USWNT's Lindsey Horan apologizes for 'poorly expressed' comments that 'American soccer fans aren't that smart'

United States women’s national team captain Lindsey Horan issued an apology to fans during a press conference ahead of the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup. In a recent interview with The Athletic, Horan expressed an opinion on American fans’ soccer knowledge and received backlash over her comments that, “American soccer fans, most of them aren’t smart.”

“First and foremost I would like to apologize to our fans. Some of my comments were poorly expressed and there was a massive lesson learned for me,” she said at the beginning of her media availability. 

Horan’s comments, where she utilized her mother as an example of limited soccer perception, were met with negative receptions online. Her apology and first USWNT press conference of the year comes as the national team is preparing for the upcoming Gold Cup. The tournament is the first-ever iteration of the event for women’s senior teams in the region and the USWNT are considered the favorites to win the competition.

“When I think about our fans, I love them so much. The team loves them so much, and I can’t begin to explain how much they mean to us. Every time we step out and train, every time we step out and play in games, you know we play for you guys,” Horan said. “You’re our inspiration, our motivation, and seeing you wear our jerseys and seeing you screaming our names, and chanting USA, that’s what we play for and I never wanted to take any of that away.”

Horan was recently named captain of the squad ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign. The program suffered its earliest elimination in program history during the round of 16. The historic exit was a catalyst for criticism and analysis of the team, coaching staff, and American soccer culture as a whole. 

“Continuing on that, the soccer culture in America is changing and growing so much in such a positive way and for me to be able to experience that firsthand playing for this USWNT but also in the NWSL for the Portland Thorns is just something so amazing,” she added.

“It is my absolute honor, and I will always say that. To be able to put on this crest every single day, to be in this environment, and to go out and play in front of our fans and represent this national team. That is something — again, it is my greatest honor. The last thing I ever wanted to do was to offend anyone in that manner. So again, I deeply, deeply apologize.”

Horan also told media that she was compelled to apologize due to how she felt post interview and wanted to let the fans know how much they meant to her. She also referred to herself as a football brain who enjoys watching endless soccer and hope people can someday speak about the national team in a similar fashion to Manchester City, Arsenal, or Barcelona.

“That’s what I want people to say about us. I want people to talk about how incredible we are on the ball, the possession, the style of play, the technical ability, the tactical changes mid-game, these types of things.”

With the Olympic Games set to begin this summer in Paris, the Gold Cup will serve as a tournament-style warm-up toward the Olympic podium. It’s the first tournament for the squad since the 2023 World Cup and an opportunity to win some hardware for interim head coach Twila Kilgore who has been filling in since August 2023 and remains in charge till incoming manager Emma Hayes arrives.

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