USWNT World Cup, Olympic Qualifier Roster Released


USWNT World Cup, Olympic Qualifier Roster Released

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USA women’s national soccer team coach Vlatko Andonovski has used the past six months to test young players and better understand his talent pool ahead of this summer’s World Cup and Olympic qualifiers.

Though some veterans were left out of that process, Andonovski vowed they were still in the mix. On Monday, he commemorated two of them, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, who will help anchor the 23-man roster at the July 4-18 Concacaf W Championship in Monterrey, Mexico.

The eight-team tournament will decide four automatic spots at the 2023 World Cup and one at the 2024 Olympics. (Another Olympic spot will be awarded next year.)

First, however, the Americans will play friendlies against Colombia on June 25 in a Denver suburb and on June 28 in the greater Salt Lake City area.

Rapinoe and Morgan have not been part of the US top roster since October. While Morgan was an obvious selection – she leads the National Women’s Soccer League by nine goals – Rapinoe has yet to play an NWSL game this season.

Andonovski cited Rapinoe’s experience, leadership and ability to influence the game, despite turning 37 next month.

“We know what Megan is capable of,” he said. “We even saw how dangerous she can be in a few minutes of the last game. But the thing about Megan is that she’s very important to this group. This is a young group… so their experience of overcoming adversity, their winning mentality and their knowledge and understanding are very valuable to the group.”

Andonovski also noted that Mallory Pugh, who is on top form with the Chicago Red Stars, is ahead of Rapinoe on the depth chart.

“I can’t imagine anyone getting that starting spot from Mallory at the moment,” he said. “She’s just amazing.”

Andonovski added, “What makes Megan special is that she understands [the situation] and she will do whatever it takes to push Mal to be even better.”

Morgan, a forward with 115 goals in 190 US games, has scored in five of her last eight games for the San Diego Wave and scored in a four-goal game against Gotham FC.

Defender Becky Sauerbrunn, 37, is back after recovering from a knee injury. Worlds veterans Alyssa Naeher, Kelley O’Hara, Emily Sonnett, Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan were also selected.

“They’re not on the team because they’re just experienced; They are in the team primarily because they can perform,” said Andonovski. “Your experience is a bonus.”

O’Hara and Sonnett were among seven Washington Spirit players called up to the roster. The others were goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury, midfielders Andi Sullivan and Ashley Sanchez, and forwards Trinity Rodman and Ashley Hatch. No other NWSL team has more than four.

Many regulars were unavailable due to injuries (Catarina Macario, Sam Mewis, Lynn Williams, Tierna Davidson and Abby Dahlkemper) or maternity leave (Crystal Dunn, Julie Ertz and Casey Krueger).

Tobin Heath and Christen Press, immensely experienced forwards, were not selected. Injuries have limited Heath to 17 league games over the past two years. Press suffered a knee injury on Saturday but even if she were healthy she would not have been included in the squad, Andonovski said.

“She’s doing well,” Andonovski said, “but it’s not just her at this point. She competes with the players before her. … It’s not easy because the competition kept getting bigger.”

Thirteen selected players have never played in qualifying matches. The biggest surprise was San Diego Wave midfielder Taylor Kornieck, a third-year pro who was invited to her first senior camp. Seven others were used in fewer than ten international matches.

goalkeeper: Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).

Defender: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Kelley O’Hara (Washington), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington).

Midfield player: Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyonnais), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington), Andi Sullivan (Washington).

Forward: Ashley Hatch (Washington), Alex Morgan (San Diego), Midge Purce (Gotham FC), Mallory Pugh (Chicago), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington), Sophia Smith (Portland).

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