After the United States women’s national team suffered its earliest Women’s World Cup exit in history, the inquests have very much begun. What went wrong? How did this star-studded team fail to perform? How many of these players will we see at this stage again? Will head coach Vlatko Andonovski keep his job?
There’s a lot to get into, from the coach’s poor in-game management during the tournament, to the underperformance of several players and the fact that things never really seemed to click in this era for the USWNT. It hasn’t just been about this World Cup, after all. The Olympics two years ago was problematic, too.
As the U.S. starts its soul-searching, there was one opinion across the Atlantic that caught the eye. Eni Aluko is a former England international who played for three different American clubs during her career, also acting as sporting director in Los Angeles for Angel City for just under two years. Working as an analyst during the World Cup for British broadcaster ITV, she suggested one possible limitation of the USWNT.
“A lot of the players play in the NWSL,” she said. “Lindsey Horan plays in Europe. I think you can see just from Lindsey playing in Europe for the best team in the world, Lyon, you can see her creativity is just a little bit more advanced than the other players. Is that something they can look at? Can more players play in Europe? Where you've got the Champions League, you've got really competitive leagues.”
The NWSL isn’t flawless, there’s no doubt about that, and new experiences can certainly be of benefit to players, sure. But the U.S. still has the best, most competitive and deepest league in the world.