The U.S. women’s national team of 2023 is not the one most adult fans remember from their youth. But the USWNT that changed the world of soccer in the United States and beyond are still influencing the current American squad. 

The youngest member of the 2023 World Cup team was then-18-year-old Alyssa Thompson. And she carries advice from veteran USWNT players with her today. 

The USWNT’s group stage match with Portugal features in Nextflix’s docuseries about the club, “Under Pressure: The U.S Women’s National Team.” The match ended in a 0-0 draw and the World Cup ended without a victory for the U.S. But after the draw, veteran forward Alex Morgan gave a speech to the locker room that had a particular impact on Thompson, but was cut from the docuseries.

“I remember at the end of our Portugal game, Alex gave a really inspiring speech. It was just very scary, that game, and the result was obviously not what we wanted, but we got through so we were just thinking about the next game,” Thompson said to TheWrap. “But Alex gave a really inspiring speech about how there’s going to be so [much], a lot of talk about our performance, our game, what we need to do, blah, blah, blah. But it’s about the 23 players in the room and we have to protect each other, and just be here together and not listen to the outside noise.” 

The result of the 2023 World Cup was not to the United State’s liking. The team did not advance past the round of 16, and they took a lot of public criticism for it — just as Morgan said they would. 

Morgan’s speech prepared Thompson for the heat of the World Cup and for the aftermath of the tournament. 

“I thought that was super important because there was so much people were saying, and knowing that your team has your back is the one thing that you need to win tournaments,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t matter what other people are saying. I felt after that we were so together. We were just ready to prove to other people, and to ourselves, [that] this is what we wanted, and these are the results that we need to get.”

Jumping into the world of professional sports at 18 years old can’t be an easy decision or transition for a lot of young athletes. But Angel City FC’s youngest signed player made her choice to play with someone very close to her, and that made it all easier.

Gisele Thompson, younger sister of Angel City’s Alyssa Thompson, signed with the squad four days before her 18th birthday, and she credits her 19-year-old sister with helping her make the jump to the NWSL.

“I’ve trained with [Angel City] since Alyssa signed, and it’s just been a wonderful experience because everyone’s so welcoming. As time passed, they treated me like family, so I already felt like a part of their team. It was just such an amazing experience,” Gisele told FIERCE.

Besides Angel City being so welcoming, Gisele also witnessed her sister go through the signing process with the club just 11 months earlier. After seeing the steps and meeting the team, the decision was a no-brainer for Gisele. 

“Seeing Alyssa go through it has made my decision easier. Knowing everyone and getting close [to] all the players had made it so much easier,” Gisele said. “I’m super excited to be a part of this team and see what we could do this season.”

As adults, Alyssa and Gisele get to live out their professional soccer dreams together. But these dreams started when they were just girls — girls who spent much of their time playing on club teams and training together.

When the sisters were younger, they didn’t imagine that they would sign a combined NIL deal with Nike. But when Gisele and her older sister became two of the earliest high school players to sign such a deal, the dream became real. 

“Alyssa and I would always talk about it in our room like, ‘This is so crazy. How is this our life right now?’ It feels so unreal.” Gisele said. “So getting that opportunity, especially together, felt so surreal at the moment. We were just so happy and so blessed to have that opportunity.”

Angel City FC announced on Thursday that it has signed Giesele Thompson through the 2025 season, with an option to extend the contract through 2026.

Thompson is the younger sister of Alyssa Thompson, who was drafted by Angel City last year with the No. 1 overall pick. She became the youngest player to be drafted No. 1 overall, and was a part of the USWNT’s World Cup squad this summer.

The younger Thompson inked the contract on Nov. 28, four days before her 18th birthday – and before she would have had to enter the draft. Instead, Angel City signed her through the NWSL’s U-18 entry mechanism, which requires the consent of the player and their parent or legal guardian.

Thompson told ESPN’s Charlotte Gibson that she always thought she would go to Stanford and play there for college, never imagining she’d go pro so early.

“It feels surreal,” Gisele told ESPN. “I could have never imagined going pro at this young age. … This was never even a thought in my mind that I would go pro this early, but I’m so excited.”

Gisele practiced at points over the past two seasons with the team, alongside Alyssa. In a statement, she said watching her sister go pro has helped her see that she, too, could bring a valuable piece to ACFC.

“I’m thrilled to be joining Angel City to take this next step in my soccer career,” Gisele Thompson said. “It’s such a great organization with an awesome fan base. Being from Los Angeles, I’m really looking forward to trying to bring a championship to my hometown.

“Having been able to watch Alyssa’s pro transition this past year, I’ve been able to really see what it takes to succeed at that level. I’m confident I can come in and contribute, and am also excited for all the growth and learnings ahead.”

General manager Angela Hucles Mangano called Gisele “an incredibly exciting player with endless potential.”

“The opportunity to discover and develop talent from our own backyard is really important to us, and Gisele’s success on the field in her youth career speaks for itself,” she said. ““While she will be joining her sister on our squad, Gisele will no doubt make her own impact on our environment and among the team.”

She also told ESPN that this year will count as Gisele’s first contract year, being that she signed in 2023. The option to extend keeps Gisele with the team for three years.

“Given how high Gisele would’ve been drafted [if she entered], we probably wouldn’t have gotten her with our current selections,” Hucles Mangano said. “We were very intentional and knew the player that we wanted to guarantee and fortunately, we were able to make it work.”

Gisele, who is a highly-touted senior national team prospect, has been a fixture on the U.S. youth teams, winning bronze at the Pan American Games, silver at the 2023 CONCACAF U-20 championship and gold at the U-17 championship. She also was a member of the U-17 World Cup team.

Serena Williams met with U.S. women’s national team stars after watching their 3-0 win Saturday against China.

The retired tennis great cheered on the USWNT at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, alongside husband Alexis Ohanian and daughter Olympia. The family are investors in NWSL club Angel City FC.

After the match, the 23-time Grand Slam champion took the time to meet with USWNT players, including Trinity Rodman, who contributed a goal and two assists, as well as Midge Purce, Sophia Smith, Naomi Girma, Lynn Williams and Alyssa Thompson.

“She was very sweet, very humble, which is refreshing and amazing,” Rodman said. “And obviously we all look up to her, one of the greatest female athletes in the world. So to meet her in person and see how she was incredible.”

When Rodman met with reporters after the game, she explained her delay by noting that Williams wanted to meet with her. And Williams asked for her jersey from the match — but the 21-year-old forward already had gifted it to a fan. Rodman, though, found another jersey to give to the tennis legend.

“I gave one of my jerseys away to a fan, and then I walked across the field, and somebody said, ‘Serena wants to meet you,’” Rodman said. “I was like, ‘Serena who?’ They were like, ‘Serena Williams.’ I walked over there, and she’s like, ‘Can I have your jersey?’ I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ I dug in the dirty bag from the beginning of the half to find mine and gave it to her.”

The USWNT will close out the year with another friendly against China at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday in Frisco, Texas.

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Serena Williams speaks with Naomi Girma and Sophia Smith after the USWNT's 3-0 win against China. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images for USSF)
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Serena Williams shakes hands with Midge Purce, who helped set up the final goal of the match. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images for USSF)
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Serena William and daughter Olympia take a photo with USWNT forwards Lynn Williams and Alyssa Thompson. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images for USSF)
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Serena Williams poses for a photo with USWNT interim head coach Twila Kilgore after the 3-0 win. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images for USSF)

Netflix has set the premiere date for its docuseries on the U.S. women’s national team.

The four-episode series, titled “Under Pressure: The U.S. Women’s World Cup Team,” will come to the streaming service on Dec. 12. It will chronicle the path of the USWNT and its players, from veteran star Alex Morgan to teenage phenom Alyssa Thompson.

The USWNT entered the tournament in Australia and New Zealand as the two-time reigning champions, but the journey ended in disappointment. A shootout loss to Sweden in the Round of 16 marked the earliest exit ever for the USWNT, which had never finished worse than third place at a World Cup.

“From enduring injury to upholding legacy, the series follows the athletes behind the most decorated team in international soccer history on the road to the 2023 FIFA World Cup,” Netflix wrote in its announcement.

Netflix bills the docuseries, which was co-produced with Time Studios, Words + Pictures and Togethxr, as an “all-access” look at the team. “Issues ranging from injury, criticism and doubt, equal pay, and upholding legacies are all brought to light as the narrative unfolds,” according to Netflix.

In addition to Morgan and Thompson, World Cup debutantes Savannah DeMelo, Lynn Williams and Kristie Mewis will be featured, among others.

The U.S. women’s national team will move on from October with their heads held high. A 3-0 victory over Colombia on Sunday gave them more breathing room after a scoreless draw earlier in the week. The match was a tale of two halves, as the U.S. made slight adjustments at halftime to pepper Colombia’s penalty area in a chippy, physical match.

The shots on goal didn’t start landing until the second half, as key substitutes took advantage of a worn-down defense. Mia Fishel and Jaedyn Shaw tallied their first USWNT goals, and Lindsey Horan also scored a breakthrough goal in her attacking midfield role.

What was likely interim manager Twila Kilgore’s final game in charge of a team in a holding pattern didn’t answer every question fans have for the former world champions. But it did serve as a reminder that solutions are necessary, and that the players in the team’s future might actually be the ones who can perform the best in the present.

Here are a few main takeaways from Sunday’s win.

It’s time to start rotating the center forwards

The next USWNT coach could find themselves in a conundrum as they decide what to do about the established center forward role. It’s a spot that Alex Morgan has held in good stead for most of her career, but as the striker concludes another international break without a goal, questions about form continue to follow the 34-year-old.

Morgan brings more to the team than just a goal-scoring presence, as both a key leader and an increasingly effective playmaker. But in both October matches against Colombia, she struggled with her primary objective, missing a penalty kick and other high-quality chances in front of goal. It’s not Morgan’s fault that the USWNT has played slim-margin, counter-attacking soccer in 2023 — that responsibility primarily rests with former manager Vlatko Andonovski. But the last four games have followed a similar blueprint, and form being a fickle thing supports the idea of letting hotter hands get experience in the No. 9 role.

Mia Fishel made an obvious case on Sunday, scoring her first senior international goal on a header off a short corner kick. The USWNT has long been dominant on set pieces, and Fishel’s aerial ability combined with her comfort as a back-to-goal striker opened things up for the U.S. in the second half on Sunday.

Sophia Smith is also re-entering the fold after an MCL sprain and still lining up with the U.S. as a winger. She has had a two-year run of dominance in the NWSL in a more central position, something Andonovski leaned on but never committed to as USWNT coach. Other players who can do damage in front of goal include (but are not limited to) Ashley Hatch, Lynn Williams and Catarina Macario, considering she can return to her old form after recovery from an ACL injury.

It doesn’t do Morgan any favors to keep inserting her into a system that doesn’t play to her strengths, nor does it make sense for a team that has this much attacking talent to become rigid in the face of a shooting slump. The process of building cohesion and chemistry only works if the pieces in the system fit, and the U.S. appears to be a couple of personnel moves away from striking the right balance.

The future is now

Some of the turnover in the USWNT player pool happened so fast this summer that it’s difficult to contextualize a team that’s constantly changing. Trinity Rodman abruptly took on much greater responsibility during the World Cup due to Mallory Swanson’s knee injury and now looks like a confident, seasoned pro on the wings. Savannah DeMelo, after a surprising World Cup debut, was similarly called upon to infuse life into the U.S. attack in both of their October matches in the absence of Rose Lavelle.

The success of players like Rodman and DeMelo, who were pushed into the deep end and swam instead of sinking, should bolster the idea that the next USWNT coach need not be precious about giving minutes to younger, less experienced talent. In fact, Kilgore’s reluctance to move away from the hyper-conservative playing style of the team’s Round of 16 formation arguably wasted precious time when the team has never had less to lose.

Shaw and Fishel played like stars on Sunday, with a fearlessness and tenacity that the USWNT has been missing from its veterans. Shaw can slot into a number of positions with ease, her superpower being an understanding of how she can exploit space wherever it presents itself. With her chip of the goalkeeper to put the U.S. up 3-0, the 19-year-old showed a poise that belied her age. The assist came from the capable 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson, who is still being eased into playing time with the U.S. senior team after making the World Cup roster.

Given the excitement on Sunday, there’s an argument that the U.S. coaching staff isn’t moving fast enough. Olivia Moultrie could be the type of player to allow Horan to rest at times, but she did not see the field in October. The team’s avoidance of defensive midfielder Sam Coffey, an NWSL MVP finalist this season with the Portland Thorns, also continued this week (though the ascendance of Emily Sonnett in the same role has possibly muddied the waters). Ashley Sanchez received late minutes on Sunday, still finding herself struggling to rise on the midfield depth chart after not playing at all during the World Cup.

One of the blessings and the curses of managing the USWNT is that you have to find ways to balance leadership, mentality, form and positional roles while overseeing an intensely competitive environment where many players have a case for consideration. Former coaches have frequently pushed for changes in increments, with a steadfast faith in the team’s cohesion across player generations.

The 2024 Olympics looming in the background could push the next U.S. manager into inactivity, trusting the process that Andonovski began. But the game tape from Sunday might support a bolder approach, and one that needs to happen quickly lest the USWNT continue to lose ground on the international stage.

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

The youth contingent of the U.S. women’s national team is having its moment.

Both Jaedyn Shaw, 18, and Mia Fishel, 22, scored their first international goals in Sunday’s 3-0 win against Colombia. Meanwhile, players such as Alyssa Thompson, 18, and Naomi Girma, 23, have established themselves as mainstays for the national team.

And while interim head coach Twila Kilgore has preached patience while integrating younger players into the U.S. system, that doesn’t mean the coaches are not impressed with what they’ve seen.

“We’re really, really pleased with both of them,” Kilgore said of Fishel and Shaw. “We’ve introduced them to the environment with little pressure. They’ve been dressed, had an opportunity to learn specific things and then got their first caps and then got extended point in time and made the most of it. We’re really, really pleased with how they’ve seized those opportunities.”

Both players entered the game at halftime as substitutes for Sophia Smith and Alex Morgan, and they established an easy connection in just their second career appearances for the USWNT.

“We never played together before. Since our first camp, we came in kind of together,” Fishel said. “She was my buddy from day one. Off the field just an amazing person. I think it showed on the field our connection off the field.”

Fishel scored the first goal of the match for the USWNT, and Shaw iced the win with her goal off an assist from Thompson. Shaw’s goal coming at at San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium made it even more special for the Wave forward.

“It’s hard to believe that it even happened,” she said. “I saw Alyssa get the ball, I took off and she played the best ball ever. I did what I could to tap it in. I’m so so happy to have it here in San Diego and I’m so honored to be here.”

The patience shown by Shaw and Fishel as they acclimate to the national team environment has also been impressive, Kilgore said. She also noted that they are both “really solid” and “very talented” players.

“Whether you’re a young player of you’re a veteran player, the key is that you never know if you’re gonna get invited back,” Kilgore continued. “You have to compete daily for the minutes that you get. … You’ve got to be able to show that you can play at the international level and that your quality translates to this.

“Today was a really, really good day for them in terms of proving that they can execute. … Nothing’s promised to anybody. And I think that the path that we took with them proved that it’s good to take things slow and their futures are very bright.”

Girma, who already has become a staple on the USWNT backline, also was impressed by Shaw, she said after Sunday’s victory.

“I’m so happy for her. Only her second cap and getting a goal,” Girma said. “Just being so confident on the ball and really impacting the game in a positive way when she came in. It’s so impressive and she’s so young so I think the future’s so bright for her.”

Mia Fishel and Jaedyn Shaw both scored their first international goals to power the U.S. women’s national team to a 3-0 win Sunday over Colombia.

Three days after a tepid performance in a 0-0 draw against Colombia, fresh faces brought the USWNT to life. In just their second appearances for the senior national team, Fishel opened the scoring with a header in the 56th minute, and Shaw iced the victory in the 83rd.

Shaw’s goal came off an assist from fellow 18-year-old phenom Alyssa Thompson, a display of the growing youth movement within the U.S. ranks. At 18 years and 343 days, Shaw became the youngest player to score for the USWNT since Mallory Swanson’s goal against Colombia at the 2016 Summer Olympics at 18 years and 102 days of age.

Shaw and Fishel both entered the game at halftime as substitutes for Sophia Smith and Alex Morgan, while Thompson relieved Trinity Rodman in the 72nd minute. The trio of young forwards brought energy to the pitch at San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium — and a scoring touch, which the USWNT lacked in Thursday’s scoreless draw.

Lindsey Horan scored the other goal for the USWNT in the 62nd minute.

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Jaedyn Shaw scored her first international goal as well, the third of the game for the USWNT. (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.”

Olivia Moultrie and Jaedyn Shaw are looking for their first caps, but the U.S. women’s national team is managing expectations for its teenage contingent ahead of the upcoming friendlies against Colombia.

Shaw is participating in her second camp, while Moultrie is experiencing her first call-up to the USWNT. Fellow 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson, meanwhile, continues to be a mainstay after playing in her first World Cup over the summer.

While Shaw didn’t see any game action last time around, she impressed interim head coach Twila Kilgore. At the time, Kilgore called the San Diego Wave forward “excellent” and a “top player” in some training activities. Shaw could get her first look at game action this time around.

“It’s fair to think anytime you’re invited into camp that you should be ready to be called upon at any moment,” Kilgore said Wednesday. “I think the best thing about this team is that whether you’re a long-term veteran or a new-time player, that you know that you have to be ready and that there’s nothing guaranteed. It’s about staying ready and being ready to do whatever it takes to help this team win and move forward.”

That element of the USWNT is “definitely something that the young players understand,” Kilgore said. But at the same time, the team isn’t placing high expectations on their shoulders; instead, the focus is on integrating them into the system so they will be ready if and when called upon.

“It’s also important that everyone understands there’s no expectations to do anything, but compete every single day and make sure that they’re ready to participate,” Kilgore said.

The USWNT will face Colombia at 9 p.m. ET Thursday at America First Field in Sandy, Utah, and then again at 5:30 p.m. ET Sunday at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego.