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USWNT looks different since its last meetup with Nigeria

Christen Press scored one of two goals for the USWNT in the squad's last meeting with Nigeria. (Wilf Thorne/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national soccer team will play the first of its two friendlies against Nigeria on Saturday.

But the squad that takes the pitch will look very different from the one that faced the Super Falcons in their last meeting back in June 2021, ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

The USWNT brings a roster in transition to Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City.

In the team’s most recent match against Nigeria, a 2-0 win for the United States in Austin, Carli Lloyd, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe lined up on the forward line.

Kristie Mewis, Lindsay Horan and Sam Mewis made up the starting midfield, while Kelley O’Hara, Abby Dahlkemper, Becky Sauerbrunn and Crystal Dunn anchored the backline, with Alyssa Naeher in net.

Six of those players are not on the roster for Saturday’s match.

Lloyd has since retired, while Sam Mewis and Abby Dahlkemper have been away from the team due to injury. O’Hara served as a veteran presence during the Concacaf W Championship in July, but she is out with a hip injury.

Dunn is just beginning to work her way back after giving birth to her son three months ago, and she practiced with the team in Kansas City but is not on the roster.

Press and substitute Lynn Williams were the two goal scorers for the USWNT last June, but both are sidelined with long-term injuries. (And, per USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski, Press was not considered for the roster this summer even before she tore her ACL in June.)

With an eye toward youth, the USWNT has begun to evolve ahead of the 2023 World Cup, integrating less experienced players with the likes of Rapinoe and Sauerbrunn.

Fielding a new attacking lineup that features Alex Morgan alongside Sophia Smith and Mallory Pugh, the USWNT will be eager to show consistent offensive production.

The team, while dominant during its Concacaf run, has yet to display dependable finishing and needs to make teams pay in the final third.

Still in flux, the USWNT midfield will look to tidy up its performance down the spine of the pitch while getting Rose Lavelle, Horan and Ashley Sanchez more directly involved in the attack.

On the backline, relative newbies Naomi Girma and Alana Cooke will look to continue to impress as center-backs, while Sofia Huerta and Emily Fox make their case on the flanks.

The USWNT will take on Nigeria at 1 p.m. Saturday. The match will air on Fox.