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  • Writer's pictureKyle Flannery

USWNT Starting Defense and their WNBA Comparisons

(Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images, NBAE/Getty Images)

With World Cup week kicking off this Friday, let's take a look at the USWNT's projected starting 11 and give each player a WNBA player comparison. In part one of this three part series, we'll be examining the team's anticipated starting goalie and defense. The projected starting defense is based on Just Women's Sports' article predicting the team's lineup before their opening match. Make sure to catch the USWNT in their first match of the tournament against Vietnam at 9 p.m. EST on Fox.


(Getty Images, Wade Vandervort)

Alyssa Naeher is Candace Parker

Both Alyssa and Candace are veterans in their respective leagues and have solidified themselves as intimidating defenders. Naeher hold the record for most saves in NWSL history, while Parker is fifth all-time in blocked shots. When it's all said and done, these two will both go down as one of the top players their sport has ever seen.

(Howard Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images, Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports)

Crystal Dunn is Sabrina Ionescu

No matter what position these two are playing, they're sure to make an impact on their team. Dunn plays left back for the USWNT, despite being an attacking midfielder for the Portland Thorns, her club team. She won a Hermann trophy, awarded to the nation's top player, at North Carolina as a midfielder. Similarly, Sabrina Ionescu has been a star in her early career playing both guard positions. Ionescu won two straight Wooden Awards, also given to the best player in the nation, as a ball-dominant point guard at Oregon. With recent data showing she plays better when off the ball in the shooting guard slot, the Liberty brought in established playmaker Courtney Vandersloot to maximize Ionescu's efficiency.

(Justin Fine/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images, Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)

Naomi Girma is Aliyah Boston

Girma and Boston are both amazing young players who have had a similar early career. Both have won a national championship in college (Girma at Stanford, Boston at South Carolina), both were number one overall picks (Girma in 2022 to San Diego, Boston in 2023 to Indiana), and both may soon be the face of their respective sport. Soccer fans are excited to see Girma on the world stage, and it's only a matter of time before Boston makes her mark there as well.

(John Raoux/AP Photo,

Alana Cook is Lexie Hull

Besides both Cook and Hull both playing their collegiate ball at Stanford, they have one other major thing in common: they're both outstanding defenders. Cook has earned Defender of the Year nominations with OL Reign in both 2021 and 2022, while Hull was named Defensive Player of the Year this year for Athletes Unlimited, a basketball league during the WNBA offseason. As Hull gains a larger workload with the Fever, look for these two's accolades to become increasingly similar.

(Icon Sportswire via Getty images, Lindsey Wasson/AP Photo)

Sofia Huerta is Courtney Vandersloot

Huerta and Vandersloot are both known for their offensive capabilities, specifically their playmaking ability and tendency to push the pace on offense. Huerta at 30 years old is an established veteran, sharing her experience and leadership on the pitch with her younger teammates Naomi Girma and Alana Cook. Similarly, Vandersloot at 34 orchestrates the Liberty offense with backcourt-mate Sabrina Ionescu, who is 25.

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