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Why Mia Fishel and Jaedyn Shaw didn’t play for USWNT vs. South Africa

Mia Fishel and Jaedyn Shaw walk to the field before USWNT training on Sept. 19. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images for USSF)

Neither Jaedyn Shaw nor Mia Fishel featured for the U.S. women’s national team in Thursday’s 3-0 win against South Africa. And that was for a reason.

While USWNT debutante M.A. Vignola made her debut in front of her hometown crowd in Cincinnati, and 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson managed 15 minutes toward the end of the match, Shaw and Fishel remained on the sidelines. But the pair, who are both seeking their first caps with the senior national team, are front of mind for interim head coach Twila Kilgore.

“We’re really excited about it. Their work ethic is top notch,” Kilgore said. “They’re learning what the culture is and the expectations within this program. And there’s a vast history of what that means to be a U.S. national team player.

“We’re in a learning phase, it doesn’t mean that they can’t compete at the highest level because they do. But we really want to set a pathway for them to be able to make the most of their opportunities and have potentially a long term game. Of course, they have to earn that.”

Shaw or Fishel did not play in order to help acclimate them to the national team environment. After all, Shaw is just 18 years old and in her first USWNT camp. And for Fishel, 22, while the call-up has been a long time coming, it’s her first camp since October 2020. In comparison, Thompson went to the World Cup with the national team, and Vignola is more seasoned at 25 years old.

That doesn’t mean that Shaw and Fishel won’t feature soon, perhaps even in Sunday’s second friendly against South Africa. But there’s also a learning phase that comes with joining the USWNT.

“We’re really excited to have some younger players and exciting players and some players that are uncapped coming in,” she said. “Mia didn’t suit tonight and Jaedyn didn’t play in the match. We’re taking it slow, because we want them to acclimate to the environment. Be able to spend time with legends like Pinoe and J.J., get a sense of what’s going on and just take those steps.”