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The USWNT and the future of their game

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Sean Rogers/The Olaf Messenger


The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) won the The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF)Gold tournament on March 10 and dropped two places in the FIFA world rankings within an hour. The USWNT is now at its lowest ranking ever, being placed at world number four. This is quite the oxymoron, winning a tournament and being punished for it in the rankings, but it reveals a weakness in the U.S. team that is causing fans to caution excitement as the Summer Olympics approach. 


The CONCACAF tournament included teams from North and South America and followed the normal tournament play, with teams playing in group play for points and then in a single-elimination game as the rounds advanced. The USWNT advanced into the quarterfinals, but not before losing to the Mexican women’s team 0-2 in the group stage. This led to a drop in rankings, as well as a drop in confidence. 


At the tournament, the USWNT saw a young lineup, with many notable players missing. Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz both retired this past fall, and Alex Morgan was left off of the initial roster. Morgan later joined due to an injury of another player in the training camp before the tournament. The roster’s average age was 27, with multiple teenagers making the roster. Sophia Smith, who is 23, was the second oldest forward on the roster. 


The roster isn’t the only new piece of the U.S. team, Head Coach Emma Hayes is still within her European coaching contract, and so interim coach Twila Kilgore took over during the tournament. Hayes will be coaching by this summer, but many question if that is enough time to get the squad Olympic-ready. 


Between the young roster and new coach, and the loss to Mexico leading to a drop in the rankings, the U.S. seems poised to falter during the Olympics this summer. However, there is room for hope. The young players are not only playing for the National Team, but also NWSL club teams, and with that season getting off the ground players will have more in-game touches and time to build confidence. Star forward Mallory Swanson is also back from injury, as well as Catarina Macario, a strong midfielder who is coming back from an ACL tear. Confident young players and returning players hungry to fight for their place on the team have been a historically strong position to make the U.S. competitive. 


The CONCACAF win was a good start to the new coaching era for the USWNT, but also a warning that the best team in the world might not be anymore. Humility and grit seem to be the theme of 2024 for the National Team, and fans can only hope the pieces are pulled together before the team enters the Olympic pitch in July.