The U.S. women’s national soccer team will travel to Europe in October to face off against their stiffest competition so far this year.
The squad will take on England on Oct. 7, followed by Spain on Oct. 11. While the USWNT sits atop the FIFA world rankings, England holds the No. 4 spot and Spain sits at No. 8.
Which 23 players will coach Vlatko Andonovski bring on the trip? Just Women’s Sports predicts the roster as the USWNT takes shape ahead of the 2023 World Cup.
Andonovski’s goalie lineup has remained relatively consistent despite a deep NWSL pool. Kansas City’s Adrianna Franch, and OL Reign’s Phallon Tullis-Joyce, among others, have impressed in the domestic league but have yet to break into the USWNT roster this year.
The England and Spain friendlies will likely feature the familiar lineup of Naeher, Murphy and Kingsbury, with Andonovski still yet to name a starting goalkeeper.
Naeher and Murphy each got a start in the USWNT’s September friendlies against Nigeria. Expect each to get a shout between the England and Spain fixtures as the two make their case for the starting position.
The USWNT’s backline has started to coalesce, with Cook and Sauerbrunn seeming to have locked up the starting center-back roles. Girma also has impressed down the spine of the pitch, cycling in for Sauerbrunn throughout the 2022 campaign.
While Andonovski acknowledged that Cook is “slightly ahead” of Girma during the USWNT’s September camp, he also said: “I think that Naomi is making big strides. One thing that I like about them, they’re brave, not just off the ball, but on the ball.”
Huerta and Fox have earned regular starts on the flanks, but Dunn’s return from parental leave could change that. Andonovski sounded eager to get Dunn back in the mix during the team’s September training, telling reporters, “I would not be surprised if we see her on the field soon.”
Dunn’s return comes as mainstay Kelley O’Hara continues to battle a hip injury that sidelined the star right back for the USNWT’s Nigeria friendlies.
The midfield has been the biggest question mark on Andonovski’s roster, with stars Sam Mewis and Julie Ertz absent from the team due to injury and parental leave, respectively.
Lavelle, Horan and Sullivan have consistently appeared in the starting XI but have yet to fully gel on the pitch.
Andonovski has brought in a range of players to try out in the midfield, including Racing Louisville’s Savannah DeMelo, who earned her first senior team call-up replacing Trinity Rodman in the team’s September camp.
Coffey earned her first cap against Nigeria as Andonovski looks to build out depth in the defensive midfield position.
The starting forward lineup is all but locked up heading into the 2023 World Cup cycle, with Smith, Morgan and Pugh dominating the front line.
Rapinoe has earned her place as a game-changer, proving she knows how to make an impact off the bench. Andonovski also has been vocal about the critical presence and experience Rapinoe brings as a veteran.
Rodman has shown flashes of brilliance and is seen as the future of the USWNT, while Hatch and Purce will look for precious minutes to prove their cases.