U.S. women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis has named her 2019 Women’s World Cup roster, which features many of the team’s longstanding members and a few surprises.
Naturally, many of the well known American stars were included on the roster. The team’s co-captains, the Orlando Pride’s Alex Morgan, Reign FC’s Megan Rapinoe and Sky Blue FC’s Carli Lloyd, were all named, as were the Utah Royals’ Becky Sauerbrunn and North Carolina Courage’s Crystal Dunn, both defensive regulars. The midfield will likely be led by Chicago Red Stars’ Julie Ertz and the Portland Thorns’ Lindsey Horan.
As first reported Wednesday by Yahoo! Sports’ Doug McIntyre, the Pride’s Ali Krieger made the cut after making her return to the national team last month, previously going two years without a cap for the national team. Additionally, as reported the Washington Post’s Steven Goff, midfielders Morgan Brian of the Red Stars and Allie Long of Reign FC were included in the roster. The midfielders were in and out of the national team picture during the past few months, with fitness cited as reasons for their inclusion.
“Allie Long and Morgan have been battling some injuries over the past I’d say three, four months,” Ellis said via conference call on Thursday. “I’d say part of it was looking at which way those players were trending in terms of return to fitness, return to play.”
Ellis also revealed she went to Chicago to speak to Brian and Red Stars’ coach Rory Dames to check on her mental and physical fitness. Though O’Hara is expected to be fit for the tournament, Ellis made similar considerations when she suffered a setback from her ankle injury, opening the door for Krieger.
“When Kelley was out and obviously coming back off the ankle surgery and the little setback that she had, yes, I did look at, ‘OK, what other experienced players do we have?,'” Ellis said. “I can’t say enough about it — suddenly, if you’re thrust into a game with 15 minutes left in the game, you’ve got to make sure the moment doesn’t too big for these players. That is part of the consideration.”
Eventually, that meant Ellis elected to go with experience, leaving the Red Stars’ Casey Short, Washington Spirit’s Andi Sullivan and the Courage’s McCall Zerboni at home. Short was a regular in camp, but had not played a match since the Concacaf Women’s Championship final in October. Similarly, Sullivan had been part of Ellis’s rosters since a pair of friendlies in November, but had not played all year. Zerboni was involved in both of the team’s April matches and seemed to be the only natural backup to Ertz in defensive midfield, but she will not make the journey to France.
Lack of versatility also worked against the players who missed the cut. Ellis emphasized most players she called up can play at least two positions across either their line, or in the case of Dunn, all over the pitch. Ellis believes that combination of versatility and experience will help in the World Cup’s most challenging situations.
“That’s the kind of level of depth and versatility that you have to go through in these moments,” Ellis said. “I think when I did that, things really started to fall into place when you weigh in putting a player in with ten minutes left in a game and they know their role on a set piece and the moment doesn’t get too big for them. You can’t buy that experience.”
Overall, Ellis will be bringing 11 experienced young players headed to their first World Cup, while the other 12 add World Cup experience. Lloyd will be the sole player on the roster going to her fourth World Cup, becoming the ninth American woman to do so.
Ellis’ players have all competed in their final National Women’s Soccer League games ahead of the World Cup and will convene for a training camp. The team will play three matches before leaving for France: against South Africa on May 12 in Santa Clara, Calif.; against New Zealand on May 16 in St. Louis, Mo.; and against Mexico on May 26 in Harrison, N.J.
The U.S. will face Thailand on June 11 in Reims, Chile June 16 in Paris and Sweden on June 20 in Le Havre to open the group stage.
U.S. WNT 2019 Women’s World Cup roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch* (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris** (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher** (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper* (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson* (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn* (NC Courage), Ali Krieger*** (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara*** (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn*** (Utah Royals FC), Emily Sonnett* (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian** (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz** (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan* (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle* (Washington Spirit), Allie Long* (Reign FC), Samantha Mewis* (NC Courage)
FORWARDS (7): Tobin Heath*** (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd**** (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald* (NC Courage), Alex Morgan*** (Orlando Pride), Christen Press** (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh* (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe*** (Reign FC)
- * First Women’s World Cup
- ** Second Women’s World Cup
- *** Third Women’s World Cup
- **** Fourth Women’s World Cup