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Jill Ellis names 23-player SheBelieves roster

No three back to confuse and frustrate the team this time!

Russia v United States Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Jill Ellis has named the 23 players she will take to the SheBelieves Cup to face Germany, England and France.

GOALKEEPERS (3): 18-Jane Campbell** (Houston Dash; 2/0), 24-Ashlyn Harris*** (Orlando Pride; 14/0), 1-Alyssa Naeher*** (Chicago Red Stars; 24/0)

DEFENDERS (7): 7-Abby Dahlkemper* (NC Courage; 14/0), 17-Tierna Davidson* (Stanford; 1/0), 14-Sofia Huerta* (Chicago Red Stars; 3/0), 5-Kelley O’Hara*** (Utah Royals FC; 105/2), 2-Casey Short** (Chicago Red Stars; 19/0), 22-Taylor Smith* (Washington Spirit; 8/0), 16-Emily Sonnett*** (Portland Thorns FC; 13/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): 6-Morgan Brian*** (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 69/6), 8-Julie Ertz*** (Chicago Red Stars; 58/15), 9-Lindsey Horan*** (Portland Thorns FC; 44/4), 10-Carli Lloyd*** (Sky Blue FC; 247/98), 20-Allie Long** (Seattle Reign FC; 33/6), 3-Andi Sullivan* (Washington Spirit; 8/0)

FORWARDS (7): 19-Crystal Dunn*** (NC Courage; 58/23), 21-Savannah McCaskill* (Sky Blue FC; 1/0), 13-Alex Morgan*** (Orlando Pride; 135/81), 23-Christen Press*** (Houston Dash; 97/44), 11-Mallory Pugh*** (Washington Spirit; 30/8), 15-Megan Rapinoe* (Seattle Reign FC; 130/34), 12-Lynn Williams** (NC Courage; 16/4)

Ellis initially brought 26 players into USWNT camp earlier this month. The three who were cut from the final SheBelieves roster were Hailie Mace (UCLA), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), and Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit).

Mace getting the cut is no surprise; she was in camp as a young college player getting evaluated. Lavelle’s exclusion means she’s still not ready for field time while she rehabs her hamstring. Hatch missing the cut may raise some eyebrows, but considering the depth of the forward pool right now, there’s a decent argument for everyone who made the cut over Hatch. Possibly Lynn Williams might be the one you could say should get swapped out for Hatch, but had Williams been left out, you could have easily made the same argument in the other direction.

The most interesting positions to watch here are at defense and midfield; Becky Sauerbrunn is out with a foot injury, so we’ll get to see how Abby Dahlkemper steps up as a central figure without her. In the midfield, looking at that roster, none of the players actually listed as midfielders is a wide player, meaning Ellis will be relying on her forwards and fullbacks to provide any width in the formation. Will we see the team going forward in something like a 2-3-5 but pulling back in a 4-3-3 and hoping Taylor Smith and Kelley O’Hara’s indefatigable engines keep chugging at max capacity? Let’s find out together!

In the 2017 SheBelieves Cup, the USWNT notoriously came last in their own tournament, managing one goal in three games (Lynn Williams scored against Germany) and losing to England for the first time since 2011. Then again, Jill Ellis was still mixing and matching in her three-back system at that time and after seemingly getting the answers she needs and is now playing more to her personnel’s strengths.

SheBelieves 2018 will kick off at 7 PM ET on Thursday, March 1 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus against Germany. The game will air live on ESPN2.