USWNT stock watch: Five players who boosted their standing during friendlies against Australia

The United States women’s national team closed out their year with a two game series away in Australia. The USWNT picked up a win and a draw over the two matches, and several players with limited senior team experiences got extended minutes during the international window. 

USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski named a roster heavy on youth and with several players with 10 caps or less when the team initially announced that they would close out their calendar year with matches in Australia. The trip was a first for the USWNT since the 2000 Olympics, and an early opportunity to visit the 2023 FIFA women’s World Cup host country. 

The new look USWNT picked up a 3-0 victory on Friday in Sydney, before closing out their two game series with a 1-1 draw on Tuesday in Newcastle. The games had a number first caps, impressive goals, and a clean sheet amongst the results.

Let’s take a look at five players who boosted their stock during the two matches and good get more playing time as Concacaf World Cup qualifying begins next year (you can catch select matches on Paramount+). 

1. Casey Murphy, goalkeeper, North Carolina Courage 

The 25-year-old made her return to senior national team camps after spending time with the team in 2018 and earlier this year. Her impressive 2021 NWSL season, matching a league record with 11 clean sheets for the North Carolina Courage earned her a place in the 2021 NWSL Best XI. She earned first and second national team caps with two consecutive starts against the Matildas in Australia, and kept a shutout during the first match while just narrowly missing going 180 minutes without conceding thanks to a deflected goal in the second. Look for the 6’1 goalkeeper to get another invite into national team camps.

2. Margaret Purce, forward, NJ/NY Gotham FC

Purce made her return to national team camps after missing out on the Olympic roster and returning from injury to help lead her club team into the 2021 NWSL playoffs. Her late season performance saw her in the mix for the golden boot race, and a MVP finalist before making her return to national team camps. In the lead up to the Tokyo games, Purce was frequently utilized as an outside back during matches with the USWNT, but closed out her year as part of the forward core for the national team. Purce earned two starts =and recorded two assists, one in each match, and may have finally cemented her rightful place among the forwards instead of the defenders. 

3. Ashley Hatch, forward, Washington Spirit

The 2021 NWSL Golden Boot winner earned a call up to the national team after her championship winning season with the Spirit. She made her first ever starts in both friendlies with the USWNT and scored in each game against the Matildas. She earned a place in U.S. soccer record books with the third fastest goal in U.S. history, scoring in 24 seconds in her national team debut, and her ability to score from all areas will get her into more camps into the future.

4. Sofia Huerta, fullback, OL Reign

Huerta made her way back to the national team mix for the first time since 2018 after spending time at the fullback position with OL Reign. Initially a forward the majority of her NWSL career, Huerta’s time at outside back had been limited, but her time with OL Reign and head coach Laura Harvey has ignited the possibility of Huerta’s place on the backline for the national team. Huerta won the ball and spearheaded the attack on Rose Lavelle’s goal in the first match, earning the fullback a start in the second match. 

5 Emily Fox, fullback, Racing Louisville FC

The 2021 NWSL rookie of the year candidate made her return to the national team this series, making two consecutive starts. The University of North Carolina alum was subbed out of the first match at halftime, perhaps due to a bit of rust in finding her form back on the pitch, but made the most of her second start against the Matildas. Fox was heavily involved in attacking looks for the U.S. while locking things down defensively in 1 v 1 scenarios over her 76 minutes. 

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