How the USWNT should line up at the 2027 Women's World Cup: Sophia Smith as central striker but still no room for Alyssa Thompson

Comments (0)
Sophia Smith Alyssa Thompson USWNT GFX
After an embarrassing exit from the 2023 tournament, soon attention will turn towards the next four-year cycle - but who will be in the team in 2027?

We'll get this out of the way: picking how the United States women's national team should line up at the 2027 World Cup is an almost impossible exercise. So much can change in four years, especially for a team that looks set to usher in a new era. A new coach is surely coming in, as are new players, and projecting what all of that can combine to look like is a fool's errand.

But we'll play the fool and try and project what the USWNT will look like four years from now. The 2023 World Cup is over, but what will the U.S. look like by the time the 2027 tournament rolls around?

We know some key figures will be gone, with Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz having confirmed their retirements. Others like Alex Morgan, Alyssa Naeher and Crystal Dunn may not be around in four years time as they play into their mid-to-late 30s.

There's also an Olympic tournament just one summer away, which could slow the USWNT's true rebuild. Does the new coach use that tournament to blood young stars or lean on the likes of Morgan, Naeher and Dunn one last time in pursuit of Olympic gold?

Either way, there will be big changes by 2027, but what are they? GOAL breaks down how the U.S. should line up at the next World Cup...

  1. GK: Casey Murphy

    GK: Casey Murphy

    Casey Murphy has been with the team for three years now, earning 14 caps, and it seems like it may be her time to fully step up. Naeher will be 39 by the time the next World Cup rolls around and, while she could very well be playing at the goalkeeper position, it seems unlikely.

    Murphy, meanwhile, will be 31 and in the prime of her career, giving her a chance to start going forward.

  2. LB: Emily Fox
    Getty Images

    LB: Emily Fox

    Emily Fox started as an inverted right-back at this past World Cup to accommodate Dunn, but she will probably switch back to the left at some point soon. Fox, 25, wasn't bad on the right, but she's clearly better on her preferred side.

    She'll have this World Cup experience to build on, which will be helpful as she looks to have an even better cycle this time around.

  3. CB: Naomi Girma

    CB: Naomi Girma

    Based on this World Cup, write Naomi Girma's name on the teamsheet in Sharpie. The 23-year-old central defender was the USWNT's best player Down Under, putting in several starring performances as the U.S. conceded just one goal. It's frightening to thing that she's still a relative newcomer for club and country, isn't it?

    Girma will only get more comfortable as she earns more experience. Look for her to be one of the best in the world by the time 2027 rolls around, if she isn't already.

  4. CB: Alana Cook

    CB: Alana Cook

    Bizarrely, Alana Cook didn't play a minute at this World Cup, but don't sell your stocks in her just yet. Vlatko Andonovski earned plenty of criticism for his unwillingness to trust Cook, as he instead went with Ertz in central defense. Cook was one of two USWNT outfield players not to see the field, which seemed impossible at the start of the tournament due to the lack of depth in her position.

    Cook, though, is only 26 and will be right in her prime in four years' time. She isn't going anywhere and, even if she isn't a starter by 2027, she'll certainly be in the mix.

  5. RB: Gisele Thompson

    RB: Gisele Thompson

    Is this a bit hopeful? You bet, but Gisele Thompson could certainly be that good. Her older sister, Alyssa, got her chance this summer, featuring in two games off the bench at just 19. And Gisele, who is two years younger, has the chance to be just as good as she gets set to begin her own professional career.

    Could the 2027 tournament come a bit too soon? Possibly, but by that time, she'll have a few years as a pro under her belt to prove she's ready for this level.

  6. CM: Lindsey Horan

    CM: Lindsey Horan

    A co-captain this summer, Lindsey Horan will be 33 by the time the next tournament rolls around. As she continues to play at the highest level in Europe, though, you'd expect her to remain in the picture for some time.

    A lot will depend on how she does with Lyon, but Horan should remain a mainstay, at least for the start of the cycle. She was solid at this past World Cup, scoring two goals despite the relative chaos going on around her in midfield.

    A new central midfielder could certainly rise, be it a more defensive option like Sam Coffey or a similar player like Lexi Missimo, but this likely won't be Horan's last World Cup.

  7. CM: Rose Lavelle

    CM: Rose Lavelle

    It's a shame that we didn't get to see the best version of Rose Lavelle at this summer's tournament. She burst onto the scene in 2019 and, if the U.S. had that Lavelle available to them four years later, they'd certainly have done better. They didn't, though, as injuries and a suspension limited her to just one start.

    Lavelle will be 32 by the time the next tournament kicks-off but, as one of the USWNT's true world-class stars, she'll be back when the team goes in search of redemption.

  8. CAM: Catarina Macario

    CAM: Catarina Macario

    What a difference Catarina Macario would have made this summer. The U.S. attack never really looked right without her, as Macario possesses a skillset that no one else in the player pool can really come close to. Her injury robbed the USWNT of an elite attacking option, and you could see that on the field from the opening kick.

    She's only 23 and still improving, which means Macario could very well be one of the world's elite by the time 2027 kicks-off.

  9. LW: Mallory Swanson

    LW: Mallory Swanson

    The third in the string of 'what ifs'. Mallory Swanson's injury took her out at the worst possible time as she had established herself as the USWNT's go-to goalscorer. She was on fire to start the year and almost certainly would have started Down Under. Once she returns, there's little doubt she'll lock down her spot in the line up once again.

    And, at just 25, it'll be tough to wrestle the spot from her between now and 2027 if everything goes to plan, although someone like Alyssa Thompson could have something to say about that.

  10. ST: Sophia Smith
    Getty Images

    ST: Sophia Smith

    Sophia Smith scored two goals this summer on the wing, but her future is probably at striker. The 22-year-old rising star is one of the best young goalscorers in the world, and her continued development will be huge for the USWNT.

    The transition from Morgan will be tough, considering what she's meant to the USWNT for so long, but Smith is capable of living up to it, and with so many good wing options, the NWSL MVP is ready to become the go-to No.9.

  11. RW: Trinity Rodman

    RW: Trinity Rodman

    Outside of the Vietnam game, we didn't really see the best of Trinity Rodman at her debut World Cup, but make no mistake, she can be world-class. It's important to remember Rodman is just 21 and has far, far better days ahead of her. All of this is still very new to her and, by and large, she's always looked like she belongs.

    Rodman's combination of skill and athleticism make her an incredible prospect, even if she is in a position loaded with rising stars.