Three Players With North Carolina Ties On 2023 U.S. Women’s World Cup Team

When it comes to the history of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, players with North Carolina ties have been vital in keeping the U.S. among the elite squads on the international stage.

Since the very first World Cup in 1991, every single U.S. Women’s National Team that played in the event has included players who attended college in the state or played for local pro teams. This year is no different.

Along with the excitement surrounding North Carolina’s representation on the USWNT is the representation for the state’s NWSL team, the NC Courage. WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, the Courage’s home field, is one of eight venues in the state to receive authorization to open a retail sportsbook when North Carolina sports betting goes live.

Dunn, Fox and Murphy make the team

The 23-member USWNT that left for the Women’s World Cup in Australia last weekend includes three players with connections to North Carolina. Here’s a breakdown of those players:

Crystal Dunn

  • Position: Defender
  • Club: Portland Thorns FC
  • College: University of North Carolina
  • USWNT appearances: 132
  • USWNT goals/assists: 24/19
  • World Cup appearances: 1
  • First Cap: Feb. 13, 2013, vs. Scotland

Dunn is the only player of the three with World Cup experience. She joined the USWNT in 2013 and helped the team win the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France. She is a two-time Olympian and was the only US player to start all six matches during the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021. During her collegiate career, the UNC alumna led the Tar Heels to their 22nd national title in 2012 and earned the Hermann Trophy, presented to the best women’s player in NCAA Division I soccer.

Emily Fox

  • Position: Defender
  • Club: NC Courage
  • College: University of North Carolina
  • USWNT appearances: 29
  • First Cap: Nov. 8, 2018, vs. Portugal

Fox helped the USWNT team win its sixth SheBelieves Cup this year and was the only US player to go the full 270 minutes during the competition. She started three times during the 2022 ConcacafW Championship, helping the team qualify for the World Cup and the 2024 Summer Olympics. She was traded to the NC Courage from Racing Louisville before the start of the 2023 NWSL season. Fox and Dunn are two of eight NWSL No. 1 draft picks on the USWNT World Cup roster.

Casey Murphy

  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Club: NC Courage
  • College: Rutgers
  • USWNT appearances: 14
  • First Cap: Nov. 27, 2021, vs. Australia

Murphy skipped her final year of eligibility at Rutgers to go pro. She started her career in France, where she was the top goalkeeper in the league. After playing for two years with Reign FC under current USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski, she joined the NC Courage in 2020 in exchange for Crystal Dunn. During the 2021 NWSL regular season, she tied the league record for the most shutouts in a single season. In her first cap with the USWNT, she earned a 3-0 shutout against Australia and had eight saves.

2023 Women’s World Cup details

When the US won the first-ever Women’s World Cup in 1991, the team had nine Tar Heels, with the head coach and assistant coach also coming from UNC. NC State alumna Thori Staples Bryan was a member of the 1995 USWNT World Cup squad. This year, Stanford leads the way in USWNT ties with five players, while 14 of the 23 players have connections to California.

Women’s World Cup action kicks off on Thursday with two Oceania countries hosting: New Zealand and Australia. The US is hoping for an unprecedented three-peat after winning in 2015 and 2019. The squad opens play against Vietnam in the group stage on Friday in Auckland, New Zealand.

Tournament Schedule

  • Group stage: July 20-Aug. 3
  • Round of 16: Aug. 5-8
  • Quarterfinals: Aug. 11-12
  • Semifinals: Aug. 15-16
  • Third-place playoff: Aug. 19
  • Final: Aug. 20

USWNT full roster

Clubs and cap/goals are in parentheses.

GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Kingsbury* (Washington Spirit; 1), Casey Murphy* (NC Courage; 14), Alyssa Naeher*** (Chicago Red Stars; 90)

DEFENDERS (7): Alana Cook* (OL Reign; 24/1), Crystal Dunn** (Portland Thorns FC; 131/24), Emily Fox* (NC Courage; 28/1), Naomi Girma* (San Diego Wave FC; 15/0), Sofia Huerta* (OL Reign; 29/0), Kelley O’Hara**** (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 157/3), Emily Sonnett** (OL Reign; 74/1)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Savannah DeMelo* (Racing Louisville FC; 0/0), Julie Ertz*** (Angel City FC; 118/20), Lindsey Horan** (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 128/27), Rose Lavelle** (OL Reign; 88/24), Kristie Mewis* (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 51/7), Ashley Sanchez* (Washington Spirit; 24/3), Andi Sullivan* (Washington Spirit; 44/3)

FORWARDS (6): Alex Morgan**** (San Diego Wave FC; 206/121), Megan Rapinoe**** (OL Reign; 199/63), Trinity Rodman* (Washington Spirit; 17/2), Sophia Smith* (Portland Thorns FC; 29/12), Alyssa Thompson* (Angel City FC; 3/0), Lynn Williams* (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 52/15)

* First Women’s World Cup
** Second Women’s World Cup
*** Third Women’s World Cup
**** Fourth Women’s World Cup

Image Credit: Francisco Seco / AP Photo

About the Author

Cheryl Coward

Cheryl Coward started her career as a news reporter in Washington, DC. She's a die-hard women's basketball fan and founded the website as a result of that passion. She loves writing about sports on all levels and has previous experience covering sports betting regulations, operator marketing campaigns and women's sports gambling topics.