Twenty-year-old Korbin Albert was welcomed to the pitch for the first time as a member of the U.S. women’s national team with a swift, high cleat to the face.

Albert debuted for the USWNT in the team’s 2-1 win over China PR on Tuesday night in the final friendly of the year. She subbed on in the 69th minute for USWNT veteran Lindsey Horan, and less than 10 minutes later, Albert was kicked in the face just outside the 18-yard box. China’s Huo Yuexin received a yellow card for the infraction.

Albert remained in the game after the collision, and her nose became increasingly purple as time wore on. Postgame, she had a good attitude about the kick.

“I wasn’t as nervous as I thought, but then once I took that step onto the field? I was like ‘Oh my gosh, this is happening,’” Albert told reporters, according to The Athletic’s Meg Linehan. “I was like, calm down, calm my senses. And then when I got hit, it kind of rocked my head back into place.”

Even after being kicked, Albert made some quality contributions to her team. The foul earned the U.S. a free kick that led to the equalizing goal from Sam Coffey, and the midfielder delivered some corner kicks that created chances.

“I thought Korbin [Albert] showed a lot of maturity and poise coming in. She’s trained in multiple positions all week, which is not something we generally ask somebody who is yet to be capped,” USWNT interim head coach Twila Kilgore said. “She’s got a great mind for the game, she’s eager to play and combine with other people and that was very, very encouraging to see.”

Overall, Albert’s debut was a positive look into her future with the USWNT — and her bruised nose is already growing on her.

“I think it’s good,” Albert said after the game. “It’s gonna be a souvenir, it’s gonna be black, but it’s okay. It was worth it and I’m happy I got it to be honest.”

Jaedyn Shaw played hometown and U.S. women’s national team hero on Tuesday night, scoring the deciding goal to secure the USWNT’s 2-1 come-from-behind win over China PR.

Shaw, playing in front of many friends and family in her hometown of Frisco, Texas, ran onto a deflection in the box after a set piece and sent a low strike into the left corner. It was the 19-year-old’s second international goal in her first career start for the USWNT.

The USWNT appeared to take the lead in the 67th minute, but Lindsey Horan’s diving header goal off a service from Shaw was disallowed for offside.

Sam Coffey brought the USWNT even in the 62nd minute with her first international goal. Jenna Nighswonger sent a low corner kick into the box that got batted around before Emily Sonnett set up Coffey for a curling shot into the top right corner.

The USWNT hasn’t lost to China since 2015 and leads the all-time series 38-13-9, outscoring China 104-38. The game was the team’s last of 2023, as players now head into an international break before preparations officially begin for the 2024 Paris Olympics under new head coach Emma Hayes.

The U.S. ends the year with 14 wins, four draws and zero losses in regulation — and just three goals conceded.

Sophia Smith and Midge Purce came on at the start of the second half, replacing Ashley Hatch and Emily Fox (who was placed under concussion protocl). Lynn Williams also departed in 58th minute for Trinity Rodman, the star of the USWNT’s win on Saturday with one goal and two assists.

Korbin Albert, 20, made her USWNT debut in the 69th minute alongside 18-year-old Olivia Moultrie, playing in her second consecutive game after earning her first cap Saturday. Albert, a former standout midfielder at Notre Dame, was called into her first U.S. camp this month after signing with Paris Saint-Germain in January.

China PR gave the USWNT a scare in first-half stoppage time when Shen Mengyu got on the end of Siqian Wang’s header across the goal line. The cross came courtesy of a set piece after China was threatening down the flank and Fox committed a slide-tackle foul near the left corner.

The U.S. went into halftime down 1-0 despite controlling 66% of the possession and registering eight shots to China’s three.

USWNT starting lineup vs. China PR

Interim head coach Twila Kilgore made seven changes to the starting lineup from the USWNT’s 3-0 win over China PR on Saturday in the first of the two-game series. Naomi Girma, Fox, Sonnett and Horan were the only holdovers from Saturday’s starting lineup.

Goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury started in place of Casey Murphy, while Shaw and Nighswonger earned their first starts with the national team. Coffey, Hatch and Tierna Davidson also entered the starting lineup for the first time after being left off the USWNT’s 2023 World Cup roster.

Kilgore said this week that the USWNT is layering in new tactics and ideas, including a shift in mentality that encourages players to be “willing and brave to try new things.”

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.”

Korbin Albert received her first-career call-up to the U.S. women’s national team in November.

And, according to USWNT interim head coach Twila Kilgore, the Paris Saint-Germain FC midfielder and former Notre Dame player is fitting in well with her new teammates. 

“I don’t think it’s easy to fly in, coming off the games that she’s come off of. She’s playing a bigger and bigger role at her club,” Kilgore told reporters on Dec. 1. “So she’s come in, she’s acclimated really well on a physical level. She’s integrated with the group really well. She’s taking information. She’s very, very studious.”

Albert, 20, has been a part of U.S. Soccer for years. She has played on the national futsal team, and she made appearances as a midfielder in the 2022 U-20 World Cup on behalf of the U.S.

While Albert is a midfielder through and through, the USWNT has been known to shuffle players’ positions. And Kilgore is making no exception of Albert. 

“We have been integrating her in training in multiple positions, and we’ll decide shortly how we’ll use her in the games,” Kilgore said.

Albert is versatile enough to play any midfield position. And while Kilgore did not reveal which positions Albert is playing in camp, she and incoming coach Emma Hayes could stretch Albert’s versatility even further.

For example, USWNT veteran Crystal Dunn, who was not named to the December roster, plays as a midfielder in the NWSL but defense for the USWNT. And Jenna Nighswonger played defense for Gotham FC in her rookie season but has been called up the USWNT as a midfielder.

Regardless of where she will be playing, Albert is a young player who likely has a long future with the USWNT.

“It’s been excellent, she’s in a great space to be able to functionally perform her job with understanding of the people around her, what her exact role within the subgroup in her line that she’d be playing with,” Kilgore said.

Korbin Albert has been making waves with Paris Saint-Germain FC. Soon, the 20-year-old will look to make her mark on the U.S. women’s national team.

Albert was named to the USWNT’s December training camp roster on Monday afternoon, the first call-up of the midfielder’s career. U.S. interim head coach Twila Kilgore said Monday that she’s looked to expedite Albert’s path to the senior team roster since she stepped in for Vlatko Andonovski in August. Emma Hayes, currently the head coach at Chelsea, will assume USWNT head coaching duties in May.

“When I first took over as interim, one of the first things that we did with the provisional roster was add Korbin,” Kilgore said. “She’s somebody that we’ve been watching, in terms of the whole technical staff, for a good amount of time now. Her roles have been increasing with her club. Obviously she’s getting good Champions League games.”

Albert played Division I soccer at Notre Dame for two seasons before signing with PSG in January 2023. Albert collected many accolades during her two years with the Irish. She was named ACC Midfielder of the Year and a First Team All-American in 2022. That same year, she was a finalist for the Hermann Trophy, an award given out annually to the best female and male college soccer players in the country.

Albert has made four starts and seven total appearances for PSG this season, including in a Champions League group stage match last week against Ajax and fellow USWNT prospect Lily Yohannes.

Albert has also been a member of the U.S. youth national team pool from 2015-2019. She made six appearances for the U.S. U-20 team, two of which came during the U-20 World Cup in Costa Rica in 2022.

“She has a little bit of versatility in the midfield, playing a little bit lower or higher at times depending on what the team’s needs are, and Emma and I were in agreement that this was the right next step for both Korbin and the team,” Kilgore said.

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)