Predicting the USWNT 2023 World Cup Roster before the New Year

HARRISON, NJ - NOVEMBER 13: Vlatko Andonovski Head Coach of United States watches his team during warm ups before the women's international friendly match against Germany at Red Bull Arena on November 13, 2022 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images)
HARRISON, NJ - NOVEMBER 13: Vlatko Andonovski Head Coach of United States watches his team during warm ups before the women's international friendly match against Germany at Red Bull Arena on November 13, 2022 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images) /

In a period of rebuilding for the USWNT, head coach Vlatko Andonovski has many difficult choices to make regarding the 2023 World Cup roster. The United States has always had a deep pool of talent, but only 23 players can travel to represent their country at the world cup. 

It’s been a year of ups and downs for the United States Women’s National Team. They’ve grappled with injuries and struggled against European teams both on home soil and away. They also won the CONCACAF W Championship in Mexico this summer, were once again crowned She Believes champions, and punched their ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

But their biggest challenge of 2023 is the Women’s World Cup, held this upcoming summer by cohosts Australia and New Zealand.

Head coach Vlatko Andonovski has been under pressure recently, with the USWNT suffering three losses in a row for the first time since 1993. Andonovski’s rosters have varied only slightly each camp, but he’s also limited by a long list of injured players.

Based on current information, this is a prediction of the roster we might see take on the World Cup in 2023. This roster prediction also takes into account FIFA denying roster expansion for the women’s world cup, keeping their rosters at 23 players instead of increasing them to 26 like the men.

The World Cup competition is heating up, and putting together a stellar roster will get the USWNT one step closer to defending their title.

USWNT 2023 World Cup roster prediction

Goalkeepers: Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Adrianna Franch (Kansas City Current)

It’s no secret that a goalkeeper can make or break a team. While the USWNT is in a rebuilding phase, Alyssa Naeher has consistently proven that she’s still starting lineup material. Casey Murphy earned nine caps this year, rotating into starting lineups for Naeher.

While Franch didn’t earn any caps this year, she was called up to the most recent camp due to her impressive club performance.

Defenders: Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Gotham FC), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Alana Cook (OL Reign), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns)

Senior leadership has always been an important piece of the puzzle for the USWNT, and Sauerbrunn and O’Hara provide that leadership both on and off the field. Tierna Davidson has recently been training again, recovering from injury. It’s expected that she’ll make her return in January camp, it wouldn’t be too far of a leap to assume she’ll make the world cup roster.

While there are solid arguments for Crystal Dunn to be listed as a midfielder, Andonovski still rosters her as a defender. She’s been consistently earning minutes since returning to the roster, with each performance for club and country stronger than the last.

Young talent like Huerta, Cook, and Girma have more than earned their spots this year, stepping up in big moments. In particular, it would be a mistake to leave NWSL Rookie and Defender of the year Naomi Girma off any roster.

Midfielders: Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyonnais), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit), Kristie Mewis (Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave)

The midfield currently remains the biggest question for the USWNT. Players like Lavelle, Horan, and Sullivan are staples on this team for good reason. They’re all talented veterans who bring finesse and experience to the pitch. Both Lavelle and Horan are nominated for Female U.S. Soccer Player of the Year. Although, starting them for every game is not a catch-all for the midfield.

Therefore, it’s important to mix up the midfield with the likes of young talent such as Sanchez and Kornieck. Plus, Kristie Mewis’ commitment to the high press and aggressive attack make her an excellent selection for the USWNT midfield.

Forwards: Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Christen Press (Angel City FC), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnais)

There are several forwards listed here that are currently injured, but Vlatko recently expressed his hopes that they would be returning soon. If they’re healthy, Macario and Press would be excellent additions to the world cup squad.

Veterans Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are expected to roster, as well as Mallory Pugh.

As far as fresh faces, Sophia Smith has become a regular starter for the team, connecting well with Pugh and Morgan. And while Trinity Rodman hasn’t earned as many minutes, she can make a real difference with limited time on the pitch, as we saw with her offside goal against England.

There are several players with question marks concerning their health, and it wouldn’t be impossible to see them slot in here later during the year. Tobin Heath, Lynn Williams, Emily Sonnett, Sam Mewis, and Abby Dahlkemper are some of the players recovering from injury at the moment. Not to mention younger talent all vying for a veteran’s spot.

Defenders Emily Fox, Hailie Mace, and Carson Pickett earned caps with the team this year and could be called up if injuries continue to hinder the USWNT’s defense. Things will most likely change before July, but it’s exciting to speculate and look forward to the future.

The USWNT play their next matches on Jan. 17 and 20 abroad against New Zealand.