Jill Ellis has named 23 players to her roster for the US women’s national team’s upcoming home-and-away series against Canada.
DEFENDERS (8): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage), Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Taylor Smith (NC Courage), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC), Chioma Ubogagu (Orlando Pride)
New additions to the roster from the previous list of 22 used against South Korea are Adrianna Franch, Emily Sonnett, and Chioma Ubogagu. Out from the older roster are Crystal Dunn, who was not released by Chelsea for these games while they compete in Champions League round of 16, and Mallory Pugh, who sustained a hamstring injury against Korea. Morgan Brian and Rose Lavelle remain unavailable for selection due to injury.
This is Ubogagu’s first callup to the national team, while Sonnett is returning to the fold after not playing for the US since October 2016. She’ll be hauling herself all the way back from Sydney, Australia, where she is currently beginning the W-League season. Interestingly, Ubogagu is listed as a defender, joining Sofia Huerta as another forward being tried out as a fullback. US Soccer’s press release confirms that Ubogagu will train as a fullback in camp.
Taylor Smith returns after having to be dropped from the last roster due to a shoulder injury suffered courtesy Tobin Heath during the NWSL championship game between North Carolina and Portland. Heath was dropped from the Korea roster due to injury as well, but has also recovered from her ankle knock.
Of all the WNT’s year-end friendlies, Canada should provide the sternest test. That’s not to say they’ll challenge the United States the same way France or Australia would; Canada hasn’t played a game together since a pair of friendlies in June against Costa Rica, while the United States has obviously had much more time together over four friendlies in September and October, as well as this summer’s Tournament of Nations. We also have yet to see what kind of roster Canada is putting forward; John Herdman has shown a willingness to give young players lots of time regardless of opponent, and so they may not be aiming for a result so much as continued testing of U20 and U17 players Herdman feels could jump to the senior team.
All in all, these should be games where Ellis’ plans take a more coherent shape or else she risks losing to an old rival capable of bringing a heavily physical game against the US for a solid 75 minutes. If the US ends up outlasting Canada into the last 15 as a method of winning, that’s a short-term victory with no long-term useful lesson.
Schedule and TV
Game 1, BC Place, Vancouver
November 9, 10 PM ET, ESPN2, Univision, UDN
Game 2, Avaya Stadium, San Jose
November 12, 9 PM ET, FS1