The 23-player World Cup roster for the United States women’s national team is confirmed. Before focus shifts entirely to the World Cup, we’ll take one last look at each player’s recent play in out ongoing USWNT Form Index series.
Thus far, we’ve gone by position, but this time around, we’ll talk about all 23 players. Midfielder Savannah DeMelo is the epitome of form matters, while the absence of forward Ashley Hatch might represent the most striking dissonance between form and the final roster named by head coach Vlatko Andonovski.
With that said, here’s a look at where things stand now, with some high-level notes if you’re just coming back around to the team, and some more pointed questions and observations to dive deeper.
Alyssa Naeher: Spring showers. Naeher was the No. 1 goalkeeper in 2019 and likely retains that position this summer based on experience, but she has struggled in net this year for the Chicago Red Stars. Team defending in front of her has been league-worst levels of poor, which is a factor, but she has made some individual mistakes along the way. At minimum, it’s not at all an ideal way to enter the World Cup.
Casey Murphy: Steady. On the flip side, Murphy’s North Carolina Courage have conceded the second-fewest goals in the NWSL this regular season. She leads the league with six clean sheets — half of her games played.
Aubrey Kingsbury: Surging. The reality of the No. 3 goalkeeper is that no player in the role for the U.S. has ever seen the field at a World Cup. Still, it’s important to have the right person. A spot that earlier this year looked like it would go to Adrianna Franch then swung to Kingsbury as her form held and Franch got benched in Kansas City. Kingsbury ranks second in the league in save percentage (82.2%), better than either other goalkeeper on the roster.
Alana Cook: In the spotlight. Cook looked like she would be Andonovski’s preferred starter alongside Becky Sauerbrunn at center back. Then Sauerbrunn got hurt and Cook became the sure starter alongside Naomi Girma. Cook has been generally solid for OL Reign with the occasional mistake (like in possession last week in Houston) and that will be the piece of her game in need of immediate refining for what is now an especially prominent role.
Crystal Dunn: Scoring goals. Dunn will play either left or right fullback for the United States. Her form check-in is perhaps the least relevant of the 23, because she plays an attacking midfield role for the Portland Thorns. She’s an exceptional fullback… she just hasn’t played there since the U.S. last convened in April.
Emily Fox: Still attacking. The North Carolina Courage are on fire, and Emily Fox is no small piece of that. Once again last weekend, she could be found drifting high in central areas to combine with teammates. Fox’s ability to do this is why she is seen as the long-term answer at fullback. Now comes her first big test.
Naomi Girma: Calm and collected. The 2022 NWSL Rookie of the Year and Defender of the Year continues to look calm under pressure. She will be the ball-playing center back expected to set the attack. She has had some uncharacteristic lapses this season on set pieces, which will be an area to address. Girma looks primed for a breakout World Cup… and the U.S. needs it from her.
Sofia Huerta: Still crossing. Huerta leads the NWSL in crosses into the penalty area by a margin of 50% more than the next closest player. Her pinpoint accuracy is evident on a weekly basis and clearly a reason for her inclusion on the roster.
Kelley O’Hara: On the mend. O’Hara makes the roster despite further nagging injuries limiting her time with Gotham FC this spring. O’Hara is no stranger to fighting back from injuries, so Andonovski likely takes comfort in that in addition to her leadership.
Emily Sonnett: Suddenly a center back again? Sonnett had played as a defensive midfielder all season for OL Reign up until her start at center back last week. That happened to come one day after Sauerbrunn confirmed she would miss the World Cup. Sonnett looks set to provide depth at center back in Sauerbrunn’s absence. For what it’s worth, she’s been solid for the Reign as a holding midfielder.
Savannah DeMelo: On fire. The most in-form player on the roster is also the one with zero caps. How about that? DeMelo’s unstoppable form for Racing Louisville this spring (a continuation of last year) earned her this spot. Now what? Playing anything more than a limited reserve role seems unlikely, but she beat the odds already. Her tenacious bite in midfield could be needed — especially if Rose Lavelle is less than fully healthy.
Julie Ertz: Still waiting. Ertz only returned to competitive soccer two months ago. She’s starting to look more comfortable for Angel City, winning battles in midfield and playing longer through balls. Comparing her to the Ertz of old is both appropriate and a high standard. She isn’t there yet. And are we absolutely talking about the Ertz of 2019, as a defensive midfielder, or could she be an answer at center back as she was in 2015? Andonovski could put her on defense again.
Lindsey Horan: Rested. Horan is the only player on the roster not playing in the NWSL, and thus has had some time to rest this month (she announced her engagement on Tuesday). She was integral to Lyon capturing another league title, although the French giants fell short in the UEFA Champions League.
Rose Lavelle: Recovering? Lavelle has not played a competitive game since the April 8 friendly against Ireland due to a vaguely detailed knee injury. Both Andonovski and OL Reign coach Laura Harvey have made Lavelle’s absence sound precautionary to make sure she is ready for the World Cup, but it’s more than fair to worry about the impact of a three-month layoff. That Lavelle is on the roster suggests she will be ready to play in July. Andonovski even said she will get minutes in the send-off match against Wales.
Kristie Mewis: Steady. The journey of Mewis from a prospect over a decade ago, to out of the picture entirely, to making her first World Cup at 32 years old, is incredible. She’s a Swiss Army Knife midfielder who can fill in at any of the three midfield roles, and that is surely seen as an asset. Which of those roles best suits her on this U.S. team is still unclear.
Ashley Sanchez: Audacious. That’s the best word to describe a lot of what Sanchez tries from the No. 10 position. It can produce some worldie goals, like the one she scored from way out recently. Sanchez still needs to be more refined in some of the seemingly more straightforward moments to lock down the consistency that she needs. Given the public uncertainty around Lavelle, Sanchez might be called upon in some significant capacity.
Andi Sullivan: Cleaning up. Sullivan has done well at the base of the Washington Spirit’s diamond midfield, ranking in the 87th percentile for interceptions per 90, per FBRef. All the talk will be about Ertz at the No. 6 role, but Sullivan held that position for the past year. She can only control her own play, and she’s done that well for Washington and at times this year for the U.S., including a much better game down in New Zealand when she had a partner in the double pivot.
Alex Morgan: Pacing. Morgan has five goals this season for the San Diego Wave, a team that very much likes to defend in numbers and strike on the counter. At times, that has meant limited opportunities for Morgan, but she was very much in the category of a known entity that Andonovski just needed to stay healthy. She’ll be the No. 9 for the U.S.
Megan Rapinoe: On and off. Rapinoe was back to starting with the Reign and went the full 90 in the rivalry loss to the Portland Thorns on June 3. One week later, she injured her calf about a minute into the game and had to come off the field, adding to the stack of injury worries for the United States. She was always going to play a lesser role on this squad, and she has long accepted that. The important thing was going to be staying healthy. Her inclusion on the roster indicates she’s healthy enough to be a set-piece specialist and super-sub, perhaps even starting a game in a group-stage rotation or if she catches fire for the knockout stage.
Trinity Rodman: More complete. Rodman showed from the start of her pro career that she can have spectacular moments around the goal. What she needed (understandably as an 18-year-old) was to round out her game: better decision-making, more defensive work. She’s done that of late, and given the injury to Mallory Swanson, Rodman is in contention to start on the wing opposite Sophia Smith.
Sophia Smith: Still electric. The 2022 NWSL MVP had a cold spell this spring and she didn’t hide from it. Thankfully for the U.S., that passed quickly. Smith has goals in each of her last three NWSL games, which is solid momentum heading into the World Cup tune-up window ahead. Andonovski’s decision to leave Ashley Hatch at home means that Smith will also likely play the No. 9 role at times, as she did in Morgan’s absence last fall.
Alyssa Thompson: Showing potential. Thompson came out of the gate red-hot as an 18-year-old professional. Any perceived dip in form should come with the context that Angel City has struggled as a squad, so much so that Freya Coombe was fired as head coach last week. Thompson’s 1-v-1 abilities are already reminiscent of Swanson’s style. How much Thompson plays at this World Cup is unclear, but her inclusion should not be a surprise.
Lynn Williams: Lynning. Williams has carried Gotham FC this season, scoring several crucial plays and displaying her signature defensive work rate that made her one of Andonovski’s favorite forwards. That defensive need might come down to specific matchups, like the second group-stage game against the Netherlands. Williams has a good case to be a starting winger.
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