Just when it seemed like the United States’ Women’s Soccer Team might be trending down, they get a boost. Several of their players might opt to not return for the next World Cup in 2023, although Alex Morgan confirmed she would. Their squad took a hit when former coach Jill Ellis announced she was stepping down, leaving the leadership role in question.
Now, they’ve found a way to fill that spot by hiring Kate Markgraf as the first GM in team history. Markgraf’s best days on the pitch were in the late 90s when she played for the Fighting Irish on the collegiate level. While there, she scored seven goals in 97 appearances. From there, she joined the USWNT until 2010, adding another 200 caps to her career and scoring once. In only her second year on the squad, the US secured its second World Cup title and first in nearly a decade.
Markgraf has found success at every level during her career and now has the chance to help keep a dominant USWNT relevant with the other top powers around the world.
Ellis stepped down on July 30, having served as head coach since 2014. She leaves behind quite the legacy, considering her “short” tenure with a team slowly making soccer more relevant in the States. She helped guide the US team through two World Cups (2015, 2019), resulting in two titles with many of the same faces leading the charge.
Some of those names include but aren’t limited to Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath, Kelly O’Hara, Ali Krieger, Christen Press, and Morgan.
Rapinoe (34 years old) – Rapinoe played an integral part in the most recent World Cup title run for the US. She scored one of their two goals in their 2-0 win over the Netherlands, clinching back-to-back titles. Rapinoe’s goal gave her the sole owner as being the oldest woman to score in a World Cup Final. She wrapped up the 2019 World Cup with six goals and two assists through five matches. She has yet to announce if she comes back in 2023, but indications show she’s likely to retire.
Lloyd (37 years old) – The oldest on the team, Lloyd is expected to have seen her last days on the pitch this year. She’s one of three co-captains for the USWNT, along with Rapinoe and Morgan. Lloyd finished up the 2019 World Cup with three goals.
Heath (31 years old) – One of the “younger” veterans on the team and could return for one more go-around is Heath. She’s already been part of two World title teams, adding another assist to her total which now sits at one goal and one assist in 12 World Cup matches.
O’Hara (31 years old) – Another possible returnee for the future is O’Hara, who’s found various ways to contribute on the biggest stage. She only had three caps during the 2015 World Cup, scoring once. This year, she added a pair of assists to the mix and took home another gold as a result.
Krieger (35 years old) – Sandwiched between Lloyd and Rapinoe in terms of age, Krieger has had her ups and downs. She’s made 10 caps in the World Cup between 2015 and 2019 but has yet to register a goal or assist. Given that fact, she might opt not to return in four years.
Press (30 years old) – Another possible returnee for the USWNT is Press, one of the younger veterans on the team. If she does decide to come back, she’ll be one of the older leaders, along with Morgan and anyone else who decides to give it another go. Press has 11 World Cup caps, scoring once in 2015, matching that this year and assisting on another goal.
Morgan (30 years old) – As mentioned above, Morgan has already confirmed she’s coming back with hopes of a three-peat. She’s played a big role for the international squad since bursting onto the scene a few years back. During the 2015 World Cup, Morgan scored just one time after returning from injury. She had a much more impactful performance earlier this year, scoring six times and assisting on another three goals for the USWNT.
While some of their proven stars might be on the fringe of retirement, the US still has some younger women looking to step up. Some of those names include Abby Dahlkemper (26 years old), Crystal Dunn (27 years old), Julie Ertz (27 years old), Sam Mewis (26 years old) Lindsey Horan (25 years old), and Rose Lavelle (24 years old), among others. While they didn’t all get on the scoresheet, the younger stars finished up with six goals and two assists.
The point is, though there’s expected to be a decline in almost every category for the next World Cup in 2023, all hope is not lost. Most of the current group is expected to remain together for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics next summer. Until then, the various veterans will lead their individual lives and continue to enjoy their Victory Tour.