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Soccer-U.S. women’s team working toward ‘shift in mentality’ for 2024

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(Reuters) – The U.S. women’s team close out their 2023 schedule this week in Frisco, Texas, where they will hope to take another step toward forging a new identity and establishing better tactics, interim head coach Twila Kilgore said on Monday.

Kilgore, speaking to reporters ahead of Tuesday’s friendly with China, had a clear message for her squad as they get set to turn the page on a year that included a disappointing World Cup and the retirement of mainstays Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz.

“It’s showing who we are but also who we’re becoming, said Kilgore. “There’s some really good stuff here. We have a very strong history.

“This is a program that means so much to so many people and really has been an example to the world in some ways about what women’s football can be and we don’t want to lose any of that.

“And yet we are layering in new ideas, we are layering in new tactics, we are layering in just a little bit of a shift in mentality and I think it’s both.”

Kilgore replaced Vlatko Andonovski on an interim basis in August when the latter stepped down after the national team produced their worst-ever performance at a Women’s World Cup, exiting in the round of 16.

Long-time Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has since been named head coach but will not officially start her new role until the end of her current club’s season in May.

Kilgore, who will stay on as an assistant coach on Hayes’ staff, said having fresh faces requires players to get a faster hold on what the team’s identity is within the group but added that the ultimate goal remains the same.

“We have to acclimate them quicker and do so maybe not just amongst a group of veterans but do so with a group that is new which is a little bit different,” said Kilgore.

“But I think it’s the same thing it’s always been. We want to be on the front foot offensively and defensively, we want to be dominant where we can be, we want to get better in possession and we want to show that we believe that we can win under all circumstances.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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