Jill Ellis names 20-player USWNT roster for Olympic qualifying
With Olympic qualifying on the horizon, U.S. women's national team manager Jill Ellis has named a 20-player squad that will attempt to bring the defending gold medalists to Rio.
As expected, it's a vastly different looking team than the one that won the World Cup in Canada this past summer.
While the three goalkeepers–led by Hope Solo–remain the same and the defensive nucleus returns, seven of the 20 players were not on the World Cup roster, including 17-year-old forward Mallory Pugh. The reigning U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year scored in her debut for the senior team in Saturday's 5-0 win over Ireland in San Diego, which capped the team's January camp.
Captains Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn lead the team into next month's tournament in Houston and Dallas, while veterans Christie Rampone (injury), Whitney Engen and Heather O'Reilly miss out.
Megan Rapinoe (ACL), Sydney Leroux and Amy Rodriguez (pregnancy) are all unavailable for selection, while Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, Lori Chalupny and Lauren Holiday have all retired.
"This was an exceptionally challenging roster to select," Ellis said in a statement. "The players all worked and competed very hard in the January Camp and that made the final decisions extremely difficult.
"With only 17 field players allowed on the roster, and minimal time in between matches, I think we have one of the most versatile rosters ever for a qualifying tournament,” said Ellis. “Most of the field players are capable of playing at least two positions and as CONCACAF competitions generally present teams that will sit low and get numbers behind the ball, it is important to have players that can individually and collectively break teams down to create chances."
The U.S. will play against Mexico, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico in group play, while Canada, Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala and Guyana play in the other group. The top two in each group will advance to the semifinals, where the two winners will punch their tickets to Brazil.
Here are the 20 players Ellis selected to try and get the job done:
GOALKEEPERS: Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS: Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS: Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash)
FORWARDS: Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Stephanie McCaffrey (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)