Golden’s Lindsey Horan sets the tone for United States at the Women’s World Cup

WWCup USA Netherlands Soccer
Alysa Rubin/AP
Golden’s Lindsey Horan celebrates her team’s first US goal during the Women’s World Cup Group E soccer match between the United States and the Netherlands in Wellington, New Zealand, Thursday, July 27, 2023.

By Anne M. Peterson/AP

Lindsey Horan is setting a fiery tone for the United States at the Women’s World Cup.

Horan, the U.S. co-captain, steadied herself after an angry exchange with Dutch midfielder Danielle van de Donk and scored to give the United States a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands on Thursday.

Frustrated by the Netherlands' first half lead, Horan went from exasperation with van de Donk to elation for her tying goal in a span of just two minutes in the second half.

“To come from a goal down and have that momentum shift in the second half was incredible. I think no one was happy with our first-half performance, letting them have the ball a little bit too much, but we changed things, and how we responded,” she said.

The tie keeps the United States atop the Group E standings, in front of the Netherlands with a better goal difference, and in good position to advance to the knockout round. The Americans wrap up group play on Tuesday against Portugal.

The United States is seeking its third straight World Cup title but this time the squad is younger and less experienced than in previous tournaments. Fourteen players on the roster are making their World Cup debuts.

That's why Horan's leadership, and the example she sets on the field, are important.

Horan, playing in her second World Cup, was named co-captain along with Alex Morgan by coach Vlatko Andonovski before the tournament. When she and Morgan are on the field together, Horan gets the captain's armband.

In addition to the equalizer against the Dutch, she also scored in the team's 3-0 victory over Vietnam in the tournament opener.

“I think the captain’s band has elevated what she already does,” defender Julie Ertz said about Horan. “I don’t think she needed to change or be anything, because we looked at her as a leader.”

Horan, 26, has always been a competitive player. But the battle with van de Donk — her teammate on French club Lyon — typifies her feistiness.

Horan seethed and cursed after getting knocked down by van de Donk and the two exchanged words, prompting the referee to step in and separate the pair.

Minutes later — after a calming reminder from Ertz that she was already carrying a yellow card from a previous match — Horan coolly scored on a header off Rose Lavelle's corner kick.

“Instead of crying about it, she just goes and makes a statement and basically shows everyone the direction the game was going to take,” Andonovski said.

WWCup US Netherlands Soccer
John Cowpland/AP
Golden's Lindsey Horan and Netherlands' Danielle Van de Donk, left, battle for possession during the second half of the FIFA Women's World Cup Group E soccer match between the United States and the Netherlands in Wellington, New Zealand, Thursday, July 27, 2023.

Horan shared a laugh and a hug with van de Donk following the match. The two even snapped a selfie.

“I don’t think you ever want to get me mad because I don’t react in a good way. I just want something more. I want to win more, I want to score more and I want more for my team,” Horan said.

Horan grew up in Colorado and eschewed a scholarship to North Carolina to head overseas and play for Paris Saint-Germain for four seasons. In 2016 and vying for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, she returned to the United States to play for the Portland Thorns of the National Women's Soccer League and was named the league's Most Valuable Player in 2018.

The Thorns loaned her to Lyon in 2022, and allowed her permanent transfer to the team in France's top division in June.

She's been a fixture on the U.S. national team since the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

At the 2019 World Cup in France, Horan came off the bench for the team's first two knockout round victories against Spain and the hosts. In the semifinal against England, she started and served Morgan the go-ahead goal.

She has made 131 appearances in all for the United States, scoring 29 goals. She and forward Sophia Smith each have two goals at this World Cup.

Horan is aware that those young players — including Smith — look to her in navigating soccer's biggest stage for the first time.

“It’s great for us to have this in the group stage and to feel that kind of pressure,” Horan said. “So now we move forward. We learned a few lessons from this game and now focus on Portugal.”