Under Pressure: The U.S. Women's World Cup Team (2023) s01e01 Episode Script

Episode 1

[clock ticks]
[dark music plays]
[male announcer] It's win-or-go-home time
at the Women's World Cup.
The US team just completed
their worst World Cup group stage ever.
[ticking continues]
We're not playing to our strengths.
We're not seeing the bite we usually have.
[female announcer 1]
Nothing's rainbows and butterflies.
[female announcer 2]
A lotta chatter, noise.
[female announcer 3]
The expectation is to dominate the ball,
to dominate the score,
to dominate the tempo of games.
[female announcer 4] I don't think
the respect of wearing the crest
and playing for your country was there.
[ticking accelerates]
Yes, the performance was crap.
We all know that.
We have to own it,
and we have to focus for the next game.
[dramatic music plays]
[woman 1] It's a matter of using the noise
as an opportunity to shut us all up.
There's always a belief, right?
It's the US Women's National Team.
There's always that mentality of,
"They're gonna find a way,
and they have to find a way."
"No other option."
"If they don't find a way,
they're all gonna pack their bags."
We're not producing players
that are getting it done. They're losing.
This is a whole thing.
So it's a whole range of
I gotta get out there, though.
[woman 2] Twenty seconds.
[Carli] Thank you.
Five, four, three. Your mics.
[tense music plays]
[crowd cheers]
[player 1] We're in a pressure cooker.
The tournament's a pressure cooker.
This is a mess.
[player 2] There's always going to be
a target on our back.
- [player 3] With the generational change
- [player 2] We are not invincible.
- [player 3] Built into the team's DNA
- [man 1] She missed the whole net.
[woman 3] This team is just different.
- ["Mount Everest" by Labrinth plays]
- Ain't got shit on me ♪
[man 2] It's not just about losing a game.
The big risk
is that they become irrelevant. [echoes]
[dramatic music plays]
[producer] Slate it?
Can you just sort of explain
what happened there?
Can you just explain what happened?
What happened exactly?
["Mount Everest" continues]
Mount Everest ain't got shit on me ♪
- [player grunts]
- Mount Everest ♪
- Ain't got shit on me ♪
- [woman's voice echoes]
[crowd cheers]
I think we all understand
we have that one goal
of winning the World Cup.
Burj, Dubai ain't got shit on me ♪
That's why you go, to win.
Um, nothing is satisfying unless you win.
[player 4] We have had a lot of success
in World Cups,
but that doesn't mean we've won them all.
[male announcer 1]
And the World Cup in Japan.
[player 2] 2015 was a long time coming.
[male announcer 2]
Rapinoe has driven ball in towards
[player 2] We hadn't won
a World Cup since '99.
[coach] I'm just so,
so proud of this team and these players.
So happy for every little girl
that dreams about this.
[player 2] And then, in 2019, we went
in there knowing we were gonna win.
[male announcer 2] Lovely run. Great goal!
[player 2] We came outta there
with the trophy.
[male announcer 2]
Now the world champions again.
Nobody, nobody does it better.
[player 6] Winning four World Cups,
especially the two back-to-back,
we wanna raise the bar.
We want the three-peat.
But the game is different now.
[player 7] So many other teams
are so good.
Every game is gonna be an absolute grind.
Everyone is gonna give us their best game.
[rhythmic music plays]
There's always pressure on us.
The expectation is always to win.
Pressure is a fucking privilege
on this team.
Go! We better get there.
I mean, to win one is hard.
To win two in a row is unbelievable.
To win three, it has never been done.
[male announcer 3] One of two things.
The rebirth of a champion
Work your ass off. This is the most
important game of this tournament.
Level these bitches the first second
you get a chance. Come on, guys. Let's go!
[male announcer 3]or the end of an era.
You guys are
digging for headlines already.
[hip-hop music plays]
[player 4] Soccer,
football, is the world's game.
And so, in terms
of capturing the world's attention,
every four years in the World Cup,
it's a spectacle.
Other teams have made
a good case for themselves
to be top contenders for the World Cup.
England, for example, winning the Euros.
Spain and Germany
are competing incredibly well recently.
But, of course,
there's still a target on our back.
There always will be.
[man] The US team are the favorites.
They're trying to three-peat.
They're the team that everybody's chasin'.
When you wear that crest,
you have that pressure and that legacy
that has been passed down to you
to represent the team
to the highest standard and to win.
[tense music plays]
[player 6] Prior to the World Cup roster,
in the back of your head, you're like,
"Everything I'm doing right now
is being watched,
and this could be make or break,
you know, going to the World Cup."
So out of maybe the 30 or more contenders,
at the end of the day, it's 23 players.
And that's it.
So for the months prior to the World Cup,
coaching staff,
they've got lists of players.
They're watching lots of games,
trying to identify the players
that are rising to the top.
And then they call these women into camp.
[cheerful music plays]
"Camp" we just kind of use
as any time the team gets together.
- What's the weather?
- 80.
- What?
- It's cold.
- Oh.
- [both laugh]
Going to training. [chuckles]
Trinity Rodman! Whoo!
We got it. We're ahead.
It's not like sleepaway camp
that young kids go to.
- Good!
- [player 8] This is training camp.
Go! That group's done. Well done.
- Focus.
- I got it.
Coming into camp is kind of like a tryout.
One ball!
[player 7] It's usually every four weeks,
or every six weeks.
Starting with a goal kick.
Red team on the goal.
[player 1] So everybody plays
for their club team,
and then you get an email invitation
saying, "You've been invited
to the US Women's National Team camp
for these dates."
And then, basically,
you put your club team on hold,
and you come and do your duty
as a national team player.
All right. Welcome, everyone, again.
It's, uh, exciting to have you back.
Okay, just a reminder
until the first World Cup game,
we're gonna have nine games
that we're gonna play.
We're gonna have 22 trainings, okay?
And these numbers
are just getting smaller and smaller,
and as these numbers go down,
the stress and anxiety goes up.
For all the players that get called
into senior national team camp,
there's a huge range of experience.
Some players have no caps,
and a cap is just an appearance
in an international match.
[Vlatko] It doesn't matter
whether you have two caps or 200 caps.
The fact that you're in this room
is already a good step forward for you.
Obviously, the question
that everybody wants to know
is how do you stay in this room?
Win that, Sonnett, yes!
Win it back, win it back, blue!
Win it back!
We have blood!
A World Cup roster is the final squad
of players that are chosen,
you're allowed 23 players,
who are going to the World Cup.
[pensive music plays]
[player 8] There are so many players
who could be on this roster.
It's not a "for sure" for me,
so it's different than other players.
There are players that are for sure.
We know who.
[Lynn] You have your veterans.
You have your Becky Sauerbrunns,
Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgans,
who have won all of the things.
Your Rose, Lindsey Horan, Julie,
who have been on the team for a while.
Then there's a group of people that,
like, are bubble players.
[Foudy] A bubble player is someone
that is just on the edge
of making the roster or not making it.
They're on the edge of that bubble.
And that's never a fun place to be.
As the pool
for the US Women's National
grows and grows,
it's just harder and harder
to get in the bubble.
[dramatic music plays]
At the end of the day,
it's Vlatko Andonovski
who has to make that call
and say,
"Okay, this is gonna be our final 23."
The ball is going to come to you, okay?
And you don't know
when that is gonna happen.
It may be in the most important time
of the World Cup.
So let's be ready for that one shot
and one goal, all right?
Let's go.
We're going to the Soccer Post store,
um, that's just opening.
So this is the launch of it,
and it's an exciting day
because since moving
to San Diego last year,
I have tried to really
invest myself more into this community.
So this is just another step
to doing that.
Oh actually, I think Charlie's coming
for, like, the next 30 minutes
before swimming lessons.
We'll see how that works out.
This is so cool.
Charlie! Hi, babe!
What's up?
Look at all these soccer shoes.
No, not that one. Choose over here.
This one. Yeah. Nike.
[rhythmic music plays]
All right, Chars.
I think I need to take some photos. Okay?
- Charlie, what do you need, babe?
- [whimpers]
I know. Well, it's because
you have to be quiet.
- [Charlie] No!
- You don't wanna be quiet?
- I wanna go with you.
- With me? I'm right here.
- [sobs] I wanna be with you.
- Okay.
This is my first World Cup as a mom,
so that is different.
It just makes it even more special.
Okay. But I have to work right now.
- But I wanna be with you.
- [Alex] Okay.
[gentle music plays]
She puts things into perspective for me.
I'm just, you know, a mom to her.
I'm not this soccer player
fighting for a roster spot,
fighting for a World Cup trophy.
I'm just Mom.
And I think that makes me
just really happy and at ease.
[gentle music ends]
Am I coming out?
"I'm so excited to announce"
"Let's continue to inspire
the next generation together." Okay.
I've never cut a ribbon before.
- [woman] Really?
- [Alex] Yeah.
[rhythmic music plays]
Thank you for coming.
You got the pink headband and everything.
[Foudy] Alex actually reminds me
very much of Mia Hamm
because she does transcend the sport.
[man] Beautiful.
[Foudy] For a person who's on the street
who knows nothing about soccer,
if you said, "Who's one player you know?"
In our day, it would've been Mia.
Today it's Alex Morgan.
Even if they don't have a clue
about soccer or the women's national team,
they know who she is.
And the ESPY goes to Alex Morgan!
[woman 1] First,
I wanna talk about Alex Morgan.
[woman 2] Alex!
The fact that she's here
presenting this to me is such an honor.
Sorry, but this is probably
the second-best trophy we won this week.
[laughter, applause]
[Ian] When you look at what
she's capable of doing as a world figure,
she's transcended football.
I mean,
she's almost like a political figure.
When you're the star that's saddled with
a lot of the promotional responsibilities
it's a lotta time, a lotta energy.
We're trying to raise more opportunities
for girls and women around the world
to be able to be included
and respected in the sport.
[Foudy] And to be able to balance it
and still be the dominant player
that she is, is not easy.
[male announcer 1] Alex Morgan!
Fabulous goal.
What Alex has, you can't teach.
- And she is so fast.
- [male announcer 1] Goal!
[Abby] And then the strength that she has
to score the goals that she's scored
[male announcer 2]
And there it is for Alex Morgan.
[male announcer 3]
Alex Morgan has done it!
[Abby]it's incredible.
[Alex] Being on the national team
for 13 years, 14 years,
change is just part of the game.
Between 2019 and '23,
we've gone through five players
who've had pregnancies.
[female announcer]
The last time, number ten
[Alex] You have a player like Carli Lloyd,
who retired.
[dark music plays]
There was a lot of personnel changes,
a lot of players in
that had never been in before,
a lot of players getting injured.
[male announcer 1]
Mallory Swanson is hurt.
And immediately, they're calling for
the stretcher to be brought
onto the field here.
Not only that, um,
the coaching and all that staff changed.
[male announcer 2] That is it. That is
the end of Jill Ellis's marvelous,
magnificent career.
Two-time World Cup-winning coach.
[Vlatko] All together!
[male announcer 3]
US Women's National Team kicks off
a new era
as Vlatko Andonovski takes over it.
All right, ladies,
let's jump into two groups here.
Red girls, blue girls. Two groups only.
[Foudy] When Vlatko was hired,
he was a player's type of coach.
Get a drink. We'll move on the other side.
[Foudy] A manager that players love,
and you still only hear good things.
And what coach do you
only hear good things about?
[Vlatko] Right. Now we go, play!
[Foudy] But you do with Vlatko Andonovski.
[indistinct chatter]
First, I should say welcome,
or welcome myself.
- [players laugh]
- I'm excited to be part of this group.
He is so knowledgeable
and meticulous and detail-oriented,
but he's also got this really fun,
goofy side to him as well.
[Megan] You look like
you're sellin' ice cream or something.
Hey, guys!
It's not always easy,
especially after a coaching change.
Whether you liked
the previous coach or not,
you knew what the sessions,
the vibe would be like.
Now it's all different.
It's like, "What's different? Why?"
Nobody likes change.
[Vlatko] Coming after a coach
that won two World Cups,
I knew it was probably the
the toughest moment.
[Megan] Jill's legacy is winning.
I mean, double World Cup champ.
That's the expectation.
It's our responsibility
to prepare you for that.
[Alex] Vlatko's coaching style
is very tactically heavy.
Before, I felt like
I'm talking about, you know, '15, '11,
we were able to go out
and play every game the same way.
Ya know, we'd defend the same way.
We'd attack the same way.
You can't do that now.
Because the game has evolved so much,
we still have to adjust our game
a little bit defensively,
and on the attack every game,
and I feel like Vlatko
is incredibly good at that.
Every game is another step
in our preparation for the World Cup.
This one is no different.
[cheering, applause]
Here we go. Let's go.
[Vlatko] The environment believes in it,
believes in success, believes in winning.
It's the mentality
that has been created a long time ago,
and it's been nurtured and evolved.
And it's something that even myself,
when I got this job,
I knew what I was getting into.
Let's go out and win it. Let's go.
It's literally win every game.
It's very simple.
If you win, you're doing well.
If not, it's not good enough.
We gotta win games. That's what
we mean. That's why you're here.
I always say
it's the worst job in the world
because if you do your job,
then you were just supposed to,
and if you do one hair less,
then you're gonna get lambasted for it.
[male announcer 1] There's big questions
for the manager to answer.
[male announcer 2] Questions and criticism
will come to this head coach.
[female announcer]
What can he do with this team,
and what he hasn't been able to do.
[Meg] I think you have
to be built so differently
to want the US Women's National
head coaching job
because you have the highest expectations
and the highest pressure.
Hope you had an enjoyable weekend.
But more importantly,
let's get ready for the World Cup.
All right? Let's go.
[Foudy] There's gonna be some pressure
on him at this, his first World Cup.
And so, he needs
the Alexes and the Rapinoes
that stabilize and ground the group.
People say,
"Well, Megan Rapinoe's at 38 years old."
"Should she be going
to another World Cup?"
She's been out
with a calf injury recently.
And who knows? Maybe she's rested,
and it's fine, and it's a good thing.
But you just don't know
until you get there.
I say, "If she can give 20 minutes off
the bench and change the game, why not?"
["Glory" by Gabriels plays]
Let me tell you a story ♪
Of the girl left in glory ♪
I'm gonna be knighted. I don't know when,
so I just preemptively put that on there.
She have the world in her hand ♪
[Vlatko] She's so important to this team.
[male announcer]
What a World Cup for Megan Rapinoe!
She's seen it all.
My greatest superpower is I'm always me.
I mght be down right now, but I ♪
Make do with what I've got ♪
In time no water into wine ♪
But I make do with what I've got ♪
I'll make a little a lot ♪
[Abby] When Megan is healthy
and when Megan is fit,
I don't know if there's been
a better all-around player.
[male announcer in Spanish]
Goal from Megan Rapinoe, 2-0!
[in English] With every World Cup,
my life changed in a lot of ways.
I feel like none of 'em are given,
but this one in particular
was so not given.
There's always so many players
waiting in the wings, ready.
Players that were just on the outside
of last World Cup are, like
They're them now.
- Yeah! ♪
- I'll make a little a lot ♪
[indistinct conversation]
Since the beginning of the year,
I've been taking it, like, camp to camp.
So I'm like,
"Okay, I just gotta make the next camp."
And then, like, now, it's day by day,
and it just gets more and more stressful.
Okay, guys, so we're gonna start, okay?
Yeah, so obviously, today,
key game against the Spirit.
Remember, we get the ball to one side.
We create that open space in the middle
for Kristie to be, in this case,
the one driving the attack on that side.
Okay, Kristie?
We got a game plan, we got a style,
and you've been working on this
for the last five months now,
so we know what we need to do to win.
[uplifting music plays]
[Kristie] This is my 12th year
in the league.
I'm 32 years old now,
and for someone to tell me
that I was gonna be in contention
for making the World Cup roster at 32,
I would not believe you.
[cheering echoes distantly]
It's hard to do both.
I wanna be doing all of the things
that the national team requires of me,
and they're all
really important aspects of the game,
but I also am here
to win in the league for Gotham.
NWSL is National Women's Soccer League.
It is the third iteration
of a women's professional league
in the United States.
In terms of evaluation
for Vlatko Andonovski,
NWSL games became huge.
[Kristie groans]
We fucking lost our momentum,
like, when the goal got called back.
[player] I know.
[Kristie] With the rosters released
in two weeks,
I am sitting in, like, a bubble spot.
I could go. I could very easily not go.
This could define my career.
[producer] Not to get into
too much of the nitty-gritty,
but these past six months,
a lot has happened
Hold on one sec. Sam's calling me.
Are you here?
I'm in the USA!
[Kristie yelps]
[Sam yelps]
Um, Sam and I have been together
for almost two years.
Sam, she's just, like,
the best person ever.
I feel like everybody says that
about their partner,
but I just feel so lucky
that she likes me. It's [laughs]
- [Sam] This one's nice.
- [man] Thank you.
I mean, obviously, her as a soccer player,
she's just like incredible.
[male announcer]
All the way through for Sam Kerr!
Australia's golden girl.
What an amazing goal-scoring record.
[Foudy] Wherever Sam Kerr has gone,
she's lifted that team.
She's clearly one of the best
that has ever graced the field.
[Kristie] Today, we're gonna go
to my sister's house.
She lives in Dorchester,
and she's gonna be there with her husband.
My mom and my dad are gonna stop by.
- I've met the immediate family.
- You've met Mom, Dad, Sam, Pat.
Mom, Dad, Sam, Pat, but not the extended.
- Right. Yeah.
- So that's today.
I'm just so excited to spend time
with my sister and with my family,
and, obviously,
having her here too is just the best.
So I feel like
all my people are in one spot.
Hi. Mwah!
- [Kristie] How are ya?
- I'm great now.
- [Kristie] We're making guac upstairs.
- Okay.
- How are you?
- [Kristie] Good. How are you?
Good. Hi, Sam.
- [Sam] Hey, how are you? Good to see you.
- Good to see you.
- This is Sam.
- Hi, Sam.
- [Sam] Hey, how are you?
- Nice to meet you.
[Sam] Nice to meet you finally.
We're, like, both so, like, supportive,
but also, like, so hard on each other.
Do you know you guys conceded eight goals
this year, four off set pieces?
- Yeah. I know.
- [Sam] Corners, to be exact.
That's horrific. Half your goals
come off corners. Do youse not work on it?
It's just like we're just not doing
what we're supposed to.
Like, they're just getting free headers
in the area.
- I'm joking. [laughs]
- Well, be sweet. You know I don't like
It has nothing to do with you.
You were front post.
If you'd jumped higher, it wouldn't
have got to the middle of the goal.
- [Pat] That was an attack. That was cruel.
- I was man-marking.
[Sam] I'm joking.
It had nothing to do with you.
I think it drives us.
Like, we're both so competitive,
but, like, then we have our support.
Some days, I'll come out from a game,
or she'll come out from a game,
and, like, we'll just say
we don't wanna talk about soccer.
I honestly think it takes, like
When we are together, it takes, what?
Two to three days to, like,
settle in being with each other.
I think.
It's almost like it doesn't feel real
that you're here for a week and a half.
And obviously, you've been alone
on your own time for so long,
and now I have to wait for her
to do her makeup and get ready.
I'm just like, "Oh my God. Hurry up."
- It's like
- A change.
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
- You wanna taste some of this?
- Yep.
I put more lime and more salt.
Especially when you come to my house,
'cause you take over.
Yeah, I do.
I think we'll see how
the World Cup goes and go from there,
but I think we definitely
are over the long-distance thing.
Just get the spoon, babe.
You know where they are.
Come on. Don't be cold.
Here's the spoon. [laughs]
Are you a movie star?
Are you a movie star?
We'll clean the cutting board later.
- Kristie, it's all good.
- [Pat] It's all good, dude.
[Kristie] Sam,
my sister, is just the best.
I just, like, look up to her so much
on and off the field.
[Mewis] Come on! Come on!
[Kristie] 2019,
my sister was at that World Cup.
Obviously, I would have absolutely loved
to have been there with her.
We won!
I think for those years, I was like,
"I'm not good enough to be there."
Like, "These girls are incredible.
They're so much better than me."
"My sister's killing it."
Sam played on a career-ending injury
for four years.
She's an anomaly, honestly.
She I think a lot of doctors and people
have said that she'll never play again,
but I think she'll play again.
[Mewis] I have been dealing
with this injury for a long time.
I don't think about myself right now
when it comes to the World Cup.
I'm just excited
to see the roster, to cheer Kristie on,
obviously, cheer my other friends on.
Like, I'm really close with Lynn. Um
So, I'm excited to watch.
I think it's gonna be an exciting year.
[Foudy] The Mewis sisters
are so interesting to see their evolution
because you had,
in Kristie Mewis, the elder of the two,
she started her career
really the one with the most,
it looked like,
potential to make
the full women's national team.
They're not gonna love this analogy,
but I see it as this almost leapfrog.
As one has risen, the other one has had
an injury or some setback of some sort.
I can imagine their parents.
You have these two kids
with such great success,
but really haven't been able
to merge that together at the same time.
[Dad] There was a lot of competition
in the backyard.
There isn't much lawn left there,
and the fence, actually,
we had to replace sections of the fence
from where they would
kick the ball against it.
I never thought
they would end up being friends.
I really thought
they would never be friends.
- [woman] I told you they would.
- They watched each other when they were
as low as can be.
What do you guys have in common?
- [chuckles] We play soccer. [laughs]
- That's basically it.
We're very different.
[delicate music plays]
[Kristie] Me and my sister
will always be on each other's team.
Like, my success
is her success, vice versa.
I've always felt like that,
so I think it's obviously probably
really hard for her to watch me
and watch the team that she should be on,
but I think at the end of the day,
we're blood.
We're always gonna be
on each other's team.
I would do anything
for her to have her career back.
I'd give up mine if I could, but
- [Sam chuckles]
- [producer] I'm getting emotional.
[both laugh]
I know. I am too.
I know. I would, but
- [producer] You're such a good sister.
- [laughs]
She would do the same for me.
[Kristie] Hm.
She's the best player I've ever seen.
She's so good. [chuckles]
- Huh? That's what you say to me.
- Besides you.
I'm joking. I'm joking.
My Sams are the best.
You guys are the best players ever.
[intriguing music plays]
[Foudy] Months before a World Cup,
you're getting into that period
where the coach
has to make some decisions.
It's this lingering axe hanging over you.
It's that pressure
of which side of the bubble am I on,
and am I gonna be on this roster or not?
[Vlatko] Stay with her.
Stay with her. That's it.
This was the last camp we were gonna
be viewed in before the roster.
We get news
that Julie Ertz was coming back.
I think it was a shock to everybody.
You know,
Julie hadn't been there for two years.
Is Julie the same Julie as she was before?
I think that you question that for anybody
who's gone through injury or pregnancy,
but you have other people
coming back from injury too.
You had Kelley, who was coming back in.
So I think there's a lot of questions
with a lot of people.
We have people in.
We have people out. What's going on?
[all] Yay!
Every camp is important to perform.
Yeah, of course.
But when it's around a roster pick,
there's more tension.
It's kinda like,
"I'm out here for myself."
"I need to perform. I need to prove
that I deserve to be on this team."
[intense music plays]
[Kristie] It is stressful.
Emotionally, physically.
When I'm in it, I'm like,
"Oh my God. This is overwhelming."
[player growls]
I don't wanna be cut.
Every single day, you have somebody
who is knocking on your door,
not necessarily waiting, but waiting
for you to mess up, to get injured,
waiting for you to fail,
so that they can come in
and take your spot.
It's psychotic, but I can't believe
I get to be a part of it.
Oh my gosh.
Look at how much space there is in here.
- [player] It's huge.
- [Lynn] Massive.
Can you move so I can hang?
Decompress my back.
[dramatic music plays]
I feel like the whole time,
I've been, like, an underdog.
I only got recruited from one team
to go to college, which was Pepperdine.
Fought and clawed my way to get drafted.
My national team career
has been up, down, up, down.
I've been on and off the team,
been considered for a roster,
been dropped from allocation,
and I've been cut from the 2018 team,
so I didn't make it to the 2019 World Cup.
I said,
"Okay, I didn't make the World Cup team."
I watched every game. I knew exactly
what I needed to do to get back there.
I felt like I was on a good roll.
And then I got injured.
[male announcer] Now the concern,
though, Williams walking a bit gingerly.
[Lynn] That was 2022. It was devastating.
I knew how close the World Cup was,
and I knew that it was
gonna be a stretch to get there.
And I just told myself,
"I'm gonna try. I'm just gonna try."
And I said,
"If I'm gonna fail, I'm gonna fail big."
"So I'm gonna go out and do everything
I could possibly do, and fail big."
[crowd cheers]
I don't think it's a secret that
I am one of the best defending forwards,
I I would say, in the world.
[Meg] The forward pool in this country
has always been a ridiculous one,
but it would feel absurd
if she does not go to the World Cup,
and if she does not play a major role
on this forward starting line.
[Lynn] For the longest time,
I have waited behind
Megan, Christen, Alex,
all of them
who are these legends of the game.
And I've waited behind them
because we're not that far in age,
but we're not that close in age.
And then a couple years ago, Vlatko,
and still now, is bringing in young ones
and giving them the opportunities.
Those players
are going to be the future of this team,
but some of them are the right now
of this team as well.
One of America's most talented
young soccer stars, Alyssa Thompson.
[crowd applauds]
[woman] Wow.
[Abby] Most players' trajectory
is to go from your club youth teams
into the college program.
I always think it's super interesting when
a kid chooses to forgo college, right?
And to go straight into the pros,
because it's so rare.
[crowd cheers]
[Tobin] Everybody's goal,
every single women's player,
girl's player's goal,
is to make the US Women's National Team.
And I think right now,
there's a pattern towards
going pro early in order to do that.
[woman] In the first round
of the 2023 NWSL draft,
Angel City FC select Alyssa Thompson.
[indistinct conversation]
[exciting music plays]
I don't wanna head the ball.
Once the conversation
about being pro came up,
I think it was the hardest decision
I've had to make in my life.
[crowd applauds]
[Alyssa] I was just like,
"Okay, if I'm gonna do this,
I'm not gonna look back."
And from the time I went pro,
it feels like a whole different life.
[Abby] In Alyssa's case,
to jump straight from high school
to the professional league,
she had to have a lotta confidence.
[reporter] A question for each of you.
Thinking about the message
you wanna leave to the fans.
We really appreciate just
Do you want me to say something?
- You should do it. We're on the same page.
- Okay.
We really appreciate all you've done.
If we're down a goal, if we're up a goal,
we hear you throughout the game,
so that's really amazing.
[crowd cheers]
[Vlatko] I think her going into
the professional ranks early helped her,
expedited her transition into the game,
and it's not just going into it,
but also performing well
in the environment
against players
that are gonna be in the World Cup,
with players
that are gonna be in the World Cup.
[male announcer] Alyssa Thompson
is gonna become the 70th teenager
to earn her first cap for the US,
but the first one to earn it
in front of 90,000 people at Wembley.
It's hilarious.
I think Alyssa is, like, 18.
I've honestly just turned 38.
So there's a lot of years between us.
I wanna pull her aside and be like,
"You're doing great, sweetie."
"Like, you really are."
Um, because she is.
I mean, she missed her prom for
for an Angel City game,
and she's crushing it.
So I'm just so happy
to see someone so young get their chance.
[indistinct cheerful chatter]
- Don't tickle me, please.
- [girl 1] Get the phone! Get her phone!
[boy] When we're with Alyssa,
I think we try to shift it
to regular teenage girl Alyssa stuff,
'cause a lot of her life is soccer.
[girl 2] She was a little late to our prom
because she was playing a game, um,
and she's missed a good amount of school
these past few months,
which has definitely
been hard on her and her friends.
We miss her a lot, but we just treasure
the moments we get with her.
[Alyssa] I felt like I didn't even go
to this school 'cause I was never there.
[girl 3] People will be like, "Know what
the best night of my life was?"
They'll be like, "Senior graduation."
And yours will be like,
"Playing in a World Cup."
- [Alyssa] Yeah. True.
- [girl 3] It's gonna be a bit different.
[Alyssa] Yeah.
Karen and I are Alyssa's dad and mom.
Um, I wanna start off by saying
thank you guys so much for being here.
It means so much, not just to us,
I know it means a lot to Alyssa.
I told myself I wasn't gonna cry
because I cry for everything.
I'm just so proud
of the woman that you're becoming.
We're so happy that each one
of you were able to be here today
to celebrate this wonderful accomplishment
of getting to the end of high school.
Thank you so much, and happy graduation!
[woman cheers]
- [woman] Happy graduation!
- Thank you.
- [woman] You did it.
- Finally.
[woman] Finally.
- [Dad] Don't stay out too late, darling.
- I know. I won't.
[dramatic music plays]
Building the roster,
as a coach, we're making these decisions.
We never think about,
how is this gonna change their life?
What does it mean for them?
We're purely looking into it
as how is this person
gonna help us win the World Cup?
That's the only question we think about.
[Sofia] It's obviously been
a dream of mine since I was a little girl.
I've been told no a lot.
I still get told no.
Like, they have these mock rosters
for the World Cup.
I'm not on any.
[breathing heavily]
I think we find out
about the World Cup today.
You gotta play which way I'm going, girl.
I am just trying to distract myself,
until the news comes, with soccer.
If I get that call from Vlatko
and he tells me that I'm selected
to be one of the 23 for the World Cup,
like [quick exhale]crazy.
At this point,
I feel like I've done everything I can,
so we're just waitin' and see.
[tense music plays]
I'm just gonna shoot him a text and say,
"Hey, Vlatko, I'm available."
I'll just say I'm available.
[Kristie] It's 4:00.
I just don't get it.
It's 4:00 It's 4:00.
Like put me out of my misery.
Uh, you guys, I'm so nervous.
I really am. [clears throat]
Okay. He just texted me.
He said, "Let me know when you're free
to connect." Been free since 6:00 a.m.
He said, "Let me know
when you have a minute to talk, period."
Oh my God.
This one can go in any direction.
She's very emotional too.
[phone rings]
Is he FaceTiming me?
Hey, Sof, how you doin'?
I'm good, Vlatko. [chuckles]
I can't believe you're FaceTiming me.
I just wanted to let you know that
we selected you for the World Cup roster.
Okay, thank you so much, Vlatko.
For someone that makes it
for the first time
Ah! [laughs]
Thank you so much.
this is, like, so cool.
Oh, my gosh. Thank you so much.
[Vlatko] Yeah.
This is something I've literally dreamed
about for I don't even know how long.
But then you have
someone that has been there,
someone like Kelley O'Hara.
There is no player in the world
that can match Kelley O'Hara mentality,
especially in big tournaments.
[happy music plays]
Or Lindsey Horan.
You're selected
on the World Cup roster once again.
You see that
they don't take anything for granted.
Hey, it's the call.
It does not get old, and I'm still
thrilled to be a part of the team.
Tell me you've already had a crier,
'cause I was gonna cry no matter what.
You're not the first one.
Let's put it that way.
[laughs] Thank you, Vlatko.
[dark music plays]
[Vlatko] It's fairly easy
at the beginning,
when you talk about
the first ten and 12 and 14,
and then 17, 18, 19,
and then you come to about 20,
and that's when you stop.
I go so back and forth with it.
Some days, I feel really confident.
[crowd cheers]
Some days,
I feel really scared, really nervous.
I feel like I'm not gonna make it.
So it's tough.
It's super, super stressful.
[Lynn] You can be the best
that you can possibly be,
and there's always somebody else
who's trying to be the best
that they can possibly be too.
I don't envy Vlatko
because he has to look and say,
"Okay, what 23 people
complement each other?"
It's not just you.
[Vlatko] These are all players
that put everything that they have
for this team, for this moment.
[crowd cheers]
[Vlatko] But I do know
that this is part of the job,
and no matter how we do it,
somebody will be 24, 25, 26.
[kinetic music plays]
[Lynn] I just need to know.
[phone rings]
[phone rings]
[phone rings]
He's FaceTiming me.
Hey, thank you for your time.
Just wanted to, uh, talk to you.
[exhales hard]
[dramatic music plays]
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