The United States women’s national team forward tally has always been in excess. The talent pools of most countries over 50 years don’t go as deep into the forward as America would for a World Cup cycle. That depth will be tested this summer as a second powerful goalscorer fails to travel with the Stars and Stripes to Australia and New Zealand, with Catarina Macario announcing she won’t be ‘physically fit’ enough to compete at the world showcase. The news comes one month after Mallory Swanson, who was in tears in early 2023, tore her patellar tendon. With both not heading to Oceania, the bigger question looms: Who is the USWNT up for? The answer is not simple.
Alex Morgan is decorated veteran, but no block to start
So wait? Don’t we just give the mantle to Alex Morgan, who has the fifth most goals in USWNT history and with his next appearance for the Yanks will have sole possession of 10th on the all-time appearances list? No, and it’s a good thing you’re not America’s last or only hope. The 33-year-old non-Obi Wan Kenobi will no doubt be one of the team’s forwards when the tournament kicks off for the Americans on July 22 against Vietnam. Morgan shouldn’t be stuck in the No. 9 roster on the team. Going with a fresher face should work better for the influx of young talent the US will be showcasing at other locations.
And Sophia Smith?
We continue with a great candidate and my selection for who will be the coolest name in the World Cup. Die-hard soccer fans already know the name Sophia Smith, but for those who tune in every four years expecting the United States to win the tournament, pay attention. Smith scored in the mega-friendly against England at Wembley Stadium last October and just as Abby Wambach passed the baton to Morgan, Smith could be heir to the throne if it’s not up to Swanson. Smith is only 22 but already has 29 caps and 12 goals for the USWNT. Smith has been a scoring machine at every point in his career, not only at Stanford, but also with the NWSL’s Portland Thorns. She’s only 5-foot-5, but her pace makes her a defender’s nightmare.
If not, there are other options, including Trinity Rodman
Compared to the troubles of the United States on the men’s side find a reliable striker, we have more good options coming soon for women. USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski could get even younger. Trinity Rodman, who had a goal disallowed in that sell-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 top form but Rodman will no doubt be on the plane to the land of the Kangaroos and the All Blacks. Andonovski could even become a real prodigy with the selection of Alyssa Thompson, who won’t turn 19 until November, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see her play at the World Cup.
If the USWNT wants to age a bit, there are two good options, both Which have late May birthdays. Lynn Williams just turned 30 on Sunday and Ashley Hatch will be 28 on Thursday. She neither has the scoring form of Smith or Morgan, nor the long-term potential of Rodman and Thompson. And if Andonovski really wants a wildcard, he dives once again into the old guard player pool and gives it to Megan Rapinoe. She will be 38 when the World Cup arrives, but she was America’s biggest star at the 2019 World Cup in France.
Rapinoe is on the bubble to be part of the team in a very similar situation to Landon Donovan in 2014, as an American soccer legend beyond his prime. Donovan was not selected and his presence was necessary for a younger squad. The USWNT shouldn’t have this problem in Australia and New Zealand with several 100+ capped beings all but stranded to make the squad, including Morgan. Rapinoe only shows up in major games. And there is no bigger event than the World Cup. Though Morgan will probably get the nod, the temptation of Smith or Rapinoe and what I honestly think has the best chance of unseating that pick.
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