Both Lindsey Horan and Morgan Brian have been ruled out of the United States’ upcoming April friendlies against Russia due to injury.
Horan has a hip flexor strain and Brian has a minor knee injury. Brian’s injury was sustained during the SheBelieves tournament earlier this month.
Brian has not been replaced on the roster, but Jill Ellis has called up 17-year-old midfielder Jaelin Howell to replace Horan. Howell was with the U23 team in Portland for an NWSL preseason tourney, which included the Thorns, the Houston Dash, and the Chicago Red Stars. Howell will miss the U23 game against the Red Stars to join the senior WNT.
Ellis calling in Howell and not an NWSL player may be her nod to teams that are currently in preseason, which keeps the likes of Sarah Killion and Dani Colaprico with their clubs. Then again, if USSF were concerned about disrupting preseason, they wouldn’t be using this April window for random friendlies against Russia.
Perhaps it’s as simple as Ellis wanting to call in young players here and there to get them dipping their toes into the senior team system. There’s also the USSF policy regarding “floater” players, which are players who aren’t under contract with the federation. According to the CBA (which currently rules fed/player interactions while the new CBA is being negotiated), these players can’t be called in more than four times or 42 days in a calendar year before they’re made salaried players. Killion has already been in two camps this calendar year and perhaps Ellis has an eye on bringing her for the WNT’s summer friendlies.
Regardless, it’s fairly unlikely Howell will actually see much if any time, even against Russia. Ellis will no doubt continue to tinker with her three back formation, trying to adjust to the mistakes that had the WNT coming in last at SheBelieves after a humbling 3-0 defeat against France.
USA will play Russia on April 6 and April 9 in Frisco and Houston respectively. Game one will be on FS1 and game two will be on ESPN.