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What will the USWNT goalkeeper pool look like beyond Rio?

A few names are making room in the conversation for the next cycle and beyond.

Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

After the Rio Olympics, the very thing that US fans have been dreading for years could come to fruition: Hope Solo could hang up her cleats. In the event of Solo's retirement it is expected that Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher will compete for the number one goalkeeper spot.

When one of either Harris or Naeher assumes the starting role, the other will become the favorite for the backup role. After these two players, what does the future of the backup goalkeeper role look like for the USWNT?

Adrianna Franch

The most likely candidate to step up is Portland Thorns goalkeeper, Adrianna Franch. Franch, 25, has the distinction of being called in to train with the team by every NT manager since 2012 - most recently by Jill Ellis in the January and June 2016 camps. It's not hard to see why when you take a look at her resume.

Coming off of a successful career at Oklahoma State, Franch was drafted by the Western New York Flash sixth overall in the 2013 NWSL College Draft. Her first year in the NWSL was a wildly successful one. She backstopped the Flash to the first ever NWSL shield - awarded to the regular season champions - and led the team to its only NWSL final appearance. The Flash would go on to lose in the final 2-0 to the Portland Thorns.

Delving into the numbers Franch put up in the 2013 season tells an even more impressive story.

In 2013, Franch made 22 appearances for the Flash, allowing 20 goals against for an average of .91 GA per game. This is despite facing 98 shots on goal, recording a save percentage of .820. For reference, in the same year Hope Solo played in 14 matches, allowing 19 goals for an average of 1.36 GA per game and a .800 save percentage.

Adrianna Franch 2013 WNY Stats

Year

GP

GA

GA/Gm

Sh

SOG

Sv %

SO

2013

22

20

0.91

119

98

0.82

7

It's no wonder then that Franch earned a camp invite from then-manager Tom Sermanni prior to the 2013 season. Although she was brought in to train and did not receive her first cap, all signs pointed toward Franch's ascendency. All of that progress ground to a halt when Franch tore her ACL prior to the 2014 NWSL season.

After rehabbing her knee and a stint with Avaldsnes IL in Norway, Franch looks poised to return to the national team picture. She signed with the Portland Thorns for the 2016 NWSL season, initiating an intriguing goalkeeping battle with last year's starter, Michelle Betos. Under the tutelage of goalkeeping coach - and German WNT legend - Nadine Angerer, Franch's star is once again on the rise. As such, she looks most likely to be the future of the backup role and potentially has the ability to compete as a starter.

Two goalkeepers stand out who have been involved with the U-20 national team in the past cycle: Katelyn Rowland and Jane Campbell. Rowland started in the 2014 U-20 WWC in every game en route to a quarterfinal exit to North Korea on penalties. Campbell was her backup.

Katelyn Rowland

Rowland played for the UCLA Bruins from 2011 to 2014, winning the national championship in 2013. During her time with the Bruins, she proved to be a shutout machine. In 90 appearances for the Bruins, Rowland recorded an NCAA record 55 career shutouts - including a season single record 19 shutouts in her senior season.

Katelyn Rowland UCLA Career Stats

Year

GP

GA

GA/Gm

SOG

Sv%

SO

2011

20

11

0.61

53

0.793

10

2012

20

11

0.57

57

0.807

11

2013

26

7

0.27

72

0.903

15

2014

24

6

0.25

55

0.891

19


In the 2015 NWSL College Draft, Rowland was selected in the second round, 17th overall by FC Kansas City. In her time at FC Kansas City, Rowland has made three appearances allowing an average of 1.33 goals per game with a .760 save percentage. She faced a healthy 17 shots in only three starts with the club, making an impressive 13 saves.

Katelyn Rowland NWSL Career Stats

Year

GP

GA

GA/Gm

Sh

SOG

Sv %

SO

2015

3

4

1.33

29

17

0.76

1


More important than the stats she's put up in those three appearances is the valuable experience she's gaining as the backup to perennial USWNT backup Nicole Barnhart. The conceit is not who will take over Hope Solo's spot right away but who would be best positioned to become a backup. Backing up the most notable backup in NT history seems like the exact way to gain the insight needed to be successful in that role.

Working against Rowland is the fact that she's yet to make an appearance for FC Kansas City in the 2016 NWSL season. With Barnhart officially retired from the NT, that means that Rowland's opportunities to get playing time this season might be limited barring injury or squad rotation. But her college numbers demonstrate her great potential, potential that can only be enhanced by her prolonged apprenticeship behind Barnhart.

Jane Campbell

Jane Campbell is another keeper who's shown incredible potential throughout a youth career that has spanned appearances at every level from U-15 to U-23. She recorded five shutouts and one assist en route to winning the 2012 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. At 17, she became the youngest goalkeeper ever called in to train with the full national team after being called up by Tom Sermanni before the 2013 Algarve Cup.

As a rising junior at Stanford, Campbell has continued to make her case for future national team selection. Campbell has recorded 30 full shutouts and three partial shutouts in 65 career appearances at Stanford. In three seasons her season save percentage has not dropped below .790. Though she's not had the NCAA tournament success of her U-20 teammate Katelyn Rowland, she's help maintain Stanford as a base of power within the Pac-12 conference. Campbell still has one more year of college eligibility to capture that elusive national championship.

Jane Campbell Stanford Career Stats

Year

GP

GA

GA/Gm

SOG

Sv%

SO

2013

19

13

0.72

79

0.835

6.2

2014

24

14

0.59

68

0.794

14.2

2015

22

13

0.58

62

0.79

10.2

Looking past college, it is likely that Campbell will have to prove herself to Jill Ellis in the NWSL to make her case over her potential competition. Ellis seems to prefer utilizing the NWSL as the avenue for goalkeeping competitions and without any NWSL experience it could be hard for Campbell to break through so soon. But no doubt, even if directly post-Rio is not her time, Jane Campbell's name is one for the future.

Haley Kopmeyer

Then again, sometimes the simplest answer is the correct answer. What about the goalkeeper that's already accustomed to capably backing up the US starter? Hope Solo's backup in Seattle, Haley Kopmeyer, is on the rise.

From 2008-2012, she started for a University of Michigan team that made it as far as the sweet sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. She left Michigan as the career leader in goals against average (.96), shutouts (27), saves (383), saves per game (4.91), save percentage (.833), and minutes played (7,152).

After being drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NWSL College Draft, Kopmeyer made one appearance for the Seattle Reign that year before being cut in favor of Michelle Betos. She was invited to stay with the club and train in that environment. That paid off in 2014 with Betos heading to Portland, and Kopmeyer was once again signed to backup Hope Solo. In 2014, she made four appearances for the Reign. recording just .5 goals per game with a .890 save percentage.

It's 2015, though, that's proven to be a breakout year all around. It was Kopmeyer who was asked to hold down the fort for the majority of the 2015 NWSL season while Solo prepared for and played in the World Cup. In 11 appearances, Kopmeyer allowed 1.00 goal per game with a .790 save percentage. In comparison, in eight appearances Solo allowed 1.13 goals per game with a .680 save percentage. The Seattle Reign would go on to win their second consecutive NWSL shield that season, arguably down to Kopmeyer's dominant performance over more than half a season.

Haley Kopmeyer NWSL Career Stats

Year

GP

GA

GA/Gm

Sh

SOG

Sv %

SO

2013

1

3

3

14

9

0.67

0

2014

4

2

0.5

27

19

0.89

2

2015

11

11

1

107

52

0.79

4


Following up a great NWSL season, Kopmeyer was loaned to the Brisbane Roar for the 2015/16 W-League season. She led a comeback season for the Roar, highlighted by her epic performance in the semi-final match against eventual champions - and W-League invincibles - Melbourne City. They would go on to lose that match on penalty kicks in heartbreaking fashion. Kopmeyer's performance during that match and throughout the season led her to be named The Women's Game Goalkeeper of the Year.

It's not a long shot to say that the Seattle Reign have a luxury backup with Kopmeyer, a goalkeeper who could be starting for any team in this league. Certainly she's an American keeper who has put up the kind of numbers in the NWSL that warrants a look from Jill Ellis in the not-so-distant future.

These four goalkeepers seem to have the skill and the stats to make cases for themselves. Still, it's important to remember that these things can change in an instant. Abby Smith - a member of the 2012 U-20 WWC at just 18 years old - is a name that could have featured prominently on this list if not for a catastrophic knee injury suffered in just her second ever NWSL start. Smith looked poised to take over the starting goalkeeper position for the Boston Breakers. Now she faces a long road back to the field and certain exclusion - for now - from consideration as the future NT backup.

By the end of 2016, the goalkeeping situation for the USWNT could look much murkier than it has throughout the tenure of Hope Solo. One of these goalkeepers might be able to clear up the backup situation, at least for the near future.