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NWSL releases USWNT allocation list

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Who’s in, who’s out.

NWSL and USWNT

NWSL has released this year’s list of US women’s national team players allocated to the league. If you’re new here, USSF and Canada Soccer help NWSL keep its salary costs under control by paying the salaries of certain national team players in the league. This has the added benefit of incentivizing top Americans (and Canadians) to stay in NWSL and help the league grow in popularity and stability and gives the federations a regular and accessible platform for their key players to get regular playing time against hard competition. It also points to who is currently considered essential in the WNT player pool and who the federation feels comfortable having on the fringes. For reference, here’s the 2017 allocation list of 22 players. And here is the full allocation list for 2018, including Canadian players, with * denominating a new federation player this year:

Chicago Red Stars
Julie Ertz (USA)
Alyssa Naeher (USA)
Casey Short (USA)

Houston Dash
Jane Campbell (USA)*
Christen Press (USA)
Nichelle Prince (CAN)

North Carolina Courage
Allysha Chapman (CAN)
Sabrina D’Angelo (CAN)
Abby Dahlkemper (USA)*
Crystal Dunn (USA)*
Samantha Mewis (USA)
Lynn Williams (USA)

Orlando Pride
Ashlyn Harris (USA)
Alex Morgan (USA)
Shelina Zadorksy (CAN)

Portland Thorns FC
Tobin Heath (USA)
Lindsey Horan (USA)
Christine Sinclair (CAN)
Emily Sonnett (USA)

Seattle Reign FC
Allie Long (USA)
Megan Rapinoe (USA)

Sky Blue FC
Janine Beckie (CAN)
Adriana Leon (CAN)*
Carli Lloyd (USA)
Kailen Sheridan (CAN)

Utah Royals FC
Diana Matheson (CAN)
Kelley O’Hara (USA)
Amy Rodriguez (USA)
Becky Sauerbrunn (USA)
Desiree Scott (CAN)

Washington Spirit
Rose Lavelle (USA)
Mallory Pugh (USA)
Rebecca Quinn (CAN)*
Taylor Smith (USA)*

Overall, 23 Americans were allocated this year. 2017 players who are no longer allocated are: Morgan Brian, Sydney Leroux, Ali Krieger, and Meghan Klingenberg.

Brian is the odd duck out here since she certainly remains in Jill Ellis’ general plans for a midfield, but she opted to sign a 2.5 year contract with Olympique Lyonnais. The Chicago Red Stars retain Brian’s rights in the event she ever returns to NWSL, but for now she’s making that good French money.

As for Leroux, Krieger, and Klingenberg, the writing was on the wall as their national team time diminished over the past year or so. Klingenberg’s is a little bit puzzling; for all that she has some deficiencies as a defender, it’s not like the WNT is bursting at the seams with fullbacks (ongoing attempts to convert Sofia Huerta don’t count yet [being able to switch Kelley O’Hara right and left doesn’t count as two either]), and at the very least Klingenberg had a decent engine and provided depth in a pinch. But it looks like she’s been pushed to the edges of the WNT as Ellis tries to refresh the position.

The new US players are Jane Campbell, Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, and Taylor Smith, although Dunn was previously allocated when she played for the Washington Spirit and is now returning to the league after her time overseas with Chelsea. Mallory Pugh wasn’t initially on the 2017 allocation list, but after joining the league late, became a federation player and so isn’t counted as new for 2018. It’s no surprise the other three are now allocated; Ellis has made it clear she has plans for all of them, and Dahlkemper and Smith are already being integrated into the back line as potential 2019 starters.

So there aren’t really too many surprises here, except perhaps Andi Sullivan not making it, considering she seemed like part of Ellis’ plans for the midfield this year. And it’s always a bit of a bummer to see longtime WNT players getting pushed out of roster. But such is the nature of the NT grind; it’s a grueling necessity to constantly be looking for new talent. Now whether that new talent is actually the best available and is being integrated in the most optimal way is an entirely different article.