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Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

From heroes to zeroes: What happened to the US women’s soccer team?
The US national women’s soccer team got knocked out of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on August 6. (

On August 6, millions across the US turned off their TVs, dismayed and taken aback. The US National Women’s Soccer Team had been knocked out of the FIFA Women’s World Cup after losing 5-4 in penalties against Sweden. Fans throughout the nation had been sure that the US would cruise through the tournament, or at the very least get into one of the top three spots. Instead, they got out in the Round of 16.  So, what went wrong?

For context, the U.S. started off strong. Flying out of the gates with a 3-0 win against Vietnam, they familiarly dominated the game with a total of 28 shots and 66% possession. Head coaches Vlatko Andonovski and Twila Kilgore started 23-year-old Stanford University alumni Sophia Smith, who surprisingly ended up scoring two goals before halftime, one of them left-footed. Lindsey Horan, who has been playing for the United States Woman’s National Team (USWNT) since 2013, also started and scored a lower-right corner banger three minutes before the final whistle. 

However, during America’s second game of the World Cup against the Netherlands, the team began to go downhill. It featured what was arguably one of the most controversial starting lineups, with Alex Morgan playing striker, Sophia Smith on the left playing outside midfield, and Naomi Girma playing left fullback. Alex Morgan has played for the U.S. Women’s National Team for almost 14 years and simply isn’t in her prime anymore. During the game, she had very little impact and didn’t create many opportunities for a goal.

US fans cheering on their team during the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Sophia Smith, a new addition to the team, leaves viewers to wonder whether she should be starting over a more veteran player like Rose Lavelle, who is in the prime of her career and is a consistent, effective player. Since Smith is new, she hasn’t had a chance to form the bond that other players like Lavelle have already formed that brings tried-and-true chemistry onto the field. This similarly applies to Naomi Girma, who, as a new player, started the game playing left fullback, which in many people’s eyes is a rather large defensive liability, leading to more doubt about the coach’s strange choices. The team played a mainly defensive game but pulled through with a 1-1 final score. A corner kick from Lavelle resulted in a spectacular header by captain Lindsey Horan, carrying the team further into the group stage. 

Next came the Portugal game. Anticipating a more offensive game, the coaches changed the lineup slightly by starting Lavelle, a creative and dependable player, on the left outside midfield. However, after a yellow card was given to her, she had to be replaced by Savannah DeMelo, as was Trinity Rodman by Lynn Williams. After this, it became apparent that just changing the lineup can’t fix everything, with the team performing as poorly as ever.

I think that this year’s team had a lot of potential to win and advance, but unfortunately this year just wasn’t for them and I think that the future is bright.

— Sophomore Leah Jackson

Many viewers believe that the team got too comfortable after being so successful in previous World Cups and wasn’t putting in enough effort. Just a few minutes before the final whistle, U.S. supporters held their breath as a shot from Ana Capeta nearly slid into the goal, just inches away as it bounced off the pole, leaving the end score at 0-0. Surprisingly, the team continued to keep a happy and cheerful attitude when walking off the field, after such a mediocre and, quite frankly, inadequate game.

The end of the USWNT’s 2023 World Cup run came with the game against Sweden. Head Coach Twila Kilgore began a starting line-up with strong players like Julie Ertz in outside midfield, Crystal Dunn on defense, and Lindsey Horan in central midfield. The team’s chemistry and energy were undoubtedly better than in previous games, with many more offensive plays and possible shots. A little after halftime, Megan Rapinoe was subbed in and didn’t seem to influence the game in any effective way, constantly making the wrong decision or pass and completely missing any shots she had. The pressure had finally gotten to the U.S. team as they realized this was the round that could be the closing act for the team.

The Swedes put up an outstanding fight; the teams seemed to be in a dead-even matchup. In the end, neither team was able to put away a goal, which led to penalties which, after a hopeful 3-2 lead, got progressively worse. Multiple players completely missed the goal, which is extremely odd to see at such a high level of soccer, and after Rapinoe shot and missed by many yards above the goal, she was even caught laughing it off.

This year’s performance left United States viewers feeling unsatisfied and disappointed with the choices made by both coaches and players. In the end, it was quite a letdown on the part of the U.S. team, and hopefully, they will be able to learn from their mistakes this year and improve moving forward.

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About the Contributors
Lolah Slagg
Lolah Slagg, Reporter
Lolah is a sophomore at Niles North and this is her first year on North Star News. In her free time she enjoys playing soccer, reading, or hanging out with friends.
Yoni Soloveychik
Yoni Soloveychik, Asst. People Editor
Yoni Soloveychik is a sophomore at Niles North. This is his second year writing for NSN and he likes a lot of different things.

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