutions deployed in the 1-1 draw.
“I don’t understand why we have no subs. No subs! Just Rose,” Purce told Katie Nolan. The pair are hosting Just Women’s Sports’ World Cup show “The 91st” throughout the tournament.
Each team can use up to five substitutions per match at the World Cup. In Wednesday’s draw, the USWNT used just one, as Purce noted: Rose Lavelle. Lavelle, who entered to start the second half, is recovering from a knee injury, which has limited her minutes so far in the tournament.
“Rose is great. We love Rose. Happy to see Rose,” Purce said. “But no subs? That’s very confusing. Where’s Lynn?”
USWNT forward (and Purce’s Gotham FC teammate) Lynn Williams has not seen the pitch through two World Cup matches.
"No subs, that's very confusing." @100Purcent & @katienolan give their takes from USWNT’s 1-1 draw vs the Netherlands 🔊 (@statefarm) pic.twitter.com/gxeSlQMqH3— Just Women’s Sports (@justwsports) July 27, 2023
"No subs, that's very confusing." @100Purcent & @katienolan give their takes from USWNT’s 1-1 draw vs the Netherlands 🔊 (@statefarm) pic.twitter.com/gxeSlQMqH3
The two-time World Cup champion turned Fox Sports analyst is concerned about the team’s struggle to finish its chances under head coach Vlatko Andonovski, she said ahead of the second group-stage match against the Netherlands.
“To be perfectly blunt, this has been a general theme with Vlatko ever since he became the coach in 2019,” Lloyd said. “Two years ago at the Olympics, we had chances that we weren’t putting away. That’s worrying. Because when you go deeper in a tournament, those opportunities are going to be few and far between.”
“In the biggest moment, when it really matters, you truly believe she is going to turn up,” OL Reign coach Laura Harvey said on “The Re-Cap Show” with Tobin Heath and Christen Press. “So it just wouldn’t shock me if she sets this thing alight.
“She might set it alight by playing 30 minutes every game, coming on and scoring the penalty that matters. Or taking the corner that matters. Or whipping three crosses in that matter. She just has an ability of doing the craziest things in the craziest moments in the only way that she can.”
The 34-year-old striker missed a penalty kick in the USWNT’s 3-0 win against Vietnam to open the tournament. Morgan’s shot became the first U.S. penalty to be saved at a World Cup since 2003, when Mia Hamm’s attempt was stuffed against Norway.
“It wasn’t a good penalty for me and I know that,” Morgan said. She also lamented more missed opportunities throughout the match, in which the USWNT had 28 shots but just seven on target.
“It’s the Wild West of women’s football, and I really think that this team has a massive question mark over it,” the two-time World Cup champion told USA Today. “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.”
The 35-year-old forward is sitting out the World Cup for both physical and mental reasons, she told The Athletic.
While Horan and Alex Morgan are co-captains for the tournament, Horan will wear the armband when both are on the pitch at the same time. And she will aim to live up to the example set by longtime Sauerbrunn, whom she called her “role model and inspiration.”
“So much changes, but (it’s) also a very cool thing to be able to take on that responsibility and get to experience this. And I will have a lot of great people that get to help me along the way,” she told Just Women’s Sports.
The 34-year-old striker is preparing for her fourth World Cup with the USWNT. Yet her soccer goals don’t stop there. She already is looking toward an NWSL playoff run with the San Diego Wave and toward the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“I do want to win another World Cup. I do want to win other Olympics. I do want to win an NWSL championship,” she told the Los Angeles Times.
The 29-year-old midfielder experienced the 2019 World Cup title run with coach Jill Ellis. Now she is part of the 2023 run with Vlatko Andonovski, who took over for Ellis after the 2019 tournament.
“You have two coaches that maybe see the game in a little bit different way,” she told ESPN. “The way Jill managed us through the last World Cup was, you know, we’re going obviously out to win every single game and in the best way possible and we’re gonna play what the game brings us, what we can expose from different teams.”
Read more to see what she had to say about the current USWNT coach.
The 31-year-old defender discussed her mindset in the lead-up to the World Cup with Just Women’s Sports. She also gave her opinion of the Nike jerseys the USWNT will don Down Under.
“The white ones kind of look like my son took a paintbrush and just literally threw his paintbrush at me, so I think that’s kind of cool,” Dunn said. “I know that’s funny to say, but I think it’s a different look… I think I like our blue jerseys a little bit better. It just looks clean. I like the color blue, and I think it just looks more American.”
The former USWNT star, who is attending this World Cup as analyst with FOX Sports, has her eye on the next generation of USWNT standouts. Lloyd, who played on the 2015 and 2019 title-winning teams, pointed to a few up-and-comers in particular as players to watch: Naomi Girma, Sophia Smith, Trinity Rodman and Alyssa Thompson.
“They’re doing it at the club level, but this is the world’s biggest and best stage,” she told Boardroom. “It’s a whole different ballgame. So it’s going to be really interesting to see what players can rise to the challenge.”
Lloyd also identified several teams (other than the USWNT) that could make deep runs at the tournament, including Germany, England, Brazil, France and co-host Australia.
The USWNT is going for a third consecutive World Cup title in Australia and New Zealand, but the players do not discuss the potential feat, the USWNT co-captain said.
“It’s actually never thrown around it with the team,” Morgan said. “It’s thrown around with media. I think a lot of fans talk about it. But honestly, this team, we have 14 first timers for the World Cup and we see this as our own journey. Each four-year block is its own.”
Read more from Morgan and her co-captain Lindsey Horan on the team’s quest “to make history.”
Despite the tough road to a World Cup title, Rodman expects her team to take home the prize, she told ESPN’s “Fútbol Americas.”
“My expectations are that we’re the most ruthless team, we’re never going to give up and we’re going to get the title,” she said.
Read more highlights from her interview, which came after her two-goal performance against Wales in the USWNT’s World Cup send-off match.
The USWNT still holds the No. 1 spot in the FIFA ranking entering World Cup, but Andonovski knows the other 31 teams are hot on their heels.
“The top 10 teams have always been there,” he said after the USWNT’s pre-tournament tune-up against Wales. “We saw that. There was a different champion in 2003. It wasn’t the U.S. in 2007, 2011…
“The world that is catching up is Wales, is Vietnam, is Zambia, is Portugal. These are the countries that are catching up. The 7-0, 8-0 games are gone. And we can see that.”
The 25-year-old forward tore the patellar tendon in her left knee during a USWNT friendly against Ireland in April. Despite the typical months-long recovery timeline for such an injury, she still held out hope for a World Cup appearance, at least for a little while.
“Honestly, there was a good time where I was like ‘I’m going to make it in time,'” Swanson told The Sporting News. “Realistically, anyone can go on Google and look up the recovery time for my injury, and it didn’t really correlate [with my expectations], but I was like ‘I’m gonna do it.'”
The 30-year-old midfielder is missing the World Cup with a lingering knee injury, but she still took the time to break down the USWNT’s group-stage opponents and the top teams overall for Just Women’s Sports on the Snacks podcast.
“Can the U.S. win three? Yes. Will Europe get in there and have one of those teams who’ve been at the top get over the hump? Or is there another breakthrough team outside the U.S. and Europe?” she asked.
“I’m obviously rooting for the U.S. If I had to make a prediction, of course it would be them. [That] doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy.”
Check out her full thoughts on the USWNT’s competitors, in the group stage and beyond.