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USWNT roster released for friendlies vs Russia

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Pinoe’s back, plus some new faces.

Soccer: International Friendly Women's Soccer-Japan at USA Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The United States will play two friendlies against Russia on April 6 and April 9 in Texas. Jill Ellis has named 24 players to her training camp ahead of these games, with 18 to make the final cut for each game.

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

DEFENDERS (6): Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), Megan Oyster (Boston Breakers), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Boston Breakers), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash/Manchester City), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign)

FORWARDS (7): Crystal Dunn (Chelsea FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/Olympique Lyonnais, FRA), Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (UCLA), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Lynn Williams (NC Courage)

The last USWNT roster was, of course, for the ill-fated SheBelieves tournament. Ellis pulled from a pool of 25 for SheBelives; the players not returning from that previous pool are Julie Johnston, Emily Sonnett, Sarah Killion, and Brianna Pinto. Johnston was unavailable for this game due to her wedding and honeymoon and will wear her married name, Ertz, on her jersey when she returns.

Returning to the roster are Kealia Ohai and Megan Rapinoe, while Megan Oyster has earned her first callup to the full NT. Rapinoe will need to show that she is at least returning to complete match fitness, if not already there. This would also be a fantastic time to introduce yet another contender in the defense in the form of Oyster to learn from Becky Sauerbrunn, who is likely fine through at least 2019, but needs some solid backups who will be ready to go in a couple of years. Considering every other defender listed is an outside fullback, this could mean Oyster will get her time, depending on formation. Ellis might still be hellbent on working out the kinks in her three-back, although it’s a bit puzzling to think what she could learn against Russia that she didn’t against France. Then again, why not continue to work out the kinks and see who shows potential in that 3-4-1-2.

These are also critical games for Ohai, Rodriguez, and to a lesser extent, Lavelle. Lavelle had a stunning debut during SheBelieves, but needs to show consistency, although Russia will certainly not be the same test as England or France. Ohai is slightly shaky ground and could use these games to continue to solidify a place in the United States’ deep attacking pool. The same goes for Rodriguez, a player who can stun when on form, but at 30 years old, is perhaps on the edge of having to make way for the development of younger players. That’s not to say Rodriguez couldn’t still be amazing through 2019/2020, but surely Ellis is balancing out her ability to play against developing younger forwards who will be able to perform through 2023, as well as already having players like Press and Williams in the pool.

The United States last played Russia in February 2014, defeating them 7-0 and 8-0.

The first friendly kicks off on April 6 at 8:30 PM ET at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas and will air on FS1.