Midge Purce will have a chance to “fight for her spot” with the U.S. women’s national team, coach Vlatko Andonovski said Thursday.

The 27-year-old forward was left off the USWNT roster for four friendlies against England, Spain and Germany to end 2022, but she has rejoined the 24-player roster for two upcoming matches against World Cup co-host New Zealand on Jan. 18 and 21.

Purce has made 20 appearances for the national team, and she contributed two goals and an assist in 11 games in 2022. But she was left off the roster for the final four games of the year because of a “dip in play,” according to Andonovski.

“We decided not to take Midge [Purce] in this camp, but [that] doesn’t mean Midge is off the roster,” Andonovski said at the time. “It’s just something that we’ve looked into. And we just feel like there’s a dip in her form, which is something that happens unfortunately to a lot of players.”

Now, as the USWNT heads to New Zealand, Purce joins the forward group in the absence of Sophia Smith, who has a nagging foot injury and is in a walking boot, and teenager Alyssa Thompson, who featured in the previous two camps.

Purce, who plays her NWSL soccer for Gotham FC, appeared in 16 games for the club in 2022, notching three assists and three goals. As a whole, Gotham struggled, going 4-1-17 and finishing last in the standings.

Purce, Andonovski and the rest of the USWNT staff had several conversations regarding her play and what she needed to do to get back on the team, the coach said.

“We wanted to give her a fair chance to get back on the team and fight for her spot,” Andonovski said. “We want to see a consistent Midge Purce. We want to see consistency on the national team, but also in between the camps.”

Midge Purce did not receive a spot on the U.S. women’s national team for the upcoming games against England and Spain, in one of the surprises from the 24-player roster.

Purce has appeared in 11 games for the USWNT this year, with two goals and one assist. She had become a steady part of the team’s forward rotation since last fall, but she was left off for the October international window due to a “dip in her form,” USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski said.

“We decided not to take Midge [Purce] in this camp, but [that] doesn’t mean Midge is off the roster,” Andonovski said. “It’s just something that we’ve looked into. And we just feel like there’s a dip in her form, which is something that happens unfortunately to a lot of players.”

Purce’s NWSL club, NJ/NY Gotham FC, is in the midst of a 12-match losing streak, the longest in NWSL regular season history. While her teammate Kristie Mewis still received a call-up to the USWNT for the next slate of friendlies, Purce will not make the European trip.

The roster snub could provide fuel for Purce, or so Andonovski hopes, he said. He pointed to Mallory Pugh and Alex Morgan, two forwards who have starred for the team after absences from the roster.

Following the 2019 World Cup, Pugh struggled to return to form, and she was left off the roster for the Olympics last summer. But she now calls the experience helped her find herself. This year, Pugh has cemented her spot in the team’s starting lineup and is in the conversation for NWSL MVP.

Similarly, Morgan has said that her eight-month removal from the USWNT after last summer’s Olympics gave her a “reset.” Morgan leads the race for the NWSL Golden Boot with 15 goals.

“Now, this is an opportunity for Midge to regroup and reset in and come back even stronger,” Andonovski said. “We’ve seen in the past the same thing, the same experience or same treatment we had with Mal [Pugh] and Mal came back and now she’s absolutely killing it.

“Alex Morgan wasn’t in for several months came back and she’s the best player in the [NWSL]. It’s nothing new that players have a dip in form. We’ve been monitoring Midge for several months now and felt like this is the time where we have to act. And hopefully, we get a good reaction from her.”

U.S. women’s national team forward Margaret Purce is excited for the squad’s upcoming international friendlies against England, Spain and Germany.

When asked by CBS Sports Golazo if she was nervous about matching up against the Lionesses, who won the Euro championship in July, Purce called the sold-out match at Wembley Stadium a “good test.”

The United States sits atop the FIFA world world rankings, while England holds the No. 4 spot. The USWNT’s next two opponents also sit in the top 10: No. 8 Spain and No. 2 Germany.

“Every game is almost a rivalry with the U.S. when you’re playing a top 10 team,” she said. “I think that it’s not a question of if England has caught up. I think that the world has been catching up.

“I think that this game is going to be a good test to see where everybody ranks, we haven’t played each other in such a long time. It’s going to be a really good test for both sides.”

The USWNT last faced England in 2020 during the SheBelieves Cup group stage. The U.S. won that game 2-0.

“It’s definitely a different mindset,” Purce said of going up against the Lionesses now. “Every team we play in the top 10, every game is a test. It’s gonna be, can we continue to win?”

Comparing England’s Euros title run with the USWNT’s Concacaf W Championship title run, Purce acknowledged that one of the tournaments is “a bit more difficult than the other.”

Six of the eight Euros quarterfinalists rank in the top 10 in the world, while just two of the eight teams at the Concacaf tournament rank in the top 30.

The USWNT’s fall schedule starts with the two-game European trip, with the match against England on Oct. 7 followed by a match against Spain on Oct. 11.

“The whole trip is gonna be a good test for the U.S., England and Spain back-to-back,” Purce said. “We’ve been playing a lot of teams who have sat in against us, who have played in low blocks. None of us are expecting low blocks against England or Spain.”

U.S. women’s national team stars Margaret Purce, Alana Cook and Naomi Girma recently sat down with soccer icon Briana Scurry to discuss why representation matters.

“Once I was on club teams, I was mainly only the Black player, and I think that was an adjustment for me coming from the community and family life,” Girma told Scurry. “I think being one of the only ones can make people hesitant to join when they don’t see themselves represented in that space.”

Now, as professional athletes, Purce, Cook and Girma are inspiring a younger generation of players to get involved in the sport.

“You go up to a little girl and she’ll either look at her mom or her parents will look at me and go, ‘She looks just like you!’ You see their eyes light up, and it’s that moment of them realizing this space could also belong to me. I could also be there,” Cook said. “When you see it, you believe it.”

As dynamic players on the pitch, Purce, Cook and Girma are changing what many young people see as possible for themselves while also changing America’s professional league.

Purce, a board member of the Black Women’s Player Collective, spearheaded the organization’s creation, which aims to advance the opportunities for Black girls in sport and beyond.

“In 2020 during the protests for Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, the discourse, we were talking about race in this country, race relations and truthfully just what reality is for some Americans and that was when a lot of us decided it’s not about convincing other people to believe what I’m telling you is my experience, it’s not about that anymore. It’s about helping those who have those shared experiences and those feelings to just access the sport that has given so much back to us,” Purce said of the BWPC’s genesis.

Watch the full interview:

The U.S. women’s national soccer team closed out the group stage of the Concacaf W Championship with a 1-0 win over Mexico on Monday. Kristie Mewis scored the lone goal in the 89th minute to send the U.S. into the knockout round as the top team in Group A. On Thursday, they’ll face Costa Rica in the semifinals.

The match against Mexico wasn’t a must-win for the USWNT, which had already qualified for the 2023 FIFA World Cup and clinched a spot in the semis with a 3-0 win over Haiti and 5-0 defeat of Jamaica.

But for Mexico, the game mattered. Coming into Monday’s match in last place in Group A, they needed a win to have a chance at finishing third in their group and advancing to the 10-team intercontinental World Cup qualifying round. The odds weren’t in their favor in the last 17 minutes after Jacqueline Ovalle was issued a red card for cleating Rose Lavelle’s ankle and Mexico went a player down. Regardless, they found dangerous attacking opportunities that put the American defense to the test.

Canada and Jamaica will meet in the other semifinal, also on Thursday. Canada finished first in Group B with three wins over Costa Rica, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago.

All semifinalists have qualified for the World Cup. Now, the four teams will compete for the Concacaf trophy and a guaranteed spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Can the USWNT finish the job? Here are our main takeaways from the group stage.

Naomi Girma and Midge Purce need to go to the World Cup

The USWNT has brought in a lot of new players this year, all of whom have impressed at one point or another and proven capable of contributing to a World Cup title. While players like Emily Fox and Alana Cook have consistently been on the pitch, two others haven’t got the start every time but have stood out when they’ve had the chance.

Naomi Girma has thrived at reading plays and delivering long balls into the attack, such as her precise, over-the-top assist to Sophia Smith in the July 7 match against Jamaica. Throughout the tournament, she’s also prevented teams from penetrating into the attacking third by reading and intercepting passes. On Monday against Mexico, she was tasked with shutting down one-v-ones and clearing balls out of the box. The center back duo has been one of the USWNT’s steadiest units at Concacaf so far, with Girma joined by Cook and Becky Sauerbrunn in a two-player rotation. They haven’t conceded a goal yet.

Forward Midge Purce started her first game of the tournament on Monday, and she didn’t let it go to waste. After scoring in the opener against Haiti, Purce tried for another against Mexico, but it rang off the post. She isn’t afraid to take players on one-v-one and she makes her presence felt end to end, most notably when she dribbled from the half to Mexico’s endline and sent a perfect low cross to the foot of Lindsey Horan in the box for a shot that the goalkeeper saved.

What has to be better

The USWNT, at times, has lacked creativity. Against Mexico, they passed back more often than usual, even when they had space in front of them to draw opponents in. Mexico’s physical defense was difficult to break down, but getting through low blocks isn’t a new problem for the U.S.

It became most troubling when Mexico went down a player to the red card and the USWNT still struggled to find the back of the net. Mexico often found themselves in the USWNT’s defensive third in the final 10 minutes.

There are likely a number of factors contributing to the USWNT’s difficulties up front, but the lineup rotations have been puzzling. At the beginning of Concacaf, head coach Vlatko Andonovski indicated that the starting lineup would remain similar throughout the tournament, but it has proceeded to change every game. With a roster as deep as the USWNT’s, it can be important to give multiple players a chance to warm up to the competitive environment, but constant changes can also have an adverse effect on chemistry. Rose Lavelle, one of the team’s most creative players in the midfield, was taken out of the starting XI Monday, at a time when they could have really used her.

Can the USWNT win Concacaf?

The USWNT squad in its current form is not ready to win a World Cup, as Andonovski said himself Monday night. They have a lot of work left to do when it comes to tactics, but the individual talent on the roster runs deep, and it’s enough to find a way to win Concacaf.

Costa Rica will load their backline like they did against Canada, and the U.S. might struggle with it on Thursday. But a few quick passes in the box worked for Canada. The U.S. is definitely capable of that, too.

If the USWNT ends up facing Canada in the finals on Monday, it will be their toughest competition yet. Canada has been practicing a defensive formation with two players in the six position, and they also have two of the best center backs in the world in Kadeisha Buchanan and Vanessa Gilles. The USWNT should consider starting the midfield trio of Lavelle, Andi Sullivan and Ashley Sanchez for maximum creativity on the ball to break through Canada’s Olympic gold-winning defense.

Jessa Braun is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports covering the NWSL and USWNT. Follow her on Twitter @jessabraun.

A Gotham FC win looked unlikely Wednesday night as the team’s 0-0 deadlock with the Orlando Pride held until the waning minutes of the second half.

A moment of individual brilliance from Midge Purce, however, saved the day, as the Gotham FC forward burying the game-winner in the 86th minute to down Orlando Pride 1-0 at Exploria Stadium.

Executing a well-timed run in behind the Pride’s defense, Purce beat the Orlando keeper, who came off her line, before slotting home the game’s lone goal.

The match-sealing finish went against the run of play, with the Pride firing a flurry of chances until the final whistle.

With Orlando unable to convert in the final third, Gotham clinched their first win of the Challenge Cup, collecting three much-needed points.

Gotham FC sits in second in the East Division through three games, behind the North Carolina Courage, while Orlando falls to fourth.

NJ/NY Gotham FC has made major moves over the past few days, re-signing Ifeoma Onumonu and Midge Purce while extending Kristie Mewis.

The club announced Thursday that it had re-signed Onumonu on a one-year deal. Drafted eight overall in the 2017 NWSL Draft, the forward joined Gotham in 2020. In 2021, she made 25 appearances for the club, scoring eight goals and four assists on the year.

“Ify is everything you want in a 9 in this league,” said head coach Scott Parkinson. “Across goals and assists, she was one of the most productive players in the league. To have her lead our front line for years to come is great news to everyone here at Gotham FC.”

Also re-signing with the club is Purce on a two-year contract. The ninth overall pick in the 2017 NWSL Draft, Purce also arrived via a trade in 2020.

She’ll return for her sixth NWSL season following a 2021 campaign that saw her lead Gotham FC with nine goals while adding one assist and finish second in the race for the NWSL Golden Boot. She started in all 18 of her appearances and logged 1,477 minutes on the pitch.

“Midge is everything we want to be on and off the field,” said Parkinson. “She’s a smart and intelligent footballer that can defend from the front for 90 minutes and is a constant threat when we have the ball. She’s a tough player for teams to silence and we are ecstatic she wants to play her football here in NJ and NY.”

Gotham FC newcomer Kristie Mewis, who was acquired via a trade with San Diego this offseason, was announced to have signed a deal that will keep her with the club through 2024.

Mewis spent the past four seasons with the Houston Dash, logging six goals through 38 appearances. She was also a member of the USWNT team that won bronze in the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

NWSL preseason is slated to begin Feb. 1 but players have recently threatened to not report if a new CBA is not in place by then.

The NWSL 2021 Best XI teams, presented by Mastercard, have officially dropped.

It’s the first time the league has presented a Best XI First and Second teams, recognizing the top 22 players in the league.

As part of Mastercard’s partnership with the NWSL and in celebration of the Best XI and Best XI Second Team, athletes will receive a cash bonus for their achievements this season.

“Congratulations to all of the winners represented on this year’s Best XI teams. The skill, determination and resilience on the field of play this season was absolutely inspiring to watch,” NWSL interim CEO Marla Messing said in a league release. “I’d also like to thank Mastercard for investing in NWSL players, and for helping to lead the way as we continue to build a league as exceptional as the players on the pitch.”

“We’re excited to honor these extraordinary players with this well deserved recognition,” said Alison Giordano, VP, Global Sponsorships, Mastercard.

“Unlocking the potential in every person across all parts of their life — this is what Priceless is all about. Because a world that works better for women creates limitless possibilities for us all.”

During the press conference leading up to the championship game, Mastercard’s junior reporter Kayla Klaus was able to pose questions to her favorite players and coaches from both teams and to Messing.

“We’re thrilled to create opportunities for young passionate women like Kayla — she and young women are our future,” Giordano added.

OL Reign and NJ/NY Gotham FC lead the way on the First Team with three players apiece. The 2021 NWSL MVP Jess Fishlock is featured on the First Team alongside Defender of the Year Caprice Dydasco. The Washington Spirit’s Trinity Rodman is the lone rookie on the First Team, while Racing Louisville’s Emily Fox is featured on the Second Team.

The Best XI First Team and Best XI Second Team were based on a weighted voting scale comprised of players (50%), owners/GMs/coaches (20%), media (20%) and fans (10%).

2021 Best XI First Team

  • Kailen Sheridan, NJ/NY Gotham FC
  • Caprice Dydasco, NJ/NY Gotham FC
  • Alana Cook, OL Reign
  • Sarah Gorden, Chicago Red Stars
  • Carson Pickett, North Carolina Courage
  • Angela Salem, Portland Thorns FC
  • Eugenie Le Sommer, OL Reign
  • Jessica Fishlock, OL Reign
  • Trinity Rodman, Washington Spirit
  • Margaret Purce, NJ/NY Gotham FC
  • Ashley Hatch, Washington Spirit

2021 Best XI Second Team

  • Bella Bixby, Portland Thorns FC
  • Emily Fox, Racing Louisville FC
  • Sofia Huerta, OL Reign
  • Meghan Klingenberg, Portland Thorns FC
  • Emily Menges, Portland Thorns FC
  • Mallory Pugh, Chicago Red Stars
  • Rachel Daly, Houston Dash
  • Lindsey Horan, Portland Thorns FC
  • Bethany Balcer, OL Reign
  • Ifeoma Onumonu, NJ/NY Gotham FC
  • Sydney Leroux, Orlando Pride

Midge Purce is thankful for her dad’s perspective following Gotham FC’s loss in the NWSL quarterfinals on Sunday.

“Can’t tell you what it’s like to have a dad who hugs you after a huge setback & says he’s more proud of how you responded to failure than he is of your success,” Purce wrote on Twitter, adding: “I don’t feel that way but I love him for the perspective.”

The forward, who was recently named to the USWNT’s roster for the upcoming friendlies against Australia, also expressed her gratitude for her nomination for NWSL MVP.

“So humbled,” she wrote.

Purce had a season to remember in the NWSL, finishing tied for second in goals with nine.

The 2021 NWSL Award nominees were announced on Friday by the NWSL, with Mal Pugh, Midge Purce, Jessica Fishlock, Ashley Hatch and Angela Salem up for MVP.

Voting takes two rounds, with the final round of voting — which includes the fans — now open. Voting will close on Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

The preliminary round of voting saw players, owners, general managers, coaches and the media voting on five individual awards to determine the final nominees. Those categories are: Most Valuable Player, presented by Budweiser, Defender of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, Rookie of the Year, presented by Ally, and Coach of the Year

The nominees are as follows:

  • Most Valuable Player: Jessica Fishlock (OL Reign), Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Angela Salem (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Defender of the Year: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Caprice Dydasco (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Sarah Gorden (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Menges (Portland Thorns FC), Carson Pickett (North Carolina Courage)
  • Goalkeeper of the Year: Bella Bixby (Portland Thorns FC), Aubrey Bledsoe (Wasghintgon Spirit), Kailen Sheridan (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
  • Rookie of the Year: Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Victoria Pickett (Kansas City Current), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit)
  • Coach of the Year: Laura Harvey (OL Reign), Scott Parkinson (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Mark Parsons (Portland Thorns FC)

Additionally, fans will be able to vote in the final round on the Best XI, presented by Mastercard. The award will honor a first and second team featuring the top 22 players in the league.

The final round of voting will use a weighted scale and take into account players (50 percent), owners/GMs/coaches (20 percent), media (20 percent) and fans (10 percent).

Award winners will be announced in the days leading up to the NWSL Championship game, set to tip off on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 12 p.m. ET on CBS. At halftime of the game the inaugural Nationwide Community Impact Award will be announced.

Earlier this week, Ashley Hatch was named MVP in JWS’ own end-of-year awards.