all scores

USWNT balances ‘dual priorities’ in first camp since World Cup exit

Alyssa Thompson and Megan Rapinoe high-five each other during a 2022 USWNT match. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national team is entering its first training camp since its World Cup elimination with “dual priorities,” interim head coach Twila Kilgore said Tuesday.

In the September friendlies against South Africa, the USWNT must strike a balance between honoring its past and laying the groundwork for its future. The team will say goodbye to two giants of the game in Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz, but it also will welcome new faces in Mia Fishel and Jaedyn Shaw.

The responsibility of navigating the team through the post-World Cup matches falls to Kilgore. The 43-year-old from Los Angeles joined the USWNT as an assistant coach in 2022, then took the interim head coaching role after Vlatko Andonovski’s resignation in August.

Speaking with reporters after Tuesday’s roster announcement, Kilgore praised Ertz and Rapinoe.

“It’s really important that we honor both of these players for who they are in our environment, but also who they are as people and what they’ve given to this program,” Kilgore said. “…They’ve both been instrumental in helping to create the program that we currently have and winning ways. Both have been a part of multiple World Cups and Olympics, and they’ve helped drive the game forward. But also off the field, they both contributed to making sure that the whole soccer landscape is progressing forward, especially for women.”

Still, as their USWNT chapters close, new ones are opening. So in addition to giving Ertz and Rapinoe time to celebrate their accomplishments, Kilgore must also work younger players into the mix, she said.

Fishel seeking her first cap in her first camp since October 2020. The 22-year-old forward for Chelsea has long been gunning for her next international call-up. Shaw is getting her first taste of the senior national team environment, but the 18-year-old rising star for the San Diego Wave has been tearing up the NWSL.

“We’re really excited to have both Jaedyn and Mia in the squad,” Kilgore said. “They’ve both been performing really well in their home markets. They have a lot of talent, we view them as high potentials.

“The idea with bringing them into the environment — Mia for her just her second camp and Jaedyn for her first — is just to expose them to the current environment, help them with their onboarding, get them used to what the expectations are, and make sure they have a pathway for the future.”

Jaedyn Shaw plays with USWNT veteran forward Alex Morgan on the San Diego Wave. (Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports)