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USWNT vs. South Africa Preview: The Beginning of a New Era

The USWNT is suiting up for the first time since their shocking defeat in the Round of 16 at the World Cup. These friendlies against South Africa represent what the future will hold for the USWNT. It’s a changing of the guard where the team and fans say goodbye to two heroines who are all-time greats in the sport while taking a look at the next generation of talent. It’s going to be emotional, to say the least. Here’s a preview of the USWNT vs. South Africa friendlies. 


When and Where to Watch:

  • Thursday, September 21 at 7:30 PM ET/4:30 PM PT, TNT
  • Sunday, September 24 at 5:30 PM ET/2:30 PM PT, TNT


Cue the Waterworks

Generational players become pillars of any national team program, but that’s especially true for the USWNT. When the 99ers moved on, we had to say goodbye to legends like Mia Hamm and Michelle Akers. But because of them, the next generation of stars like Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan came along.

Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz are two players who embodied what it meant to wear the crest for different reasons. Pinoe was not only a top player because of skill and technique but also because she was never afraid to take a stand. What’s more American than having the freedom to exercise your right to free speech and stand up for what you believe in? 

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Julie Ertz was like Captain Marvel for the USWNT. No one put her body on the line more or was willing to do the dirty defensive work to help the team win. Ertz played like an energizer bunny with an engine that never stopped, and you always knew she was going to give 110% for her country. It will be an emotional two matches for us all to see them in the USWNT kit for the last time. It will hurt to see them go because we’re so used to them being around for so long, but it’s time. They must go to enjoy a life without soccer while the USWNT can start to usher in a new generation of young talent. 


September Camp Roster Featuring 27 Players

GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS (9): Alana Cook (OL Reign), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Fox (North Carolina Courage), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars), M.A. Vignola (Angel City), Emily Sonnett (OL Reign)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC), Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC), Julie Ertz (Unattached), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA), Midge Purce (NY/NJ Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

FORWARDS (8): Mia Fishel (Chelsea FC, ENG), Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave FC), Alyssa Thompson (Angel City FC), Lynn Williams (NJ/NY Gotham FC)


Breaking Down the Roster

While most of this roster features the usual suspects who were at the World Cup, eight players did not make that roster and could get an opportunity in the future. Casey Krueger is one of the better defenders in the league who didn’t make the WC roster. Krueger is a true defender–not a midfielder who was converted to play defense–which is a great sight to see.

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Tierna Davidson was once a set-it-and-forget-it kind of player in the USWNT lineup, where she would play every game. It’s great to see her healing up well. M.A. Vignola of Angel City is the biggest surprise, but she’s earned this spot with how she’s stepped up and handled NWSL play this season. 

Sam Coffey is one of the best young midfielders in the player pool right now, and getting her more international experience is key to her development. Midge Purce has been in and out of the team, but we all know what she can do when given the right opportunity in the right situation.

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What’s most exciting is the three young strikers who have been added to the roster. Mia Fishel (22), Alyssa Thompson (18), and Jaedyn Shaw (18) represent the next generation of attacking talent who will become bonafide USWNT players in the coming years.  

With the departures of Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz, U.S. Soccer has to look forward and see what’s next with this group of players. These two games are sure to be huge from an evaluation standpoint of where the team is at after the World Cup.


Previewing the USWNT vs. South Africa Matches

South Africa made the Round of 16 at the World Cup and was always a dangerous team to play against. Their counter-attacking strategy worked to perfection in the group stage. They’d sit back and invite pressure, but it also gave them the opportunity to get their playmakers like Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana in space to work their magic. 

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They scored six goals in the group stage, showing that when they counter, they can finish their chances. Considering the USWNT likes to possess, it plays into what South Africa wants to do. Neither of these matches will be smooth sailing, especially since Twila Kilgore is getting her first taste as an international manager at the senior level. 

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That said, the USWNT will want to give Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz a proper sendoff, and their roster is much deeper than South Africa’s roster. The expectation over the two games is two wins and nothing less. Will Twila Kilgore change the formation from the 4-3-3 that we’ve seen the USWNT play in, or will she change it up? That’s something to definitely keep an eye on, but if they put out the best possible roster, this team should win in both games as a cherry on top to what should be an amazing couple of days honoring two legends. 


Featured image via @uswnt on Instagram





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