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Jill Ellis begins her overhaul with heavy NWSL presence on Switzerland roster

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As it turns out, maybe Ellis actually was listening when people were griping about NWSL’s relationship to the USWNT

NWSL and USWNT

Fans have been talking about NWSL players who need or deserve a shot at the WNT pool pretty much since after the first game of the first season. Now, with Jill Ellis talking up her plans to overhaul the roster in the years ahead of 2019, it seems she was quietly taking notes of her own the whole time. Here are the 24 players called up to camp for the US’s two friendlies against Switzerland on October 19 and 23:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Stanford), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (Western New York Flash), Arin Gilliland (Chicago Red Stars), Merritt Mathias (Seattle Reign), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), Andi Sullivan (Stanford)

FORWARDS (6): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Shea Groom (FC Kansas City), Ashley Hatch (BYU), Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Lynn Williams (Western New York Flash)

If you’re keeping count, that’s eight NWSL players new to the roster, plus three college players.

Players from the last roster not to get called in: Whitney Engen, Ali Krieger, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan.

Engen is no longer part of Ellis’ WNT setup, but the other players are all veteran starters. But Krieger will be coming off the NWSL championship game to be played October 9, Rapinoe is probably still at the tail end of her ACL rehab, and the others are probably glad for the rest. This is two friendlies against Switzerland, not World Cup qualification, so there’s not much to read into who was left off the roster.

What is definitely interesting is how that defense will set up with Becky Sauerbrunn as the only veteran defender among them (sorry Kelley O’Hara but your hybrid attacking role makes Sauerbrunn the only real voice of defense there). The midfield will be fine, with Lloyd, Brian, Heath, Horan, Long, and Mewis still around. Colaprico is a good bet to get a shot somewhere in there, and as one of the most-lauded young mids in NWSL, is one to keep an eye on. As for the forwards, Lynn Williams and Kealia Ohai both had a pretty hot season. Both of them will probably get a chance to work with Dunn and Press, although it would be incredibly interesting to see if Ellis would attempt to play some combination of Ohai, Groom, and Williams at the same time.

Yes, this is a very experimental roster. Ellis has been telling us this has been coming for months. It’s an exciting development for this team and will hopefully continue in the long run to give the WNT a real chance to integrate fresh legs and continue their evolution. It’s also a testament to NWSL, which has been quietly incubating a lot of this talent, just as it was meant to do.

The United States plays Switzerland at 9 PM ET on October 19 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, then again at 1:45 PM ET on October 23 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.