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USWNT interim coach explains young players’ ‘slow progession’

Olivia Moultrie is in her first USWNT camp but did not play in Thursday's match against Colombia. (Brad Smith/Getty Images for USSF)

Interim head coach Twila Kilgore is preaching patience for the next generation of U.S. women’s national team players, who have seen limited playing time in the last two camps.

The USWNT features a trio of 18-year-olds for its October training camp in Alyssa Thompson, Jaedyn Shaw and Olivia Moultrie. But only Shaw received playing time in the first of two friendlies against Colombia.

The San Diego Wave forward made her first USWNT appearance in her second call-up, coming on as a substitute in the 87th minute of Thursday’s 0-0 draw. She remained on the bench during her first USWNT camp in September.

Thompson is the most seasoned of the three. Yet while she made the World Cup roster and played in two group-stage matches, she has not played yet during the fall training camps. Moultrie just received her first call-up in October, but she did not suit up for Thursday’s match.

The USWNT faces Colombia again at 5:30 p.m. ET Sunday. But while any of these players could see the pitch, Kilgore doesn’t want to rush their development.

“[It’s] just a little bit of a slower progression with those players so that when they come in, they are prepared and it’s happening slowly over time,” she said Saturday. “They’re not learning everything at once.”

Sunday’s match could be Kilgore’s last as interim head coach, as U.S. Soccer wants to hire its next head coach in time for the December training camp. The federation is narrowing its options, with three candidates at the top of the shortlist.

“We want to put players in a position where they understand everything that’s going to be asked of them tactically, that they’ve had some sort of opportunity, when possible, to practice that,” she said. “That they know their role and what their individual role is within the context of the team.

“I do believe time is coming for some of those players to get more minutes, which is exciting, but I feel that way because I’m confident that they’re prepared.”