Vlatko Andonovski selected a younger World Cup / Olympic qualifying roster. Will it repay?

When US Soccer sends out press releases to announce upcoming match rosters, there are all the time a couple of stats and info included. However I feel this bullet from the announcement of the 23-player roster for CONCACAF’S World Cup qualification match sums up the state of the US girls’s nationwide crew completely:

Actually, when was the final time we now have learn that nicely over half of a USWNT roster has not had any qualifying expertise? Apart from our very first World Cup qualifier ever in Haiti earlier than the 1991 Ladies’s World Cup, my greatest guess is rarely.

In reality, these 13 qualifying debutants all have 27 caps or fewer, together with eight in single digits: Alana Prepare dinner (9 caps), Ashley Hatch (8), Ashley Sanchez (7), Casey Murphy (4), Trinity Rodman (3) , Naomi Girma (1), Aubrey Kingsbury (1) and Taylor Kornieck (0).

What does that inform you concerning the roster head coach Vlatko Andonovski has chosen on this second? It tells me the youth transformation is official, and Andonovski didn’t want the USWNT’s upcoming friendslies in opposition to Colombia on Saturday and Tuesday to know the course he’ll take the crew. A lot in order that Christen Press, even earlier than her latest torn ACL, was nonetheless not even within the closing 23-player roster. And given the high-level play by the youthful group within the NWSL this 12 months, if I had been Andonovski I would be assured in them as nicely.

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Positive, it was a serious setback and disappointment when Catarina Macario lately tore her ACL given the season she had for Lyon, serving to them win each the Champions League title and French league title along with her team-leading 23 targets throughout competitions. However Sophia Smith and Mal Pugh are each equally sizzling with their respective NWSL groups, and with Alex Morgan scoring seemingly at will for the San Diego Wave, main the league with 11 targets, that entrance three of Smith, Morgan, and Pugh shall be a handful for each single CONCACAF opponent.

The midfield sitting behind them – if wholesome (the last word qualifier in a 12 months like this) – needs to be Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle and Andi Sullivan, though I do know extra than simply San Diego Wave followers are excited to see what Taylor Kornieck can do at this stage, given her dominance for the Wave.

It’s the again line the place I feel essentially the most query marks fall. With Tierna Davidson’s ACL harm and Abby Dahlkemper’s continued bouts of harm, Alana Prepare dinner and Naomi Girma could also be given the nod once more because the chosen center-back pairing, as they had been within the earlier USWNT video games in April.

However with Becky Sauerbrunn returning to the fold wholesome, will Andonovski select to carry the veteran captain into the beginning 11? I feel he most likely goes with the identical beginning back-four he used within the final pleasant the USWNT performed vs. Uzbekistan – it was Sofia Huerta on the appropriate, Prepare dinner and Girma because the center-backs, and Emily Fox on the left.

That uncommon positional battle the place a veteran could maintain onto a spot challenged by a rookie is the place the pair of friendslies in opposition to Colombia earlier than the qualifiers can sway Andonovski’s method. His focus is clearly on the qualification match firstly of July, and his roster choice makes it clear his thoughts is made up in pushing the crew youthful – however nonetheless, the Colombia friendslies are his final pit cease on the highway to qualifiers in Mexico, and we should see him check his on-field partnerships.

The one head-scratcher for a lot of followers with the roster announcement was the truth that Megan Rapinoe made the ultimate roster. And I say “head-scratcher” as a result of Rapinoe had not performed a lot in any respect along with her OL Reign crew. She was simply getting back from harm and had performed a complete of 154 minutes for the whole season.

Given Andonovski’s insistence that each one nationwide crew call-ups should show themselves on the membership stage, the rationale for the decision up abruptly grew to become fairly clear: It is Megan Rapinoe.

Andonovski known as in Rapinoe as a result of he loves the swagger {that a} participant like Rapinoe brings. I don’t assume he’s planning on giving her tons of minutes, however needs her there as an choice to carry off the bench in the event that they want a purpose, in the event that they want a carry, and principally, to provide this youthful group confidence. It’s her management and mentality that he seeks greater than something.

Sure, you get that management and veteran expertise with gamers like Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara and Alex Morgan, however there is just one Megan Rapinoe in relation to that swagger. And I take you again to the primary bullet above: With over half the crew by no means having gone by a qualifier, Rapinoe brings stability greater than something. She has achieved it at each stage – and the brighter the lights, the extra she glows. That confidence is contagious.

Bear in mind, these CONCACAF W qualifiers are notably attention-grabbing as a result of they double because the Olympic qualifying match.

With 4 CONCACAF groups getting an computerized spot within the 2023 World Cup due to the expanded 2023 World Cup discipline, qualifying for the World Cup needs to be a given for america. The USWNT merely has to complete within the prime two of its group of Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico, and which implies reaching the semifinal spherical of the match is sufficient to qualify for the 2023 World Cup. They do not need to win the semifinal sport to qualify for the World Cup both – they only must get there.

However to get to the Olympics, that is the place issues get attention-grabbing: The US should both win this CONCACAF W Championship match out-right or end in 2nd or third place for the appropriate to play a playoff sport to get to the Olympics. Solely two groups from CONCACAF will compete within the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

So buckle up: There may or couldn’t be turbulence in relation to these qualifiers. Given how younger this group is, you simply by no means know. And that may be a variable I completely love.

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