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World Cup bound? 3 Kansas City Current players got called up to U.S. Women’s National Team

Kansas City Current
Kansas City Current forward Lynn Williams, left, played briefly in the 2022 Challenge Cup before a severe hamstring injury sidelined her for the following NWSL season. Williams has 14 international goals.

The players will take part in training and two international friendly matches, ahead of the 2023 Women's World Cup in New Zealand and Australia.

From a woeful, last place finish in their first season to making the National Women’s Soccer League championship last season, it’s been a historic two years for the Kansas City Current. And national recognition of the team’s talent is already taking off in 2023.

On Thursday, three players from the Current were called up to the U.S. Women’s National Team.

Goalkeeper Adrianna “AD” Franch, defender Hailie Mace and forward Lynn Williams will join the national team to train in New Zealand this month, before the 2023 Women’s World Cup takes place in New Zealand and Australia this summer.

The team will play two friendlies against New Zealand, on Jan. 17 and Jan. 20, giving players valuable playing time at two different World Cup venues. Both will be televised on HBO Max.

The final World Cup roster will be named later this year.

For the 29-year-old Lynn Williams, who has scored 14 goals in her 47 international appearances, it’s a welcome return. She was sidelined the entire 2023 NWSL regular season with a severe hamstring injury suffered during a preseason match on March 18 against Racing Louisville.

As for her recovery; “We’re very happy with where Lynn is,” said national team coach Vlatko Andonovski, who lives in Kansas City. “In fact, she was very close to playing in the playoffs for her club team in Kansas City.”

It will be Williams’ first appearance with the national team since a match versus Iceland in February 2022.

Williams got her first cap with the national team in 2016 when she entered a match as a sub. She scored her first international goal 49 seconds after taking the pitch.

Kansas City Current
Kansas City Current defender Haile Mace, 24, was the lone Kansas City Current player called up to the U.S. national team over the most recent season. She rejoins the national team this month in New Zealand in a bid to make the final roster for the 2023 Women's World Cup.

Hailie Mace was the only Kansas City Current player called to the U.S. national team over the most recent season. She entered that Sept. 3 international friendly match at Children’s Mercy Park in the 70th minute. The American team defeated Nigeria, 4-0.

“I think my confidence has gotten a lot better, and I’ve just been playing like myself,” said Mace, who is 24.

This will be her first call-up to the national team since 2018. She earned five of her eight international appearances, or caps, last year.

Last month, Current General Manager Camille Levin Ashton signed Mace to a new, three-year contract that runs through 2025.

“Her success over the last year is a testament to the determination and effort that makes her a great player,” said Levin Ashton.

Kansas City Current
AD Franch, in pink, makes a save for the Kansas City Current during the 2022 season. She helped lead the team to the NWSL championship game, and has been called up to the women's national team twice since.

Goalkeeper AD Franch saw some action in the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, when the US team won the championship. In 2022, though, she wasn’t summoned to the national team until after the Current’s league championship loss to Portland, 2-0. The loss marked Franch’s fourth career appearance in the NWSL championship, and her first with Kansas City. She recorded five saves in that match.

At 32 years old, Franch will be a veteran presence on the relatively young national squad — a role she’s also had to play with her younger Current teammates.

“(We’re) laying the foundation, just growing and developing every single day, and just layering,” said Franch during last year’s NWSL playoffs. “That’ll continue throughout probably in the history of this team, because that’s the identity that we want to stick.”

The World Cup will be held in New Zealand and Australia beginning July 20. The Kiwis will host games in four cities, the Aussies in five. The tournament’s final is slated for Aug. 20.

As defending World Cup champions, the American women will be closely scrutinized this year. Other countries, such as England, are viewed as more competitive than they were four years ago.

Last October, England defeated the U.S., 2-1, with 76,893 fans on hand at Wembley Stadium.

Sports have an economic and social impact on our community and, as a sports reporter, I go beyond the scores and statistics. I also bring the human element to the sports figures who have a hand in shaping the future of not only their respective teams but our town. Reach me at gregechlin@aol.com.
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