The USWNT camp begins September 14 in Cleveland, Ohio, and the amount of young and new players is concerning after less than stellar Olympic run
The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) dropped the upcoming camp roster on Sept. 9 - the first camp and games since the Tokyo Olympics. With the less than stellar performance that the USWNT saw in the Olympics - finishing with the Bronze medal - these upcoming camps are a time to start looking at the future of the team. However, the announced roster is less than new and young players compared to the Olympic Roster.
Fan favorites like Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Kelley O’Hara and Carli Lloyd were named to the roster and expected. Other fan favorites such as goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, midfielders Julie Ertz and Sam Mewis and forward Megan Rapinoe are out with injuries. Naeher and Mewis will join the team for evaluation and rehabilitation. These injuries led to some unexpected call ups for Mallory Pugh of the Chicago Red Stars, Sophia Smith of the Portland Thorns and Andi Sullivan of Washington Spirit.
But with the subpar performance in the Olympics, it was expected for head coach Vlatko Andonovski to make some changes and start bringing in younger players to prepare for the World Cup qualifying run. However, this roster remains relatively unchanged, seeing no new names in the list of defenders and little to no changes in the midfielders and forwards. The current roster remains at an average age of 28.4 years old dropping from the Olympic run of 30.8 years old due to young players such as Smith and Pugh.
Most of the USWNT is either at 30 years old or older which creates the problem of declining athleticism and the body’s ability to recover and resource effectively. Studies have shown that by the time an individual reaches 30, their VO2Max will drop by 10% with each decade. Athletes who continue to train can reduce that number by 5% per decade but it is still a noticeable difference in performance. This is caused due to decreased maximal heart rate thus reducing cardiac output and oxygen delivery to muscles - why we see a decrease in endurance performances.
With a majority of key USWNT players over the age of 30, this is cause for concern in the upcoming World Cup run. Not only is the team dealing with a higher average age than most other national teams - Canada sitting at an average of 24 years old, England at 26 years old and Dutch at 26 years old - but with higher age comes longer recovery for injuries. There are four players sitting out of this camp due to injury, all starting players.
While one can argue that the older age of the USWNT gives them more skillful playmaking abilities and the experience to win over other teams, that argument does not hold up from the standings of the 2020 Olympics. If the USWNT had won gold or made a decent run for gold, this current roster would be less concerning. However, the fact remains, the US lost to Sweden, lost to Canada, barely beat Netherlands with penalty kicks and had too many close games with Australia to feel confident about the current roster going into the World Cup qualifiers.
Andonoskvi has to make tough choices in this upcoming year. Either mix more young players in with your veterans to learn and grow the game or stick with the same roster and grow the chemistry that has been lacking. With a less than stellar Olympic run and the inability to keep a good chemistry on the field among players, Andonoskvi has a steep uphill battle if he wants his team to claim another star in 2023.