Power rankings: The USWNT's top 20 most important players

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With the U.S. having won its fourth World Cup title, Goal ranks the team's most valuable performers

  1. Richard Heathcote

    #20 Jessica McDonald - forward

    McDonald did incredibly well to make the World Cup roster and become a world champion at age 31. Her form with the North Carolina Courage will now determine whether she can find more minutes with the USWNT moving forward. 
  2. Richard Heathcote

    #19 Morgan Brian - midfielder

    Brian was seen as the future of the USWNT midfield when she started the 2015 World Cup quarterfinal, semifinal and final at age 22. Since then though, injuries and ineffectiveness have seen her fail to really kick on. She was a part of the 2019 World Cup squad but played sparingly. Brian is still only 26 though, and could have a USWNT future if she stays healthy. 
  3. Elsa

    #18 Emily Sonnett - defender

    Sonnett is one of the top defenders in the NWSL where she plays as a center back for the Portland Thorns, but with the USWNT she's slotted in mostly as a fullback. Jill Ellis doesn't quite seem to rate her, so Sonnett may be fighting for a roster spot moving forward. 
  4. Martin Rose

    #17 Mallory Pugh - winger

    Pugh burst onto the scene at age 17, when she made her first appearance for the USWNT. At the time, she was expected to be one of the USA's most crucial players by the time the 2019 World Cup rolled around, but that didn't quite happen. Pugh didn't feature after the group stage at the 2019 World Cup but she's still only 21. Her time will come. 
  5. Alex Grimm

    #16 Tierna Davidson - defender

    Davidson is the best defensive prospect in the USWNT pipeline and in 2018, she went from intriguing talent to full-fledged national team regular. The defender was the youngest member of the 2019 World Cup roster and though she didn't play much in France, she appears set to take over as a starter sooner rather than later. 
  6. Katharine Lotze

    #15 Ali Krieger - defender

    Krieger's return to the national team after two years away culminated in a World Cup roster spot. The veteran then played the entire second half of the final against Netherlands after Kelley O'Hara's head injury. ​Krieger may not have a major long-term future with the USWNT, but she has now written a hugely successful and unexpected late chapter of her story. 
  7. Getty Images

    #14 Carli Lloyd - forward

    Now 37, Lloyd has been reduced to a bench option for the USWNT, which she has made clear is not something that suits her. Lloyd can still play, as evidenced by her two-goal performance against Chile in her only World Cup start, but it's unclear if she'll continue on with the team in her current role. 
  8. Elsa

    #13 Christen Press - winger

    Press has solidified her spot as the USWNT's top attacking option off the bench, playing in all seven World Cup matches. She was called upon to start the semifinal against England with Megan Rapinoe out, and came through in a big way with her team's opening goal.
  9. Marc Atkins

    #12 Tobin Heath - winger

    Heath didn't quite have the impact at the World Cup that many expected, but she still flashed her array of skills at times and grabbed a vital assist in the quarterfinal against France. The 31-year-old has only gotten better over the last year or two and still has plenty to offer the USWNT as a starter.
  10. Jean-Philippe KSIAZEK

    #11 Alyssa Naeher - goalkeeper

    Naeher may not ever be as good as Hope Solo, but she answered her critics in a major way at the World Cup. Though she looked shaky at times in the early stages, ​Naeher was nearly flawless at the business end of the tournament and her penalty save late in the semifinal against England was maybe her team's biggest single moment of the tournament. She's not going anywhere as the starter. 
  11. Martin Rose

    #10 Kelley O'Hara - defender

    O'Hara battled through injuries to become a vital member of the World Cup team, getting forward often and also defending her position well. As long as she's healthy, O'Hara looks set to continue as the team's first-choice right back. 
  12. Getty Images

    #9 Lindsey Horan - midfielder

    It was a strange World Cup for Horan, who entered the tournament as a locked-on starter and finished it having begun on the bench for three of her team's four knockout games. It wasn't as if Horan played badly, necessarily, but Sam Mewis's emergence put her in an unexpected position as a role player. That may not continue going forward, however. Horan is simply too talented to be out of the picture for long. 
  13. Justin Edmonds

    #8 Crystal Dunn - fullback

    Dunn is clearly still not a natural at fullback but in the World Cup's latter stages, she certainly looked the part. Dunn's defensive work helped limit the effectiveness of several dangerous attackers while she continued to look dangerous herself going forward. She may eventually move to her more natural attacking midfield spot with the USWNT but for now, Dunn is getting the job done in defense.  
  14. Getty

    #7 Sam Mewis - midfielder

    Mewis was one of the breakout stars of the 2019 World Cup. The imposing central midfielder pushed ahead of Lindsey Horan on the depth chart in the tournament's knockout stage, something that would have been unfathomable only months earlier. The 26-year-old appears ready to become one of the world's top midfielders moving forward. 
  15. Richard Heathcote

    #6 Rose Lavelle - midfielder

    A star was born at the World Cup. With Lavelle having battled injuries in 2017 and 2018, Jill Ellis's decision to keep faith in the midfielder paid off in a huge way in France. Lavelle's creativity and playmaking saw her shine through most of the World Cup, and her solo goal against the Netherlands in the final sealed the title and her place in USWNT lore. 
  16. Getty

    #5 Abby Dahlkemper - defender

    Dahlkemper was hardly noticed at the World Cup, so the center back must have been doing something right. Her range of passing is nearly unparalleled and if she can continue defending like she did in France, she can become one of the world's best. 
  17. Justin Edmonds

    #4 Becky Sauerbrunn - defender

    Now 34, Sauerbrunn is not quite at the same level as a few years back, when she could make a legitimate claim as the world's best defender. But she is still an invaluable leader at the back for the USWNT, and saved some of her best displays at the World Cup for the biggest games. She may not be a starter for much longer but for now, the U.S. still counts on Sauerbrunn.
  18. Maja Hitij

    #3 Megan Rapinoe - winger

    Rapinoe made the World Cup her own, both on and off the field. Oddly enough, for a player who won both the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball, Rapinoe struggled to show her best at times during the tournament. But when her team needed her the most, she stepped up with clutch goals from the penalty spot, from free kicks and from the run of play to stamp her authority as one of the world's best. 
  19. Getty Images

    #2 Alex Morgan - forward

    The full range of Morgan's game was on display at the World Cup. She scored an incredible five times against Thailand and then netted the winner in the semifinal against England, showing her long-standing ability to find the back of the net. But what she did the rest of the tournament – serving as her team's first line of defense, holding up play and stretching the opponent's back line – was just as important. 
  20. Getty Images

    #1 Julie Ertz - midfielder

    She may not have made the headlines that her teammates did, but there wasn't a more valuable player to the USWNT at the World Cup than Ertz. She set the tone from midfield, winning back possession while flying all over the field and starting attacks. And when the U.S. needed to hold a lead late in games, Ertz moved back to defense and was rock-solid there as well. She's still in her prime at 27, so Ertz's value may only grow over the next few years.