On August 3, the first day of the women's Olympic tournament, US Soccer announced two friendlies for the USWNT in September, one against Thailand and one against the Netherlands. You got the impression this was the start of what USSF wanted to be a 10-game Victory Tour, based on the assumption the United States would be winning a gold medal. We all know how that one turned out.
But the friendlies still need to be played, and it should be a fun time, both against #32-ranked Thailand and #12 Netherlands. Despite their ranking, Thailand are an interesting up-and-coming AFC team. They didn't do great in the 2015 World Cup, but they certainly didn't get blown out the way many people thought they would.
The Netherlands could make for a very watchable game, although a win for them would be considered an upset. Neither should they be expected to roll over and give up multiple goals.
As Ellis previously told US Soccer, these two friendlies are for the Olympic roster (minus the recently-suspended and contractless Hope Solo). September 15 will also be Heather O'Reilly's last game for the WNT, as she announced her retirement from international soccer.
O'Reilly will wear the captain's armband against Thailand. It'll be her last match for the U.S., and her 231st cap.— Ashley Scoby (@AshleyScoby) September 8, 2016
Hopefully Ellis will fully rotate her roster, giving every player an opportunity to see some time on the pitch. There are no records to pursue, no bullet points to follow for a predetermined narrative. These are two games that essentially signify the end of one cycle and the beginning of another, as focus turns towards 2019.
That could mean a game apiece for Naeher and Harris in goal. It could also be a chance for Ellis to see if players like Lindsey Horan can be moved around the field into their most-favored positions instead of being shoehorned in where Ellis thinks they're needed.
We'll also see how many minutes Megan Rapinoe and Kelley O'Hara get. Rapinoe is still not ready for a full 90, as her limited use as a late sub has shown for the Seattle Reign. O'Hara picked up a nasty ankle sprain from a tackle from behind when Sky Blue played the Chicago Red Stars and is only now looking like she might get time again. With another full week between now and the first friendly, O'Hara will probably have enough time to heal to at least get a half or 30 minutes.
Check out the full roster below:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS (7): Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), 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 (8): 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), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS (4): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)
United States vs. Thailand kicks off at 8 PM ET on Thursday, September 15 in Columbus, Ohio. It will air live on ESPN2.