Eighteen-year-old Alyssa Thompson was selected Wednesday alongside veteran Megan Rapinoe and 21 others for the U.S. roster that will vie next month to do what no country has done before — raise a third straight trophy at the Women’s World Cup.
Thompson, who has been impressive this season as a rookie for Angel City in the National Women’s Soccer League, is the youngest on the roster, while the 37-year-old Rapinoe is the oldest.
“I’ve already talked to some of the other experienced players about how we rally this group of players from ages 18 through (Rapinoe),” Forward Alex Morgan joked. “Just how we can all come together and be incredibly fluid and go through this World Cup.”
The players were introduced with a star-studded social media post that included President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Taylor Swift, Lil Wayne and Megan Thee Stallion.
Morgan, 33, and Rapinoe will each be making their fourth World Cup appearance for the No. 1 ranked U.S. team. Morgan stopped short of saying the Americans were the favorites going into the tournament.
“I think that at the end of the day, we already have a target on our backs coming in as reigning World Cup champs. But there’s some teams that have done incredibly well over the last four years and have made a name for themselves to compete for this trophy,” she said.
Defender Kelley O’Hara, 34, also earned a spot on her fourth World Cup squad, lending a veteran presence to shore up the backline in the absence of team captain Becky Sauerbrunn, who announced last week she won’t play in the World Cup because of a lingering foot injury.
The tournament kicks off on July 20 in Australia and New Zealand. The Americans are in Group E with Vietnam, the Netherlands and Portugal. The United States, which has won four total World Cups, opens with Vietnam on July 22 in Auckland.
“We want to do something that’s never been done before. We believe in the quality of the team and the support we have and we think we have what it takes to make it possible,” Andonovski said about the opportunity to win a third straight World Cup title.
Rapinoe is currently nursing a calf injury but she should be ready to play in the U.S. team’s sendoff match against Wales on July 9 in San Jose, California. Andonovski said she will take on a different role than in 2019, when she scored six goals including a penalty in a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the final.
“She certainly is going to have different types of minutes. But her role, first from the leadership standpoint is so important, but also her performance on the field is very valuable for us,” Andonovski said.
The team has been hit by injuries in the run-up to the event. In addition to Sauerbrunn, the United States will be without forward Mallory Swanson, who tore the patella tendon in her left knee. Swanson had seven goals this year before she was hurt in an April exhibition match against Ireland.
Catarina Macario, a talented forward who tore her ACL last year while playing for her French club, Lyon, did not recover in time for a spot on the team. Midfielder Sam Mewis also has a lingering injury and wasn’t available for the World Cup.
Some of the youngsters include 22-year-old Sophia Smith, who was named both the NWSL Most Valuable Player and the U.S. Soccer Player of the Year for 2022, and 21-year-old Trinity Rodman, U.S. Soccer’s Young Player of the Year in 2021 and the daughter of former NBA star Dennis Rodman.
Thompson is the second-youngest player ever named to a World Cup roster, behind U.S. assistant coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak, who played in the 1995 World Cup. Thompson was called onto the team in early April for a match against Ireland, taking the place of Swanson.
A surprise inclusion on the roster was 25-year-old Savannah DeMelo, who has yet to appear in a match for the United States. DeMelo plays for Racing Louisville in the NWSL, and has scored in three of her last four matches. She has five total goals this season.
DeMelo is just the third U.S. player to be named to a World Cup squad without playing in an international-level match.
“Her performance in the league was one of the biggest reasons why she’s on the team,” Andonovski said. “And based on the needs that we have in terms of the opponents and different situations that we may face, we see Sav being very important to us going forward.”
The roster by position with club affiliation:
Goalkeepers: Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
Defenders: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Fox (North Carolina Courage), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Kelley O’Hara (Gotham), Emily Sonnett (OL Reign).
Midfielders: Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC), Julie Ertz (Angel City), Lindsey Horan (Lyon), Rose Lavelle, (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Gotham), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit).
Forwards: Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns), Alyssa Thompson (Angel City), Lynn Williams (Gotham FC).