Mia Fishel’s first two appearances with the U.S. women’s national team have left more questions than answers when it comes to why she was not called up sooner.

The 22-year-old forward scored in her Women’s Super League debut with Chelsea, and she scored her first international goal in just her second appearance for the USWNT. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who have been watching her in recent years. Fishel is a bonafide scorer, having led Liga MX during her time with Tigres.

And with each game Fishel plays, she’s proving former USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski wrong for not giving her a shot at the national team ahead of the 2023 World Cup. While Andonovski praised her as a “very good young player” and called her into camp in October 2020, he did not call her into any other USWNT camps over the next three years.

“Right now, after looking at everything, we decided the forwards that we have in camp are going to give us the best chance to be successful,” he said in January.

So Fishel continued to wait in the wings, finally getting called up to the national team in September – after Andonvoski’s resignation. And U.S. Soccer is still facing questions about her hiatus.

One such question came after Sunday’s 3-0 win against Colombia, with a reporter noting Fishel’s level of play over the last several years and asking “what took so long” for the national team to bring her into the fold. In response, USWNT staffer Aaron Heifetz noted that Fishel “wasn’t playing at this level, because she was playing with Tigres and not at the national level.”

Interim head coach Twila Kilgore paused, then followed up Heifetz’s statement, saying she believes Fishel “benefited” from her time with the Liga MX club.

“I know we were watching Mia with Tigres, and she did a great job with them,” Kilgore said. “We also had some other talented forwards in the mix and it wasn’t the right time for the coaching staff at the time to bring her in. I think that she’s benefited a lot from her time at Tigres.”

Kilgore, who has known Fishel “since she was a very young player,” noted that she developed her tactical skills while in Liga MX. And now she’s adding another element to her game with Chelsea.

“This is just part of her journey. And now she has a next step with her journey with us,” Kilgore said. “But I know she really values that time at Tigres and so do I. I enjoyed watching her there. … It’s a great club. She had a high impact there and now she’s on to a different chapter of her life and both have an influence in the player that she is that is now with us.”