Just a few weeks before the USWNT World Cup roster dropped, Savannah DeMelo wasn’t even in the consciousness of anyone who doesn’t watch the NWSL regularly. For those of us who did though, DeMelo was one of the players we constantly asked “why isn’t she on the plane to Australia?” Fast forward to the end of June, the story broke that Savannah DeMelo would in fact, be on the plane to Australia and New Zealand, and the official roster drop confirmed it all.
After reaching the NCAA Tournament every year that she was involved in with the USC Trojans, DeMelo’s rise hasn’t been a surprise to anyone who’s watched her play. In her rookie year with Racing Louisville FC, it took some time for DeMelo to find her footing but once she did, you could see why Louisville selected her fourth overall in the 2022 NWSL Draft.
What Savannah DeMelo has shown over the last two seasons in the NWSL, despite Louisville’s up-and-down form, is the ability to push the tempo and take a team on it’s back. This isn’t just down to her overall attitude, one that shows a player who fully believes in their ability and has the self-confidence to try things not many would; but also in her technical ability. A lesson to any opponent out there at the World Cup: do not give the USWNT a direct free-kick close to goal if Savannah DeMelo is on the pitch. She’ll make you pay for it.
DeMelo has shown an aptitude with the ball at her feet and without it, to influence the pace and direction of a game. When she’s on song, everyone else around her becomes even more elevated, and when’s she’s in full flight, she can produce moments that will make you sit up in your seat.
Here’s the thing though, DeMelo absolutely deserves to be on this roster. Of all the midfielders on the team right now, she’s the most in form and has shown not only an ability to score goals from anywhere, but also capable of playing the type of football that any head coach would want from their attacking midfielder. It took her being named to the World Cup roster for Savannah DeMelo to get her first cap but she didn’t hesitate to make the most of it. Her introduction against Wales provided the USWNT midfield with a spark it’d been missing for most of the game and she made her presence felt by making the right runs and connecting the lines between midfield and the frontline well enough to break Wales’ dogged defending.
With so little game experience at the international level, DeMelo isn’t boxed into a narrative yet. She’s an unknown on the world’s stage and can create any story she wants with the time she’s given. At 25, the world is at her feet and if she takes this opportunity with both hands, her narrative has the chance to become one of the best stories from this World Cup.