Alex Morgan replaces injured Mia Fishel in USWNT camp ahead of W Gold Cup: Full Time

Does anyone have tips for staying up late for soccer? (Sorry, East Coast bias.) I’m Emily Olsen here with Meg Linehan, Steph Yang, and Jeff Rueter — welcome to Full Time!

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USWNT Game Day Prep

Alex Morgan replaces injured Mia Fishel

It’s game day, but we have to get right into injury news — the worst type of news.

Forward Mia Fishel tore her right ACL during training yesterday. U.S. World Cup captain Alex Morgan will replace Fishel after originally being left off the roster. The injury is a massive blow for the U.S. and Fishel’s club team Chelsea.

“I’m gutted for Mia, and I know the team and the entire staff is as well,” said U.S. interim head coach Twila Kilgore. “She’s been very effective in camp and has worked hard to make an impact.”

Morgan’s initial absence, meanwhile, wasn’t necessarily a shock. As Meg Linehan said, there is some continuity in this roster from the December camp, including the absence of Morgan. That meant it was another chance to see who might be the future of the forward position. While Mallory Swanson is limited to a “training player” role this time around, there was a clear opportunity for Fishel to continue to gel with players like Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman. The door is now open once again.

Gold Cup journey begins

The U.S. returns to tournament play tonight for the first time since the 2023 Women’s World Cup. And just like the World Cup, it’s going to be a late night/early morning for those on the East Coast. The match time for the U.S. against the Dominican Republic is 10:15 p.m. ET at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

It’s the USWNT’s first match of the inaugural tournament, but things began on Saturday with the Dominican Republic defeating Guyana 1-0 to advance to play the U.S. Also, Puerto Rico stunned Haiti 1-0, which means their next game will be against Brazil on Wednesday. El Salvador wrapped up qualifying with a 3-1 win over Guatemala. They face Canada on Thursday.

CONCACAF isn’t the only confederation represented in the Gold Cup, however. Four CONMEBOL guest nations (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Paraguay) have also joined the fun, making this tournament feel even more like a Paris Olympic tune-up.

The U.S. is in Group A. They’re undefeated against CONCACAF teams on U.S. soil (77 wins, 2 draws), though they also have a CONMEBOL nation, Argentina, in the group. Every match is available on Paramount+.

The USWNT plays all three group stage matches in Carson, each kicking off at 7:15 p.m. PT/10:15 p.m. ET:

  • vs. Dominican Republic, Tuesday, Feb. 20
  • vs. Argentina, Friday, Feb. 23
  • vs. Mexico, Monday, Feb. 26

The top two finishers from each of the three groups, plus the two top third-place finishers, advance to the quarterfinals at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles — this round is seeded by results. The semifinals (March 6) and final (March 10) will all be held at Snapdragon Stadium.

Special guests

It wasn’t just the 23 rostered players and training additions in camp this week. The U.S. welcomed some familiar faces, a rising star and reality TV real estate agent to the practice fields of Carson.

  • USWNT forward Christen Press and midfielder Tobin Heath visited the squad last week, donning street clothes. There were plenty of smiles and silly poses to go around — and enough to make us reminisce on the old days. While Heath has been more elusive about any return to play, Press recently spoke to Meg about her “relentless optimism” as she continues her journey back from four surgeries.
  • Meanwhile, the future is bright with Leena Powell, who also visited the group, fresh off a dominating tournament at the CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship. Powell, photographed with Rodman, who had plenty of success at the youth level herself, scored in the USYNT’s final group-stage game against Canada on the way to winning the tournament and earning a place in the U-17 World Cup.
  • And finally, Real estate broker and Netflix’s “Selling Sunset” star Brett Oppenheim also appeared at training. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
USWNT guests

(Photos courtesy of Brad Smith, Getty Image)

Meg’s Corner: Expectations for the Gold Cup

A few things are happening with these upcoming matches in the inaugural W Gold Cup: we’re looking for chemistry, new connections, playing time, that sort of thing, but it’s also impossible to know before a ball is kicked how much those of us on the outside will truly learn. The USWNT — and most importantly, a bunch of younger players — will get a refresher course on tournament rhythms ahead of the Olympics, but how much should these matches matter?

The expectation, as always, will be to win and win big. (It’s an ongoing conversation about whether or not those expectations are productive.). But there’s a part of me that hopes to see some stumbling blocks, some imperfection on the field, and the team working through it. This is not yet a well-oiled machine, nor should it be … yet. It’s preseason for a majority of the team, and this may not be pretty. The hope is that these games are just a piece of the bigger Olympic puzzle.

For all the coverage ahead of the tournament about how vets like Alex Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn were missing from the roster, both have ended up with the team as injury replacements. Defender Alana Cook picked up a “minor knee injury” while training with the Seattle Reign, so Sauerbrunn got the call. In decidedly worse news, Fishel tore her ACL during USWNT training on Monday — a big blow for the team ahead of the Olympics, not to mention Chelsea — with Morgan announced on Tuesday. The question remains how many minutes the two get; as known quantities, they perhaps offer more in the training environment and the locker room.


NWSL’s 2026 World Cup dilemma

We won’t know who is hosting the 2027 Women’s World Cup until May 17 at the FIFA Congress, but we do know that the next men’s World Cup will be mostly in the U.S. In 2026, 11 U.S. cities will split games, along with two Canadian cities and three Mexican cities, during the longest World Cup yet.

What does that mean for women’s soccer in the country?

While the increased eyes on the sport could provide a boost to the game overall, the schedule could cause some logistical problems for at least seven NWSL markets: Boston, New Jersey/New York, Kansas City, Houston, Seattle, San Francisco Bay Area, and Los Angeles.

“The NWSL will work to address any scheduling challenges that might arise while putting plans in place to ensure that we capitalize on the unprecedented attention for soccer in the U.S. and around the world,” a league spokesperson said in a statement issued to The Athletic, following an interview request.

Read Meg’s full analysis of what NWSL teams and the league need to consider ahead of 2026, including Seattle Reign whose stadium will be used throughout the World Cup.

Another ACL injury

There’s a lot of excitement in LA these days, not just with the Gold Cup nearby, but also the recent moves by Angel City FC. The club, however, announced the devastating news that forward Jun Endo injured her left ACL during preseason training in Florida and will be placed on the season-ending injury list.

Endo was a strong depth player in Angel City’s attacking pool, which became shallow at times last season. Endo scored in the club’s first regular season match in 2022 against the North Carolina Courage. She’s gone on to tally four goals and six assists in 47 appearances across all competitions.

Full-Time First Looks

Off to the races: Racing Louisville hired former Canadian Soccer Hall of Famer Carmelina Moscato as assistant coach to Bev Yanez. Moscato has been to three World Cups and won Olympic bronze at the 2012 London Olympics. As a coach, she most recently led Tigres in Liga MX Femenil as head coach and technical director.

Sounding the alarm: Former Denmark international Rikke Sevecke, who was traded to the Portland Thorns before having to retire due to a heart condition, called for stronger monitoring of heart health in women’s soccer. Sevecke, 27, wrote an open letter to FIFPRO last week outlining the need for more rigorous testing.

Room for two: Following the news that U.S. Soccer awarded the USL Super League Division I sanctioning, The Athletic crew discussed what this means for top-flight professional soccer, the lingering questions, and the overall state of the game.

It’s never too late: “I never have to stop being a soccer player.” Heather O’Reilly, 39, explained why she joined Gotham FC in training this preseason on her weekly SiriusXM show. Thirteen-year-old McKenna Whitham was also part of Gotham’s preseason. The rising soccer standout recently became the youngest athlete in any sport to sign a NIL deal with Nike.

Did you see this? My goal of the weekend goes to Bayern Munich during its 2-0 win over SGS Essen in the Frauen-Bundesliga. Klara Bühl served this one on a platter for Glódís Perla Viggósdóttir:

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(Photo: Brad Smith/Getty Images for USSF)

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