Emma Hayes has announced her first squad for a major tournament, selecting just 18 players for the upcoming Olympics in Paris. This roster highlights an embrace of emerging talent, with Hayes sending a clear message that no veteran star was too revered to be cut.

The USWNT roster reflects a transition led by Hayes in collaboration with assistant coach Twila Kilgore, who served as interim head coach before Hayes took over. Together, they have focused on balancing leadership with youth. Hayes emphasized the importance of providing opportunities for less experienced players since taking on her new role. “One of the biggest things for me ever since I got the job, was I want to provide opportunities for less experienced players,” Hayes stated. “The volume of players that haven’t played more than 30 caps was really, really noticeable for me. So the last eight months has been about giving experiences to bridge that gap, because there is a correlation between caps played and success at international tournaments”, via The Guardian.

The selected squad, with an average age of 26.8, is the youngest USWNT Olympic squad since 2008 and the fourth youngest in the team’s history. The average number of caps per player in this squad is 58, approximately half of the 111 average caps in the Tokyo roster. The youngest player is 19-year-old Jaedyn Shaw, making her the fifth youngest ever named to a USWNT Olympic roster.

Despite the youth movement, experienced players remain. Trinity Rodman, Sophia Smith, Naomi Girma, and Emily Fox, all of whom played in their first World Cup in 2023, are included. Longtime veterans Lindsey Horan, Crystal Dunn, Alyssa Naeher, and Rose Lavelle, each with over 100 appearances, will also be present. Horan, Dunn, and Naeher are set to become three-time Olympians.

A notable absence is Alex Morgan, missing her first major tournament since 2008. Hayes praised Morgan’s contributions: “First off, I want to talk about what an amazing player and human Alex Morgan has been. I’ve only had one opportunity to work with her in the last camp. I saw first-hand not just her qualities, but her professionalism. Her record speaks for itself. It’s not easy making a decision that there’s only 16 outfield players and two goalkeepers on a roster of 18″, told Fox Sports.

Morgan’s international career boasts 123 goals and 53 assists in 224 appearances, but after a disappointing World Cup, her omission was anticipated. The competition at the forward position is intense, with Rodman, Smith, Shaw, Mal Swanson, and Dunn all in contention.

Controversially, 20-year-old PSG midfielder Korbin Albert has been included despite previous social media activity seen as critical of the LGBTQ community. Hayes defended the decision: “Korbin making the team is on merit in terms of what she offers for us in the midfield positions. There’s no denying there’s been a lot of work that’s been going on in the background to work with Korbin. My experiences with her has been [that] she’s a young person who’s understood fully the implications of her social media activity … I can say, first-hand, having spent a limited time with Korbin, she really is a lovely person and someone who really values the most important things.”

Positional flexibility has been prioritized, with players like Dunn capable of playing multiple positions. This adaptability is crucial in a short tournament with tight turnaround times. Hayes hinted at relying on shifting tactics, noting, “I think the biggest factor is there’s 16 outfield players to play a lot of games. So having a roster that could adapt is essential. Having players on the roster that you know could play more than one position mattered with squad depth.”

Among notable exclusions is 17-year-old Lily Yohannes, who hasn’t yet decided whether to represent the US or the Netherlands at the international level. Hayes expressed support for Yohannes’s decision-making process.

With the squad named, the focus now shifts to keeping everyone healthy and preparing for the competition. Four alternates—Lynn Williams, Jane Campbell, Hal Hershfelt, and Croix Bethune—will travel to France with the team, ready to step in if needed.

Expectations in Paris will be high as Hayes aims to lead her youthful squad to Olympic gold while already keeping an eye on the 2027 World Cup.



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