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Ellis calls up 16-year-old Sophia Smith for Russia camp

With vets out, it’s a time for a couple of young kids to experience senior NT life.

Japan v United States Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

News dropped yesterday that Tobin Heath had been ruled out of the United States’ upcoming pair of friendlies against Russia. Heath has a minor back injury and joins teammates Morgan Brian and Lindsey Horan in being held out so she can heal.

Now Jill Ellis has called up 16-year-old forward Sophia Smith from the U23s to replace Heath on the roster, bringing the total number of players in camp to 23.

Smith joins fellow teen U23 player Jaelin Howell in getting a call into camp. She and Howell were both with the U23 WNT in Portland to participate in the Thorns’ preseason tourney, which also included the Chicago Red Stars and the Houston Dash. The U23s were able to flip a result on the Thorns and beat them 2-1 on March 29 despite some not great defending in the first half. Smith scored the late game winner for the U23s. Smith will skip the U23s’ last game against the Chicago Red Stars on April 1 to go directly to WNT camp today.

How likely is it that either Howell or Smith will actually dress for the final roster of 18? It’s probably a lot less likely for Smith, unless Ellis feels like trying her in the midfield. That forward group is far too deep and players like Amy Rodriguez are probably higher up on the list of people to test at the moment. But it’s still good to have youth players in camp getting a taste of the speed and expectations of the senior WNT.

The United States will first face Russia on Thursday, April 6 at 8:30 PM ET. The game will air live on FS1.

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 (6): Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado), Rose Lavelle (Boston Breakers), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash/Manchester City), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)

FORWARDS (8): Crystal Dunn (Chelsea Ladies 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), Sophia Smith (Real Colorado), Lynn Williams (NC Courage)