US college soccer shapes Women’s World Cup & rosters globally

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The huge influence of US college soccer on the Women’s World Cup and its rosters

The impact of US Soccer on the Women’s World Cup is evident. While young male players typically seek career opportunities in Europe, many promising female stars are drawn to the United States and its college system.

In the US, although not mandatory, players often go through the college system, which is sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), before transitioning to professional soccer.

On the US Women’s National Team (USWNT), except for captain Lindsey Horan and wingers Trinity Rodman and Alyssa Thompson, the rest of the squad has played at the college level. Notably, Alyssa Thompson skipped university altogether after being drafted at 18 by Angel City FC last January while still in high school.

This trend is not unique to the USA team; it extends to other teams as well. Out of the 766 players representing the 32 teams in Australia and New Zealand, 137 players have come through the NCAA system. Remarkably, 16 of them are currently competing for Division I schools or lower divisions.

In other words, approximately 1 in 6 players at the tournament began their careers, in some capacity, in the US college system. This statistic highlights the significant influence of US Soccer on women’s football, not only domestically but also on the international stage.

The huge influence of US college soccer on the Women's World Cup
The huge influence of US college soccer on the Women’s World Cup

Canada boasts the highest number of players with ties to US college teams: 22 out of the 23 players in their squad have either played or are currently playing there. The United States follows closely behind with 20 players.

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A total of 70 schools are represented on the world’s biggest stage, with Florida State having the highest number of players, past and present, at the tournament with eight. North Carolina and Stanford are tied for second place with six players each.

Even lesser-known schools for soccer have their representation at the World Cup. Players from colleges all over the US are currently representing their countries in Australia and New Zealand. For instance, Hilary Jaen Jones from County Community College in Mississippi is representing Panama, Carleigh Frilles from Coastal Carolina was called up for the Philippines, Chiara Singarella from South Alabama for Argentina, and Erin Nayler of New Zealand previously played at Purdue Fort Wayne in Indiana.

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