Proving Herself Among the Best: Naomi Girma’s Rise in the USWNT

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – JANUARY 21: Paige Satchell of New Zealand battles Naomi Girma of the United States during the Women’s International Friendly match between the Football Ferns of New Zealand and the United States at Eden Park on January 21, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Of all the USWNT stars in 2022, 22-year-old central defender Naomi Girma is perhaps the brightest.

Just over a year ago, Naomi Girma was a talented NWSL Draft prospect that many USWNT fans hadn’t seen in senior international action. Few would have thought in 2021 that Girma would arguably be the most immovable defender in Vlatko Andonovski’s starting XI, but such is the current situation in the USWNT.

She was first called up in December 2019 but was forced to withdraw due to injury. Girma made her first appearance for the national team when she contributed 90 minutes to a 9-0 triumph over Uzbekistan in mid-April 2022.

Since then, Girma has started 10 of his last 12 appearances for the USWNT, including two 90-minute starts in the group stage of the CONCACAF World Championship last summer. The San Jose native delivered an assist to Sophia Smith to open the scoring against a talented Jamaican side.

Prior to Girma’s arrival in the USWNT, there were questions about what the center back position would look like with Tierna Davidson and Abby Dahlkemper struggling with significant injuries.

The 22-year-old has been a complete game-changer for Andonovski’s side, establishing herself as a go-to player when the World Cup kicks off at the end of July. The question for Andonovski is who will team up with Girma in the center of defence.

Next : The growth of Girma

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