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Analyzing USWNT newcomer Hal Hershfelt, a box-to-box threat in the Sam Mewis mold

The Washington Spirit rookie has thrived in the NWSL this year. Now she's getting her first look with the United States.

5 min read
Washington Spirit

Picked fifth overall in the 2024 NWSL draft, Hal Hershfelt instantly established herself at the heart of the Washington Spirit midfield. 

Now, just two months after her professional debut, the 21-year-old has been called into the United States women’s national team squad. The last rookie midfielder to make such a quick impression on the league was Sam Coffey, who Hershfelt could soon be lining up alongside in Emma Hayes’ first games as national team head coach, against South Korea.

So, who is Hal Hershfelt, the soccer player? And what does she bring to the USWNT?

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The Hershfelt hunch

This season, Washington set up in a 4-2-3-1 system. Hershfelt plays on the left of the central midfield two, next to Andi Sullivan.

Her first job is to protect the defense, but she also plays an important role in releasing the overlapping fullbacks. At times she gets forward to support the attack, too, popping up with two goals in her first 11 NWSL outings.

There are some distinctive characteristics within Hershfelt’s style of play that make her stand out. The first is her hunched defensive posture – she likes to crouch, readying herself to spring into action. It’s quite an intimidating look, almost as if she is attempting to channel all of her energy into the ball and where it may go next…


From this stance, she’s quick to react, engage and apply pressure. She can pick up on loose touches, or force the opponent away from goal. Every now and then, she can be caught a little flat-footed but she has the speed to recover and isn’t against using her arms to grapple or shoulders to slow the opponent.

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