From Uncapped to the World Cup

U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Savannah DeMelo on World Cup Debut, Matchup Against Portugal

In a span of 37 days, Savannah DeMelo scored a brilliant goal for her club Racing Louisville FC, got the call from U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Vlatko Andonovski informing her she had been selected of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup roster, earned her first cap and then started in the USA’s World Cup opener against Vietnam.

It was a whirlwind of activity and emotion for any player, let alone the 25-year-old DeMelo, who four years ago was sitting in the stands in France, fresh off surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, watching the U.S. open the 2019 World Cup against Thailand.

“It’s been a crazy rollercoaster of emotions,” said DeMelo, “But I think I’ve had a lot of great people, including the women on the team who have been super helpful with getting me acclimated to the team. I’m just super grateful to be here. It’s been an awesome experience and I’m just taking it day-by-day, game-by-game.”

After becoming just the third player ever to make a U.S. World Cup roster without previously earning a cap, DeMelo made her USWNT debut in the July 9 Send-Off Match against Wales and then started the USA’s July 22 World Cup opener against Vietnam to become the first USWNT player to make her World Cup debut – and first to start in the World Cup - in one of her first two caps.

DeMelo started the USA’s second group stage match against the Netherlands, putting in a fine performance on both ends of the field before giving way to Rose Lavelle at halftime.

All eyes now turn to the USA’s third a final group stage match against Portugal, a game that holds extra significance for DeMelo, whose father Robert was born in Portugal. DeMelo herself is a dual citizen and was eligible to represent Portugal on the world stage. However, the decision was always an easy one for the California-native.

“I think it’s awesome that Portugal made it to the World Cup for the first time, it just shows how much better the country is getting on the women’s side,” said DeMelo. “I think it’s going to be a great game, but growing up in the U.S., it’s always been a dream for me to play for the U.S. My heart has always been with the U.S.”  

As for which country her dad, a former soccer player himself turned coach, will be cheering for on Tuesday? There’s no question.

“My dad is for sure cheering for the U.S,” laughed DeMelo. “I’m not even going to ask him because I know it’s us.”