Lindsey Horan enters the 2023 Women’s World Cup with more responsibility on her shoulders than she has ever had. In late 2021, upon the retirement of Carli Lloyd, Horan was handed the No. 10 jersey by one of her close friends and mentor. She had to step up her play in the midfield and her leadership on and off the field. On top of that, she had to deal with nagging injuries that have slowed her play at many stretches.
Now, she has even more responsibility. She’s learned to deal with that by making a move from the Portland Thorns to French powerhouse Olympique Lyonnais. Lyon is arguably the best team in the world, and with so many stars on the team, she has to fight for every second of playing time she receives. She’s bet on herself ever since she turned pro, beginning her career with Paris Saint-Germain and playing well for them, but it wasn’t enough for her to make the 2015 World Cup roster. She was able to play an integral role on the 2019 World Cup team, showing her goal creation and scoring prowess while doing it.
Still, with the No. 10 shirt for the USWNT, she knows that comes with a target. She has to be the best every single day, and she needs to do more than her job to move the team toward victory against an endless line of teams who want to stop them and deny them from achieving their goals.
Now, she enters her second World Cup with the ultimate responsibility: serving as co-captain. With USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn suffering an injury that ruled her out of the World Cup, head coach Vlatko Andonovski named Lindsey Horan and Alex Morgan as the co-captains of the team for the World Cup. That means Horan, who already inherited the responsibility that comes with wearing No. 10, will now inherit the captain’s armband. That means that she will not only have to make sure she’s doing her job, but she has to lead the other 10 players on the field as they represent a nation that expects to win it all every single time.
Horan feeds off that pressure, because that’s what she’s used to doing her whole career. Ever since she decided to forego the collegiate route to turn pro out of high school, she’s been bucking the trend and seeking extra responsibility. If the USWNT is going to be dominant, Horan will have to play her best in not only controlling the midfield and keeping teams on their back heels, but she has to be dynamic in the attacking third to set up her teammates and score some goals. She had a run from 2019-2021 where she was dominant whenever she was on the field, and you couldn’t keep her out of the lineup because she was on a level no one else on the field could match. In that time frame, she scored 12 goals and added 9 assists, seemingly contributing to goals in almost every match she played. In 2022 however, her production slipped, partly due to nagging injuries, and now she has to get back to her world-class level.
If the United States is going to emerge as champions once again, it will be because Horan found the dominant play that got her to this point. If she does, the rest of the world is about to be in trouble. Horan will have to be the barometer of the team, on and off the field. If she keeps the team moving forward, she could have her ultimate moment: raising the Women’s World Cup trophy as the captain of the USA.