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Ellis names WNT roster for Colombia friendlies

23 players have named for the two-game series in early April.

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The United States will play Colombia in a two-game friendly series on April 6 in East Hartford and April 10 in Chester.

Head coach Jill Ellis has named 23 players to her roster.

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (8): Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), 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), Heather O'Reilly (FC Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado), Ashley Sanchez (So Cal Blues)

Differences from the 22-player roster Ellis used for the She Believes Cup include dropping the Reign's Lauren Barnes and adding the Thorns' Allie Long and U17 player Ashley Sanchez.

Sanchez is current captain of the U17 WNT and was among the top scorers in the CONCACAF U17 championship in Grenada, tying for second overall with five goals. She represents an interesting addition at a time when Ellis is finalizing her Olympic roster; there's little chance Sanchez will actually go to the Olympics, indicating that Ellis is calling her up for evaluation, but the timing of it all remains confusing. Unless Ellis has already decided on the 18 she will take to Rio, surely it behooves her to look at players who are closer to the senior team's level of development.

It's not a question of age - 17-year-old Mallory Pugh has made phenomenal inroads into the starting XI and wouldn't necessarily be a bad choice for the Olympics - but Pugh has also had far more time with the senior team over Sanchez. Given that the WNT only has a few more friendlies before the Olympics, this is not the time for development or bringing players up to speed, but rather evaluating what currently exists and can be successfully integrated into the current setup.

Additionally, Allie Long rejoins the team after an extended absence. Long's last appearance for the WNT was August 20, 2014, in a friendly against Switzerland, subbing in for Lauren Holiday in the 85'. If Long is realistically vying with anyone in the midfield for a roster spot, it's probably Samantha Mewis, although Heather O'Reilly has seen her playing time diminished recently and is probably more on the bubble than she would like. Ellis has been relying on players like Dunn and Pugh recently to provide the width that O'Reilly once brought.

The team will go into camp for these friendlies in Orlando at the beginning of April, which will add about another week to NWSL players' absences during preseason. The first NWSL games kick off April 16, six days after the second friendly.

The United States last faced Colombia in last year's Women's World Cup, defeating them 2-0 in the round of 16.