Injuries and extended absences have taken a toll on the U.S. women’s national team as the reigning world champions prepare for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
As head coach Vlatko Andonovski continues to evaluate players before naming a final roster next summer, we take a look at recent USWNT mainstays on the outside looking in and where they stand in the run-up to the biggest tournament in women’s soccer. Next up: AD Franch.
Total caps: 10
Most recent USWNT appearance: Oct. 21, 2021 vs. South Korea (Friendly)
The 31-year-old is no stranger to the USWNT. She earned her first cap in 2019, and she joined the squad as a backup goalkeeper at the 2019 World Cup.
She was called in again at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, and she even started in the team’s bronze medal game against Australia after a knee injury curtailed regular starter Alyssa Naeher’s Games.
Her last national team appearance came in October, when she posted a clean sheet in a friendly against South Korea.
It’s unknown what is keeping Franch off the roster, although her absence has been noticed as she’s gone on a tear in the NWSL this season.
The goalkeeper has helped the Kansas City Current to an NWSL Championship appearance, and she also has earned a nomination for Goalkeeper of the Year. While the Golden Gloves still have yet to be awarded, Franch is a frontrunner, and she showed why in Sunday’s semifinal as she tied the NWSL career record for playoff shutouts.
The current goalkeeping rotation for Andonovski features Alyssa Naeher, Casey Murphy and Aubrey Kingsbury. When Franch wasn’t named to the team’s Concacaf qualifying roster back in July, she spoke briefly on the snub to The Athletic.
“I’m not putting anything on the record. The only thing that I can give you is, the best thing for me to do is to continue focusing on my team here [in Kansas City],” Franch said. “And, that’s just enjoying what I do. I get to play the beautiful sport. Go out and try to be better every single day, and give whatever I can to this team. That’s what I’m doing right now.”
Andonovski has talked about the depth of the NWSL goalkeeping pool, which he acknowledged has made his roster decisions increasingly difficult.
“I feel like we’ve talked more about the goalkeeper sometimes than some of the other positions but it is important and we were excited about it because ultimately that’s what we want,” Andonovski said in September. “We do want good competition. We want the last in each position to push each other as much as possible and get better with it.”
Unclear. But the goalkeeper is making it increasingly difficult to justify keeping her off the roster. In the regular season, French recorded five clean sheets, averaged 3.4 saves per 90 minutes and helped the Kansas City Current to a 10-6-5 record.
She’s been just as good in the playoffs, allowing just one goal over two matches and making 11 total saves to become the league’s all-time leader in postseason saves.
In short? Expect more pressure on Andonovski to answer questions as to why Franch isn’t on the roster – especially if she doesn’t earn a call-up for the November friendlies against Germany.