The U.S. women’s national team concluded their two-game series against Colombia with a remarkable 3-0 victory on Sunday, offering a glimpse into the squad’s promising future. The first half saw a scoreless draw with a lineup comprised of players who competed in last summer’s Women’s World Cup. However, interim head coach Twila Kilgore introduced newcomers Mia Fishel and Jaedyn Shaw in the second half, and they made an immediate impact by scoring their first international goals.
This match is reported to be Kilgore’s final one in charge as U.S. Soccer is nearing the announcement of a new head coach for the USWNT. Sunday’s game provided encouraging signs for both observers and potential coaching candidates. Here are the key takeaways from the team’s dominant triumph:
Something old: Kilgore has favored a familiar approach during her stint as interim head coach, relying on known tactics and players, with the belief that the eventual successor to Vlatko Andonovski will need to make the tough decisions. Despite this, she made changes in the midfield for Sunday’s game, substituting Savannah DeMelo for Andi Sullivan. The alteration injected more attacking flair into the team’s performance, resulting in a higher energy level and an easier breakthrough against Colombia’s sturdy defense compared to their goalless draw on Thursday. DeMelo also showcased her set piece skills, which had earned her a spot in the World Cup squad despite her debut coming in the sendoff game.
Emily Sonnett and Lindsey Horan retained their starting positions, but the change in midfield benefited Horan the most. She was among the most active attackers on the pitch and scored a goal in the second half. Sonnett and DeMelo also demonstrated their value in unlocking the U.S. offense, solidifying their positions in the lineup.
Something new: Kilgore also experimented in the forward line by fielding Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman alongside Alex Morgan. The effectiveness of this formation varied in the first half, with the attack struggling to find a finishing touch, particularly for Morgan, whose goal drought for the national team now extends to 11 games. Smith was substituted at halftime to manage her minutes, as she is recovering from injury and currently involved in the Portland Thorns’ NWSL playoffs. This change allowed Fishel and Shaw to make their entrance.
Many have eagerly awaited the opportunity for Fishel and Shaw to showcase their talents, and they did not disappoint. Fishel played in a central position, while Shaw operated on the wing. Both players demonstrated their potential early in the second half. Fishel scored her first international goal from a set piece, heading in a well-placed ball from Sonnett. Shaw followed suit by scoring her debut goal for the team in the 83rd minute, capitalizing on a well-executed play with Alyssa Thompson.
The kids are alright: While Fishel and Shaw stole the spotlight with their debut goals, they were not the only young talents who highlighted the bright future of the team. Thompson, the youngest member of the World Cup team, made a significant impact in her 18-minute cameo, adding to her growing experience with the national team. Additionally, 24-year-old Sam Coffey, an impressive performer in the Portland Thorns’ modified NWSL season and a candidate for NWSL MVP, also received playing time, positioning herself as a potential candidate for the USWNT’s post-World Cup rebuild.
Despite relying on experience in the starting lineup, Kilgore’s selection hinted at a transition towards the next generation. Only two players, Morgan and Crystal Dunn, are above the age of 30. Moreover, the starting lineup featured players who have the potential to lead the attack for years to come, such as Smith and Rodman. In addition, center back Naomi Girma is considered one of the best players of her generation. Although it took time to reach this point during the team’s Olympics preparations, the USWNT appears to be ready to pass the torch to the next wave of talent.