Seven months after its last gathering, the U.S. women's national team is finally getting back together. A new-look edition of it, anyhow.
Manager Vlatko Andonovski has called on 27 players for an 11-day camp in the Denver area, one that will end without any matches but could still be vital as the build toward the 2021 Summer Olympics ramps up. A number of core contributors over the years will be absent. The contingent playing for clubs in Europe—Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Sam Mewis, Rose Lavelle, Emily Sonnett—are not traveling back stateside for clear pandemic-related reasons. With no official match as part of this window, FIFA wouldn't have to compel their clubs to release them, anyway. Other regulars not taking part include Carli Lloyd, Mal Pugh and Adrianna Franch (injury recovery); Julie Ertz (family commitment); and Megan Rapinoe (opt out).
“For this camp, it just did not make sense for the players in Europe to leave their club environments, where they are getting quality training games, as they are just starting to get settled,” Andonovski said in a statement. “But this opens up the important opportunity for other players to step up and show if they can contribute to the national team during our run to the Olympics.”
Of those players with that opportunity, 23 are based in NWSL and four are still in college. One of the collegiate standouts, Stanford's Catarina Macario, is not yet eligible to play for the U.S. in official competition (though she has appeared at U-23 camps and played in non-international matches). She was born in Brazil and is in the process of securing her U.S. citizenship.
[UPDATE: Macario announced Thursday night that she has indeed secured her U.S. citizenship, though that alone does not make her immediately eligible for the USWNT.]
Her potential addition is substantial news for the national team, though. In her three years at Stanford, Macario has put up absurd numbers to the tune of 63 goals and 47 assists in 68 matches, and she has won the last two Hermann Trophy awards as the nation's top collegiate player.
Among the newer faces from the NWSL-based contingent are Houston Dash standout Shea Groom, OL Reign's 2019 NWSL Rookie of the Year Bethany Balcer and 2020 rookies Sophia Smith and Ashley Sanchez.
“We want to reward players who have done well for their clubs and give them a chance to step up and perform in our environment,” Andonovski said. “We have a lot of uncapped players and a few who have had the chance to earn a few caps, but we know that deepening our player pool is important as we head into 2021.”
Here's the camp squad, which will train Oct. 18–28 upon the conclusion of the NWSL's Fall Series, in full:
GOALKEEPERS: Aubrey Bledsoe (Washington Spirit), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS: Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (NC Courage), Naomi Girma (Stanford), Sarah Gorden (Chicago Red Stars) Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals), Margaret Purce (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars)
MIDFIELDERS: Shea Groom (Houston Dash), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Morgan Gautrat (Chicago Red Stars), Jaelin Howell (Florida State), Catarina Macario (Stanford), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit)
FORWARDS: Bethany Balcer (OL Reign), Mia Fishel (UCLA), Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns), Kealia Watt (Chicago Red Stars), Lynn Williams (NC Courage)