Editorial (August 2, 2019) – The United States Women’s National Team is riding high. They’re about to start their 2019 Victory Tour after winning the Women’s World Cup in France. With changes in the guard, Mallory Pugh and the younger players are ready to stand on the shoulders of giants.
Mallory Pugh, Lindsey Horan Ready for USWNT Leadership Role
These last two World Cup cycles have been a culmination of a career for several of the stars of the USWNT. Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, and Carli Lloyd are now veterans and leaders of the first United States team to win back-to-back World Cups.
All three are now 30 years old or older. There’s no immediate threat to Morgan as the main center forward. Even if Rapinoe and Lloyd continue playing internationally, there are viable options for the team that could unseat them well before the 2023 World Cup.
Combined with manager Jill Ellis stepping down and the rest of the world catching up in talent and player development, the younger USWNT have some big shoes to fill with everyone coming to knock them off their pedestal. There’s also the Olympics next year.
For Colorado natives Lindsey Horan and Mallory Pugh, they’re up to the task. This team isn’t veterans and newbies.
“I feel more like a leader. Playing next to Julie Ertz is more of a comfort. She makes me better and I want to make her better. That’s how we all feel. It’s not younger players and older players, it’s all one,” said Horan. “I don’t feel young anymore.”
Mallory Pugh certainly believes the younger girls are ready to fill that vacuum.
“It’s meant so much to be a part of (this past World Cup cycle). I’ve learned so much from this veteran players. After winning this, I’ve learned that’s going to need another level to achieve what we want. It’s going to take the younger girls to step up.”
“We’re still to learn a lot from the veterans and continue to inspire people and focus on the Olympics for next year.”
That’s the mentality needed if the USWNT is going to do something in the Olympics and have a shot at defending their title in four years time.