Shaw and Albert show versatility of USWNT’s future generation

Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports
The USWNT's young stars put on a show against Argentina.

CARSON, Calif. — Versatility and complete performances. That is part of the future of the USWNT. Interim head coach Twila Kilgore regularly praises players available in multiple positions, playing hard on both attack and defense.

Two players who have shown such an ability are young midfielders, Jaedyn Shaw and Korbin Albert. 

Shaw can play as a winger, attacking midfielder, and more positions, offering options for the USWNT. She is excellent at picking out space behind opposing backlines or finding room to set up her finishes.

On Friday, Shaw stole the show in a 4-0 win over Argentina. The 19-year-old forward scored a brace. Not only did her goal-scoring make up her standout performance, but she was excellent in the pocket and provided width when needed. Shaw also played outstanding defense and made solid passes.

10 minutes into the match, midfielder and captain Lindsey Horan drew a free kick and quickly played it to Jaedyn Shaw, who caught Argentina sleeping to open the match’s scoring. It was a heads-up play from Horan and a solid finish from Shaw.

Shaw scored her second goal moments later, finishing a cross from Lavelle in the 17th minute. The goal was Shaw’s fourth in six appearances for the USWNT, giving the USWNT a 2-0 lead.

Albert contributed differently but similarly brilliantly, playing as a defensive midfielder. She was excellent on the ball, looking to play balls into the pocket. Albert made herself available for teammates, helping keep position and progress the ball.

“I thought she was absolutely excellent tonight,” said Kilgore about Albert. “Got on the ball a lot and was able to help us by bouncing balls. She was also able to face forward and play in the pocket. We weren’t always ready to play into the pocket, but she did a really good job looking at that. You can start to see the synergy between her and Lindsey [Horan].”

The 20-year-old Albert was placed in multiple positions before receiving her first cap in Dec. of 2023. But, she has played in each of them with a desire to grow. Her versatility and maturity in the roles offer intrigue moving forward.

Midfielder Emily Sonnett replaced Albert at halftime.

The veterans also contributed on Friday, such as Horan, one of the driving forces for the USWNT. She played well-placed through balls to create chances and did not take many unnecessary touches before making clean passes. 

Forward Alex Morgan chipped in by scoring in the 19th minute with an impressive header on a cross from Kreuger to give the USWNT a 3-0 lead.

“Alex [Morgan] and I spent a lot of time post-World Cup talking about what worked for her and what didn’t work for her,” Kilgore said. “Some of these balls that you’re seeing played across the backline or behind the backline, early balls, those are some of her bread and butter. She’s been drooling for those finishes.”

Horan scored in the 78th minute, putting away a penalty kick after a handball call. It was the USWNT’s final goal in a decisive win. But Kilgore still wants more from her group. 

“We have a huge capacity as a team that has not hit its capacity yet,” Kilgore said.

The victory kept the USWNT at the top of Group A with six points after two matches. They play Mexico on Monday with a chance to win the group with a draw or a win. The USWNT could show even more there as their versatile young talent leads the way.