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Jill Ellis names 21-player roster for Europe friendlies

Some new-ish faces...and some familiar old ones.

Soccer: Post WWC Tour-Brazil at USA Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

United States women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis has named her 21-player roster for their upcoming friendlies against Sweden and Norway.

GOALKEEPERS (2): Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Abby Smith (Boston Breakers)

DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Jaelene Hinkle (NC Courage), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), 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 FC)

FORWARDS (5): Crystal Dunn (Chelsea FC), Sydney Leroux (FC Kansas City), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/Olympique Lyonnais), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit)

Jaelene Hinkle returns to the defense, while Abby Dahlkemper gets another runout after getting capped last October against Switzerland. Goalkeeper Abby Smith gets her first callup for international duty; previously she was only in WNT camp for a few days in 2014. Morgan Brian also returns after sitting out the Russia friendlies with an injury.

Also returning is forward Sydney Leroux, who took a break to give birth to her first child. Players who have been on maternity leave are entitled to a callup afterwards for evaluation; Leroux will need to put on a show for Ellis in a fairly deep forward pool.

Out from the last roster when the WNT played Russia are Jane Campbell and Ashlyn Harris. Campbell has only played one NWSL game this season for the Houston Dash and still looks like she’s adjusting to the college/pro transition. Harris has a quadriceps injury that will take approximately eight weeks of recovery. Tobin Heath continues to recover from a nagging back injury that has sidelined her through the NWSL season so far. Also out: Megan Oyster, Ali Krieger, Lynn Williams, and Kealia Ohai.

Krieger has seen her field time waning and Ohai and Oyster are both still on the fringes of the team, though perhaps Oyster fills a more crucial need adding CB depth as opposed to Ohai as a forward who can play left or right. Lynn Williams’ absence is slightly puzzling, though, considering she’s in decent form in NWSL at the moment.

The answer is perhaps found in USSF’s press release; calling it “a short trip and only a few training sessions,” coaching staff’s ability to evaluate everyone thoroughly appears to be limited. So no Williams, and no third GK in what should probably be a spot for Haley Kopmeyer. Perhaps she’ll get her chance in the upcoming Tournament of Nations.

NWSL players are expected to play for their clubs the weekend of June 3rd before flying to Sweden. The USWNT plays Sweden on Thursday, June 8 at 1:30 PM ET. The game will air live on ESPN2 and UDN. That’s followed by a quick hop to Norway, where they’ll play on Sunday, June 11 at 1 PM ET, with the game airing on Fox.