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Resiliency leads USWNT to Inaugural W Gold Cup victory

Champagne showers, beer slip-n-slides, and yet another major trophy secured for the U.S. women’s national team.

Hero of the night, captain Lindsey Horan, lifted the inaugural 2024 W Gold Cup trophy high into the air on Sunday night after she scored the winning goal in first-half stoppage time for a 1-0 victory over Brazil.

As the highly contested first period progressed with Brazil jumping on the front foot early, the Americans grew into the game, improving with each minute played. Their reward came when Sam Coffey won the ball in midfield to release Trinity Rodman down the right wing. Rodman found help in Emily Fox who played a looping cross to the back post where Horan called off Alex Morgan to head home the opener.

“I was screaming at Alex to leave it because I knew I was in on goal,” Horan recalled. “So I keep saying I give her a second assist for that because she heard me and she left it.”

Carrying their lead into the second half, the USWNT logically decided to focus on shutting the door defensively. Though that meant seeing even less of the ball, it also meant none of Brazil’s 11 shots on the night hit the target. Alyssa Naeher – who was named Best Goalkeeper of the W Gold Cup – didn’t have a save to make. Teammate Jaedyn Shaw was fellow award-winner on the night as the tournament’s Best Player and the USWNT earned the Fair Play Award as a team as well.

In vanquishing some of the demons from their early World Cup exit last year, the USWNT won their mind-blowing 10th consecutive competitive final while keeping their opposition out of the back of the net in the last six.

“I think it speaks to a level of focus. It speaks to the level of detail that we put into each of these games,” analyzed Naeher. “I think every time we’ve gone into a final we embrace the big moment.”

That recent finals record speaks for itself but these international tournaments are becoming continually more difficult to win as the quality of opponent increases, requiring new tests of mentality and resilience. This inaugural W Gold Cup was no exception.

Back in the final group stage match of this tournament, the USWNT was thoroughly outplayed by Mexico in just their second loss in 43 meetings at the hands of their southern neighbor. The Americans hadn’t lost on home soil in nearly a quarter of a century and needed a robust response.

“Grit is a big part of our DNA and who we are and I’m just really proud of the group for being proud of that,” interim head coach Twila Kilgore outlined the importance of her squad’s resilience. “It’s not always a narrative that people celebrate all over the world [but] it’s definitely a part of who we are.”

In the quarterfinal round, the Americans switched on that mentality shift with a 3-0 bounce-back win over a challenging Colombia side. Striking the balance of having a goldfish’s memory to swiftly put a devastating result behind you while reminding oneself of a desire never to feel those painful emotions again is an extremely difficult task, but one the USWNT tackled head on.

“I think we’re resilient,” Coffey echoed her coach’s sentiments. “I don’t think a lot of teams could lose the way we did against Mexico, which was super disappointing and unacceptable from us, but respond the way that we did. I’m not sure we get here without that loss.”

It was a loss that asked many questions of the Americans, to which they seemed to have all of the answers en route to their latest triumph. Following the rebound win over Colombia, another major test of the team’s grit presented itself in the form of mother nature. Playing on what would best be described as a swimming pool with grassy patches, the USWNT simply had to find a way to win against Canada in the semifinal, even if it wasn’t pretty.

Aside from just the ugliness of mud ruining the Americans pristine white jerseys, the USWNT had to get scrappy to earn the win. Overcoming a late equalizer in regulation as well as second equalizer from the penalty spot in stoppage time of extra time, the Americans trip to the final was eventually secured on penalties.

“The last game that we just played against Canada was the most wild game of our lives,” Horan reminisced for a moment, “but being able to do that and come in and play in this type of game – each game has been been very, very, very difficult. So, the mentality of the team was awesome, and yeah, we grinded it out and we got that dub.”

Whatever it takes. Perseverance, determination, mentality, resilience, and grit. 

In the final which resulted from lessons learned, all of these experiences proved crucial in delivering the silverware. As Kilgore put it, “We talked a lot about making sure that we won tonight to validate the work that we’ve done over the course of the tournament.”

Work, validated.


  1. I’m glad these younger players are showing well. It helps that the door is open a little wider than usual for this team because of some injuries and long-awaited retirements. This was a perfect tournament for them to get on the field and get tested.

  2. Good win for the program. They needed to meet expectation of winning this tournament. Maybe not the dominant tournament we wanted but Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia on their way. Sometimes a wake up call is needed. This is a team in transition and a team dealing with the reality of competition that has closed the gap if not caught up talent-wise.

    I was incredibly impressed with Korbin Albert..and Coffey made me believe maybe there is a six in the pool that can handle possession type teams like those Euro teams the US has had trouble with lately. Brazil, even if a notch below those teams, plays more in that style and although it took a bit for the US to get into the game they eventually broke up Brazil’s fluidity which they were never ab;et o recover. I agree wholeheartedly with Ali Kreiger…connecting passes seems to me to be the biggest hurdle to this team regaining its dominance. Way too many attacks were undone before they could even gain footing by poor passes that should have been easily completed. For me Albert showed well in this area as well as an ability to work well in tight spaces. She’s showed what I’ve been wanting to see from Ashley Sanchez.

    I was excited by the way CBS had the team line-up in their pregame graphic with Lavelle as a ten behind two strikers of Morgan and Rodman with Coffey and Albert behind. I would build this team around a fully fit Rose Lavelle. Her game is not on the wing like she was ultimately employed for this game. Give her Macario, Smith, Swanson and Shaw to play with…and if Korbin Albert can play like that consistently not to mention Moultrie….ooh…I’m excited about the potential…can’t wait to see what Hayes does with group.

    But please please please…the passing…has to improve!

    • Korbin Albert’s work rate was incredible last night. She is dynamic midfielder and leads with effort, so impressed with her play in the tourney.

      The US definitely needs to connect on passing better but I would say they need to complete plays on both sides of the ball. Finish traps with winning the ball ! Coffey and Albert were excellent pressing but the next pass was lacking. Fox is so talented with ball, especially on the dribble. But she needs to make consistent unlocking passes. Rodman plays high energy into channels but rarely finishes play resulting in a dangerous pass or shot.

      An issue no one is discussing is the US is being played physical, very physical on the ball and off the ball. Brazil and Canada have very physical, long, and strong athletes. The US doesn’t not match up against those types of players. Sure you saw some grit emerge the last three matches but US had to adjust. Nighswonger, Lavelle, and even Morgan plays small and slight. Morgan is not small or slight but plays for calls on contact and no longer gets those calls. He balance on contact especially being the a target player is not sufficient. Smith gave the six foot Brazilian CB all she could handle physically at 5’6”. Nighswonger did not play after getting tossed around in previous matches, She is a talent but physically compared to Dunn doesn’t match up. Lavelle is just not fast enough to run alway from contact and her ball retention is not up to parr, hope she gets healthy. US cannot play with Nighswonger and Lavelle both on the left side and not get exposed.

      Anyone else noticed the on field congeniality has disappeared in this tournament? Hard fouls are not seeking apologies or hugs. The opponents are bringing the fight to matches and the US is figuring out 90 minutes is battle to win!

      Am I the only one who noticed Shaw is not too fleet of foot when chasing and pressing? She is great in the 18 on offense but not too fast.

      Still so many positives with younger stronger ladies playing hard for the jersey. It is really going to be interesting with players getting healthy. The US can really be a great pressing team and dynamic enough to play over top when being pressed. The competition for roster spots will continue to grow the next few months.

      • great comments, and Twomilerule, agree with all of it. on Shaw, it was in her pressure D in our 3rd, when she needed a sustained effort made many times in a row, at least that’s what I remember

        on connecting passes…it’s more than just that idea right, but how?

        this team still (1) DOES NOT SWITCH THE POINT effectively nor (2) turn in the midfield consistently nor (3) beat a player 1v1 to break the pressure in midfield consistently.

        of those 3, switching the point is very doable and is on almost all the time. on turning, when we do, the weak side is opened up to the attack, but it’s rare still; we are very one-sided in our ideas too often seems to me. on beating players 1v1 to break the midfield line, we just don’t have a lot of those players in the pool for this tournament seems to me (Lavelle an exception but she does get muscled).

        but the team showed a lot of other important winning qualities that were good to see

        but re. connecting, there are specifics tactically that could help, and I believe will be installed as this group continues to evolve under Coaches Twila and Emma

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