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USWNT’s next generation has ‘new energy’ after World Cup

USWNT co-captain Lindsey Horan stands with up-and-comers Naomi Girma, Jaedyn Shaw, Ashley Sanchez, Trinity Rodman and Alyssa Thompson. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

The U.S. women’s national team’s next generation is ready for their moment.

Several young players, including Sophia Smith and Naomi Girma, as well as Trinity Rodman and Ashley Sanchez, already have been with the USWNT over the last year, honing their skills. Now the retirements of Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz have left holes in the roster, and even more up-and-comers are stepping in to fill them.

“It’s a privilege to first of all be on this team and to be able to play,” said Mia Fishel, who made her debut with the senior national team on Sunday. “But to play alongside Megan Rapinoe and being training this whole week is just like a dream come true. So I try to soak it in as much as possible and apply as much as I can in the field.”

The 22-year-old forward enjoyed her experience in the September camp – in just the second senior call-up of her career – despite the long flight from London to Cincinnati. She and Catarina Macario, 23, are playing together for Chelsea in the upcoming WSL season. And while Macario is recovering from an ACL injury, they could play together for club and country in the near future.

“I tried to get as quick as possible with the group because I missed the training,” Fishel said of the USWNT camp. “But it was all positive vibes. … I feel like this new group has new energy after the World Cup and we’re ready to go.”

Jaedyn Shaw, 18, joined World Cup forward Alyssa Thompson, 18, as one of two teenagers on the September roster. And while Shaw didn’t earn a cap in her first call-up, she still made waves.

“I don’t really surround myself with hype, or whatever, that is attached to my name or how I play,” Shaw told the Inquirer. “I think that I just, up to this point — and will continue to do it — just focus on myself and focus on my journey, and just try to learn as much as I can, and enjoy this experience.”

She also looked at the call-up as an opportunity to grow in an environment full of encouragement. After all, she’s got San Diego Wave teammates Girma and Alex Morgan alongside her. And both see what Shaw can bring to the USWNT.

“When we signed [Shaw] mid-season last year, she immediately came in and was a great professional at 17 years old, so much more mature than for her age,” Morgan told the Inquirer. “The goals she scored and the composure that she had in front of goal — you kind of knew right from the start after those first few weeks that she was going to have a long career, not only in the NWSL but hopefully with the national team as well.”

Morgan’s World Cup co-captain Lindsey Horan also is excited to see more of Shaw in the future.

“The more training sessions that we have, we’ll see more and more,” Horan said. “I’ve heard such incredible things. I wish NWSL games were better times for me in France [where she plays for Lyon], because I could probably give you a better answer right now. But I’ve heard nothing but the best, and the little bits that I’ve seen, it’s really cool.”