Extra Time: Lindsey Horan’s Supreme Swagger

9 minute read

This story first appeared in Extra Time, our pop-up newsletter about the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Get it in your inbox by subscribing here.

Horan Horan

Wow. Lindsey Horan went there. 

She went third person on us. 

So many great athletes do it. “I think of Pele as a gift of God,” the late soccer legend said 20 years ago. Baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson once left a voice mail for a general manager. “This is Rickey calling on behalf of Rickey,” he said. “Rickey wants to play baseball.” In explaining his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami in 2010, LeBron James said, “I wanted to do what was best for LeBron James and what LeBron James was going to do to make him happy.”

The third-person thing is a sign of supreme confidence and swagger. Perhaps a healthy dose of ego. No matter: after Horan, the U.S. co-captain and midfielder, scored a game-tying goal on a ferocious header in the second half of the U.S. Women National Team’s (USWNT) group-stage game against the Netherlands on Wednesday night, she went there. 

And she totally deserved to. Because when Horan got pissed off about a Dutch player's aggressive tackle and took out her anger on the Netherlands’ upset chances, she prevented a potential World Cup disaster for the U.S. 

“That is where you get the best football from Lindsey,” Horan said, via Yahoo Sports. “I don't think you ever wanna get me mad.”

(If only she had used it back-to-back. “I don’t think you ever wanna get Lindsey mad.”)

That her Netherlands nemesis in that moment was Daniëlle van de Donk—her pro-club teammate at Lyon—gave Horan even more license to go all Ali.  Just because they’re pals when playing in France, Horan wasn’t about to forgive van de Donk for taking her out on a tackle. That tackle, Horan said, “changed the [mentality] in my head.” Put another way: she was about to exact revenge with a score. 

During the injury stoppage following van de Donk’s offense, Horan was clearly in pain. But she returned to the box and got into it with van de Donk. The referee’s effort to force the pair to make amends was sort of comical. Fox analyst Aly Wagner remarked that it reminded her of trying to get her kids to apologize to each other. Wasn’t happening.  

Horan spoke loudly enough a moment later when Rose Lavelle’s corner kick connected with Horan’s angry noggin. The game was now tied 1-1. Although the U.S. failed to convert on several chances to pick up the win—and clinch a spot in the knockout stage—after Horan’s 62nd-minute score, the Americans find themselves in a relatively secure spot going into their final group game against Portugal on August 1. A mere draw with Portugal, who beat Vietnam 2-0 on Thursday, gets the USWNT into the Sweet 16. 

After the game ended, Horan and van de Donk took a backstage selfie together.

Horan’s goal was her second of the World Cup, which means she’s responsible for half of the U.S. scoring output so far (Sophia Smith netted two goals against Vietnam). When U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski named Horan a USWNT World Cup co-captain, along with Alex Morgan, before the tournament, you could be forgiven for thinking, ‘Who?”. Horan, who’s playing in her second World Cup—she won a title in 2019—is an under-the-radar leader, not a veteran headliner, like Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. She’s not part of the youth movement, like Smith and Trinity Rodman. Becky Sauerbrunn’s absence at the World Cup forced Horan into the captaincy. And she’s delivered. 

While her name might not feel all that familiar to casual fans, in soccer circles, her game has long been respected. Horan, 29, grew up in Golden, Colo., and turned down a scholarship from the University of North Carolina to play professionally for Paris Saint-Germain. (She’s also played for the NWSL’s Portland Thorns.) Horan was a natural choice for captain when Sauerbrunn went down with injury. Once Morgan and Rapinoe step aside, she’ll fill a leadership void, potentially for the next decade. 

The rest of the world should take notice. When Lindsey gets angry, Lindsey scores goals. Lindsey does Lindsey.


Today’s group of intrigue—one definitely worth watching going into its final games of group play—is B (Australia, Canada, Ireland, and Nigeria). On Thursday, Nigeria spoiled the co-host’s party: the Super Falcons overcame a 1-0 first-half deficit against Australia to score a trio of unanswered goals, and withstand a late Matildas score in second-half stoppage time, to stun Australia 3-2 in Brisbane. So Australia enters its final group-stage match, July 31 against Canada in Melbourne, on the outside looking in: Nigeria and Canada have 4 points, and Australia has 3. 

Australia, a title hopeful, is now facing must-win pressure against the defending Olympic champs in order to advance. The Matildas are attempting to avoid becoming the only Women’s World Cup host nation to fail to advance to the knockout stage (though New Zealand could join its neighbor in earning this unfortunate distinction). 

If the Matildas draw, they’ll need Ireland—who has lost twice so far and has 0 points in their group—to beat Nigeria on July 31 to even have a chance of moving on. 

Australian star Sam Kerr, who has been out with a calf injury, could make her return against Canada, which has also been shaky in the group stage. Expectations were high for the defending Olympics champs coming into this tournament. But after a scoreless draw with Nigeria in its opener, Canadian fans had every reason to panic on Wednesday, when Ireland’s Katie McCabe scored a goal in the fourth minute to give the Girls in Green a 1-0 advantage over Canada. 

Canada, however, scored late in the first half, and early in the second, to beat Ireland 2-1. But Canada’s title dreams remain in grave danger. If Nigeria beats Ireland, as expected, and Canada loses to Australia, a home team desperate to stave off national embarrassment, the Canadians are going home early.

Survey Says

According to survey data released by National Research Group (NRG) Sports, an insights and strategy company, on Wednesday, 41% of U.S. sports fans say they intend to watch the 2023 World Cup, nearly matching the 42% who reported watching the Men’s World Cup a year ago. Just 25% of U.S. sports fans surveyed said that they watched the Women’s World Cup four years ago, suggesting increased interest in the women’s game. 

Some early viewership stats from Fox, the World Cup broadcaster in the U.S., bear this out. The U.S.-Vietnam match on June 21 averaged just over 5.2 million viewers, nearly doubling 2019 viewership numbers for the USWNT’s opener in France: that 13-0 win over Thailand averaged 2.649 million viewers on Fox.

What’s more, pundits expected even better USWNT viewership figures for the Netherlands game, given the high-profile, prime-time rematch of the 2019 World Cup final. The 2022 U.S. Men’s World Cup opening game against Wales averaged 8.31 million viewers.

NRG Sports also found that the women’s team is more recognizable than the men’s. According to the firm, 23% of U.S. sports fans could name a player on the women’s team. But just 17% could name a player on the men’s team. Of those who could name a player on either squad, 78% named Morgan or Rapinoe as their favorite women’s player – with each accounting for 39% of responses for the women’s team – and 40% named Christian Pulisic as their favorite member of the men’s team.     

No surprise there: the USWNT has taken two straight titles. The men’s team hasn’t made the World Cup quarterfinals since 2002. Americans love winners.

Recommended Reading

England’s base camp in Australia feels a lot like England. (ESPN) 

Underdogs are fearless and are closing the talent gap. (The Guardian)

Japan’s fans continue a laudable tradition. (CNN)

Well hello, Ary Borges, the young Brazilian upstart who nabbed a hat trick in her World Cup debut. (Just Women’s Sports)

Infighting within the U.S. youth soccer trenches could hurt USWNT down the road. (Yahoo! Sports)

Parting thought

On the USWNT front … Savannah DeMelo is an inspiring story, having made her first-ever USWNT starts at a World Cup. Talk about being thrown into the deep end headfirst.

DeMelo, however, has had a somewhat frustrating World Cup so far. She missed a few scoring chances against Vietnam and the Netherlands. She almost got carded in the first half last night. Her frustration was showing. 

Lavelle came on for DeMelo after halftime, and the game against the Netherlands instantly switched. Lavelle, who’s been dealing with a knee injury, brought creativity and energy to the pitch. Lavelle did receive a yellow card, but her chippiness was effective. It livened up the team. She assisted on Horan’s goal.    

I’d be shocked if Lavelle wasn’t in the starting lineup next week against Portugal. She looks healthy, and the team needs her in the game sooner rather than later. 

And finally, Morgan and Rodman are so darn due for goals. Rodman had a terrific opportunity late in the game and just missed it. Morgan’s making things happen, but she’s not at her sharpest so far. 

So expect Lavelle in the starting XI, and Morgan and/or Rodman to score goals against Portugal. 

Some fearless predictions from Extra Time. If I’m wrong, please just forget you read this. 

Enjoy your weekend slate of soccer. Ping me at sean.gregory@time.com with anything. 

Until next week.

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Write to Sean Gregory at sean.gregory@time.com