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USWNT roster: How to use the 6 new players in September camp

Mia Fishel earned her first call-up to the USWNT since 2020 for their September friendlies. (Harriet Lander – Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national team is bringing in a few fresh faces for their September friendlies against South Africa next week, as the team says goodbye to a couple of legends and transitions into the next chapter. After head coach Vlatko Andonvoski’s resignation following the team’s disappointing World Cup run, interim manager Twila Kilgore now has the tricky job of retaining the parts of the USWNT’s identity that were working, and jettisoning the tactics that were inhibiting them from playing their best.

As we saw many times under Andonovski, bringing in new talent is only as effective as the system they play in. Here is how I think the USWNT can most effectively integrate their non-World Cup players into what will likely be a familiar system with a few tweaks.

Mia Fishel, F, Chelsea

Fishel is known internationally as a goal-scorer, after dominating with Tigres in Liga MX Femenil since debuting as a professional in 2022. She has a knack for putting the ball in the back of the net as a forward, something she’s shown since starring for UCLA in college. Now, the question is how she’ll fit into the USWNT system if they retain the 4-3-3.

Fishel is a player not unlike Sophia Smith, who can fit into different positional areas but who seems to thrive when allowed to move into non-traditional spaces in between the wings and a classic center-forward position. At this moment, she’s probably best-suited for the top of a 4-4-2 formation with just one attacking partner. But if given the green light to collaborate without strict positional restrictions, Fishel can showcase all of her assets as an attacker rather than simply that of an experienced goal-scorer.

Jaedyn Shaw, M/F, San Diego Wave

Shaw can play as a winger, having done so successfully in San Diego since joining the team in 2022. It’s possible she’s been brought in as a replacement for a player like Mal Swanson, or even Smith as she’s been used by the USWNT in the past. But Shaw has more tools in her arsenal than just the ability to run toward goal from a wide position, and clarity around her role could be crucial for her development with the team for the next World Cup cycle.

Shaw is more of a tweener in her movement, with a keen ability to exploit space. She can run to the endline to send crosses in, or move into spaces in front of the opponent’s penalty area to feed teammates and take shots from distance. Her savviness in motion and quality on the ball actually evokes the image of famed USWNT attacking midfielder Rose Lavelle, as much as the cavalry of wingers the team has favored in recent years. As Lavelle continues to deal with an injury that could limit her minutes, giving Shaw the keys as a playmaker could be a huge stepping stone for the future.

Sam Coffey, M, Portland Thorns

Coffey excels both at disrupting play and distributing the ball at the club level, which made her inability to become a core member of the 2023 World Cup squad something of a puzzle. Based on the way Andonovski used Julie Ertz in the run-up to the tournament, and Emily Sonnett in the team’s Round of 16 match against Sweden, it’s possible that a perceived lack of physicality on the defensive end might be what held Coffey off the final list.

It’s difficult to suddenly insert a talented player into a flawed system, but the success of the team in a 4-2-3-1 against Sweden does lend credence to the idea that the best way to integrate Coffey is to give her a midfield partner. Andi Sullivan and Coffey have similar player profiles, but a delineation of roles in the midfield could vastly improve the USWNT’s ball movement.

Tierna Davidson appeared for the USWNT in their April friendlies before the World Cup roster was named. (Robin Alam/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Tierna Davidson, D, Chicago Red Stars

Davidson has had an up-and-down season at the NWSL level, slowly regaining her form as the leader of a defense that has struggled under destabilizing circumstances in Chicago. But the team has bounced back since the Red Stars’ final ownership sale, and Davidson could start to look more like her former self in a more settled environment.

Davidson’s superpower has long been her deceptive speed and vision, with an ability to open play up with a single long and diagonal pass. Her weaknesses in 2023 have more to do with her defensive positioning, but a partnership with new USWNT stalwart Naomi Girma might give her the support she needs to rediscover her 1v1 defending abilities. With Julie Ertz retiring, the race for the second starting center-back role for the U.S. is back on, and Davidson could walk right into that opening with renewed confidence.

Ashley Hatch, F, Washington Spirit

Hatch is considered the 24th player of the USWNT World Cup 23, the first player left off as Andonvoski sacrificed a forward slot to bring attacking midfield depth. Her absence from the roster was less an indictment of her as a player, and more a concession that the USWNT had more playmaking issues than Andonovski had accounted for in the run-up to the group stage. Had Hatch traveled to New Zealand, she likely would have suffered in a way similar to Alex Morgan, who had to temper her strengths at central forward to play more connective football.

Hatch should be allowed to play more like herself (as should Morgan) in her return. Hatch has the ability to play with her back to goal and to run in behind with authority. She is calm in front of goal and can score just as effectively with her head as she can with her feet. Her weaknesses in Andonovski’s system came when she was trying too hard to be a passing outlet in the midfield, and ideally she can move with more freedom as she works her way back into the squad.

Casey Krueger missed out on both the 2019 and 2023 World Cup rosters, but played at the Olympics in 2021. (Bill Barrett/USSF/Getty Images)

Casey Krueger, D, Chicago Red Stars

Krueger is a true outside back, with the ability to defend 1v1 on both sides of the field and tuck in centrally when needed to support the central defense. In the past, she’s been considered limited when aiding the attack, but in 2023 she has been one of Chicago’s most dangerous playmakers from a wide position. She can send a cross in on a dime and not lose key defensive coverage when giving attacking support.

At the World Cup, the USWNT’s outside-backs played with a certain amount of timidness, as if cutting loose in the final third would cause a key mistake in defensive transition. The team’s defense proved to be incredibly sturdy that way, but the fullbacks unwillingness to create width also made the team’s attack very predictable and easy to defend. Krueger should be relied upon to take a few more risks and stretch the South Africa defense, with the comfort of knowing she can recover well on the other end.

Claire Watkins is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @ScoutRipley.

JWS Launches ‘The Gold Standard’ Hosted by Olympians Kelley O’Hara & Lisa Leslie

the gold standard logo
'The Gold Standard' is just one of three new JWS shows tackling the Summer Olympics.

Just Women's Sports announced three new digital series on Thursday, headlined by The Gold Standard, a new studio show hosted by Olympic gold medalists and women's sports icons Kelley O'Hara and Lisa Leslie.

USWNT and NWSL great O'Hara, a two-time World Cup winner and Olympic gold and bronze medalist, is teaming up with three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie, herself a four-time Olympic gold medalist with Team USA, to bring viewers inside the world of Olympic women's sports. The pair will record each episode in-studio, with a series of special guests joining them throughout the show's run.

An insider's view of the Summer Games

The Gold Standard will debut on July 27th and cover the biggest women's sports stories from the Paris Olympics, giving fans a unique perspective by tapping into the insights and opinions of two legendary Olympians. 

"I know first-hand just how exciting and intense the Olympic Games can be," Leslie told JWS. "This show gives us a chance as athletes to bring fans closer to the experience, by sharing our unique insights into the Games. And with all the momentum we're seeing in women's sports, now is the perfect time to have a show dedicated to the biggest women's sports moments at the Olympic Games." 

"I can still remember watching the '96 Olympics and knowing that I wanted to be on that stage one day," says O'Hara. "Having the chance to compete in the Olympics and win gold was one of the highlights of my career. I'm looking forward to being a fan this time around and getting the chance to share my own perspective on the Games' biggest stories. Having teamed with Just Women's Sports before, I know this will be content that resonates with fans." 

The Gold Standard will live on Just Women's Sports' YouTube page, with select social cuts distributed across JWS digital platforms. The six-episode show will run through August 13th.

uswnt stars kelley o'hara and jaedyn shaw on jws digital series 1v1
1v1 with Kelley O'Hara will focus on USWNT players as they prep for the 2024 Olympics. (Just Women's Sports)

Additional series focus on USWNT's Olympic run

The Gold Standard is just one of three upcoming JWS series designed to invite fans to experience the Summer Games from an Olympian's point of view, with additional series zeroing in on the USWNT's 2024 Olympic run.

Ahead of the opening ceremony, JWS will launch the latest edition of 1v1, with host Kelley O'Hara interviewing three of her USWNT teammates: Emily Sonnett, Jaedyn Shaw, and Rose Lavelle. These peer-to-peer interviews provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the USWNT's preparation for their first major tournament under new manager Emma Hayes.

To round things out, JWS is also bringing back its award-winning series, The 91st. This tournament's edition will be hosted by retired USWNT star and World Cup champion Jessica McDonald alongside noted soccer personalities Jordan Angeli and Duda Pavão. The 91st will follow the USWNT as it looks to go for gold against a stacked international field at the Paris Olympics — including reigning World Cup winners Spain.

Each new digital series leans on the expertise of its accomplished hosts and special guest stars, providing fans with candid, personality-driven commentary surrounding this summer's biggest event.

Costa Rica Holds USWNT to 0-0 Draw in Frustrating Olympic Send-Off

USWNT midfielder Lindsey Horan dribbles the ball by Costa Rica forward Melissa Herrera and midfielder Gloriana Villalobos
The USWNT had 12 shots on goal on Tuesday despite failing to find the back of the net. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

The USWNT didn't quite get the going away party they were hoping for, settling for a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica on Tuesday in their final tune-up match before the 2024 Olympics kick off next week.

The US produced 26 shots — 12 on target — alongside 67 touches in the box, the most in any match where they failed to convert a single goal since at least 2015, per Opta. Yet they also faced a heroic performance from Costa Rica goalkeeper Noelia Bermúdez, who tallied 12 saves on the night.

USWNT starters remained mostly intact

After Saturday's win over Mexico, USWNT manager Emma Hayes opted for a very similar starting XI, only swapping Crystal Dunn in for Jenna Nighswonger due to load management.

Named starter Rose Lavelle was a late scratch from the lineup after team warmups, with US Soccer attributing her last-minute absence to "leg tightness." Lavelle was replaced by midfielder Korbin Albert, giving the US a slightly less aggressive attacking edge throughout the match.

Casey Krueger, Lynn Williams, Jaedyn Shaw, Emily Sonnett, and rookie Croix Bethune all got minutes in the second half, coming off the bench to contend with Washington, DC's brutally hot conditions.

USWNT forward Sophia Smith and Costa Rica midfielder Gloriana Villalobos battle for the ball
Costa Rica managed to fend off the USWNT with a strong defensive low-block. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY)

Costa Rica's low-block spelled trouble

"Listen, if you play a game of percentages or law of averages, we're creating more and more high-quality chances, and we're getting numbers into key areas — we're getting touches in the key areas," Hayes told reporters after the match, calling attention to Costa Rica's strong defensive low-block.

"The last part's the hardest part. And I'm really patient, because I've coached teams that have to break blocks down, and it's the hardest thing to do in coaching," she continued.

Hayes also noted the team's lack of training time under her management: The decorated coach officially joined the US in early June after finishing the WSL season with her previous club, league champs Chelsea FC.

USWNT pose for a picture after their send-off friendly against costa rica at Audi Field
The USWNT's Olympic group stage run kicks off on July 25th. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Where to watch the USWNT's Olympic games

Tuesday's draw is just the second time the USWNT has entered a major tournament off a non-win. Back in 2015, the US embarked on their legendary World Cup campaign after a 0-0 send-off draw with South Korea.

The next time the USWNT takes the pitch will be at the Paris Olympics, where they'll play Zambia on Thursday, July 25th at 3 PM ET. The match will be broadcast live on USA, with streaming options available on Peacock.

The Late Sub Podcast: This Is Sophia Smith’s USWNT Attack Now

Sophia Smith dribbles during the USWNT's 1-0 win over Mexico on Saturday.
Sophia Smith scored the lone goal in the USWNT's 1-0 win over Mexico last Saturday. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

This week, JWS podcast host Claire Watkins breaks down the days leading up to the first USWNT Olympic send-off friendly, discussing player performances, things that worked well on the pitch, and what still needs developing as coach Emma Hayes's team moves towards a crucial Olympic competition set to will dictate the future of the team.

She then sets her sights on the WNBA, previewing WNBA All-Star Weekend and chatting with Gatorade Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Joyce Edwards alongside Dallas Wings forward Satou Sabally.

Subscribe to The Late Sub to never miss an episode.

USWNT Looks to Extend Winning Streak in Final Olympic Send-Off

USWNT striker Sophia Smith dribbles through Costa Rican defenders during a 2022 Concacaf W Championship game.
The USWNT last took on Costa Rica at the 2022 Concacaf Championship semifinal. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The USWNT’s last tune-up match before the Olympics has arrived, with the FIFA world No. 5 US looking for an 18th-straight all-time win over No. 44 Costa Rica tonight at Washington, DC's Audi Field.

Just three days after a redemptive 1-0 victory over No. 29 Mexico, head coach Emma Hayes’s Paris-bound roster appears to be finding its stride. Calling Saturday’s win "a step in the right direction," Hayes went on to say, "I think we’re only scratching the surface. I think there’s a lot of layers to go from everyone."

HARRISON, NJ - JULY 13: USWNT coach Emma Hayes stands on the field before a game between Mexico and USWNT
The new-look USWNT is looking to hit its stride after several matches under Hayes. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Hayes's USWNT is still finding its footing

With their first Olympic group stage game against No. 64 Zambia slated for July 25th, the new-look USWNT — which features the youngest roster in 16 years — is working to define its style of play.

While the USWNT’s signature ability to score in transition remains a strong point, the team also acknowledged their shaky first half on Saturday, with midfielder Rose Lavelle commenting that they're "working on being a little more tactically flexible... We’re trying to, as a group, learn how to adjust on the fly and be a little smarter with our adjustments during the games."

The patience required to choose their moments, along with the team’s ability to read and anticipate each other's movements, is clutch to increasing effectiveness in the areas where the USWNT appeared most disjointed against Mexico.

At stake is an Olympic podium finish, where the US hopes to improve on their bronze medal performance in Tokyo — but the team also aims to make a splash amidst their increasingly sophisticated opponents.

Costa Rica captain Raquel "Rocky" Rodriguez chases the ball during a match against Panama in 2020.
Raquel "Rocky" Rodriguez, Costa Rica's captain, is the only NWSL on their Olympic roster. (Omar Vega/Getty Images)

Rodriguez leads a rising Costa Rica team

If improving offensive unity and production is tonight’s goal, Las Ticas could provide the ideal matchup: In their 17 previous meetings, the USWNT has outscored Costa Rica 90-2 overall.

That said, Costa Rica has switched things up since the sides last met in July 2022, with the US defeating the Central American squad 3-0 in the Concacaf Championship semifinal. Las Ticas competed in the 2023 World Cup and reached the Gold Cup quarterfinals earlier this year, where they narrowly fell to No. 8 Canada in extra time.

Costa Rica is captained by 30-year-old Angel City midfielder Rocky Rodriguez, the lone NWSL player on their roster and, in 2015, the first Costa Rica national to ever score in a Women's World Cup.

In addition to maintaining a perfect record against Costa Rica, the USWNT will look to extend their current unbeaten streak to nine, which includes three shutouts in Hayes’s first three matches at the helm.

Lindsay Horan drinks water before the USWNT's match against Ireland in April 2023.
An excessive heat warning is in effect for Washington, DC today. (Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images)

Where to watch the USWNT vs. Costa Rica friendly

Expect some hydration breaks due to DC's scorching temperatures during tonight’s 7:30 PM ET match, airing live on TNT and streaming on Peacock.

TruTV and Max will simultaneously air the first-ever USWNT altcast, hosted by retired USWNT star Sam Mewis, former USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn, and Men in Blazers founder Roger Bennett.

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