Unsung Heroes: The USWNT Goalkeepers

Few fans of the USWNT will forget the team’s legendary moments. Brandi Chastain’s title-winning PK. Abby Wambach’s late-game header against Brazil. Or Carli Lloyd’s wild hat trick. But who doesn’t often get credit? The ladies between the posts. How many times has a USWNT goalkeeper saved the team from certain loss? Too many to count, but those moments simply don’t hold the same weight in the story of the national team. It’s time they get the credit they deserve. 

Alyssa Naeher

Alyssa Naeher

For most of the USWNT’s history, the #1 keeper spot has been firmly locked in by two women: Briana Scurry and Hope Solo. After Solo’s departure from the team in 2016, the USWNT was in need of a new starting goalkeeper for the first time in almost a decade. Enter Alyssa Naeher. At the time, Naeher had just seven caps for the USWNT, despite being one of the top goalkeepers in the NWSL (even winning the Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2014). 

Since then, however, she’s settled into her new role and brings a calming and steady defensive presence the team can rely on. This was the most evident in the USWNT’s semi-final game against England at the 2019 World Cup. Naeher saved a late game penalty that would have surely sent the teams into extra time should it have been converted. Instead, Naeher coolly blocked the shot and clinched the US victory. 

Becky Sauerbrunn explained how big that moment was after the game, saying “we knew what she was capable of and now the world knows what she’s capable of.”

Ashlynn Harris

Ashlyn Harris

The USWNT’s current number two keeper is arguably a bigger presence off the field than on it. Her viral post-World Cup Instagram stories are a testament to that. Ashlyn Harris has quietly been a member of the USWNT since 2009, regularly being called up to train with the team even in the several years before her first official cap in 2013. When Hope Solo left the national team in 2016, Harris and Naeher went head to head to take her spot. Though Harris eventually lost out on that role to Naeher, she takes advantage of every opportunity she has to play for the team.

While we don’t get to see a lot of Harris’s skill for the national team, she is frequently a key player in the Orlando Pride’s victories. She often wins the NWSL’s “Save of the Week” award and was named the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year in 2016. 

Adrianna Franch

Adrianna Franch

Adrianna Franch knows her role within the USWNT. And it’s an important one. With just one appearance for the team despite being a consistent call-up since 2016, Franch plays a largely supportive role, which is understandably difficult for someone who has competed at the highest level for years. 

Franch explained her role best to Yahoo! Sports: “Train as if you’re going to play, but also be supportive to the player who is going to play and make sure that they have everything that they need and are prepared to step in goal.”

While she knows her minutes for the USWNT will be limited, she has an important part to play in prepping the team’s number one for games, and, more importantly, being at the top of her game when it’s her time to step in between the posts. 

Jane Campbell

Jane Campbell

The phrase “future of the USWNT” gets thrown around often. For Jane Campbell, it might actually be true. At 25 years old, Campbell has three appearances for the USWNT already under her belt — which is a lot for a keeper at her age. The road to becoming the starting USWNT keeper is a long one, and it’s a road that Campbell is only just beginning. The three more veteran USWNT keepers are no easy competition. But, if Campbell stays healthy and in form, there’s no reason she shouldn’t have a successful future with the USWNT. After all, she’s already made waves at the club level in the NWSL, earning several “Save of the Week” honors. 



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