USWNT Turns to Young Players for the SheBelieves Cup

While the US Men’s National Soccer Team tries to qualify for the FIFA World Cup after failing to do exactly that four years ago, the US Women’s National Soccer team is preparing for one of their most famous (and most fun) tournaments of the year. The 2022 SheBelieves Cup is scheduled to start on Thursday, and the US opens that tournament with a match against the Czech Republic at 11 pm. 

The SheBelieves Cup began in 2016 as a part of the SheBelieves campaign, which was launched directly following the USWNT’s historic 2015 World Cup win. It is a four-team international invitational women’s soccer tournament held in different cities in the US. This year, the Czech Republic, Iceland, and New Zealand travel to the US to participate in this tournament.

This will be the seventh year of the SheBelieves Cup. The USWNT has won this tournament in four of the past six years, including consecutive titles in 2020 and 2021. 

This year’s tournament is sponsored and presented by Visa, and it will run from February 17 to February 23. The first two matchdays will be held at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, and the final day of doubleheaders will take place at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Additional broadcast information will be announced by U.S. Soccer imminently.

Changes For USA Roster

The SheBelieves Cup roster for the US looks a little bit different this time around. Head coach Vlatko Andonovsky has added a lot of young, more inexperienced players to the roster in place of veteran players. USWNT legends Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Christen Press, and Tobin Heath will not be playing in the 2022 SheBelieves Cup, being replaced by younger players, like Sophia Smith and Ashley Sanchez.

According to ESPN’s Caitlin Murray, 11 players on the SheBelieves Cup roster have 25 or fewer caps in their careers, meaning that all of these players are very young and relatively inexperienced, especially when it comes to international matches

Andonovsky explained in November that he wanted to use these games and the games leading up to the 2023 World Cup qualifying matches as a way to find and shape the next generation of young players who can step up to the plate and perform well for the USWNT.

“In the next chapter up until the qualifiers, the main goal is to identify the players that we believe will help us in the qualifiers, first and foremost, and then will hopefully help us in the World Cup,” he said. 

The USWNT is aging, there is no doubt about that. Classic and legendary players like Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are getting older. Carli Lloyd retired after the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, in which the US won the bronze medal. Now more than ever, the US needs young players in the wake of the wave of retirement that is inevitable. Andonovsky is using the SheBelieves Cup to determine who the next leaders of this US women’s team will be.

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