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USWNT reveals Women’s World Cup squad – with a little help from the Bidens, Taylor Swift, Shaquille O’Neal and others

The US Women’s National Team (USWNT) announced its squad for the upcoming 2023 Women’s World Cup on Wednesday as it bids to win its third consecutive title.

The 23-player squad chosen by head coach Vlatko Andonovski features a mix of new faces combined with some familiar ones.

Forwards Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, midfielder Julie Ertz, defender Kelley O’Hara and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher all have two Women’s World Cup titles to their names, while four others were part of the team’s 2019 success in France.

Alongside the experienced core – Morgan, Rapinoe and O’Hara become the 10th, 11th and 12th USWNT players to be selected for four or more tournaments – is a selection of players making their World Cup debuts.

Chief among those 14 first timers are 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson, who was recently the No. 1 overall pick in the NWSL draft, and Trinity Rodman, daughter of basketball great Dennis.

In a video on the USWNT Twitter page, a selection of famous faces helped to announce the picks, accompanied with their own congratulatory message.

From US President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden to singer Taylor Swift and NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, it was a plethora of star-studded names.

“For nearly 40 years, the US Women’s National Soccer Team has epitomized what it means to be a champion. From lifting trophies, to fighting for gender equity, these women have been a source of inspiration to Americans of all ages – our family included,” President Biden began the video by saying.

The first lady added: “Joe and I can’t wait to watch this team soar at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Now, we’re so excited to help unveil the 23 players who will represent the USA in Australia and New Zealand.”

USWNT legend Morgan, who has nine goals at Women’s World Cups, was introduced by Swift, who said the striker was someone who she considers “a friend, someone I’m a massive fan of.”

“I’m such a huge fan of the whole team and I can’t wait to watch you guys play this year. Congratulations you guys and I will be watching,” Swift added.

The 2023 edition of the Women’s World Cup begins on July 20 and is being cohosted by Australia and New Zealand.

The USWNT will begin its campaign to win its third successive Women’s World Cup title on July 22 against Vietnam in Group E. It has also been drawn alongside the Netherlands and Portugal.

“We are expecting the level of play at this World Cup to be the best it’s ever been, and all the teams must keep up with that growth,” Andonovski said.

“For years, we’ve been able to see first-hand where the game is going and that’s exciting. We are proud to have been one of the teams leading the way for women’s international soccer and I know the tournament will once again show the world how great these players are across all 32 teams.

“Our players understand the challenges and the competitive environment we are heading into, and they love it. We have a roster with depth and versatility and that will help us take on all the challenges that will be coming our way.”

This post appeared first on cnn.com

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