US Soccer just released the training camp roster ahead of their friendlies against Brazil on October 21 and 25 in Seattle and Orlando respectively. There were more than a few surprises.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (12): Lori Chalupny (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Whitney Engen (Western NY Flash), Jaelene Hinkle (Western NY Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Houston Dash), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Gina Lewandowski (FC Bayern Munich), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Emily Sonnett (Univ. of Virginia)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Shannon Boxx (unattached), Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (Western NY Flash), Christine Nairn (Washington Spirit), Heather O'Reilly (FC Kansas City), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS (7): Lindsey Horan (Paris Saint-Germain), Sydney Leroux (Western NY Flash), Stephanie McCaffrey (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Abby Wambach (unattached)
Players not named Crystal Dunn and NOT on the World Cup roster are: Jaelene Hinkle, Gina Lewandowski, Emily Sonnett, Samantha Mewis, Christine Nairn, Lindsey Horan, and Stephanie McCaffrey
That's seven new and new-ish players to evaluate. Hinkle, Lewandowski, and Sonnett have never been in a senior national camp before. When Jill Ellis spoke about integrating new players into the roster, most fans probably imagined it happening in a trickle, with one or two players per set of friendlies joining Crystal Dunn for evaluation.
Jill Ellis has other ideas, it seems, and is no doubt somewhere at USSF headquarters lounging in an office chair, smugly eating an apple and watching the reactions roll in.
McCaffrey may have the hardest time elbowing her way into getting playing time; in an interview with espnW, Ellis mentioned that competition is probably most fierce among attacking players due to the depth still available in those positions. With Leroux, Morgan, Press, Rodriguez, and Wambach still floating around and most-likely-to-be-on-fan-roster-wishlists Lindsey Horan also in the mix, McCaffrey will need to be truly outstanding to be noticed.
In the midfield, Samantha Mewis and Christine Nairn have both made impressions with their NWSL clubs, and with Lauren Holiday and Shannon Boxx both retiring, there is a noticeable gap in the midfield. Mewis and Nairn could possibly try to slide back into more defensive positions, or Ellis may continue shuffling her existing midfield into that spot, such as when she experimented with Tobin Heath coming more centrally.
On defense it's a bit of a bummer to see Crystal Dunn's name considering how well she did when unleashed as a mifielder in the previous two friendlies against Haiti. Dunn seems fated to follow in Kelley O'Hara's footsteps at this rate: forever shuffled between positions, based on where she's most needed.
Jaelene Hinkle, Gina Lewandowski, and Emily Sonnett probably raise the most discussion points on this roster. Lewandowski is already 30, calling into question just how far into the next four years she could go. Hinkle had a decent season with the WNY Flash, but does she deserve a callup over the Red Stars' Arin Gilliland? And Emily Sonnett will miss two conference games for UVA against Louisville on the 22nd and Florida State on the 25th, making it more urgent for her to get something out of these camps.
All the new callups are available to play in the matches but it remains to be seen if they actually will.
The next friendly against Brazil on October 21 is at 10 PM ET and will air on ESPN2.