U.S. Women’s World Cup Roster: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe Women's World Cup

Getty Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe are playing in their fourth World Cup -- and aiming for an unprecedented three-peat.

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup – the biggest event in the history of women’s sports – kicks off on July 20 in Australia and New Zealand. It will feature a record 32 teams, including eight countries that are making their Women’s World Cup debut. The U.S. women are two-time defending World Cup champs, have won four titles overall, and are ranked No. 1  by FIFA. They are looking to do something no team – men’s or women’s – has ever done: three-peat.

Are they ready for it? Taylor Swift certainly is. The megastar highlighted an epic, star-studded video that revealed Team USA’s roster and also featured Shaquille O’Neal, President Joe Biden, John Cena, Megan Thee Stallion and other celebrities singing the praises of each athlete on the 23-player USWNT squad.

The American team that takes the field Down Under will look much different than the one that lifted the trophy in 2019. Injuries and inexperience are the biggest concerns for the U.S. side, which features six forwards, seven midfielders, seven defenders and three goalkeepers – and includes some big names and several newcomers with even bigger potential.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Veterans Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe & Kelley O’Hara Are Each Playing in Their Fourth World Cup

Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, the tournament’s co-leading scorers when the U.S. successfully defended its World Cup championship four years ago in France, headline this year’s squad. The star forwards and defender Kelley O’Hara have played in every World Cup since 2011. Alyssa Naeher and Julie Ertz are making their third Cup appearances. Crystal Dunn, Emily Sonnett, Lindsey Horan and Rose Lavelle are making their second.

The U.S. front line still starts with Morgan, who ranks in the top 10 in USWNT history in goals, assists and multi-goal games. Her pal Swift shouted out the team’s top striker, calling Morgan “someone who I consider a friend and somehow whom I’m a massive fan of.”

Morgan isn’t taking another opportunity on her sport’s grandest stage for granted. “I am as excited as I was for my first World Cup,” she told reporters. “I am hoping to make the biggest impact for this team on and off the field. I want to show younger players who have not been in a major tournament what to expect.”

Rapinoe – christened Megan Thee Legend by no less of an authority than Megan Thee Stallion – will be the team’s oldest player at 38. While she is no longer a starter for the USWNT, Rapinoe can still make an impact as a late-game set-piece threat or by nailing crucial penalty kicks. She took three during the 2019 World Cup, all in knockout matches with the score tied, and made them all.

“Megan Rapinoe is probably going to have a different role than last World Cup or previous two World Cups,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski told reporters. “She is going to have different types of minutes, but her leadership role is so important and her performance on field is very valuable for us.”

2. Injuries Will Sideline Several USWNT Stalwarts, Including Team Captain Becky Sauerbrunn

Becky Sauerbrunn, who has won two World Cups with the USWNT and has 216 international appearances, was left off the squad because of a foot injury. Star forward Mallory Swanson is also out after tearing her patellar tendon in April. Three other veterans – Catarina Macario, Christen Press and Sam Mewis — are also still recovering from knee injuries.

The absence of so many seasoned starters forced Andonovski to make some difficult decisions.

“The task of selecting a World Cup Team is never easy, but I’m proud of the players for their work ethic and focus during the process and of our coaching staff for doing the work to put together the best team possible,” Andonovski said. “We have a really good mix of veterans and younger players.”

3. The Team Features 14 Newcomers – Including Trinity Rodman, Daughter of NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman

Trinity Rodman

GettyForward Trinity Rodman is poised to step out of the shadow of her controversial father, former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman, with Team USA at the Women’s World Cup.

A youth movement is afoot for the U.S., whose World Cup rookies include 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson, 21-year-old Trinity Rodman, 22-year-old Sophia Smith and 23-year-old Naomi Girma.

Rodman, a forward who became the highest paid player in NWSL history in 2022, has a complicated relationship with her famous father, who was largely absent from her life. She has forged her own path in sports, and credits her mother, Michelle Rodman, for raising her. Whether she’s earning NWSL rookie of the year honors as a member of the Washington Spirit or starring for the USWNT, Trinity Rodman is goal-scoring threat and an elite passer who can outhustle opposing defenders, break into the attack and finish with a flourish. She could be called on to replace Swanson on the left wing in the World Cup.

Thompson made headlines when she was selected as the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NWSL draft by Angel City FC in January, becoming the the first player ever drafted into the league out of high school (and likely the first pro soccer player to miss her prom because she had a match). She also became the first player of Peruvian and Filipino heritage to be picked at No. 1. Now she is the first teen to make the World Cup roster since 1995. The fleet-footed forward

“What a turn of events in [the] last nine months,” Andonovski said of Thompson, who was called up to the USWNT after Swanson’s injury. “In October, she was playing youth soccer, and now in July she will be on [the] biggest stage of soccer.

4. The Biggest Surprise Was Savannah DeMelo, Who Has Never Played for the Senior National Team Before

Savannah DeMelo is the first uncapped player to make a USWNT roster for the Women’s World Cup since Shannon Boxx in 2003. While she has two national team training camps under her belt, the 25-year-old midfielder has yet to feature in a game for the U.S. DeMelo worked her way onto the World Cup roster thanks to a ferocious start to the NWSL season with Racing Louisville and highlight-reel goals.

“I’m super excited to get to play with Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, all those players I’ve idolized growing up,” DeMelo said during a press conference. “I’m just gonna try to take in as much as I can and learn from them. They’re players that are not only great athletes on the field but off the field.”

5. Morgan, Dunn and Ertz Give New Meaning to ‘Soccer Moms’

Three members of this year’s squad — Morgan, Ertz and Dunn — are mothers as well as world-class soccer players. When Morgan, who gave birth to daughter Charlie in 2020, scored the opening goal for the U.S. in its 2-1 win over Brazil in February, she became the highest-scoring mom in USWNT history, surpassing Joy Fawcett.

Ertz, who gave birth to her first child with husband and NFL tight end Zach Ertz last August, will look to reclaim her role as the best ball-winning midfielder on the planet. Dunn and her husband, Pierre Soubrier, welcomed their first child, Marcel, in May of 2022. Although her natural position is midfield, Dunn will play defense for the U.S. at the 2023 World Cup.

“Being a mother has allowed me to take on this new identity but do it authentic to who I am and do it in a way that allows me to be the best teammate, player and person I can be,” Dunn told NBC Sports.

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