Alex Morgan's return for the U.S. women's national team will come against the last opponent she faced on the international level.
Morgan is one of 23 players called in by manager Vlatko Andonovski for the USWNT's friendly vs. the Netherlands, a rematch of the 2019 Women's World Cup final, on Nov. 27 in Breda—the first match the U.S. will play since March's SheBelieves Cup. Morgan, now playing with Tottenham on loan from the Orlando Pride after being out of action for 15 months due to pregnancy and the birth of her daughter, will be joined by 12 other 2019 World Cup winners and a host of newer faces as Andonovski continues to mold his squad as best he can during a pandemic with the Olympics on the distant horizon.
Among those newer faces is Catarina Macario, the Brazil-born Stanford star who took part in last month's training camp after earning her U.S. citizenship. She still requires FIFA clearance to represent the U.S. in competition and is ineligible to play against the Netherlands on game day but can partake in camp in the meantime. Sophia Smith, the first overall pick in the 2020 NWSL draft and Macario's former college teammate, is also part of the mix.
The inclusion of younger players means the omission of a number of veteran regulars, with Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Ali Krieger and Morgan Gautrat among those not making the trip overseas.
“We have a few players who will be in the mix in 2021 who are not coming with us on this trip, but that helps us increase the depth and competition for spots in our player pool,” Andonovski said in a statement. “The environment in which we are preparing for this Olympic Games has been and will continue to be unlike anything this team has ever experienced, so to expand the number of players who can contribute in world championship tournament becomes even more important.”
Here's a closer look at the squad:
Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Aubrey Bledsoe (Washington Spirit), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash)
Naeher enters as the incumbent starter, but it's clear there's a search for a No. 2—and potentially a long-term new No. 1—underway. Bledsoe and Campbell take the places that have typically gone to Ashlyn Harris and Adrianna Franch, who are both on the wrong side of 30. Bledsoe and Campbell have been among the best goalkeepers in NWSL and will get their chance to crack what has otherwise been a pretty closed club of U.S. goalkeepers. Campbell does have three caps to her name.
Bledsoe, Campbell, Harris and Franch were the four goalkeepers in camp last month.
Alanna Cook (PSG), Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O'Hara (Utah Royals), Midge Purce (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Orlando Pride)
Cook returns for a second camp under Andonovski, joining three World Cup-winning center backs in Sauerbrunn, Dahlkemper and Davidson.
Dunn and Purce, despite their attacking capabilities, remain fullback options with the national team, complemented by O'Hara and Sonnett, the latter of who enters camp having just won a Swedish league title with Kopparbergs/Goteborg FC while on loan from the Orlando Pride.
Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City), Sam Mewis (Manchester City), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Jaelin Howell (Florida State), Catarina Macario (Stanford)
The Mewis sisters will take part in a senior USWNT camp together for the first time since the 2014 Algarve Cup, and they're joined by the experienced Ertz and Lavelle in a loaded midfield. Sam Mewis and Lavelle recently won the Women's FA Cup with Manchester City.
[UPDATE: Lindsey Horan was originally included on the squad but tested positive for the coronavirus as part of U.S. Soccer's pre-trip procedures. She "is currently doing well and is observing the appropriate quarantine protocols," according to U.S. Soccer and was replaced by Florida State standout Jaelin Howell, who took part in last month's training camp.]
Macario, as stated earlier, won't be available for selection vs. the Netherlands, leaving 18 matchday spots for 22 players. Her inclusion in camp despite that is a clear indication of how Andonovski views her in terms of being a vital piece to the larger puzzle going forward.
Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Tottenham), Christen Press (Manchester United), Tobin Heath (Manchester United), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)
Morgan has not played for the USWNT since the 2019 Women's World Cup final and just recently returned to competitive action with Tottenham, making her first two appearances for the team. When she faced the Netherlands on that title-winning day in Lyon, she drew the penalty that Rapinoe converted for what wound up being the match-winning goal.
Heath and Press, who had their NWSL rights picked by Louisville in last week's expansion draft, will head south from Manchester United, while Smith and Hatch represent two of the seven non-World Cup winners who took part in last month's training camp that join this group.
Mal Pugh is noticeably absent from this group. She missed October camp with what U.S. Soccer called injury recovery, and that remains the same reason Andonovski gave following the release of the roster. Pugh, Rapinoe and Lloyd are all in frame to take part in a January training camp, according to the manager.