Four Texas soccer players called up to the U.S. U-23 national team

Isa Almeida, General Sports Reporter

Four Texas players were named to the U-23 Women’s Youth National Team roster for the Portland Thorns FC preseason tournament from Monday to March 18.  The tournament features three matches against National Women’s Soccer League teams. 

The U-23 team will be coached by UCLA head coach Margueritte Aozasa, who just led her team to an NCAA title her first year at the helm. 

Sophomore midfielder Lexi Missimo and sophomore forward All-American Trinity Byars earned their second U-23 national team call-up of 2023 after previously joining the team for two games against France in February. 

“We are all very excited for Trinity and Lexi to get back on the international circuit and attend this event with the U-23 squad in France,” Texas head coach Angela Kelly said. 

Two of Texas’ high profile transfers will join Byars and Missimo in Portland. Formerly part of the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup roster, Mia Justus, former Florida State sophomore goalkeeper, and Jilly Shimkin, former Penn State sophomore midfielder, are also on the U-23 roster. 

All four Texas athletes have plenty of international experience. 

Justus started two Group D matches at the World Cup against Ghana and Japan. Byars participated in the 2022 U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica and was the youngest player in the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup roster. In 2022, she won gold as part of the U-20 CONCACAF Women’s Championship squad. 

Missimo has participated in 30 domestic camps and international events with U.S. soccer between 2016 and 2022, playing in 12 different countries. She won gold with Byars in the U-20 CONCACAF Women’s Championship and was named to the tournament’s Best XI after scoring three times in Group E.

Like her teammates, Shimkin spent her youth with U.S. soccer, participating in squads from Under-14 to Under-20, and she is now part of the U-23 group. She earned a spot as an alternate in the 2022 U-20 Championship squad after training with the team at camp prior to the tournament. 

Texas talent makes up four of the five players called up from the Big 12 conference, tying it with reigning NCAA champion UCLA for most players in the 23-woman roster. 

The week-long invitational tournament will feature NWSL teams OL Reign, Racing Louisville and host Portland Thorns. 

The U-23 team will debut at Providence Park on Monday against OL Reign.