USWNT 2023 World Cup Roster: Who will secure their spot?
Our feature writer, Natasha Turkington, weighs in on the USWNT’s 2023 World Cup roster. You can follow her on Twitter @natashaturk.
There are only two more international windows for the US Women’s soccer team to solidify their World Cup attendance: the ongoing SheBelieves Cup and the April international window, which will be the last before manager Vlatko Andonovski will select his World Cup stars. Last month, he told reporters that his pool for the World Cup roster is down to 32 players.
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FIFA has confirmed that rosters will be 23 players, not 26 like the men’s World Cup squad. Let’s review who may feature and where.
2022 was a challenging year for the USWNT, to say the least; multiple injuries weakened the team significantly, which is why Andonovski has been vocal in his intentions to bring us a fresh, new-look squad for the 2023 World Cup.
There are two colossal midfield absences for the 2023 campaign: Sam Mewis has not played since 2021 and will sadly miss the World Cup after undergoing another knee surgery. As well, 2019 World Cup winner, Julie Ertz is all but certainly ruled out due to an ongoing knee injury.
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Alyssa Naeher and Casey Murphy will battle it out for first-choice goalkeeper, with Adrianna Franch and Aubrey Kingsbury as back-up options. Andonovski spoke frequently last year about making sure the back-up goalkeeper has enough experience to handle an occasion as huge as the World Cup, a lesson he learned when Adrianna Franch was thrown into the Olympic semi-final with only six prior appearances under her belt. Casey Murphy now has 12 caps, including World Cup qualifiers. Franch returned to the U.S. picture in late 2022 after a stellar season in goal for the Kansas City Current, and she looks like the clear No. 3 now, having made the successful 4–0 win against New Zealand.
It was fantastic to see the return of star forward Lynn Williams last month after a devastating 10-month layoff due to a hamstring injury. There has been more great news on the return of fellow forward Catarina Macario, who tore her ACL last June. Macario will 100% make the roster once she is back to full match fitness.
There is still a big question mark over full-back Kelley O’Hara, the two-time World Cup champion who is still recovering from a hip injury which side-lined her towards the end of 2022. O’Hara recently spoke out about her rehabilitation saying she is “taking it day by day”. However, when asked about her progress, Vlatko Andonovski has said she is “very close” to returning.
Kelley O’Hara made headlines in November when she became the first-ever National Women’s Soccer League free agent to sign with a new team in the league’s first night of free agency. She revealed at a live show in New York City that she had signed with her former club, Gotham FC. But O’Hara has been part of so much more – including the historic fight for equal pay in professional soccer.
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The SheBelieves Cup is currently underway and USWNT are off to a flying start. They’re currently top of the group table with two wins over Japan and Canada. With the World Cup just around the corner, progress in the SheBelieves Cup is going to be crucial for every player involved, and hoping to be involved in June!