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Lindsey Horan discusses early World Cup exit, coaching staff on Press, Heath show

The U.S. co-captain appeared on Tobin Heath and Christen Press’ YouTube show and discussed management during the World Cup, along with the team’s early exit in the Round of 16

Photo: © Jenna Watson-USA TODAY Sports

Lindsey Horan, co-captain of the U.S. women’s national team, did not hold back on a recent show — put on by RE-INC, with Christen Press and Tobin Heath as co-hosts — when speaking about the national team’s early exit in the World Cup.

Horan, who primarily wore the captain’s armband when she and other co-captain Alex Morgan were on the pitch, said that the U.S. was not prepared for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Looking to go for a ‘three-peat,’ the U.S. was knocked out in the Round of 16 by foe Sweden. That came after the Netherlands won the group, thanks to goal differential.

“When a coach comes in, it’s how do we get the best out of each player, putting simplicity into a 10-day camp every few months and getting the best out of your team, without over-complicating everything,” Horan stated on the show. “I could talk about the last four-year cycle, and we don’t need to get into every single thing, but that’s not what we did. We did not get the best out of every single individual. I don’t think everyone was fully prepared, and that’s on us, as well.”

After the World Cup early dismissal, the U.S. Soccer Federation and manager Vlatko Andonovski mutually parted ways, with Andonvoski resigning. A few days later, The Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf broke the news that Kate Markgraf was also departing the federation as general manager of the women’s side. However, that move was planned before the World Cup.

Horan stated that the U.S. did not win in “big moments,” like they did in the 2019 Women’s World Cup. The former Portland Thorns player, who plays her club soccer for Olympique Lyonnias, added that goals were difficult to come by, especially in games against Vietnam and Portugal.

“When I think about a World Cup, you win a World Cup in moments in every single game,” Horan, who was on the 2019-winning side, said. “There had been moments in every single game for us to win. There were moments in the Netherlands game we could have won, the Vietnam game where we could have made it a 7-0, 8-0 game… We didn’t win those big moments. I think back to 2019, we won every single one of those big moments. How did we prepare for those moments?

The Colorado native explained that Megan Rapinoe — who is retiring at the end of the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League season — was given an individual moment, with taking penalty kicks during the 2019 tournament.

“We were put in a place to be prepared for those moments,” Horan continued. “I was like, ‘How does a coaching staff do that?’ We actually were fully prepared for that back in 2019. Now, with this team, with a new coach coming in and Olympics very quickly, and now leading into another four-year cycle, it’s like, what’s the main goal here? Do we prepare for a four-year cycle, or do you focus on winning gold. Don’t ask me that, because I’m a player who hasn’t won gold at the Olympics, so I want to do that. For me, it’s, how can we prepare for the next four-year cycle, but also winning a gold medal. That’s what this team is about.”

The U.S. already booked their spot to the 2024 Olympics in Paris, thanks to a first-place finish during the Concacaf W Championship last year. The U.S. medaled in every Olympics, sans the 2016 Rio Olympics. Right now, Twila Kilgore is the interim coach, with no indication if she will or won’t coach in next summer’s tournament.

Horan said she is angry, disappointed and upset about the U.S.’ World Cup finish, and hoping to use it as a motivation to win a gold medal. One of her biggest priorities is to help the young players on the team.

“Individually, I try to do that as much as possible with each player,” she said. “I wanted to help Sophia Smith as much as possible in this tournament, because she had so much pressure. I wanted to make sure she — and the younger players — are in a good place, because they had massive roles. Could I have done more to help those players? I don’t think we got the best out of some of them, because of the way we were set up, and some of the things we did in the game.”

Horan stated, again toward the coaching staff, that the U.S. wasn’t set up properly to help younger players — and the team in general.

“The game against Sweden, I don’t think we were necessarily set up to play the way we play,” Horan explained. “So, that was just us finally coming together and being like, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’ It worked, so we kept doing it. Could that have happened earlier? Maybe.”

The U.S. will have a camp in September — presumably under Kilgore — to reassess and take on South Africa, who featured in the Round of 16, in a pair of friendlies on Sept. 21 and 24.


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