The U.S. women’s national team is ending the year with a shift in identity after the team’s disappointing finish at the 2023 World Cup.

Much has been made about the USWNT’s history and the importance of leaning into the culture and mentality that have allowed the team to enjoy dominance on the world stage for decades. But as the team attempts to adjust to a new-look international game, they’re also having to embrace the future.

“I think there’s two things happening,” USWNT interim head coach Twila Kilgore said Monday, before the team’s last friendly of 2023 against China PR on Tuesday. “I talked about this with the group before we went out to the game. It’s showing who we are, but also who we’re becoming. And they’re not mutually exclusive.”

Heading into the Paris Olympics next year, the team is at a crossroads. USWNT legends Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz have retired, and other veterans are coming up on the ends of their careers. In the meantime, young talent has begun to emerge.

Jaedyn Shaw, 19, and Mia Fishel, 22, scored their first international goals within their first two international appearances. And on Saturday, Olivia Moultrie, 18, and Jenna Nighswonger, 23, earned their first USWNT caps. Others like M.A. Vignola, 25, and Korbin Albert, 20, have received their first call-ups.

It’s a noticeable shift, especially with Crystal Dunn, Alex Morgan and other veterans left off the December roster. New head coach Emma Hayes will also officially take over when the Chelsea club season ends in May 2024.

“We have a very strong history. This is a program that means so much to so many people and has really been an example to the world in some ways about what women’s football or soccer can be,” Kilgore said. “We don’t want to lose any of that. And yet we are layering in new ideas, we are layering in new tactics, we are layering in just a little bit of a shift in mentality.

“I think what we really want is we want everybody locked in, which I think has always been the case, willing and brave to try new things. You see this rotation of new people in, which requires a faster hold on what our culture and identity is within the group — meaning we have to acclimate them quicker and do so maybe with not just a group of veterans, but do so with a group that is new, which is a little bit different.”

Kilgore rotated in many new faces during the USWNT’s 3-0 win over China on Saturday, and she’ll have one more opportunity to do so in 2023 when the U.S. takes the field in Texas on Tuesday night.

“It’s always been that we want to be on the front foot offensively, and defensively we want to be dominant when we can be. We want to get better in possession and we want to show that we believe that we can win under all circumstances.”

The U.S. women’s national team’s final friendlies of the calendar year serve as an opportunity for young players to showcase their talents.

Last month, forwards Jaedyn Shaw and Mia Fishel earned their first caps with the U.S. senior team. Midfielder Olivia Moultrie and midfielder/defender Jenna Nighswonger joined them on Saturday, making their debuts in the USWNT’s 3-0 win over China PR, the first of two friendlies this week.

The post-World Cup games have allowed the USWNT coaching staff to evaluate the depth chart in preparation for the Olympics in Paris next summer. The team has been strategic in how they bring on young players, and on Monday interim head coach Twila Kilgore said she’s been impressed with Moultrie and Nighswonger.

“They’ve each done a really good job of stepping it up in the moments that we’ve asked them to,” she said, noting that Moultrie was “great between the lines” and did well defensively.

“That’s really, really important at this level to be able to do both sides,” Kilgore added.

Nighswonger, a midfielder in college at Florida State, spent her rookie year with Gotham FC at the right back position. The 2023 NWSL Rookie of the Year was listed on the USWNT roster as a midfielder but subbed into the game Saturday as a defender.

“Jenna obviously, we see as a very versatile player that can play very many positions,” Kilgore said. “She played on the left side, and she picked and chose some really good moments to play forward and she did a good job defensively.”

As Moultrie and Nighswonger continue to get more opportunities with the team, Kilgore expects their confidence to grow.

“I think it’s really just about these first moments for them, and just continuing to layer on responsibilities as they come,” Kilgore said. “The key message to everybody is just that they stay ready. And when they’re asked to play, they are ready to do that and step into their role in a very significant way. So we’ve actually already spent time with both of them, reviewing film concepts, and we feel confident in their ability to continue to take another step.”

The USWNT plays China PR again on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET (truTV) in Frisco, Texas.

Olivia Moultrie and Jenna Nighswonger made their debuts for the U.S. women’s national team in Saturday’s 3-0 win against China.

Moultrie, 18, and Nighswonger, 23, represent a growing youth movement for the USWNT. The roster for the December training camp underlined the changing of the guard, with several veteran stars receiving rest to provide the coaching staff with more chances to evaluate the next generation.

The NWSL Rookie of the Year, Nighswonger entered in the 62nd minute for Emily Fox. She received her first call-up ahead of the December friendlies after helping Gotham FC to the NWSL title.

“I keep repeating this word over and over again, but I’m just so grateful for everything this year, and I just feel so lucky to be surrounded by such great teammates that have helped me get here,” she said after the match.

Moultrie entered in the 71st minute for Rose Lavelle. The Portland Thorns midfielder becomes the second 18-year-old to debut for the USWNT in 2023, which marks the first time since 2005 that two players aged 18 or younger have made their USWNT debuts in the same year.

“I talked to her after the game. She was ecstatic, as you would imagine that she would be, but I think there’ll be no greater moments for her to come,” interim head coach Twila Kilgore said after the win.

The trend toward younger players also came through in the goals scored by the USWNT, with Trinity Rodman, 21, scoring one goal and assisting on two more. Sophia Smith, 23, also scored a goal, and Jaedyn Shaw, 19, assisted on Rodman’s goal.

An NWSL Rookie of the Year campaign has led to the first U.S. women’s national team call-up for Jenna Nighswonger.

On Monday, the Gotham FC rookie was named to the December training camp roster ahead of a pair of December friendlies against China. The 22-year-old is no stranger to the U.S. system, having previously played for her country at the U-19, U-20 and U-23 levels.

In an interesting twist, Nighswonger has been called into camp as a midfielder, which is what she played in college at Florida State. For Gotham, though, she transitioned from her typical role as an attacking midfielder or forward to fullback.

Still, Nighswonger played the role in a way that highlighted her attacking abilities. She accounted for seven goal contributions in 2023, tied for the most among rookies, and she scored three goals. She also led Gotham in tackles with 35, which accounted for a 71.7% success rate, and had a 70.8% completion rate on her passes.

“I think I just like to play my position more attacking,” she said in November. “I think I do see myself more as an attacking mid player but I am now a left back. I think just taking what I used to do in the attack and use my vision just to play a new position.

“We talk a lot about how it’s just a role on the field and we try to do a lot of different rotations and things so I don’t really feel like I’m just a left back, which I like. Sometimes I can play the 10, the 11. I think that’s definitely been helpful.”

She’s been open about the position switch, as well as how USWNT veterans like Ali Krieger helped her make the transition. While she was admittedly “quite nervous” to join a team with big names such as Krieger, Lynn Williams and Kelley O’Hara, she took the opportunity to learn from her teammates.

“I think the hardest part in that area is just understanding, defensively, the tactics and everything, so I think to the point I made about Ali Krieger and Michelle Betos, they’ve been so helpful in giving me confidence in that area,” she told CBS in early November. “But I think that’s something that can definitely continue to grow.”

The decision to include Nighswonger on the roster, interim head coach Twila Kilgore said Monday, was in part due to her versatility.

“She has a strong history as a midfielder, both as a 10, eight, and six really,” Kilgore said. “She played the six for me when she was with me with the U-23s. And she’s done a good job as a left back this year.

“I think part of her strength is that versatility. And when we look forward to an Olympic roster, knowing that there’s fewer spots, versatility is actually going to be something that will be taken into account and heavily weighed. So we will address those things with her directly in camp and get her on a plan where she understands what to expect for these next couple of games.”

The final U.S. women’s national team roster of 2023 is here, with Rose Lavelle back in the fold for the first time since the World Cup after missing the last couple of camps with a lingering knee injury.

The 28-year-old midfielder missed all but four NWSL regular-season games but returned for the playoffs, helping lead OL Reign to the NWSL championship match. She also scored in the final for the Reign in their 2-1 loss to Gotham FC.

Despite the defeat, Lavelle looked as sharp as ever in the postseason, showcasing precisely what makes her such a huge asset both for the Reign and the USWNT. As the team looks to win its final two friendlies of the year against China, look for Lavelle to make an impact.

The USWNT will host China for two matches, the first on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m. ET, and the second on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 8 p.m. ET.

Several veteran players are sidelined for the friendlies, including forward Alex Morgan, defender Becky Sauerbrunn and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. Their absences, though, should not raise too many red flags, as resting veteran players for the final camp of the year is a standard practice for the USWNT.

Also absent from the December roster are defenders Crystal Dunn and Sofia Huerta and midfielders Ashley Sanchez and Andi Sullivan.

Interim head coach Twila Kilgore will continue to lead the team in the stead of newly announced head coach Emma Hayes. This is the first roster to be dropped since the USWNT named Emma Hayes as its next head coach. But with Hayes continuing with Chelsea through the conclusion of the Women’s Super League season, Kilgore will remain at the helm until Hayes joins the USWNT in May 2024.

Catarina Macario remains sidelined, and the Chelsea midfielder is not expected to return for club or country before the end of the year, according to Hayes. But another Chelsea player in Mia Fishel is back on the roster, as is San Diego Wave forward Jaedyn Shaw. Both scored their first international goals in the USWNT’s most recent match in San Diego, a 3-0 win against Colombia at the end of October.

New faces on the roster include Korbin Albert, a 20-year-old midfielder for Paris Saint-Germain, and Jenna Nighswonger, the NWSL Rookie of the Year from Gotham FC.

USWNT schedule: December 2023

  • Saturday, Dec. 2 — 3 p.m. ET (TNT, Universo, Peacock)
    • United States vs. China (DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
  • Tuesday, Dec. 5 — 8 p.m. ET (TruTV, Universo, Peacock)
    • United States vs. China (Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas)

USWNT roster: December 2023

Goalkeepers (3)

  • Jane Campbell (Houston Dash)
  • Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit)
  • Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage)

Defenders (7)

  • Alana Cook (OL Reign)
  • Abby Dahlkemper (San Diego Wave)
  • Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars)
  • Emily Fox (North Carolina Courage)
  • Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave)
  • Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars
  • M.A. Vignola (Angel City FC)

Midfielders (8)

  • Korbin Albert (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns)
  • Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyonnais)
  • Rose Lavelle (OL Reign)
  • Olivia Moultrie (Portland Thorns)
  • Jenna Nighswonger (Gotham FC)
  • Emily Sonnett (OL Reign)

Forwards (8)

  • Mia Fishel (Chelsea)
  • Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit)
  • Midge Purce (Gotham FC)
  • Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit)
  • Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave)
  • Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns)
  • Alyssa Thompson (Angel City FC)
  • Lynn Williams (Gotham FC)

SAN DIEGO — After lifting the 2023 NWSL trophy on Saturday, no one registered more giddy surprise over their accomplishment than NJ/NY Gotham FC’s players. The club had just put the final stamp on their “worst to first” narrative, a term that retiring legend Ali Krieger said began almost as a joke before becoming the team’s reality.

“In preseason, we were like, ‘We have to go worst to first,’” she told the media after Gotham’s 2-1 win over OL Reign. “And we were kind of laughing at first, because we’re like, oh my god, we’re really going to do it.”

The NWSL playoffs are an American construct of modern soccer, infusing the chaos of knockout soccer into a system that historically rewards steady consistency over the excitement of a few moments of brilliance.

After finishing 2022 in the basement of the NWSL standings, Gotham proved to be stunningly resilient in the 2023 playoffs. They held clean sheets when they could, scored goals when they had to, and saved some of their best collective play for the game that mattered the most.

No one would accuse Gotham of crashing the party, but contending for an NWSL Championship used to be something of a perennial experience. Before the playoffs were expanded in 2021, Portland, Seattle, North Carolina and the Chicago Red Stars tended to duke it out in the postseason, sometimes flanked by the old FC Kansas City teams or North Carolina’s predecessors, the Western New York Flash.

More often than not, North Carolina/Western New York and Portland made it the farthest, swapping title wins from 2016-19. The winner of the playoffs didn’t always reflect the strongest regular season squad (the “Shield Curse” legend didn’t grow out of nowhere), but fans became used to familiar faces taking part in the trophy lift even as the league’s parity shined in other areas.

While teams from that era still loom large over the playoff picture, the suspended 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately proved to be the end of that dynasty era. It was followed by a season of turmoil due to investigations in widespread abuse, forcing front office turnover and, in some cases, club sales.

The 2021 season also launched the six-team playoff structure, giving quarterfinalists a chance to build true momentum through the postseason. The Washington Spirit felt like the first of a new class of champions in 2021, who came together at just the right time after an up-and-down regular season.

If the Spirit nudged the door open, then Gotham FC kicked it off its hinges with their 2023 championship win. The team colloquially known as “the Bats” is the first No. 6 seed to win an NWSL Championship.

“We squeaked into playoffs and made it all the way,” Championship MVP Midge Purce said after the game, summing up Gotham’s Cinderella story.

But now that the confetti has been swept up, and the free agency cycle is once again in full swing, two questions linger: Can Gotham replicate their success next year, and can the playbook for their turnaround be replicated by other teams?

Lynn Williams scored a goal in the final after Gotham traded for her in the offseason. (Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports)

To answer both questions, it’s necessary to look at how the Bats achieved one of the most impressive season comebacks in league history. That process started with the hiring of Juan Carlos Amorós, who communicated his style of play to the team’s leaders from Day 1 and received full-team buy-in in return.

Gotham general manager Yael Averbuch then oversaw an excellent 2023 draft week, during which the club traded for U.S. women’s national team forward Lynn Williams and 2022 NWSL champion Yazmeen Ryan, as well as selected future Rookie of the Year Jenna Nighswonger. The team also did well in free agency, signing 2021 NWSL champion Kelley O’Hara and 2022 champion Abby Smith.

With the additions of Williams, O’Hara, Ryan and Smith, Gotham suddenly had a lot of championship experience in their starting XI. The club didn’t sit idle during the midseason transfer window either, signing Spanish players Esther González and Maitane López, both of whom started in the 2023 title game. They also signed Katie Stengel, first on loan and then by permanent transfer. The forward came in off the bench in the semifinal to score a rocket and lead Gotham to their first championship game.

That much change in one year was warranted after the team’s 2022 results, but there was no guarantee of immediate success with that many new personalities in the locker room. Gotham’s players, however, found ways to connect quickly, relying on shared histories and a desire to win.

“I think the thing is, a lot of us have known each other for years,” Purce said during NWSL Championship week.

“I did U-17s with Ify [Onumonu] and Mandy [Freeman], I lived with Ify for a while. I’ve known Delaney [Sheehan] for a long time. Ali Krieger gave me my high school award. Allie Long was one of the first people to ever talk to me at national team camp,” she continued. “So I think there’s a lot of crossover through a lot of the age groups, and then we have a lot of veterans. I think we have a really strong leadership core that knows how to win, and I think that’s been really indispensable.”

González and Williams, proven winners, scored the two goals to earn Gotham the title, but it was Purce who facilitated the team’s biggest moments by notching both assists. For one brilliant 90-minute period, the team’s past and present formed an unbeatable force. Longtime Gotham backup keeper Amanda Haught once again stood strong against an onslaught from OL Reign, and Krieger played some of the best soccer of her life in the final matches of her career.

Other teams will have to be similarly aggressive and good judges of player character to replicate Gotham’s accomplishments. It’s not always easy to handpick the personalities that will be entering your locker room, or know how players with greater seniority will process sweeping changes.

The Bats got that mix exactly right this year, but as is the case in sports, they will be presented with similar decisions to make for 2024. Many players considered important leaders for the team, including goalkeeper Michelle Betos and midfielder McCall Zerboni, are closer to the ends of their careers than the beginning. They also have former starters now coming off the bench, like Onumonu, who might be searching for starting opportunities elsewhere.

The club will also be dealing with one of the best problems they could have — becoming a well-regarded destination. This year’s free agency period holds top talent, including three-time NWSL champions Crystal Dunn and Becky Sauerbrunn. If Gotham wants to replenish their roster with even more winning talent, they’ll have the opportunity.

But if Gotham followed in the footsteps of the 2021 Washington Spirit by catching fire at exactly the right time to launch themselves to unprecedented success, they’ll want to avoid coming back down. The Spirit have yet to return to the playoffs since their championship win, despite consistent investment in growing their front-office infrastructure.

Getting to the top is hard, but staying there is harder. Averbuch and Amorós will have to stay vigilant to keep their club from being remembered as a one-hit wonder.

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

Gotham FC newbie Jenna Nighswonger has been named the 2023 NWSL Rookie of the Year.

Selected No. 4 overall out of Florida State in the 2023 NWSL draft, the 22-year-old has navigated a lot in her first professional season, including a position switch. After starring for the Seminoles as a forward, she flipped to outside back for Gotham.

Retiring star Ali Krieger, who plays alongside Nighswonger at on the defensive line, helped her adjust to the new role. And Nighswonger’s efforts led her to a place on the NWSL’s Best XI second team. She was the only rookie among the 22 players on the Best XI first and second teams.

Across all competitions, Nighswonger accounted for seven goal contributions in 2023, tied for most among rookies. She also led Gotham in tackles with 35, which also stood as the highest total among rookies and third-most among defenders.

Despite the pressure of the position switch in her first professional season, Nighswonger didn’t fold. While she was admittedly “quite nervous to come into a team with names like Ali Krieger, Lynn Williams, Kelley O’Hara,” she took the opportunity to learn from all of her teammates.

“I think the hardest part in that area is just understanding, defensively, the tactics and everything, so I think to the point I made about Ali Krieger and Michelle Betos, they’ve been so helpful in giving me confidence in that area,” she told CBS in early November. “But I think that’s something that can definitely continue to grow.”

Earlier this week, Juan Carlos Amorós of Gotham FC was named Coach of the Year. Naomi Girma of the San Diego Wave was named Defender of the Year, while Jane Campbell of the Houston Dash was named Goalkeeper of the Year. The winner of the Most Valuable Player award has yet to be announced.

Jenna Nighswonger stepped into a Gotham FC roster full of U.S. women’s national team veterans and current stars. And the NWSL Rookie of the Year candidate still made a name for herself.

The 22-year-old credits her success to her teammates, who put her at ease as soon as she stepped onto the field — even as she navigated a position change.

Drafted out of Florida State as a forward, Nighswonger made her name in her first season as a fullback, becoming a mainstay for Gotham in her new role. While she is still working on her defensive skills, she has enjoyed bringing an attacking mindset to the position as well.

And her fellow  players, including Gotham FC captain and defender Ali Krieger, have been “so helpful” in her finding her confidence on defense, she said Thursday. Even if it was a little intimidating at first.

“I think the biggest thing that stands out to me is I was just quite nervous to come into a team with names like Ali Krieger, Lynn Williams, Kelley O’Hara,” she said Thursday. “Just because I didn’t really know. I [had] never met them before.”

But in meeting the international stars on the Gotham FC roster for the first time, Nighswonger found them to be “such good people.” The roster for the New Jersey-based club features not just Krieger, Williams and O’Hara but also USWNT players Midge Purce and Kristie Mewis, as well as Nigeria’s Ifeoma Onumonu, Spain’s Esther González and Brazil’s Bruninha.

“Everyone on the team is just amazing and they’ve been so welcoming,” she said, noting that she’s grown more comfortable with time. “I hope everyone else feels [comfortable]. We just have such a great group of girls and I think that we’re all willing to work so hard for each other and do whatever it takes to get to the final. I think it’s just amazing how in a matter of like a few months I just feel so comfortable with a whole new group of girls.”

Nighswonger and her Gotham FC teammates will face the No. 2 seed Portland Thorns at 7 p.m. ET Sunday in the NWSL semifinals with a shot in the championship match on the line.

Gotham FC will face a tough test on the road the NWSL Championship in the No. 2 seed Portland Thorns, but Jenna Nighswonger is confident in her team’s abilities.

The rookie spoke with CBS Sports’ “We Need To Talk,” telling the hosts that the sixth-seeded team has its sights set on winning it all.

“Since we’ve come together as a team in January, we’ve had our sights set on winning the championship,” she said. “Just because we’re the No. 6 seed, it doesn’t matter how we get there, but all that matters is that we’re getting to the final.”

Part of ensuring that happens, Nighswonger said, is making sure that the team is “staying true to ourselves.”

“Knowing that, no matter who we’re playing against, we’re good enough to take on any team and having confidence in what we’ve been working on throughout the season,” she said. “Just taking it one game at a time. We’ve been working so hard, we’re so confident in the team that we have, in the coaching staff the tips and advice that they’re giving us that we know that we can go out there and give the Portland Thorns a good game.”

A big team goal is to get an NWSL title for retiring captain Ali Krieger, as the 39-year-old defender has not won the league championship in her career. Nighswonger in particular would like to see Krieger come out on top, as Krieger has taken the rookie under her wing.

“The first name that stands out to me the most is Ali Krieger,” she said when asked who has been helping her out in her rookie season. “She’s been so helpful to me, especially because I’ve been playing a new position this year, I’m not normally left-back. And she’s just been so helpful in taking all of the time that she can to help me and give me confidence and really take me under her wing, help me learn the new position.”

Sophia Smith is looking to run it back as NWSL MVP, as the Portland Thorns star is nominated for the top individual award for the second straight season.

In 2022, Smith became the youngest MVP in the history of the league. The 23-year-old has built a solid case for the 2023 award, leading the league with 11 goals and winning the Golden Boot award. But the Portland Thorns forward also missed significant time due to the World Cup and a knee injury.

That opens the doors for other candidates, including San Diego Wave defender Naomi Girma. Another repeat MVP finalist, Girma won the Defender of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards in 2022.

Another top candidate: North Carolina Courage star Kerolin, Just Women’s Sports‘ pick for the award. Kerolin, Girma and Smith are joined by Kansas City Current forward Debinha and Thorns midfielder Sam Coffey.

Girma also is nominated once again for the Defender of the Year award. But repeating could prove a challenge, as both Gotham FC captain Ali Krieger and Washington Spirit star Sam Staab have had outstanding defensive seasons. Kaleigh Kurtz and Sarah Gorden round out the nominees.

Alyssa Thompson, meanwhile, leads the Rookie of the Year candidates, having lived up to the hype as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NWSL draft.

She is joined by Messiah Bright of the Orlando Pride and Jenna Nighswonger of Gotham FC. Bright is Just Women’s Sports’ pick for Rookie of the Year after finishing with six goals on the season and proving wrong everyone who passed her over in the draft.

Both Angel City’s Becki Tweed and Gotham FC’s Juan Carolos Amorós challenge for Coach of the Year, as does San Diego Wave’s Casey Stoney – to no surprise.

The choice between Katie Lund of Racing Louisville, Jane Campbell of the Houston Dash and Kailen Sheridan of the San Diego Wave for Goalkeeper of the Year is a tough one, although Lund has had a solid year and is Just Women’s Sports’ pick. Sheridan is looking to repeat as winner.

NWSL fans can vote on the award winners via online ballot any time before 12 p.m. ET Friday. The NWSL uses a weighted voting formula — 40% from players, 25% from owners, general managers and coaches, 25% from media and 10% from fans.

2023 NWSL award nominees

Kerolin scored 10 goals for the North Carolina Courage in 2023. (Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports)

Most Valuable Player

  • Sam Coffey, Portland Thorns
  • Debinha, Kansas City Current
  • Naomi Girma, San Diego Wave
  • Kerolin, North Carolina Courage
  • Sophia Smith, Portland Thorns
Naomi Girma won Defender of the Year as a rookie in 2022. (Justin Fine/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Defender of the Year

  • Naomi Girma, San Diego Wave
  • Sarah Gorden, Angel City FC
  • Ali Krieger, Gotham FC
  • Kaleigh Kurtz, North Carolina Courage
  • Sam Staab, Washington Spirit
Katie Lund had a stellar season for Racing Louisville. (EM Dash/USA TODAY Sports)

Goalkeeper of the Year

  • Jane Campbell, Houston Dash
  • Katie Lund, Racing Louisville
  • Kailen Sheridan, San Diego Wave
Messiah Bright scored six goals in her first season with the Orlando Pride. (Stephen Brashear/USA TODAY Sports)

Rookie of the Year

  • Messiah Bright, Orlando Pride
  • Jenna Nighswonger, Gotham FC
  • Alyssa Thompson, Angel City FC
Interim head coach Becki Tweed led Angel City FC to a playoff spot. (Kiyoshi Mio/USA TODAY Sports)

Coach of the Year

  • Juan Carlos Amorós, Gotham FC
  • Casey Stoney, San Diego Wave
  • Becki Tweed, Angel City FC