USWNT stars Morgan, Rapinoe and more talk expectations, plans ahead of 2023 World Cup

All 26 USWNT goals at 2019 World Cup (en espanol)Relive every single goal from the United States' triumph at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup as the USWNT is 100 days away from a three-peat bid in Australia and New Zealand.

After winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup in both 2015 and 2019, the United States Women’s National Team has a chance to become the first team in history to win three straight World Cups this summer.

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in Australia and New Zealand on Thursday, July 20, with the U.S. playing its opening match against Vietnam on Friday, July 21.

While the U.S. is the two-time defending World Cup champs, head coach Vlatko Andonovski has a new-look squad, with 14 of the 23 players set to make their World Cup debuts this summer.

Prior to heading down under, members of the USWNT spoke to NBC and Telemundo at a pre-tournament media day in Los Angeles. Below are some quotes from the players ahead of the World Cup getting underway.

On the pressure of being two-time defending champs and the top-ranked team in the world:

F Alex Morgan (4th World Cup): “I think there’s always pressure with this team… We have an incredible group of players, so there’s always a little bit of a target on our back. But we have fought for that No. 1 ranking. We fought hard for the ’15 and ’19 World Cups. This is a very different team than was in 2019. For a lot of players this is their first time and this is our first time as a group. So, I think we’re going into it with that mentality.”

F Megan Rapinoe (4th World Cup): “To me, it’s not really pressure. It’s fun. This is what you work for. This is what you train for. It feels sometimes more pressure to get out of bed on a rainy day and go work out… This is the privilege of it all. We always have pressure because we’re the United States and we’re always expected to win, we’re always ranked high. Everybody wants to see us win but wants to see us lose at the same time… The pressure is the fun part. The pressure brings the best out of you and the pressure is something that is earned.”

M Rose Lavelle (2nd World Cup): “Being on this team, there’s always pressure. We’ve been at the top for a while and there’s always people that are trying to get to where we are. I think it’s something that we’re familiar with… There is a lot of pressure, but I think pressure is a privilege and we like to be in that position.”

M Julie Ertz (3rd World Cup): “It’s not outside pressure. It’s our own pressure.”

M Ashley Sanchez (1st World Cup): “Playing for the USA, there’s always going to be outside pressures being that we’ve always been very good… We know what we’re going to do and how we’re going to play and I think we give each other confidence and we’re just blocking out everything else.”

On the outside view that the World Cup is “win or bust” for the USWNT:

F Megan Rapinoe (4th World Cup): “Whether we’re practicing or playing a board game or trying to win a World Cup – the goal is always to win the championship… I think particularly being on the U.S. Women’s National Team, for all of these years from the second I got here until now, that’s what it is. That’s the expectation. That’s what keeps driving us… We never really rest on our laurels. We always want to continue striving and continue to try and win every single thing possible. The goal is to win and if we don’t win, that will be us not reaching our goal.”

M Rose Lavelle (2nd World Cup): “I don’t think we can concern ourselves with that. We obviously know staying at the top is hard and I think it’s continuing to get harder because teams are getting so much better. But I think it’s a privilege to be in that position. I think it’s something that we’re familiar with. Obviously the history of this program, that’s always been the case. People have always been chasing the U.S, so it’s not a new feeling at all.”

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M Andi Sullivan (1st World Cup): “I think that’s always been the expectation around this team. We want to be the best and we want to win. So I think that’s not really a shock to any of us.”

F Trinity Rodman (1st World Cup): “Our biggest opponent is ourselves… The standard is set so high. I think this team is unstoppable, so I think we’re extremely motivated and we want to bring it home.”

On the influx of younger players in the squad:

F Alex Morgan (4th World Cup): “I think a lot of players keep me young, especially the ones that are 18, 19, 20 years old… Throughout the last 10 years, I’ve seen a shift from the team skewing older to now a little bit younger. It’s amazing to watch because the opportunity for players to go straight to the NWSL or play professionally at the age of 16, 17, 18, is incredible.”

M Rose Lavelle (2nd World Cup): “We have a lot of young players but they’re really fricking good. They’ve been really fun to watch and to play with and I’m excited to see what they do. I know they’re all gonna rise to the occasion and I feel so good and confident in all of them.”

F Trinity Rodman (1st World Cup): “It’s one thing to have a bunch of veterans. But to have the new generation, younger players or less experienced players intermixed, I think we’re only going to go up. Having these experienced players, they’re teaching us so much. They’ve been in all these World Cups, Olympics, all these high-energy, high-pressure moments. I think we’re feeding off that.”

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M Ashley Sanchez (1st World Cup): “It has a lot of positives. Obviously we are a really young team, but I think being able to look at some of the leaders and players that have been in World Cups and in really high-level games, it’s been really easy to talk to them and learn from them.”

On the potential of a three-peat:

F Megan Rapinoe (4th World Cup): “We know that we’ve won the last two World Cups and we’re going into a World Cup with an opportunity to win just like everyone else. But not everybody has a three-peat to win. We have a lot of first-time players… I think for us it’s just winning the World Cup. [A three-peat] would be obviously a cherry on top for a couple of us.”

F Alex Morgan (4th World Cup): “I look at the last two World Cups and that just helped soccer in the U.S. so much. That helped give so much more opportunity to girls and women in the sport, and it helped the NWSL, our league in the U.S. So I think in that regard, [winning] another World Cup would be incredible in terms of the opportunity… But it’s going to be incredibly hard. You talk about having won two World Cups – those were mentally, physically, exhausting and draining. We gave anything and everything that we had. So this one is only going to be harder because the game has just gotten more competitive.”

M Julie Ertz (3rd World Cup): “Obviously that’s a really cool aspect of it, but it’s been four years. It’s a new team, new players, new coaching staff… I think you just want to win, that’s it. Obviously we’ve had incredible history before. When you reflect on it, [a three-peat] sounds cool. But we want to win because we want to win.”

M Rose Lavelle (2nd World Cup): “It’s honestly not in my mind. Obviously I think that’s what you set out to do but I think we’re a different team than we were four years ago. I don’t really view it like we’re defending anything. I think we’re going into a new cycle, new team, new players, new coach. So I think we’re attacking a new challenge and I think that’s the way we’re looking at it.”

D Sofia Huerta (1st World Cup): “It would be incredible. At the end of the day, this team is always expecting to win. That’s what makes us so great, that’s what drives us all so much. It’s why we’re consistently wanting to get better individually and collectively. It would mean everything. But I also think that’s just what we expect. Anything less is disappointing.”

M Andi Sullivan (1st World Cup): “It’s not really in daily conversation around the team. I think that’s an external narrative… For us, it’s ‘What is the task at hand today?’ That’s more of the conversations that we have as a team.”

2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: July 20 to August 20

  • Group stage kick-off times: 12:30am, 1am, 1:30am, 3am, 3:30am, 4am, 6am, 7am, 8am, 8:30am, 8pm, 9pm, 10pm (all ET)

  • Location: Australia and New Zealand

  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock

  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

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