Soccer fans are looking forward to the return of superstars Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but the U.S. women’s national team is also full of extremely talented rookies.
The 2023 squad — which has 14 first-timers on its 23-person roster — has an average age of 28. That’s been true for the past three editions of the World Cup, but the “veterans” this year are still relatively young. Captain Lindsey Horan is only 29, which her teammate Lynn Williams joked is “ancient.”
“I think this has to be the youngest team that we’ve ever had,” Horan said during a June interview on Williams’ “Snacks” podcast. That’s not quite true — the 1991 team had an average age of 23 — but she’s right that the 2023 squad is unusually green.
Sophia Smith, who signed with the Portland Thorns in 2020, made headlines earlier this year when she revealed that she’s never used a CD player. “A song will come on and Crystal [Dunn] will be like, ‘Soph, do you know who sings this?'” Smith, 22, told Fox Sports ahead of the tournament. “And I’m like, ‘No.’ And it will be Tupac or something or someone I’m supposed to know.”
Naomi Girma, meanwhile, was surprised to learn that Morgan, 34, once had to use paper printouts from MapQuest in order to find her way to games.
Generational differences aside, the younger players are thrilled to learn from athletes they grew up watching at home. “I can’t believe I’m playing with players that I’ve looked up to my whole life,” Alyssa Thompson told ESPN on July 6. “When I came in, every single player I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s her in real life.’ Literally every single player, I was like, ‘Whoa, I can’t believe I’m here.'”