The USWNT dropped its June roster on Tuesday, the first under newly minted head coach Emma Hayes. 

The USWNT is entering a new era ahead of the national team's two June friendlies with the Republic of Korea, with veterans blending with more recent additions throughout the lineup. The squad unveiled today included a few surprises, as well as some key absences as the USWNT steers toward the 2024 Olympics.

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Notably, longtime starting goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher will not be reporting to camp this month. Naeher was injured in the Chicago Red Stars’ win over Utah on May 12th and did not play over the weekend, although she did travel with the team to New Jersey. 

On the team’s injury report, Naeher was listed as out with a thigh injury. Coach Lorne Donaldson said ahead of the match that the team was "still evaluating [Naher], but no, it doesn't look good" in regards to her availability. 

As a result, Jane Campbell, Aubrey Kingsbury, and Casey Murphy all received a call up, with Murphy the most-capped goalkeeper of the trio.

Some recently injured stars did manage to make their way onto the roster, with Alex Morgan and Jaedyn Shaw both included among the team's forwards. Morgan hasn't played since April 20th, but recently posted a photo of herself training to her Instagram story with the caption "Work in progress."

Shaw, meanwhile, went down with an ankle injury on May 13th, sitting out San Diego’s latest game. 

Other call-ups fresh off the injured list include Naomi Girma and Tierna Davidson, although both recently returned to club play. Midfielder Rose Lavelle will also make her return to the USWNT roster after having been out since the W Gold Cup.

Ajax’s Lily Yohannes finds herself rostered once again the 16-year-old dual national continues to mull her national team options between the USWNT and the Netherlands. 

There’s a number of Washington Spirit players on the roster this time around, with Hal Hershfelt earning her first USWNT call-up alongside Chicago's Sam Staab. NWSL rookie of the month Croix Bethune, Kate Wiesner, and Olivia Moultrie will join as training players. 

One glaring roster absence was Lynn Williams, who was not included among the team’s forwards. On Sunday, Williams broke the NWSL all-time scoring record with her 79th career goal in Gotham's victory over Chicago. Joining the forward group is Crystal Dunn, who has traditionally played as a defender with the USWNT and as a midfielder in the NWSL.

"I’m really looking forward to getting started," Hayes said in a USWNT press release. "The preparations have been well underway and I can’t wait to get into camp. We know it’s a short turnaround and we have a lot of work to do, but I’m fully focused on making sure that the performances are at the levels that are required to compete. 

"I expect complete commitment from everyone to absorb very quickly the things that I value as the most important so that we can compete this summer. I know they are a highly coachable group and I’m looking forward to challenging them. It’s time to go to work. I can’t wait to meet the fans and it’s really time to get behind the team as we get closer to putting a roster together for the Olympics."

Full June roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage)

DEFENDERS (7): Tierna Davidson (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Emily Fox (Arsenal FC, ENG), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Casey Krueger (Washington Spirit), Jenna Nighswonger (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Emily Sonnett (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Sam Staab (Chicago Red Stars)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Korbin Albert (Paris Saint-Germain), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC), Hal Hershfelt (Washington Spirit), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Rose Lavelle (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Emily Sonnett (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Lily Yohannes (Ajax)

FORWARDS (7): Crystal Dunn (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Catarina Macario (Chelsea), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars)

Gotham FC's Lynn Williams etched her name into the NWSL history books on Sunday, becoming the all-time leading goalscorer across all NWSL competitions. 

Coming in the 57th minute of Gotham's 2-1 win over Chicago, Williams's 79th goal breaks a tie with Sam Kerr for the league record. The header was her ninth-career headed goal, and her first since 2021.

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"I don’t get the goals without my teammates. I have played with so many incredible people over the 10 years," Williams said after the game. "At the end of the day, I think I just owe it all to the people that are around me — all my teammates, all my family members. I just owe it all to them, and I can’t put any single one of those goals away without them."

Kerr still holds the regular season record, with 77 of her 78 goals having come in the regular season. Williams sits in second place with 66 regular season goals scored, having long been the top-scoring American in the NWSL. 

The USWNT regular has won four championships with the WNY Flash, North Carolina Courage, and reigning champions Gotham FC.

"Her commitment to make sure the team wins, even the last kick of the game is her kicking out of the box, no? She has that commitment, that passion, and that quality to be scoring goals in key moments for us, for the US, for whatever team she’s playing (for)," Gotham head coach Juan Carlos Amorós said on Sunday. "She’s wearing the armband. Having people like her in this club is what we want."

"I’m just really proud of myself. I think that I have exceeded a lot of people’s expectations," Williams added. "For a very long time, I have believed in myself, and a lot of moments along the way I’ve been told, 'No, you’re not good enough.' And I think that every single time I score a goal, every single time I’m put on the field, it’s another moment for me to continue to believe in myself."

The striker even got a shoutout from one of the greatest of all time: Serena Williams. 

"Congrats cuz," she tweeted after the Gotham victory.

Lynn Williams played hero on Wednesday night, helping Gotham to its first win over the Houston Dash since May 15th, 2021.

Coming in the eighth minute, the forward's goal was all it took for the Bats to ink the 1-0 victory. It was also her 78th across all NWSL competitions, landing her neck-and-neck with former Chicago Red Star Sam Kerr for the most career goals in league history.

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"Wow, that’s really cool. To have my name there with Sam Kerr is amazing. But I don’t get that goal, I don’t get those things, without my teammates," Williams said of her accomplishment.

Williams' effort also marked the team’s 300th club goal across all competitions. 

"I think the players executed the game plan almost to perfection," echoed Gotham head coach Juan Carlos Amorós after the match. "I am very, very proud of how they’ve been able to perform like that in such a shorter space of time."

The goal was Williams’ second in as many games, giving her two goals through five matches played this season. Gotham will next travel to San Diego to face the Wave at Snapdragon Stadium on Sunday.

Lindsey Horan wants to see better coaches and better youth development for the U.S. women’s national team.

A four-episode Netflix docuseries released Tuesday, titled “Under Pressure,” chronicles the USWNT’s journey at the 2023 World Cup, which ended in disappointment.

In the fourth episode, co-captain Horan offered up some criticism after the team’s exit in the Round of 16, which was its earliest ever at a World Cup. Horan, who plays for French club Olympique Lyonnais, attributes the disappointing result in part to the rest of the world catching up – and in part to the evolving style of play.

“The international game, it’s such a nice style of football,” Horan said. “You’re playing these little tiny passes here and there. They’re so confident on the ball. They’re so technical. We need to progress in this possession style of play. We need better coaches. We need better youth development. We need more investment there.”

Some of the issues with the USWNT also can be traced back to former head coach Vlatko Andonovski, who resigned following the World Cup.

“I don’t think we were set up well to go on and have the success to win it,” Lynn Williams said in the series. “When you only win three out of the ten games, there’s no way you’re gonna have that coach carry on. … When we’re held to this standard, the coaching staff also has to be.”

Alex Morgan, Horan’s co-captain, noted that both she and Horan had “really honest” conversations with Andonovski. But she also knows that not every player felt as comfortable or could be as vulnerable with their coach.

And Horan also acknowledged that some of the responsibility for the team’s failure fell on the players.

“Obviously Vlatko gives us the game plan every single game, but we’re the players on the field,” she said.

New head coach Emma Hayes has brought some life back to the squad, with players excited about the new direction. Interim head coach Twila Kilgore will lead the team until Hayes joins in May following the conclusion of Chelsea’s season. But the Paris Olympics start in July, leading some to question whether or not the team can succeed in the short term. And for some, succeeding in the short term is imperative.

“How we silence the critics going forward now, in this moment,” former USWNT forward Tobin Heath said near the end of the series, “is we go to an Olympics, and we win an Olympics.”

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.

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)
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)
Serena William and daughter Olympia take a photo with USWNT forwards Lynn Williams and Alyssa Thompson. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images for USSF)
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)

The U.S. women’s national team will play their final matches of the calendar year in the next week, with the opportunity to place a definitive stamp on a tumultuous 2023. The two friendlies against China PR will be the team’s first games after the hiring of Emma Hayes as head coach, but they also serve as an extension of Twila Kilgore’s interim management, which will continue until May 2024.

The USWNT’s December roster follows something of a tradition in major tournament years, giving many veterans the international break off to rest and recuperate, while refreshing the larger player pool with non-World Cup players. But the possibility of any major changes in tactical approach seem slim, with Hayes yet to assert her full influence on the team’s style of play.

In lieu of a wholesale change in philosophy, here are three bold(ish) ideas for the U.S. during this international period beyond basic player evaluation.

Shake things up in the attack

While their actual goal-scoring output has improved in the months since the World Cup, it’s difficult to watch the USWNT without feeling like something is broken in the attack. The team went scoreless in two of their four World Cup matches, and they closed out their most recent friendly series having failed to score in three out of four halves.

Many of the issues with the USWNT’s once-vaunted attack go beyond any single player, but the young roster in December has a chance to break free of some of the systemic problems plaguing the front line. The games will provide an opportunity to get more tape on center forward Mia Fishel, who should have a fitness advantage over some of her teammates due to her club team, Chelsea, being in-season.

But shaking the USWNT attack out of its slump isn’t just about slotting in new faces at the No. 9 — the way the rest of the team relates to the center forward position also needs a rethink. Over the summer, the option of moving Sophia Smith to a more central position was presented as a zero-sum substitution of Alex Morgan, who started all of the U.S.’s World Cup matches. But with Morgan sitting the December friendlies out, the reason for moving Smith centrally would be less as a like-for-like replacement and more as a way of replacing her on the wings with a traditional winger.

Midge Purce and Lynn Williams are coming off of an excellent NWSL Championship performance. Both Gotham FC players ran the wings with confidence, getting the ball to the endline for low crosses and providing help defense when necessary. Purce found teammates for goals twice in that game, looking dangerous both on the ball and in dead-ball situations.

Having wingers who can cut inside to pull the defense out of shape is a great asset, but the U.S. at times has created a very narrow shape due to individual player tendencies. It could be worthwhile to run the old playbook with new talent in game one, but a total rethink in game two could shake the team out of its old patterns.

Rose Lavelle is one of the most experienced players on the USWNT's December roster. (Robin Alam/USSF/Getty Images)

Share the armband

With a number of key veterans taking this international break off, the U.S. has an opportunity to share some of the burden of leadership in productive ways. Midfielder Lindsey Horan has been an able captain in 2023, but at times it appeared the team was over-relying on her to galvanize the group, while other experienced players didn’t seem empowered to communicate with clear authority.

Horan will likely feature heavily in both December matches since she plays her club football on the European schedule and is currently match-fit. But a bolder idea would be to give the 29-year-old a break, if simply to upend patterns in the USWNT midfield. Kilgore would do well to eventually leave her younger players operating without a safety net, whether that means entrusting Jaedyn Shaw with the No. 10 role or pairing Olivia Moultrie with the newly healthy Rose Lavelle.

Outside of giving the midfield an overdue refresh, Kilgore also has the opportunity to prioritize leaders who didn’t get a chance to blossom in Andonovski’s final year.

Casey Murphy is the most experienced goalkeeper on the roster and will surely be charged with organizing her backline. Lavelle is coming off a blistering performance in the 2023 NWSL Championship game, showcasing her experience as a player. And Lynn Williams will be the most tenured forward of the group. With communication lagging at times in the past year, a clean slate with new voices in the mix will be key for the team’s mentality going into 2024.

Give the Wave duo the keys to the defense

Abby Dahlkemper’s return to the USWNT is exciting for fans for reasons beyond her play on the pitch. Dahlkemper has recovered from a chronic back injury that greatly hampered the center-back in 2022, resulting in surgery. Making her NWSL return in August 2023, she’s looked as steady as ever, providing confidence in possession and showcasing her abilities off the ball to stunt an opponent’s attack.

She’s also settled in with current USWNT mainstay Naomi Girma in their club environment at the San Diego Wave, providing the foundation for the team’s run to the NWSL Shield in 2023. Girma was arguably the USWNT’s MVP in 2023. She both served as the wedge between opponents and her own goal and was relied upon heavily to spring possession forward when the U.S.’s midfield had trouble moving the ball.

The upcoming games give Dahlkemper and Girma a chance to test out their on-field chemistry at the international level, providing equal levels of experience and complementary skill sets. Dahlkemper used to be known for the same diagonal balls forward that have become Girma’s calling card for the U.S. With the role of Girma’s center-back partner firmly up for grabs after the retirement of Julie Ertz, Dahlkemper has a chance to make a big impression in her return. For a team looking for consistent starters following Andonovski’s frequent experimentation in defense, her comeback might be happening at exactly the right time.

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

The U.S. women’s national team faced massive attention and expectations at the 2023 World Cup, as displayed in the new trailer for its Netflix docuseries.

The four-episode series, titled “Under Pressure,” will debut on the streaming service on Dec. 12. It chronicles the USWNT’s World Cup journey, which ended in disappointment in a Round of 16 shootout loss to Sweden.

In the trailer, Savannah DeMelo, who had made just one appearance for the USWNT before heading to the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, offers a brutal comparison to Suzanne Collins’ popular book series: “It felt like we were in ‘The Hunger Games’ or something.”

The trailer also features co-captains Alex Morgan and Lindsey Horan encouraging the team on the quest for a third straight World Cup title.

“Pressure is a privilege on this team,” Horan tells her teammates. “Look at everyone around you. Look at me and Alex.”

Megan Rapinoe, Kelley O’Hara, Kristie Mewis and Lynn Williams also feature prominently, as do former players Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd. Lloyd made waves during the 2023 World Cup for her harsh criticism of the USWNT.

“You can never take winning ever for granted,” Lloyd is heard saying in the trailer.

U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone, who won the 1999 World Cup with the USWNT, sums up the trailer and the team’s unfulfilled goal, saying: “To win one is hard. To win two in a row, unbelievable. To win three? It has never been done.”

NJ/NY Gotham FC became first-time NWSL champions on Nov. 11. Unlike some of her teammates, Lynn Williams has experience celebrating championships.

With Gotham’s win over OL Reign in the NWSL final, Williams earned her fourth NWSL Championship title — while scoring a goal in the process.

On the latest episode of the “Snacks” podcast, Williams and fellow U.S. teammate Sam Mewis discussed Gotham’s championship celebrations or, as Williams called it, “the second game.”

“There were beer showers, obviously. There was a slip and slide. I don’t know who started the slip and slide, but I was like, I’m getting involved,” Williams said. “It was so cold after getting up. I was like, I have a regret. I cut my foot on a bottle cap. So I have made a crucial error in taking off my cleats because I need these. We made some TikToks. I wanted to apparently just catwalk the whole time.”

Mewis laughed through Williams’ descriptions of the locker room celebrations and asked if Williams smoked a cigar. 

“I saw Juan [Carlos Amorós] with a cigar, and I was like, ‘Where’d you get that? I’m gonna get one.’ And then there was just a box of cigars on the ground. And I was like, lit well, I’m gonna steal one of these. And then we were like, ‘Who has the lighter?’ And they were like, ‘You guys can’t smoke in here’. And I was like, ‘Yes, we can,’” Williams said. 

“So then somehow we got lighters. And then I was like, ‘Wait a second. Where’s the cutter? Like, you need to cut it.’ We couldn’t find that. So then I was ripping them apart with my teeth. I was just like, here, rip. Next one, spit it on the ground. Go to the next one. Rip it here. Next one. Like I did five different people. And they were like, ‘You’re disgusting. Like, are you tasting tobacco?’ And I was like, ‘Yes.’ I was like, ‘Who cares? We need the cigars.’”

Williams was not willing to share all of the details about Gotham’s celebration, though. A seasoned NWSL Championship winner knows that some parts of the celebration are best kept secret.

“So we had our big party. That’s all the information I’m gonna tell you guys because the other things, nobody needs to know,” Williams said.

Megan Rapinoe left her last professional soccer game under unfortunate circumstances — after less than three minutes on the pitch, she went down with a torn Achilles.

Rapinoe’s international playing career also ended unceremoniously after she missed a penalty kick in the USWNT’s Round of 16 loss to Sweden in the 2023 World Cup, eliminating them from the tournament.

On the latest episode of the “Snacks” podcast, Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams discuss how small those two moments look in the scope of Rapinoe’s legendary career. 

“I just feel like she’s had such an amazing career. And the last two things, both her national team and club, have been pretty devastating endings, so I just feel for her,” Williams said. “But none of this is … gonna put a damper on her career as a whole.”

Williams, Rapinoe’s opponent in the NWSL Championship, explained that she and Rapinoe were making jokes about the injury after the match, laughing to hold back tears over the way Rapinoe’s last game ended. Instead of “riding off into retirement,” as Williams described it, Rapinoe is headed to rehab again, no longer as a professional soccer player.

Mewis agrees that the injury in her final match doesn’t take anything away from Rapinoe’s accomplishments throughout her career.

“Like you said, I feel like nothing could tarnish her career,” Mewis said. “I just have so much respect for her. Even the three minutes that she played, she served in a really dangerous cross. I think, what an incredible player.

“She’s done so much for the game, like you and I both admire her so much.”

Gotham FC apologized to fans on Thursday after not holding a celebration for their NWSL Championship win.

Traditionally, championship-winning teams will hold a rally or a parade in their local market in the days following the title game. Gotham FC, instead, is hosting a “trophy tour,” which included a team visit to the Empire State Building and a ceremonial ringing of the NASDAQ opening bell on Thursday.

Media, however, was not informed until around 1 a.m. the day of Thursday’s festivities.

“It’s sad,” Lynn Williams told The Messenger. “I wish we could have celebrated with our fans who have been there all year.”

“We would have loved to celebrate the fans. Fans are a huge part of why we’re here,” Yazmeen Ryan added. “It’s not ideal that it won’t be until next season. But hopefully they stick with us and know that we’re gonna have many more of these to come.”

Gotham’s supporters group, Cloud 9, expressed their disappointment in the delayed celebration, writing on X that they “deserve to celebrate NOW, as a collective fanbase, with the players that brought home that trophy.”

Gotham veteran McCall Zerboni responded to fans on X with an assurance that their complaints are being heard by the players.

In response to the public pressure, Gotham issued an apologetic statement on Thursday night.

“We extend our sincere apology and recognize you deserved the chance to celebrate our champion athletes who brought the trophy home,” the club wrote. “We pledge to use the off-season to organize celebrations that befit a championship club and match the enthusiasm of the best fans in the world.”

It isn’t the first time a team has delayed its championship celebration. The Washington Spirit didn’t hold a rally to celebrate their 2021 championship win until April 2022, despite having the support of the Washington, D.C. mayor to schedule a parade sooner.

“We don’t even know if it’s gonna be the same team,” Williams told The Messenger, with the NWSL’s free-agency signing period set to begin Monday. “So that’s a bit upsetting. But I do think if we’re not going to do it right, then we have time to plan and go forward.”