On Monday, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) Head Coach Jill Ellis released her 23-player roster for the upcoming SheBelieves Cup tournament.
Buried deep in the U.S. Soccer press release was this note:
”Midfielder Lindsey Horan was not available for selection due to a quadriceps injury.”
Subsequently, the Burgundy Wave has learned from a USWNT spokesperson that while it’s a “minor” injury, Horan is ”out for the tournament” and will not play.
The 10-match send-off will serve as the team’s final preparation ahead of the summer’s 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. The tournament would have afforded the former Colorado Rush star with the opportunity to fortify her leadership position in the midfield against talented World Cup-bound opponents.
In addition to featuring the top-ranked Lady Yanks, #4 England, #8 Japan, and #10 Brazil are scheduled to participate in the tournament. Sixth-ranked Australia will play the U.S. on April 4th at Dick’s Sporting Good Park in Commerce City. (Get tickets here.)
Head coach Jill Ellis shared her perspective about the injury and impact on her team in this statement: “The SheBelieves Cup is a positive event in many ways, but it’s extremely valuable to get three challenging games against World Cup-bound teams in a short time span that can simulate navigating through group play.”
“These are all teams that can go deep in the tournament this summer and provide the kind of tests we need as we continue to work to crystallize our lineup and our final roster for the World Cup,” Ellis added.
Just another challenge for Horan
The setback and month-to-month rehab will only challenge and motivate the veteran from Golden, Colorado. While the timing is not ideal, Horan has had her fair share of challenges in her career, whether it was trying to earn a good soccer practice performance sticker from her youth coach (her mother) or by practicing with the Colorado Rush boys teams under the tutelage of her coach Tim Schultz.
Then there was the time she got her untied shoelaces caught in the escalator in Charles de Gaulle airport and the French Ministry almost declared a national emergency. Horan’s ultimate test in character and grit was leaving her country at the age of 18 to play for Paris Saint-Germain Football Club, feeling homesick, then growing out of her shell as a result of her friendship with PSG teammate and idol, Tobin Health.
Horan persevered, and ultimately found her way back to the U.S. to play for NWSL club Portland Thorns.
Prior to the start of the Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers this past October in Cary, North Carolina, Ellis revisited a telephone call she made to Horan just before the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) 2018 season kicked-off. “I challenged Lindsey and said, ‘If you want to be this attacking midfielder for us [USWNT], you have to be able to have a dangerous pass and a shot from distance.’” Ellis saw much potential in the midfielder, who up to this point was a box-to-box player and had a tendency to sit back with the Thorns. Ellis was hoping to lure Horan into the attack and help her realize her natural goal scoring potential. The head coach wanted Horan to evolve into both an offensive threat and an all-around leader in the middle of the pitch. Ellis’ theory was to “challenge her to score goals and be more productive, so we don’t just rely on our front three” attackers. Horan thought Ellis was “crazy.”
Even so, the message was heard loud and clear by the always-improving Horan. Her mindset and game plan began to change soon after that phone call with Ellis in March. The 24-year-old bought into the vision and jumped on the suggestions during her upcoming season with the Thorns.
Horan went on to earn NWSL MVP honors and Best XI for Portland in 2018. She scored 14 goals for the Thorns in 2018, which was third best in the league, and also contributed with two assists. She played every minute of all 22 regular-season games and helped orchestrate the team’s high-octane offense that found the back of the net 40 times. According to the NWSL, the reinvented two-way midfielder had 1852 touches, won 297 duels and 141 aerial duels, and made 493 passes in her opponents half of the pitch.
Horan Compared to USWNT Great Lauren (Cheney) Holiday
During the same October press conference in Cary, team captain Alex Morgan spoke up and shared her view of Horan. Morgan, like Ellis, compared her to the retired USWNT quarterback and highly technical box-to-box midfielder, Lauren (Cheney) Holiday.
“I think she’s embraced it,” Morgan said. “She’s a player who has really just embraced being able to possess the ball but also look ahead and look at getting forwards in behind—and then having that deep run as well.”
Ellis then added: ”Her passing range reminds me a lot of Cheney. Cheney could play a textured ball, she could play a long ball, and she could play a 50-yard switch ball. Lindsey has that in her repertoire as well. Lindsey’s obviously a young player coming into this, but Cheney also came in when she was young and developed in the program. So I see similarities in that way, in terms of the path they’re taking.” Cheney was a wizard with the ball. An amazing passer. She could also push up and go on full attack and score.
In 2018, Horan showed more than flashes of Cheney’s command of the midfield. Horan has all the attributes to be a true leader for the team. She is resilient and coachable. She possesses great field vision and leadership qualities. Horan can distribute the ball, go on attack, then fall back and tackle with the best of the defenders. She has also won the hearts and admiration of thousands of U.S fans and American Outlaws Supporters.
During the next 3.5 months, Colorado’s ‘Great Horan’ will mend, regain her fitness, and focus her mind on being ready for France. By the time Horan steps on the global stage, she will be poised for success. She is not only ready to take the team to the finals, but to also make Colorado—and America—proud.