The USWNT’s plane to Australia and New Zealand will be filled with some familiar and fresh faces ahead of its World Cup defense this summer.
Vlatko Andonovski unveiled his squad for the 2023 World Cup squad last week thanks to the help of a star-studded cast of famous faces, including the likes of the Bidens, Taylor Swift, Blake Lively, Shaquille O’Neal and Lil Wayne.
Kicking off on July 20, the USA are favorites to bring home the trophy and seal a historic three-peat, having won the previous iteration in France in 2019 and the previous tournament in 2015.
Incredibly, 14 of the 23-woman roster will be going to their first World Cup, marking a real changing of the guard and some new names, including one very young one in 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson.
Here, Mail Sport takes a look through the members of the USWNT from headline-makers like Megan Rapinoe to Trinity Rodman, out to create her own sporting legacy, ahead of their World Cup defense…
The USWNT will look to defend its World Cup title in Australia and New Zealand this summer
Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC)
There is no doubt that Alex Morgan is one of the most well-known names and most experienced players on this roster.
The forward will be making her fourth appearance at the World Cup, having won the last three with the USWNT.
Currently playing for the San Diego Wave, Morgan has been frequently on target both domestically and internationally. She ranks in the top 10 in USWNT history in goals, assists and multi-goal games and infamously celebrated a goal against England at the 2019 World Cup with the tea sip move.
Away from the field, Morgan tied the knot with Servando Carrasco, a midfielder who last played for Fort Lauderdale CF, in 2014.
The couple, who met during their days as college athletes at Cal, welcomed daughter Charlie in May 2020 with Morgan returning to the field with the USWNT in November that year, just five months after giving birth.
The soccer icon also has friends in high places with pop sensation Taylor Swift among her group of pals.
They first appeared together when Swift invited the World Cup-winning team on stage with her during her 1989 tour and since then it appears they have been close with the hitmaker even announcing Morgan’s selection to the roster.
Morgan recently starred in a Calvin Klein photoshoot, stripping down in black and white campaign images for the underwear designer’s ‘Calvins or nothing’, alongside England star Chloe Kelly.
Alex Morgan and husband Servando Carrasco welcomed daughter Charlie in May 2020
Morgan starred in a Calvin Klein photoshoot, stripping down in black and white images
Taylor Swift threw her weight behind the team as she revealed Morgan’s spot on the team
Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign)
Rapinoe stole the show at the 2019 World Cup, winning the Golden Boot and Golden Ball.
But, while still likely to dazzle in Australia and New Zealand, Rapinoe, now a veteran and idol of this side, will also take on a leadership role for the USA’s youthful roster.
Rapinoe has a sports star fiancee to match her own athletic achievements in former WNBA player Sue Bird.
The couple fittingly met at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and got engaged four years later in October 2020.
Between them, Rapinoe and Bird, who played for the Seattle Storm, they have six Olympic Gold medals, three FIBA World Champion titles and two World Cup wins.
Rapinoe was a trailblazer in the LGBTQ+ community and for a long time was the only player ‘out’ in soccer.
She came out in the July 2012 edition of ‘Out’ magazine, just prior to the London Games where she would help lead Team USA to the gold medal.
Rapinoe stole the show at the 2019 World Cup, winning the Golden Boot and Golden Ball
Rapinoe has a sports star fiancee to match her achievements in former WNBA player Sue Bird
Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit)
Trinity Rodman isn’t the only famous athlete in her family. The 21-year-old forward is the daughter of former Chicago Bulls icon Dennis Rodman.
But the rising star has established herself on the sporting stage in her own right. Fearless on the field, Rodman is soccer box office and has proved herself so valuable to the Washington Spirit that her deal is reportedly worth $1.1million over four years, which a massive figure for the NWSL.
She is the second youngest member on the roster and is headed for her first World Cup Down Under.
Rodman received a call out from Shaquille O’Neal following the roster announcement for the World Cup but not her dad. She admitted to Fox to not having spoken to Dennis for ‘months’ but insisted that she knew he was proud of her.
But she has her mom, Michelle Moyer, a former track athlete, in her corner.
Trinity Rodman is the daughter of former Chicago Bulls icon Dennis Rodman
The rising star has established herself on the sporting stage in her own right
Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC)
Sophia Smith exploded onto the scene in 2022, winning the NWSL MVP award after leading the Portland Thorns to the title.
She started at Stanford in the fall of 2018, where she met her boyfriend Michael Wilson, a receiver for the football team.
They met on one of the first days on campus and have been together ever since watching each other’s rise to fame with Wilson being selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the third-round of April’s NFL Draft.
After just two seasons at college, Smith decided to turn pro and was drafted by the Portland Thorns with the No. 1 pick of the 2020 NWSL Draft, becoming the first teenager drafted in the league.
Sophia Smith exploded onto the scene in 2022, winning the NWSL MVP award
She met her boyfriend Michael Wilson, a receiver for the football team, at Stanford
Alyssa Thompson (Angel City FC)
The youngest player on the roster at age 18, Thompson is already a phenomenon. The youngster has only just started her professional journey but has already – and rightfully – claimed her place on the team.
It’s been an insane 12 months for the 18-year-old, At the age of 15, she had received an offer from Stanford University but opted out of her commitment to the program to declare for the 2023 NWSL Draft, where she was taken first overall.
She went on to score just 11 minutes into her professional debut for Angel City FC in a friendly against Club America and also found the net on her NWSL debut in a 1-2 loss against NJ/NY Gotham FC.
She made her national team debut at Wembley in London against the Lionesses last fall, was called up mid-camp as a replacement for Mallory Swanson and has now sealed a spot in Andonovski’s World Cup roster.
Her rise isn’t unprecedented, however. By the age of 17, she was already the star of the USWNT Under 20 team and had clinched a deal with Nike, becoming the first high schooler to sign with the sportswear giant.
Thompson clearly doesn’t live the life of a normal teenager and even had to miss her prom due to a soccer game with Angel City.
The youngest player on the roster at age 18, Thompson is already a phenomenon
The teenager even had to miss her prom due to a soccer game with Angel City
Lynn Williams (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
Drafted in 2015, Williams is a NWSL veteran with three titles, an MVP award and a Golden Boot to her name.
After being sidelines for almost the entirety of the 2022 season with a complex hamstring injury, she was traded from Kansas City to NJ/NY Gotham FC.
But this surprisingly will be her first World Cup appearance for the USA.
Lynn Williams is a veteran with three titles (pictured throwing the first pitch at a Yankees game)
Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC)
Racing Louisville midfielder Savannah DeMelo stands out on this roster for one reason; she is the only player yet to make her senior international debut for the USWNT.
DeMelo was called into USWNT camps twice last fall, once in September as a replacement for Rodman and once in October, but neither resulted in any minutes on the field.
But her performances with Louisville have earned her her spot.
Savannah DeMelo (L) is the only player to have yet to make her senior international debut
Julie Ertz (Angel City FC)
Ertz, another veteran on this roster, played a huge role in the USWNT’s consecutive World Cup titles, in 2015 and 2019 but it wasn’t a guarantee that she would be on the plane this summer.
Ertz was still pregnant when the USA won last summer’s CONCACAF W Championship. She had announced her pregnancy last April, missing the entirety of the NWSL season, and gave birth to Madden Matthew Ertz, her son with husband, NFL star Zach Ertz, last August.
Even as recent as February, head coach Vlatko Andonovski was telling reporters he didn’t expect to count on Ertz for the World Cup but just over a month later she was named on the roster for April’s friendlies.
A few weeks later Ertz signed with Angel City FC and has never taken her eyes of the goal of the World Cup.
She credited her husband Zach, who is a tight end for the Arizona Cardinals, for her comeback.
‘I think just allowing me to do my thing. I think his support of how I wanted to do things as a mom, how I wanted to process getting my body back, being able to be a sound board for me talking, venting, figuring out what that looks like for me,’ Ertz told TSN.
Julie Ertz played a huge role in the USWNT’s consecutive World Cup titles
Ertz gave birth to Madden Matthew Ertz, her son with husband, NFL star Zach Ertz, last August
She credited her husband Zach, who is a tight end for the Arizona Cardinals, for her comeback
Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA)
Morgan and Rapinoe, as the two most recognizable faces on the roster, could be considered contenders for the captaincy this summer but it’s Lindsey Horan who is the favorite.
The midfielder is a 2019 World Cup champion, a two-time Olympian and a Champions League champion with Olympique Lyon and has even been publicly called ‘co-captain’ by long-time captain Becky Sauerbrunn, who misses out this year due to injury.
Although Andonovski has remained coy about who will lead his team down under, it is widely expected to be Horan.
And, if and when she is officially handed the armband, it will wrap up quite the month for the midfielder.
On June 20, Horan announced her engagement to Tyler Heaps, sharing photos of her and her now-fiance popping the question amid a beautiful mountain scene. Now, she could be heading to Australia and New Zealand with a ring and an armband.
Lindsey Horan is a strong contender for the captaincy (pictured with fiance Tyler Heaps)
Rose Lavelle (OL Reign)
A creative component of the USA’s midfield, Lavelle is back for her second World Cup after being a part of the 2019 winning side.
However, she hasn’t played a game since April due to a knee injury. But she does most of her best work for the national team and Andonovski will be desperate to have her back for the knockout stages of the tournament.
The Cincinnati native, who has scored 24 goals in 88 appearances for the national team, was a four-year starter with Wisconsin and was named Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year for 2013.
She helped Wisconsin win the Big Ten Women’s Soccer Tournament the following year and was named Big Ten Midfielder of the Year consecutively in 2015 and 2016.
Rose Lavelle is back for her second World Cup after being a part of the 2019 winning side
Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
At 32 years old, Kristie Mewis is the oldest player making her World Cup debut for the USWNT at the 2023 tournament.
That’s not to say she isn’t inexperienced. Mewis has been knocking about the national team system for a decade but missed out on the 2015 and 2019 editions.
Her inclusion also marks the first time in USWNT history that sisters have represented the USA on World Cup rosters after her younger sister Samantha made the team in 2019.
The sisters sadly won’t be making more history by playing in the same tournament, however, as the younger Mewis sibling had her World Cup hopes dashed by having to undergo a second knee surgery in January.
While her sister won’t be playing in the World Cup, Mewis’s girlfriend will be – albeit on an opposing side.
Mewis is dating Australia and Chelsea star Sam Kerr. The pair fell head first in love in the lead-up to the 2021 Olympics where – following America’s defeat of Australia in the semifinals – they were first photographed together.
Their on-pitch embrace made headlines as Kerr’s break-up from her former longtime partner – another US club player Nikki Stanton – had not yet become public.
Kristie Mewis is dating Australia and Chelsea star Sam Kerr (pictured right)
They were first photographed together after USA’s defeat of Australia in the 2021 Olympics
Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit)
Sanchez is yet another young member of the American roster to be making her World Cup debut this year.
Yet while she’ll be suiting up for the American side, she, along with Sofia Huerta, will join Stephanie Cox as the only Mexican Americans to represent the USA at a World Cup.
She was born to a Mexican American father, Ralph, and a white-American mother, Julie, in Pasadena, California, on March 16, 1999. Just three months later, the USWNT clinched the title on home soil, down the road at the Rose Bowl.
Sanchez joined UCLA’s women’s soccer team in 2017 and led the Bruins in assists in each of her three seasons with the program, including a freshman campaign that ended in the NCAA title game.
Sanchez joined UCLA’s soccer team in 2017 and led the Bruins in assists in each season
Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)
Sullivan, from Lorton, Virginia, was a member of the Washington Spirit reserve team before she was drafted by the club with the first overall pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft.
She has regularly earned call-ups to the USWNT, totaling three goals and five assists in 44 caps with the side since her first senior team appearance in 2016.
But this year will mark her first World Cup where she’ll be a consistent defensive mid option for the squad.
Alana Cook (OL Reign)
Cook started her professional career in France with Paris Saint-Germain and her arrival to NWSL came in 2020 during a short loan with the inaugural Challenge Cup and ever since she’s been with the OL Reign.
She’s also been a regular feature at Andonovski’s camps and in Sauerbrunn’s absence she’s expected to be starting at center back down under.
She opened her international scoring account during a friendly against Ireland in April as she scored her first goal for the USA with a 40-yard screamer on her birthday.
The wonder goal naturally garnered praise from her teammates, including Rapinoe, but it also caught the attention of Serena Williams’s husband and reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
He tweeted: ‘Congrats @_alana_cook and happy cake day!! Nice way to celebrate it.’
Alana Cook has been with the OL Reign since 2020 after starting her career in France
Her debut international goal caught the attention of Serena Williams’s husband Alexis Ohanian
Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC)
Dunn is one of the most decorated players in American women’s soccer and is the de facto left back for the USA ahead of her second World Cup.
The left back has been married to athletic trainer Pierre Soubrier since 2018 and the couple welcomed their son, Marcel, in 2022.
The 2019 World Cup champion gave birth to her son on May 20, 2022. A month later, she was back training. Eighteen weeks later, she played in her first game, completing a remarkable return.
She also regularly posts videos to her Instagram story of their three pet chickens, Rocky, Toulouse and Quinn.
But the couple were caught up in scandal earlier this year when Soubrier was fired by her current club the Portland Thorns after a league investigation found he ‘administered a controlled substance to players without a prescription and verbal consent.’
Crystal Dunn gave birth to her son on May 20, 2022 and played her first game 18 weeks later
The left back has been married to athletic trainer Pierre Soubrier since 2018
Emily Fox (North Carolina Courage)
Fox was selected No. 1 in the 2021 NWSL draft by Racing Louisville. She was a finalist for rookie of the year honors and appeared in all but one match.
She remained a regular last season before asking to be traded ahead of the current season and landing with the North Carolina Courage.
Fox is one of the 14 World Cup rookies but is expected to frustrate opposing attackers and keep the rival midfield on their toes.
Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC)
Naomi Girma, an Ethiopian American, is set to play her first World Cup after being named 2022 NWSL Rookie and Defender of the Year.
In the late 1970s, her father, Girma Aweke, fled the corrupt dictatorship in Ethiopia, making it to Sudan where he made daily trips to a UN office before being one of 5,000 refugees sent to San Francisco.
Decades later his daughter graduated from Stanford with a 3.92 GPA majored in symbolic systems, which might explain her ability to read space so well.
It is a tall task to fill the shoes of the absent Sauerbrunn but Girma has already shown she has the ability to shine for the USA with her excellent positioning.
Naomi Girma is set to play her first World Cup after being named 2022 NWSL Rookie
Sofia Huerta (OL Reign)
Huerta, like Sanchez, is another member of this US roster with Mexican heritage on her paternal side.
The defender, who was born in Idaho, first donned the Stars and Stripes in 2012 to kick off her international career but was not called up by the US for the U20 World Cup that same year, which prompted her to represent Mexico instead.
However, her choice to represent the homeland of her father wasn’t widely accepted by the Mexican fans, who called her ‘gringa,’ she told NECN.
And at the end of 2014, she declared she was going to try and work her way up the USWNT ranks instead.
Sofia Huerta declared she was going to try and work her way up the USWNT ranks in 2014
Kelley O’Hara (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
At 34, O’Hara is another decorated veteran of this US roster, but just because it will be her fourth World Cup, doesn’t mean it means any less.
O’Hara revealed to the Today show that she burst into tears upon getting the call informing her she’d made the squad.
The defender made headlines in 2019 when she officially came out by running over to kiss her girlfriend Kameryn Stanhouse to celebrate the USA’s World Cup win. Fast forward three years and the couple got engaged on New Year’s Eve.
O’Hara, who was also a member of the 2012 Olympic Gold winning side, is additionally the founder and host of the podcast Just Women’s Sports.
Kelley O’Hara officially came out by running over to kiss her girlfriend Kameryn Stanhouse to celebrate the USA’s World Cup win in 2019
Emily Sonnett (OL Reign)
Sonnett has played in 74 matches for the USA, recoding one goal and five assists and filling a key role in defense.
She is heading to her second World Cup off the back of her involvement in the team’s 2019 win and its 2022 CONCACAF Women’s Championship victory.
In a bizarre move, the Washington Spirit traded Sonnett to the OL Reign at the beginning of the season, citing structural changes as the reason.
Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit)
A league veteran and 2021 NWSL champion, Kingsbury has grinded her way back into the USA squad after her recent performances with the Spirit.
This is her first senior World Cup appearance and she is likely to play a role as third choice goalkeeper.
Kingsbury, formerly Aubrey Bledsoe before her December 2021 wedding to husband Matt Kingsbury, is involved with Compassion International, a child sponsorship and Christian humanitarian aid organization, and posts to her Instagram, encouraging her 21,900 followers to join her.
Aubrey Kingsbury is involved with Compassion International, sharing posts to her Instagram
Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage)
Murphy played NCAA Division I soccer for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights from 2014 until 2017, where she met fiance Chris Mirabelli.
She chose to redshirt her final year to compete in the 2018 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup and earned the Female Big Ten Medal of Honor in May of that year.
The 27-year-old began her career in France with Montpellier before signing with Reign FC, now known as OL Reign, in May 2019.
The shotstopper was traded to the North Carolina Courage in October 2020 in exchange for international teammate Crystal Dunn.
Murphy has impressed when called upon and could provide competition for Alyssa Naeher for the starting position.
Casey Murphy played for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, where she met fiance Chris Mirabelli
Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
Connecticut native Naeher started playing soccer at just age four but also excelled at basketball during high school.
She made her first appearance at the World Cup in 2015 and has been the USA’s first-choice goalkeeper since 2017.
Her second World Cup came in 2019 where her three huge saves proved crucial in the semifinal against England.