When the USA women’s national soccer team kicks off the 2022 season on February 17th in the SheBelieves Cup, several veteran players, including firebrand progressive Meg =an Rapinoe won’t be on the roster. On Thursday, head coach Vlatko Andonovski unveiled the 23-player roster that will compete in the event.
For the first time, Rapinoe’s spot on the World Cup roster won’t be a guarantee as Coach Adnonovski is letting some of the younger women compete for roster spots held for years by the veteran players on the team.
“Every player in the pool is focused on making the roster for World Cup and Olympic qualifying this summer, and every training session and especially every match is a means to that end for them and for the coaching staff,” Coach Adnonovski said. “The SheBelieves Cup is also a great opportunity to help prepare for rhythm of group play at the Concacaf W Championship as we have to face three different opponents and different styles of play over a short period of time.”
The SheBelieves cup gives Adnovski a chance to put the younger players on the roster to see how they perform on the international stage. Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Julie Ertz, all World Cup veterans will instead be playing in a round-robin tournament while the younger players get the call-up.
He says his decision is not a slight toward the veterans, but on the same hand, he needs to prepare for a future without aging players such as Rapinoe, 36.
“All these players are very good players. We all know that. They’ve done so much for this team and they’ve won everything possible,” Andonovski said. “But right now in these camps, I felt like I want to give a chance to players like Sophie Smith and Mal Pugh and Catarina Macario. Players that have earned their spots on the national team, or their spots back on the national team.”
Andonvoski said that he greatly appreciates the past contributions by players like Rapinoe, but the aging veterans need to continue performing as world class soccer stars, adding what they did a year or two years ago isn’t important for team trying to win games today, to develop and prepare for the 2023 World Cup.
“It doesn’t mean these players haven’t done well in the past. They’re not just going to come back in next game because they’ve done well a year ago or two years ago,” he said. “So I mean, there’s a reason why Mia Hamm is not in camp still. We’re not calling Julie Foudy into camp, right? The same goes here. They need to perform. They need to play in their markets. They to play well in their markets and show that they can still contribute and be valuable for the national team.”
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