Two years removed from her last cap with the U.S. women's national team, Ali Krieger is back in the penultimate camp before the Women's World Cup begins.
Krieger, 34, has been called in with starting right back Kelley O'Hara out with an ankle injury, joining Jill Ellis's 24-player squad for friendlies against Australia and Belgium on April 4 and 7, respectively.
“I spoke with Ali and she’s excited to come into camp and help this team in any way she can," Ellis said in a statement. "Opportunities, however they transpire, are exactly that, and Ali has been a great pro and will no doubt lean on her experience and strengths when she comes back into this environment. Recently, she has been training with her club in the outside back position and with the potential to add depth on the right side, it was good timing to bring Ali into this camp to join the other six defenders.”
Krieger's return is one of two notable ones, with Allie Long also back in camp and among Ellis's midfield options. One notable omission from the midfield is Morgan Brian, who remains on the outside looking in with time ticking before the USA's Women's World Cup roster is finalized.
There are some milestones that could be achieved during this prep window, as Alex Morgan enters a goal shy of 100 for her career, which would make her the seventh USWNT player to reach that plateau. If Krieger plays in both matches, meanwhile, she'll hit the 100-cap barrier, while Megan Rapinoe enters one cap shy of 150 in her illustrious career.
Here's a closer look at the USWNT roster for the final camp before the three-match send-off series in May:
Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
Barring injury, it certainly looks like this is the trio headed to France. Naeher remains the likely starter, though Harris's performance during the SheBelieves Cup could warrant her another look in these friendlies.
Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (NC Courage), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns)
With O'Hara out, Krieger is back in frame, and she'll have the chance to show Ellis that she can still perform at the level required to earn a ticket to France. The back-line starters are likely set, if all are healthy. From right to left, it should be O'Hara, Dahlkemper, Sauerbrunn and Dunn starting vs. Thailand in the Women's World Cup opener. But perhaps Ellis isn't confident enough in what she's seen from fullback depth in Short and Sonnett and is entertaining an option that didn't appear to be a realistic one given Krieger hasn't suited up for the U.S. since an April 2017 friendly vs. Russia.
Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Allie Long (Seattle Reign), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit), McCall Zerboni (NC Courage)
Long's return indicates that the veteran may well have a place on the World Cup roster, while Brian's latest omission would suggest the opposite. Brian's emergence was so vital in the 2015 run, but the Ertz-Horan-Lavelle trio has emerged as the preferred starting option, while Mewis made it clear how valuable she can be in a holding role during her performances in the SheBelieves Cup.
Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald (NC Courage), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Utah Royals), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign)
Heath, Morgan and Rapinoe are the top candidates to start, though Press's recent play has given Ellis plenty to ponder. There's plenty to be said for having a go-to option off the bench, and it appears as if Press has at the very least played herself into that role.