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Alex Morgan was among the notable names not included in the United States women’s national team squad for its upcoming pair of friendlies against China in December.
The changing of the guard continues, with U.S. Soccer noting 11 of the 26 players selected have fewer than 10 national team caps.
“As we move forward with the next steps, we need more opportunities to see players from our pool in our unique National Team environment, in both training and games, so we can evaluate if and how they might contribute moving forward to the Olympics,” interim head coach interim head coach Twila Kilgore said.
Major changes were expected in the aftermath of the United States’ round-of-16 exit in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, its worst showing in the tournament.
Vlatko Andonovski resigned in August, with Chelsea coach Emma Hayes tabbed as his replacement last week. Hayes won’t assume control until the 2023-24 WSL season concludes, though.
In terms of the playing roster, this is also a great chance to get younger and open the door for players who haven’t regularly featured in the USWNT, something to which Kilgore referenced.
Fewer and fewer vestiges of the United States’ 2015 and 2019 World Cup triumphs remain. Carli Lloyd bowed out in 2021, which is also the last time Christen Press, Ali Krieger and Tobin Heath represented the national team. Julie Ertz and Megan Rapinoe had their farewell matches in September.
In the immediate aftermath of the World Cup, Morgan signaled she wasn’t thinking about retirement just yet.
The decision could potentially be out of the 34-year-old’s hands, though. She had a largely nondescript World Cup, finishing with one assist in four starts and helping to lead the line for a USWNT attack that scored one goal combined against the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.
Beyond the fact a new coach can represent a clean slate, Kilgore and Hayes might see the 2024 Summer Olympics as both a major tournament and a testing ground for players that figure to be in the frame for the 2027 Women’s World Cup.
This obviously isn’t the end for Morgan who’s bound to get a farewell befitting her legendary status when the time comes. But the days of her being an all-but-automatic inclusion in the squad appear to be ending.