The 2023 Women's World Cup sees a different USWNT

The dominant days of the USWNT are over, for now.

The US women’s national team kicked off the Women’s World Cup with a 3-0 victory against Vietnam, before drawing 1-1 with a strong Netherlands outfit. Though the American side continues to hold first place of Group E with four points and a goal difference of three, qualification for the knockout rounds remains uncertain.

Vlatko Andonovski’s side now needs a victory against Portugal and a positive goal difference to top the group, or a draw and Dutch victory against Vietnam to qualify in second place. At this point in 2015 and 2019, fans could have their flights and accommodations booked in advance with no need for flexible cancellation policies but not anymore.  

The USWNT’s weaknesses became evident in the second half against Vietnam, as the team showed incredible individual talent but failed to connect well with one another. Veteran Alex Morgan even admitted the team couldn’t “click” in the opener. 

“I think we saw a lot of glimpses of our potential, but I feel like we weren’t always clicking on the field,” Morgan said during Tuesday’s news conference.

“I think we weren’t in sync. That happens, and we were able to adjust and respond. Hopefully, we can do that earlier in the future. And I think that’s also a great strength of this team – we have lots of different ways we can do that together,” added Andi Sullivan.

Injuries consumed the 2023 USWNT World Cup roster, seeing the integral likes of Tobin Heath, Becky Sauerbrunn, Samantha Mewis and Mal Swanson replaced by young players with limited experience. By the end of the game, eight players made their World Cup debuts- Savannah DeMelo (who also made her first USWNT start), Naomi Girma, Emily Fox, Andi Sullivan, Sophia Smith, Trinity Rodman, Alyssa Thompson and Sofia Huerta.

The absence of several key players also forced Andonovski into making certain changes to players’ positions, depriving the midfield of Julie Ertz to place her as a center back alongside Girma for the first time ever. 

The odd balance between new players and veterans has made for an experimental squad on the world’s biggest stage. And this is no time to be trying out new things. 


Granted last minute injuries wreck havoc on previously tested out starting lineups, but never to this degree. Andonovski should’ve used the CONCACAF qualifiers and friendlies leading up to the tournament to test new formations, and establish connections between the camp. The Girma/Ertz duo was previously unseen. 

“Of course sometimes when you adjust, it’s going to take a second to get on the same page. We have full confidence in each other that no matter what we do, we will figure it out,” said Sullivan.

The United States has lost a sense of unity, as they search for a team identity. And though the American side might be undergoing a transition, it’s taking entirely too long.

All of this is putting aside the fact that the rest of the world is quickly becoming more competitive with the development and investment in local leagues and growth of the Women’s UEFA Champions League, of course. The Netherlands, England, Sweden, Germany, all teams are stepping up while the USWNT looks to find themselves for the first time in years. 

The United States may go far in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, reaching the semi finals or even final, but the dominant games with confident blowout victories seem to be behind us for now. 

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