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UNC Soccer: Two former Tar Heels in USWNT squad for World Cup

Two Heels will represent the USA, with a couple more set to play for England in the upcoming tournament.


The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is set to begin in a little less than a month in Australia and New Zealand. The US national team is coming into the tournament as two-time reigning champions, and the squad will once again feature some North Carolina Tar Heels as they go for three in a row.

On Wednesday, the USWNT roster for this year’s tournament was released, and UNC alumns Crystal Dunn and Emily Fox were among the 23 selected by head coach Vlatko Andonovski.

Dunn will turn 31 in a couple weeks, and has been a mainstay for the US in recent years. She started every knockout stage game four years ago when as the USWNT won the World Cup as part of a defense that allowed just three goals in seven games. She was also named to the “FIFA Dared to Shine” team at the tournament’s conclusion. In the years since, she helped the Portland Thorns win the NWSL title in 2022 and was named CONACAF Player of the Year in 2021.

Fox made her US debut back in 2018, but has fully become a regular in recent seasons. Since going first overall in the 2021 NWSL Draft, she’s put in good seasons for Racing Louisville and now the North Carolina Courage. Of her 28 UWSNT appearance, 21 have come in the last three years, including helping the US win the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in 2022.

Those two will join at least three other Tar Heels at the World Cup. In fact, England will feature more former Heels than the US, as three are set to play for the Lionesses in Australia and New Zealand. Lucy Bronze, Alessia Russo, and Lotte Wubben-Moy are all part of the England roster for this year’s tournament. Meanwhile, Katie Bowen has made several rosters for New Zealand over the years, and may this time around, but their roster has not yet been finalized.

The US are set to compete in Group E of the tournament, alongside Portugal, Vietnam, and the Netherlands — who they beat in the final four years ago. They’re set to open their run on July 22nd against Vietnam in Auckland, New Zealand. That game is set to be played at 9 PM ET, but considering the times zone difference, the later rounds could be played at some less than ideal times for us here in the Americas. As for the Tar Heels on England, they’re in Group D with Haiti, Denmark, and China.

Best of luck to all the Tar Heels competing this year.