The forward depth of the USWNT will be tested
The U.S. Women’s National Team’s booty has always been overwhelming. Most countries’ over-50 talent pool doesn’t go as deep at forwards as America does in a single World Cup cycle. That depth will be put to the test this summer as the second-highest goalscorer will not travel with the Stars and Stripes to Australia and New Zealand, with Catarina Macario announcing she will not be “physically ready” to compete in the global showcase. The news is coming one month after Mallory Swanson, who was on a scoring streak for the start of 2023, tore his patellar tendon. With both not headed to Oceania, the bigger question arises: who will the USWNT turn to? The answer is not simple.
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Alex Morgan is a decorated veteran but no lock to boot
So, wait? Shouldn’t we just pass the mantle to Alex Morgan, the fifth-highest goal scorer in USWNT history, who will move into 10th on the all-time goalscoring list with his next appearance for the Yanks? No, and it’s a good thing he’s not America’s last hope or only hope. The 33-year-old, no Obi Wan Kenobi, will undoubtedly be one of the team’s strikers when the Americans begin their tournament against Vietnam on July 22. Morgan should not be locked into the team’s No. 9 role. Going with fresher faces will help better the influx of young talent that the USA will have in other positions.
What about Sophia Smith?
Let’s continue with a number one candidate and my pick for who will be the water cooler name of the World Cup. Die-hard soccer fans already know Sophia Smith’s name, but anyone who tunes in every four years to watch the USA win the tournament should pay attention. Smith scored mega friendly against England Last October at Wembley Stadium, and as Abby Wambach passed the torch to Morgan, Smith could be the heir to the throne, if not Swanson’s. Smith is only 22, but already has 29 caps and 12 goals for the USWNT. Smith has been a scoring machine at every stage of his career, not only at Stanford but also with the NWSL’s Portland Thorns. He is only 5 feet tall, but his pace makes him a defender’s nightmare.
If not, there are other options, including Trinity Rodman
Compared to the men’s problems in the United States find a reliable striker, we offer more good opportunities for women. USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski could go even younger. Trinity Rodman, who did not concede a goal in a sold-out friendly against England, has just become old enough to buy a drink in an American bar. He may be a few years away from peak form, but Rodman will undoubtedly be on the plane to the land of the Kangaroos and All Blacks. Even with the selection of Alyssa Thompson, who just turned 19 in November, Andonovski could be a total prodigy, and it wouldn’t be a shock if she gets playing time at the World Cup.
If the USWNT wants to go a little older, there are two good options, both which his birthday is at the end of May. Lynn Williams just turned 30 on Sunday and Ashley Hatch turns 28 on Thursday. Neither is the scoring form of Smith or Morgan, nor is it the long-term potential of Rodman and Thompson. And if Andonovski really wants a wild card, she’ll dip into the old guard once again and give it to Megan Rapinoe. He’ll be 38 by the time the World Cup rolls around, but he was the biggest American star from France 2019.
Rapinoe is on the bubble to be part of a team in a very similar situation Landon Donovan In 2014, as an American football legend beyond their strength. Donovan was not selected and his presence was needed for a younger team. The USWNT shouldn’t be such a problem in Australia and New Zealand, with more than 100 capitals that are almost locked in making the team, including Morgan. Rapinoe only appears in the big games. And there is no bigger event than the World Cup. While Morgan will likely get the nod, Smith or Rapinoe are tempted and have what I honestly think are the best chances to pull off this pick.