Emma Hayes' USWNT has lowest average age in decades

With 147 first-team appearances, Lindsey Horan leads a young team full of potential in Emma Hayes' debut
Macario is one of the players who started the least in the first team
Macario is one of the players who started the least in the first team / Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/GettyImages

Emma Hayes' debut as head coach of the US Women's National Team marks a new era filled with renewal and hope. Facing South Korea at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, Hayes opted for a young and promising starting XI, with an average age of 25.5 years and just 45.5 international caps per player. This is the least experienced lineup chosen by a coach since Anson Dorrance in 1986.

The starting lineup for the friendly match includes Jane Campbell; Jenna Nighswonger, Naomi Girma, Catarina Macario, Mallory Swanson, Lindsey Horan, Sophia Smith, Tierna Davidson, Sam Coffey, Trinity Rodman, and Emily Fox. This selection reflects Hayes' strategy to inject youth and freshness into the team, laying the groundwork for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

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Jane Campbell, the goalkeeper from Houston Dash, returns as a starter for the first time since October 2021. With an average of 5 saves per game and a 76% save rate in the 2023 NWSL season, Campbell brings security and experience to the goal. In contrast, Lindsey Horan, the team captain, leads the squad with 147 caps and has been instrumental in both transition and ball recovery, contributing four goals in seven matches this year.

Catarina Macario, familiar to Hayes from her Chelsea days, played few games last season due to injury but is tasked with helping to build play. Her speed, strength, and skill make her a crucial midfield component. It's not far-fetched to say Macario could help redefine the style of the USWNT.

Sophia Smith, with her ability to create and finish plays in 1v1 situations, and Trinity Rodman, who has shown promising performance and rapid rise since her debut, have 47 and 37 caps, respectively, among the starters. Sam Coffey and Jenna Nighswonger, with fewer than 20 caps each, also represent the new generation Hayes aims to develop.

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The friendly against South Korea is not only a tactical test for Hayes but also an opportunity for fans to see the future of the USWNT in action. With a blend of youth and experience, Hayes is shaping a team that seeks not only to reclaim lost glory but also to set a new standard of excellence.