The Hunger For More: Savannah DeMelo’s Climb Back to the US National Team

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Savannah DeMelo, the 25-year-old Racing Louisville midfielder, has written her name in the history books as she will join the U.S. women’s national team this summer at the 2023 World Cup.

It was no secret that this was the goal. She had previous stints in the youth setup and was able to wear the Stars and Stripes jersey on multiple occasions.

The 2016 U-20 Women’s World Cup, the 2018 U-20 Women’s World Cup, and the 2015 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship – in all of these, she found success. 

To DeMelo, this time was crucial for her development. 

“I was 16 and I left home for a month and a half in Papua New Guinea,” she explained, continuing, “it just helped me so much. I just learned so much, it took my game to the next level.”

She experienced how crucial an environment could be for her growth as a player. It helped fuel a desire to see how good she could truly become.   

“I got to see soccer at the biggest stage at a youth level. It made me hungry for more. More of those moments. I wanted to be around that more.”

She had also been called up to the senior team in the fall of 2022 but was not featured in the friendly games against Spain and England.

Savannah described her feeling the first time getting the call-up. 

“When I was chosen, I just felt honored,” she beamed. “I felt super pumped. But then I’m like, I’m going to play against Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, all these players next week. I gotta start working.”

These opportunities come with immense pressure. There is no denying the challenges that a jump like this brings: from the press, from teammates, from coaches, and from fans.

Anything less than a victory in the upcoming World Cup can be seen as a disappointment. The projections are as high as any sports team around the globe. 

“You’re super proud of yourself, this is a huge moment, but then it’s more expectations,” she admits. “We gotta be ready.”

The balance is pivotal in being able to handle these moments and these expectations.

DeMelo relishes in a quote her dad would always remark, “don’t get too high on the highs, don’t get too low on the lows.”

On June 21st, former USWNT star Amy Rodriguez announced that Savannah had booked her ticket to Australia/New Zealand in US Soccer’s official roster reveal video

It was a moment cultivated in years of hard work, climbing back to the level at which had shown her amazing possibilities. 

Sure, she had played in youth World Cups and had a call-up to the senior national team. But those achievements were already preceding her next ambition: to earn her way back to the squad yet again.

To play at a World Cup.

“I think that’s what makes us athletes and soccer players so elite,” the midfielder reveals. “That when we reach our goals, we actually already have new goals that we’ve been setting. That’s why we are where we are.”

She’s always been aware of the competition for a spot on the national team. As one of the most competitive rosters in the world, nothing is ever guaranteed.

She’s risen to the occasion however, becoming one of the most dominant players in the NWSL, and a mainstay on our timelines the day after games. 

And so, her call-up hasn’t come as too much of a surprise.

She’s been balling. 

Take this as proof: In a recent 12-game run, DeMelo had either scored or assisted, and was named May’s NWSL player of the month. 

The road back to the national team can never be easy. But Savannah did everything in her power to put herself on that radar. 

It’s something she’s been chasing ever since she spent that month in Papua New Guinea. 

DeMelo had a taste. But she wanted the whole thing.

Savannah and the USWNT, kick off their World Cup campaign on July 21st against Vietnam.

If you want to hear more from our conversation with Savannah DeMelo, listen to our episode which was released in April 2023. All quotes were taken before the news of her World Cup call-up.

Full Episode Here

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