A combination of NWSL play and injuries has pulled in a few names that might not have been expected this close to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Most notably, midfielder Carli Lloyd will miss the next two friendlies due to a sprained MCL, picked up in April with the Houston Dash. Only bringing in four forwards, it seems like Alex Morgan, Crystal Dunn, Christen Press and Mallory Pugh have that spot on lockdown.
Other familiar names traveling to the friendly matches in Commerce City, Colorado and Cleveland include midfielders Morgan Brian, Tobin Heath, Lindsay Horan and Heather O’Reilly. Rounding out the midfield is Allie Long (6 caps), Samantha Mewis (10 caps) and Rose Lavelle, who will get her first cap if she makes it into one of the games.
Jill Ellis explained her strategic reasons for pulling in a larger roster for these friendlies. “We are going with a slightly larger roster for this camp than the last few, so internally we can play in more 11v11 training scenarios,” Ellis said. “My staff and I have been watching the league play, and now we get to evaluate them back together. Both environments are important.”
Ellis brought in 10 defenders this time around with veteran Christie Rampone making a significant jump back on to the roster after being injured or not called in since Sept. 2015. Other seasoned defenders called in were Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, Kelley O’Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn. Defenders on the bubble include Whitney Engen, Jaelene Hinkle, Emily Sonnett and Gina Lewandowski, who comes in from Bayern Munich as the only professional player not playing in the NWSL.
Ellis will take a look at filling out the Olympic roster, which only allows for 18 players, with players that can switch easily from defense to midfield or vise versa. This will be the first rematch with Japan since the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final.
Rounding out the roster in the goalkeeper camp is Hope Solo, who could reach a historic 100 shutouts if both games end with no goals from Japan. Joining her are familiar names, Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher. Adrianna Franch comes in for her first camp since January.
The USWNT play Japan in Colorado on June 2 at 9 p.m. eastern time on Fox Sports 1, and in Cleveland on June 5 at 12:30 p.m. eastern time on ESPN 2.
Also, I’ll be at the USWNT match in Cleveland, so follow me at @stephaniemduffy on Twitter or stephmathias11 on Snapchat. Follow WUFC on Instagram too at @wunitedfc.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (4): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (10): Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Gina Lewandowski (FC Bayern Munich), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Wisconsin), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)