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Jill Ellis names 22-player roster for New Zealand friendlies

Lots of players back from injury, but Carli Lloyd out.

Soccer: Women's National Team Friendly-Russia vs USA Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Jill Ellis has named 22 players for the US women’s national team friendlies against New Zealand in September.

GOALKEEPERS (3): Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars;18/0), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 1/0), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 13/0)

DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 7/0), Tierna Davidson (Stanford; 0/0), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 51/9), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC; 99/2), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City; 129/0), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 13/0), Taylor Smith (NC Courage; 3/0)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars; 67/6), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 131/18), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 37/3), Rose Lavelle (Boston Breakers; 6/2), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC; 30/5), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 28/5), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 123/33)

FORWARDS (5): Crystal Dunn (Chelsea FC; 54/22), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 128/74), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars; 90/43), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 26/5), Lynn Williams (NC Courage; 10/2)

Ellis has made some changes from the previous roster, which she took to the Tournament of Nations this past summer.

Ashlyn Harris has returned from a hip injury, displacing Boston’s Abby Smith. Orlando’s Ali Krieger is out, replaced by newcomer Tierna Davidson. Margaret Purce and Carli Lloyd are both gone from the list of midfielders; Lloyd picked up an ankle injury with the Houston Dash. Returning are Rose Lavelle and Tobin Heath, both of whom have been dealing with long-term injuries. Heath in particular is a question mark as she hasn’t seen the field for Portland all season long as she rehabs a back injury. Lavelle picked up a hamstring injury in her last game for the United States against Norway in June and just got some limited time on the pitch with Boston in their last game. The staff will no doubt be managing both their minutes very carefully, as well as keeping an eye on Morgan Brian, who hasn’t been 100% for most of the NWSL season.

And among forwards, Sydney Leroux is out. With no young forwards being brought in to replace her, this might be a hint that Leroux’s evaluation period with the WNT is up and that Ellis is looking to the rest of her forward pool, especially as Chicago’s Sofia Huerta will continue to train with the team but will not be available for the roster as USSF waits on FIFA approval for her change of federation from Mexico to the United States. However, there are still four friendlies left for the WNT after meeting the Football Ferns, including a home-and-away series against Canada, which will probably be the series that hints heaviest at Ellis’ plans for the squad in 2018.

Of note, Kelley O’Hara is on 99 caps and will likely receive her 100th in one of these friendlies.

USA vs New Zealand schedule:
September 15, Commerce City, Colorado, 10:00 PM ET, ESPN2
September 19, Cincinnati, Ohio, 7:30 PM ET, FS1