With the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in the rearview mirror and the 2024 Summer Olympics fast approaching, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team returns to action on Thursday, September 21, taking on South Africa at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati at 7:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Universo and Peacock). While Thursday’s game marks the USA’s first action – and first games on home soil – since the World Cup, it will also be the final professional match for USWNT legend Julie Ertz, capping off her remarkable international career.
Ten years after making her international debut in February of 2013, the two-time Women’s World Cup champion will play her 123rd and final match for the USA. Ertz will be honored before the match in Cincinnati with a acknowledgement after the match as well.
After the game in Cincinnati, the teams will head to Chicago to finish the two-game set on Sunday, September 24 at Soldier Field (5:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. CT on TNT, Universo and Peacock). The Windy City showdown will also serve as a Farewell Match for USWNT icon Megan Rapinoe, who will play her final match for the USA.
U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit; 1), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 14), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 95)
DEFENDERS (9): Alana Cook (OL Reign; 25/1), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 49/1), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC; 136/24), Emily Fox (North Carolina Courage; 33/1), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC; 20/0), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign; 31/0), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars; 38/0), Emily Sonnett (OL Reign; 77/1), M.A. Vignola (Angel City FC; 0/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC; 4/0), Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC; 3/0), Julie Ertz (Unattached; 122/20), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 133/29), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit; 25/3), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 49/3)
FORWARDS (9): Mia Fishel (Chelsea FC, ENG; 0/0), Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 19/5), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC; 211/121), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 23/4), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign; 202/63), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit; 22/4), Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave FC; 0/0), Alyssa Thompson (Angel City FC; 6/0), Lynn Williams (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 55/15)
KILGORE CALLS IN HER FIRST ROSTER
U.S. Women’s National Team interim head coach Twila Kilgore has called in a 27-player roster for these two games against South Africa, with 23 players suiting up for each game. The roster features 19 players from the USA’s 2023 World Cup squad, with Rose Lavelle, Kristie Mewis, Kelley O’Hara and Sophia Smith unavailable this window.
Smith and Mewis are out due to injury and, although originally called-up for the September games, O’Hara’s return to play was slower than anticipated and she remained with her club to continue her progression to full fitness while Lavelle is still recovering from a lower leg injury suffered while playing with OL Reign earlier this month, but did join the USWNT in her hometown of Cincinnati for evaluation. In their places, NY/NJ Gotham FC forward Midge Purce and Angel City FC defender M.A. Vignola, who gets her first-ever senior WNT call-up, were named to the roster.
Along with Vignola, this roster also features two more uncapped players in forwards Jaedyn Shaw and Mia Fishel.
THANK YOU JULIE
One of the greatest competitors in USWNT history and one of a select group of players to win FIFA World Cups at the youth and senior levels, Ertz played a major part in helping the USA win back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cups. She burst onto the international scene in 2015 in Canada as a center back and then as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world in 2019 in France. She was off the field for 18 months following the Olympics in 2021 due to injuries and the birth of her son but made a comeback to play in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Ertz was stellar in New Zealand and Australia, playing every minute of all four matches while marshaling a U.S. defense that allowed just two shots on goal over the four games. Ertz is a two-time U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year (2017 and 2019) and is one of just five players to win both the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year (which she won in 2012) and the senior team award. She is the only player to win the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year and then win the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year twice. Ertz, who announced her retirement from the professional game on August 31, will not travel to Chicago.
QUEEN CITY CONNECTIONS
Along with Lavelle, who is with the team for injury evaluation, this September camp features two Cincinnati natives in Vignola and goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury. Kingsbury, who was named to her first World Cup roster for Australia/New Zealand 2023, made her USWNT debut in April of 2022 while Vignola earns her first call-up in her hometown. Both players attended Saint Ursula Academy, albeit several years apart, the same high school as former USWNT defender and three-time Olympic gold medalist Heather Mitts.
This will be the USA’s sixth match all-time in Cincinnati and second game at recently-built TQL Stadium. The USWNT, which played its first match in Cincinnati in 1993, most recently competed in the Queen City in September of 2021, an 8-0 win over Paraguay behind a hat-trick from Alex Morgan and a goal and three assists from hometown hero Lavelle, a Mount Notre Dame High School graduate.
The USWNT, which boasts a 4W-1D-0L record all-time in Cincinnati, is set to play its 23rd match all-time in the state of Ohio. The USA has an overall record of 19W-2D-1L in games played in the Buckeye State and has won its last nine games in Ohio, a streak that dates back to 2016.
INSIDE THE SERIES: USA vs. SOUTH AFRICA
The USA and South Africa enter this two-game set in the Midwest having played twice previously. The teams first met on July 9, 2016, where Crystal Dunn scored the game’s only goal in a 1-0 victory for the USA. The sides played most recently in the build up to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a 3-0 win for the Americans in Santa Clara, Calif. on May 12, 2019, behind goals from Samantha Mewis and Carli Lloyd.
South Africa is one of just two African teams that the USWNT has faced in its history, having also played Nigeria eight times. The U.S. is 10W-0D-0L all-time against CAF competition, with the most recent five meetings all coming in friendly competitions.
PATHWAY TO PARIS
With less than a year until the start of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, the USWNT has set its sights squarely on preparation for that tournament and its pursuit of a fifth Olympic gold medal. The Olympic Football Tournament features 12 teams and will be contested in seven different venues across France from July 24 to August 10: Parc des Princes in Paris, Stade de Lyon, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Etienne, Stade de Marseille, Stade de Nice, Stade de Bordeaux and Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes. The USA is one of just four teams to have already qualified for Paris, joining hosts France and South American qualifiers Brazil and Colombia.
The USA qualified for Paris by virtue of winning the 2022 Concacaf W Championship in Monterrey, Mexico, which served as the region’s qualification for the Olympics as well as the 2023 World Cup. Seventeen players on this September camp roster were a part of the USA’s squad for that tournament, which saw the USA run through the group stage, defeat Costa Rica 3-0 in the semifinal and then top Canada 1-0 in the championship game to secure an automatic berth to the 2024 Summer Games. Runners-up Canada and third-place finisher Jamaica will have a two-game playoff this international window to determine Concacaf’s other berth to the Olympics. The remaining seven teams in the Olympic Field (two from Europe, two from Asia, two from Africa and one from Oceania) will be determined in early 2024 with the Official Draw to follow.
2023 USWNT MEDIA GUIDE
The 2023 U.S. Women’s National Team Media Guide is available for download. The Media Guide features all the history and statistic for the USWNT, as well as full bios on technical staff and the current top players, information on the USA’s Youth Women’s National Teams and general important information on U.S. Soccer.
USA ROSTER NOTES
- The most capped player on this roster is Alex Morgan (211 caps), followed by Megan Rapinoe (202), Crystal Dunn (136), Lindsey Horan (133) and Julie Ertz (122).
- The least capped players are Alyssa Thompson (6), Sam Coffey (4), Aubrey Kingsbury (1), Mia Fishel (0), Jaedyn Shaw (0) and M.A. Vignola (0).
- With 18-year-olds Shaw and Thompson both earning call-ups, this is the first USWNT camp with games associated since 2018 to feature multiple teenagers. The last such occurrence came in April of 2018 when 19-year-olds Mallory Pugh (now Swanson) and Tierna Davidson featured for the USA.
- Five players on this roster –Thompson, Shaw, Fishel, Trinity Rodman and Naomi Girma – were born after the historic 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year.
- Morgan is the top scorer on the roster in international play with 121 goals. Rapinoe has 63, Horan has 29, Dunn has 24, Ertz has 20 and Lynn Williams has 15.
- Eleven different players have scored for the USA so far in 2023, led by seven goals from Mallory Swanson, three goals from Horan, two goals each from Morgan, Lavelle, Rodman and Sophia Smith and one goal each from Williams, Emily Fox, Alana Cook, Ashley Hatch and Taylor Kornieck.
- Eight different players have tallied an assist for the USA this year, led by four from Lavelle, three each from Rodman and Morgan, two from Smith and one apiece from Williams, Ashley Sanchez, Andi Sullivan and Sofia Huerta.
- Defensively, the USA has allowed just two goals this year, which came against Brazil in the 2023 SheBelieves Cup finale on Feb. 22 and against the Netherlands in the World Cup group stage on July 27. Alyssa Naeher has accounted for seven shutouts this year while Casey Murphy has three clean sheets.
- Eleven total clubs are represented on this roster – Olympique Lyon from France, Chelsea FC from England and nine different NWSL clubs, led by five players from the Washington Spirit and four from OL Reign. The Chicago Red Stars and San Diego Wave FC have three players each.
IN FOCUS: SOUTH AFRICA | FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
FIFA World Ranking: 45
CAF Ranking: 2
Olympic Appearances: 2 (2012 & 2016)
Best Olympic Finish: Group stage
Record vs. USA: 0W-0D-2L (GF: 0; GA: 4)
Last Meeting vs. USA: May 12, 2019 (3-0 win for USA in Santa Clara, Calif.)
Head Coach: Desiree Ellis (RSA)
SOUTH AFRICA WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): 16-Andile Dlamini (Mamelodi Sundowns FC), 1-Kaylin Swart (JVW FC), 21-Kebotseng Moletsane (Royal AM)
DEFENDERS (7): 7-Karabo Dhlamini (Memelodi Sundowns FC), 5-Fikile Magama (UWC), 4-Faith Owusu (Blackburn Rovers, ENG), 2-Lebohang Ramalepe (Memelodi Sundowns FC), 14-Tiisetso Makhubela (Memelodi Sundowns FC), 15-Lonathemba Mhlongo (UWC), 3-Bongeka Gamede (UWC)
MIDFIELDERS (6): 10-Linda Motlhalo (Glasgow City, SCO), 19-Kholosa Biyana (Memelodi Sundowns FC), 22-Nomvula Kgoale (TS Galaxy Queens), 18-Sibulele Holweni (UWC), 20-Robyn Moodaly (JVW FC), 13-Sonoxolo Cesane (East Tennessee State, USA)
FORWARD (6): 9-Gabriela Salgado (JVW FC), 12-Jermaine Seoposenwe (C.F. Monterrey, MEX), 6-Noxolo Cesane (UWC), 17-Melinda Kgadiete (Memelodi Sundowns FC), 23-Wendy Shongwe (University of Pretoria), 11-Thembi Kgatlana (Racing Louisville FC, USA)
SOUTH AFRICA ROSTER NOTES
- South Africa’s 22-player roster for these September matches features 19 players from the 2023 World Cup squad.
- Thembi Kgatlana, the leading scorer on this roster with 26 goals in 72 international appearances, is one of two players on this roster who currently competes in the United States. Kgatlana is in her first full season with Racing Louisville FC in the National Women’s Soccer League, having previously played for the Houston Dash during the 2018 NWSL Season. Kgatlana signed with Louisville in 2022 but was sidelined while recovering from torn Achilles tendon. Since her return to health and fitness, Kgatlana has been a key contributor for her new club and was named the NWSL Player of the Week on September 5 after scoring the game-winning goal against then-league leaders Portland Thorns FC.
- Along with Kgatlana, midfielder Sonoxolo Cesane, a junior at East Tennessee State University, was called up for these games against the USA, joining her twin sister Noxolo.
- South Africa brings an experienced roster two players (defender Lebongang Ramalepe and forward Jermaine Seoposenwe) with at least 90 caps and 13 players with 24 or more caps.
- Kgatlana is leading scorer on this roster with 26 goals in 72 international appearances, but Seoposenwe has 20 goals, Linda Motihalo has 19 and midfielder Koholso Biyana has 16.
- Of the 22 players on the roster, 16 play domestically, two play in Europe, two in the USA, one in Mexico (Seoposenwe for CF Monterrey) and one is unattached as of now.