Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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USWNT Captain Lindsey Horan is Eager to Discuss Soccer

It’s USWNT captain Lindsey Horan’s final morning in the States before a flight back to France to rejoin Lyon, her club team. She’s spending it in a hotel lobby, tucked away at a table, talking to The Athletic for an hour about her time leading a team in the spotlight, how she sees her role during this time of transition, and one thing above all:

“Can we think about the football?”

Horan was speaking almost exactly five months since being named by then-USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski as captain of the national team alongside Alex Morgan (Horan has been getting the armband when both are on the field at the same time). The role is the fulfillment of a life goal, but also seems like a natural outcome, given how often, and how intensely, she thinks about the game.

Her first five months in that leadership role were full of notable exits: her team’s from the World Cup, Andonovski’s, and the retirements of Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz. It was capped with a big addition: U.S. Soccer’s announced hiring of Emma Hayes as head coach.

Horan, now 29 years old and with 139 senior national team caps under her belt, is part of an in-between camp: too experienced to be a newcomer, and too new to be on the way out. It’s her generation – which also includes Rose Lavelle, Emily Sonnett and others – that must keep the team’s signature fire, that USWNT DNA, burning even as the team undergoes a serious re-think after its worst ever World Cup finish.

“We have to continue that,” she says of herself and fellow in-betweeners. “You have to be amongst this team for a while to know what the f— that takes… it’s one of the most competitive national teams to be a part of.”

No one on the team is talking about starting from scratch. It’s just that they need more ways to win. More than mentality or fitness levels, more than a never-say-die approach. That’s what Horan said her early conversations with Hayes have been about. And that’s why she wants to talk about football, and how the USWNT can bounce back — not just by playing better, but by thinking more.

“We’ve been so successful for so long in a certain way that we play, that attack and transition,” Horan says. “We’ve had individual brilliance. We’ve had soccer players on the field and real players that want to play and it all kind of meshed together or it would always work out, or our DNA would take us to this place where we come out on top because our mentality was so f—ing good.”


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