The USWNT celebrate a goal by Trinity Rodman #14 (C-L) during the second half against Uzbekistan on April 12, 2022 in Chester, Penn.
As if the U.S. women’s soccer team needs any added incentive, how's this for even more motivation? The Americans can qualify for not one, but two major international soccer tournaments this month.
That's the challenge the U.S. faces when it enters the Concacaf W Championship this week in Monterrey, Mexico. The team, which opens play on Monday night against Haiti, can clinch a berth in the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand by reaching the semifinals. There also is another prize — a spot in the Olympic Games Paris 2024 for the tournament champion. The second and third-place sides will play for the second Concacaf berth in those Summer Games.
"What's challenging is that this tournament is quite new for us and that it's not only World Cup qualifying, it’s also Olympic qualifying," team captain and center back Becky Sauerbrunn said during a Sunday video call with the media.
Given the Americans’ dominant history in the game — four World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals since 1991 — the team will be favored to meet Canada, the 2021 Olympic gold medalists, in the Concacaf final, although head coach Vlatko Andonovski claimed he wasn't looking that far ahead.
"This is a different tournament," he said. "The significance of it is a little bit bigger because we do try to qualify for two major tournaments, World Cup and Olympics. But the approach is one game at a time. Our main focus right now is the game tomorrow, Haiti, and our purpose is to do the best that we can in the first game, and then we'll move on to the next one."
There is a lot on the line for the USWNT, but Sauerbrunn has liked what she’s seen from the team leading up to the tournament.
"I would describe this group as a really great blend of veteran, of youth and we have that like super professional middle-tier player, thinking about the Lindsey's (Horan), the Rose's (Lavelle),” she said.
The “vibes” and energy going into the tournament, she said, are “really good.”
“For me, that's one of the most important things that I look for is like, how does it feel?” Sauerbrunn said. “And right now, it feels really good."
Here’s a look at the roster that will compete in the Concacaf W Championship.