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2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup

These USWNT players improved their Olympic stock during Concacaf W Gold Cup triumph

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

United States women’s national team interim coach Twila Kilgore and, by extension, impending head coach Emma Hayes, got everything they could have asked for out of the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.

The U.S. lifted the trophy on Sunday after defeating Brazil, 1–0 in the final, and while that triumph is validation of the process for a team in transition, it served only as punctuation to a prologue that truly mattered. If there is such thing as a good loss, the United States’ 2–0 defeat to Mexico immediately gave this new-look U.S. team a taste of adversity and scrutiny. They responded with their best tactical performance of the tournament against Colombia in the quarterfinals, then adapted to absurd field conditions to advance past Canada by any means, and ground out a win over Brazil in the final, despite being outplayed in the first half.

The Gold Cup was a chance to simulate the Olympics, Kilgore said, and all of those variables are possible a few months from now in France. Part of the Gold Cup doubling as an Olympic simulation, Kilgore explicitly said in the buildup to the tournament, was the ability to see how newer and less experienced players performed against high-quality opponents on short turnarounds. Kilgore and Hayes got several affirmative answers in that department. These U.S. players most improved their arguments for inclusion at the Olympics with strong performances at the Gold Cup.

Jaedyn Shaw

Sometimes, the most obvious answer is the right one. Anybody even remotely following the National Women’s Soccer League already knew Jaedyn Shaw’s quality. She played at MVP levels during spurts of last season with the San Diego Wave and could have been another late addition to the United States’ World Cup roster, like the then-uncapped Savannah DeMelo. Shaw alone would not have changed the Americans’ World Cup fate, no, but she could have helped with the team’s lack of creativity (not to mention the personal benefit that would have been making that roster).

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