14 Players With California Ties On U.S. FIFA Women’s World Cup Team

Written By Cheryl Coward on July 7, 2023 - Last Updated on July 20, 2023
A total of 14 players on USWNT have California ties, from playca.com

Expectations are high for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer, and players with ties to California will play a significant role for USA Soccer.

The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) announced its roster for the competition in June, and 14 of the 23 players on the squad have ties to the Golden State.

While Californians can’t legally bet on their favorite players, they will have plenty of home state heroes to cheer for during the event.

Stanford leads the way

When it comes to colleges with the most players represented on the USWNT, bragging rights belong to Stanford. The Pac-12 powerhouse has a whopping five players on the team.

But Stanford isn’t the only California college funneling players to the team. Santa Clara has two players represented, while USC, UCLA and Pepperdine each have one.

Stanford soccer alumnae also includes players on teams overseas: Kyra Carusa (Ireland) and Ali Riley (New Zealand/Angel City FC). Riley is making her fifth World Cup appearance.

14 USWNT players with California ties

Here is a closer look at each player on the USWNT with ties to the Golden State:

Alana Cook

  • Position: Defender
  • Hometown: Far Hills, NJ
  • College: Stanford
  • Club: OL Reign
  • USWNT appearances: 24

Cook secured a place on the national team in 2019 and her first cap was a 6-0 win over Costa Rica. She started in all 15 matches she played in 2022. Her first USWNT career goal came this year, a game-winner vs. the Republic of Ireland in April.

Savannah DeMelo

  • Position: Midfielder
  • Hometown: Bellflower, CA
  • College: USC
  • Club: Louisville FC

DeMelo is a newcomer to the USWNT, called up in 2022 but has yet to get her first cap. She has experience with USA Soccer as a member of several youth national teams. She played 38 games at the U-19/U-20 level.

Julie Ertz

  • Position: Midfielder
  • Hometown: Mesa, AZ
  • College: Santa Clara
  • Club: Angel City FC
  • USWNT appearances: 118

A two-time Olympian, Ertz is the only player to garner the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year and the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year twice. She earned her 100th cap against England on March 5, 2020. She played every minute of all seven games during the 2015 World Cup.

Sofia Huerta

  • Position: Defender
  • Hometown: Boise, ID
  • College: Santa Clara
  • Club: OL Reign
  • USWNT appearances: 29

Huerta played for the Mexican Senior National Team before applying for a change of association to play for the U.S. She helped the USWNT qualify for this year’s World Cup and the 2024 Summer Olympics during the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship.

Naomi Girma

  • Position: Defender
  • Hometown: San Jose, CA
  • College: Stanford
  • Club: San Diego Wave FC
  • USWNT appearances: 15

Girma had a breakthrough year in 2022 playing all 90 minutes of a shutout win over Uzbekistan. She was a part of the 2022 Concacaf W Championship team. She finished 2022 with strong performances against Nigeria, England and Germany.

Kelley O’Hara

  • Position: Defender
  • Hometown: Fayetteville, GA
  • College: Stanford
  • Club:  NJ/NY Gotham FC
  • USWNT appearances: 157

O’Hara is in hallowed company as just one of four players in national team history to be named to four World Cup teams. She became the 25th player in USWNT history to earn 20 or more assists in April 2022. That year she also became the 23rd player to log 10,000 or more minutes for the USWNT. She solidified her star status with scoring the final goal against Germany in the semifinal of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Coup for a 2-0 triumph.

Ashley Sanchez

  • Position: Midfielder
  • Hometown: Monrovia, CA
  • College: UCLA
  • Club:  Washington Spirit
  • USWNT appearances: 24

Sanchez has years of experience with USA Soccer youth teams. In 2016, she earned the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year. At the 2022 Concacaf W Championship, she saw action in four matches and had two starts.

Andi Sullivan

  • Position: Midfielder
  • Hometown: Lorton, VA
  • College: Stanford
  • Club: Washington Spirit
  • USWNT appearances: 44

Sullivan has three career goals and five assists in her USWNT career. The team called her up for the first time in October 2016. She recovered from an ACL injury that year to become a consistent presence on the USWNT including four starts during the 2022 Concacaf W Championship.

Alex Morgan

  • Position: Forward
  • Hometown: Diamond Bar, CA
  • College: University of California, Berkeley
  • Club: San Diego Wave FC
  • USWNT appearances: 206

As the “most talked about athlete” from Diamond Bar, Alex Morgan began her storied USWNT career as the youngest member of the U.S. World Cup roster in 2011. She followed that up by scoring 20 goals and 20 assists in 2012 during USWNT play. She was a member of the “Dream Team” in the 2015 and 2019 World Cup competitions and earned the Silver Boot in 2019. She was also named the U.S. Soccer Female Player in 2018. Morgan is a co-captain of the World Cup team along with midfielder Lindsey Horan.

Megan Rapinoe

  • Position: Forward
  • Hometown: Redding, CA
  • College: Portland
  • Club: OL Reign
  • USWNT appearances: 199

Rapinoe is a household name and for good reason. She has 63 goals and 73 assists in her USWNT career. The celebrity athlete is one of the most impactful athletes in USWNT history, sweeping just about every major award in the sport. She was Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year in 2019 after leading the USWNT to its second consecutive World Cup title. She was named the Player of the Match and the Golden Ball, and President Joe Biden award her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in July 2022. She will play in her fourth and final World Cup as she announced her retirement this week.

Trinity Rodman

  • Position: Forward
  • Hometown: Laguna Niguel, CA
  • Club: Washington Spirit
  • USWNT appearances: 17

As one of the youngest members of the USWNT teams, Trinity Rodman already has two goals and three assists in her career. After planning to play at Washington State, she skipped college because her freshman year season was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. She went on to play in three matches during the 2022 Concacaf W Championship and scored a goal in the group stage. The Washington Spirit drafted her at age 18, making her the youngest draftee in NWSL history. If her last name sounds familiar, it’s because she is the daughter of NBA rebounding legend Dennis Rodman.

Sophia Smith

  • Position: Forward
  • Hometown: Windsor, CO
  • College: Stanford
  • Club:  Portland Thorns FC
  • USWNT appearances: 29

With 12 goals and three assists in just 29 USWNT appearances, Sophia Smith has electrified fans in her young career. The 22-year-old phenom became the youngest MVP in NWSL history last season with the Portland Thorns. She has the respect of legendary USWNT players, including Abby Wambach. After the Thorns posted a throwback photo of a young Smith posing with Wambach alongside Smith’s current USWNT photo, Wambach told Smith to “Go on and bring that World Cup home!”

Alyssa Thompson

  • Position: Forward
  • Hometown: Studio City, CA
  • Club: Angel City FC
  • USWNT appearances: 3

Thompson is another promising newcomer to the USWNT. She made her first appearance last October against England as a sub for Rapinoe. She earned her first start in April against Ireland. She was the first teenager to start a USWNT match since 2018. At age 18, she was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NSWL draft.

Lynn Williams

  • Position: Forward
  • Hometown: Fresno, CA
  • College: Pepperdine
  • Club: NJ/NY Gotham
  • USWNT appearances: 52

Williams is an invaluable part of the USWNT with 15 goals and 12 assists in her career after being called for the first time in 2016. That year she also won several NSWL awards including MVP. In her first cap, she scored just 49 seconds after entering the game. She was a member of the 2020 Olympic squad, and during the 2022 Concacaf W Championship, she had five goals and five assists.

Women’s soccer gaining popularity

With record sellouts, explosive growth in sponsorships and broadcast deals, plus fan adoration in the millions on social media, the momentum behind women’s soccer is robust. The World Cup couldn’t come at a better time.

The competition kicks off in Auckland, New Zealand on July 20. The U.S. team begins play on July 21 against Vietnam. The team will play a send-off match on July 9 at PayPal Park in San Jose.

Here is what the tournament schedule looks like:

  • Group stage: July 20-August 3
  • Round of 16: August 5-8
  • Quarterfinals: August 11-12
  • Semifinals: August 15-16
  • Third-place playoff: August 19
  • Final: August 20

USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski has his work cut out for him as the U.S. hopes for a three-peat after winning in 2015 and 2019. Other top contenders include Australia, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

Full USA 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup roster

Here is a look at the full team roster broken down by position. Along with player names, you can also find their club and caps/goals.

GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Kingsbury* (Washington Spirit; 1), Casey Murphy* (North Carolina Courage; 14), Alyssa Naeher*** (Chicago Red Stars; 90)

DEFENDERS (7): Alana Cook* (OL Reign; 24/1), Crystal Dunn** (Portland Thorns FC; 131/24), Emily Fox* (North Carolina Courage; 28/1), Naomi Girma* (San Diego Wave FC; 15/0), Sofia Huerta* (OL Reign; 29/0), Kelley O’Hara**** (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 157/3), Emily Sonnett** (OL Reign; 74/1)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Savannah DeMelo* (Racing Louisville FC; 0/0), Julie Ertz*** (Angel City FC; 118/20), Lindsey Horan** (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 128/27), Rose Lavelle** (OL Reign; 88/24), Kristie Mewis* (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 51/7), Ashley Sanchez* (Washington Spirit; 24/3), Andi Sullivan* (Washington Spirit; 44/3)

FORWARDS (6): Alex Morgan**** (San Diego Wave FC; 206/121), Megan Rapinoe**** (OL Reign; 199/63), Trinity Rodman* (Washington Spirit; 17/2), Sophia Smith* (Portland Thorns FC; 29/12), Alyssa Thompson* (Angel City FC; 3/0), Lynn Williams* (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 52/15)

* First Women’s World Cup
** Second Women’s World Cup
*** Third Women’s World Cup
**** Fourth Women’s World Cup

Photo by AP Photo/LM Otero
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Cheryl Coward

Cheryl Coward is a contributor for PlayCA with a background in sports journalism. She started her career as a news reporter in Washington, DC. She’s a die-hard women’s basketball fanatic and founded the website Hoopfeed.com as a result of that passion. She has extensive experience covering gambling and sports betting in California, including coverage of the Prop 26 vs. Prop 27 election battle.

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