Alex Morgan is nearly ready to return to the U.S. women's national team, but it won't happen in time for the Algarve Cup.
The star forward was not included on manager Tom Sermanni's roster for the upcoming tournament in Portugal, as she is "in the final stages of her return from an ankle injury," according to a U.S. Soccer press release. Midfielder Lauren Holliday is also not available due to a family commitment, and defender Crystal Dunn is out with an ankle injury, per U.S. Soccer. Sermanni does have midfielder Tobin Heath at his disposal for the first time in nearly eight months after she dealt with a right foot injury.
"Again, we're going into a competition phase with a number of players unavailable and that's something that we've had to adjust to over this past year," Sermanni said. "But players have come in and performed extremely well and that's continued to increase the already intense competition in the squad."
Morgan, hurt in October and shelved since with a stress reaction in her left ankle, may not be available up front for the USA, but star forwards Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux will be eligible to lead the line for the Americans, who are slated to play against Japan, Sweden (managed by former U.S. women's coach Pia Sundhage) and Denmark in group play.
The winner of the USA's group and Group A, which features Germany, Norway, China and Iceland, will play for the tournament championship on March 12.
"The group we're in at the Algarve Cup will probably be the most significant test since I've come aboard and a different kind of challenge as we will be playing teams that have the belief and aim to come out to attack us and beat us," said Sermanni. "The dynamics of these games will be different than some of the more recent matches, and that's something that we want, that we need and that the players are looking forward to."
Here is the full U.S. roster for the competition, which will be cut by one before the first game on March 5:
GOALKEEPERS: Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS: Stephanie Cox (Seattle Reign FC), Whitney Engen (Tyresö), Meghan Klingenberg (Tyresö), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kristie Mewis (Boston Breakers), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Rachel Van Hollebeke (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS: Morgan Brian (Virginia), Tobin Heath (Paris Saint-Germain), Sarah Killion (UCLA), Carli Lloyd (WNY Flash), Samantha Mewis (UCLA), Heather O'Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC) FORWARDS: Sarah Hagen (Bayern Munich), Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC), Christen Press (Tyresö), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Abby Wambach (WNY Flash)