Welcome to the unofficial start of the United States women’s national team’s road to the 2023 World Cup.
The mixed emotions from this year’s Olympic bronze medal are now a thing of the past, as are the four friendly matches which followed the melancholic ‘celebration tour,’ the last of which served as the sendoff game for Carli Lloyd, who retired after nearly 17 years as a professional.
Now, a young U.S. team is in Australia for a pair of friendlies over the course of the next week. The roster hardly looks like the one that went to the Olympics a few months ago. It includes six uncapped players and many more who have little experience or have not been with the team in several years. Not every player on the trip will stick around for the long haul, but one thing is clear: this is a group which U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski believes he can build from moving forward.
“Australia is the starting point of the next chapter,” Andonovski told The Equalizer. “In the next chapter up until the qualifiers, the main goal is to identify the players that we believe will help us in the qualifiers, first and foremost, and then will hopefully help us in the World Cup.”
Andonovski and his coaching staff have identified three distinct groups of players. First are the players who he needs to see more from to determine if they can contribute to the U.S. as it evolves and moves forward. Consider these the fringe players fighting for another look.