Jill Ellis has named 25 players to her initial 2018 Tournament of Nations roster. The roster will later be cut down to 23 players.
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 19/0), Tierna Davidson (Stanford; 8/0), Jaelene Hinkle (NC Courage; 8/0), Merritt Mathias (NC Courage; 1/0), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 139/0), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 21/0), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 17/0)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars; 75/6), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 61/15), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 51/5), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 8/2), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 254/100), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 36/7), Allie Long (Seattle Reign FC; 39/6), McCall Zerboni (NC Courage; 2/0)
FORWARDS (7): Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 64/23), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 133/19), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 142/86), Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash; 3/1), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 100/44), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 137/37), Amy Rodriguez (Utah Royals FC; 131/30)
Changes from the last roster, when the women’s national team played China, include the return of Adrianna Franch, Jaelene Hinkle, Emily Sonnett, Casey Short, and Kealia Ohai. Not returning from the last roster are Casey Murphy, Abby Smith, Sofia Huerta, Margaret Purce, and Savannah McCaskill.
Purce picked up an injury in her last game for the Thorns and will be out for several weeks at least, while Smith also picked up a knock in her last game with Utah, on top of making some consistent mistakes. McCaskill hasn’t been getting regular 90’s with Sky Blue, which may indicate a nagging injury or some kind of fitness issue. As for Huerta, it’s been hard for her to find a spot on this team since Ellis doesn’t see a place for her at midfield but won’t give her time as a fullback.
The new additions to the roster have all been with the national team before to various degrees. Franch is probably the nicest surprise out of them, given the long road she’s had to take to get back into the national team pool. On the flip side, there will be some controversy over the decision to recall Hinkle, who declined a roster spot a year ago because she did not want to wear a rainbow number on her uniform for LGBT Pride Month. Hinkle of course will be stepping into a locker room with an openly gay teammate and an openly gay coach.
Defensively, there may be some questions at center back with Becky Sauerbrunn recently sitting for Utah due to injury. Dahlkemper and Davidosn have kind of already answered a lot of those questions already, but there’s Sonnett to consider, and the fact that this will be a really nice, tough test that simulates a group stage.
Ohai is another returning player who has been getting results in NWSL and will get another shot at breaking into the WNT at forward. Depending on formation, she could have a lot of competition between Crystal Dunn and Christen Press, and perhaps Amy Rodriguez as well.
The midfield for this tourno will probably be very interesting to watch, in a fun and exciting way. Lloyd seems to be transitioning to coming off the bench, while Brian and Lavelle are almost certainly wanting to show they’re healthy and able to perform at this level for at least a half. And obviously Zerboni is one who has forced her way into the conversation through the quality of her club play and could be earning herself a spot for 2019 despite the fact that she would be 32 during the World Cup.
USA vs Japan
July 26, 7 PM ET
Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City
USA vs Australia
July 29, 7 PM ET
Rentschler Field, East Hartford
USA vs Brazil
August 2, 8:30 PM ET
Toyota Park, Bridgeview
This article has been updated to reflect that the initial 25-player call up will be cut down to a final 23-player roster.