Jill Ellis has named the 23 players who will represent the United States at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Per USSF’s press release, this roster is technically not “official” until it is submitted to FIFA on May 24, the deadline for final squads. This is also the roster for the last of the USWNT’s home friendlies before leaving for France, with games against South Africa, New Zealand, and Mexico.
Many of these names have been as close to 100% locks as possible for a while; it’s clear the preferred starting forward line will be Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, and Tobin Heath, with Christen Press as a power sub. Additionally, Lindsey Horan has become indispensable in midfield, Crystal Dunn is one of the top five Americans to watch in this tournament, and Becky Sauerbrunn is Captain America regardless of who wears the armband. But let’s see who actually did make the roster.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch* (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris** (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher** (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper* (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson* (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn* (NC Courage), Ali Krieger*** (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara*** (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn*** (Utah Royals FC), Emily Sonnett* (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian** (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz** (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan* (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle* (Washington Spirit), Allie Long* (Reign FC), Samantha Mewis* (NC Courage)
FORWARDS (7): Tobin Heath*** (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd**** (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald* (NC Courage), Alex Morgan*** (Orlando Pride), Christen Press** (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh* (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe*** (Reign FC)
* First Women’s World Cup
** Second Women’s World Cup
*** Third Women’s World Cup
**** Fourth Women’s World Cup
First of all, congratulations to Jess McDonald for making this roster. Talk about someone who played their way in - from someone who, a few years ago you wouldn’t even say she was on the radar, or at best a faint blip, to someone who will likely see some minutes at least as a sub in a World Cup, that’s an incredible accomplishment. McDonald has jumped around from team to team in NWSL, constantly looking like a journeyman forward, and to now be a league champion and World Cup player, that has to feel incredibly professionally validating.
Among the surprise names are Ali Krieger and Morgan Brian. Krieger had, until recently, looked to be finished at the international level, but Ellis called her back for April USWNT friendlies. Krieger will likely be a sub for Kelley O’Hara at right fullback and will bring some veteran experience, but this is a tough blow for Casey Short, who has been looking solid at right back and certainly has USWNT experience in the position before injury forced her into a prolongued rehab.
Brian is a surprise for a variety of factors, namely that she hasn’t been called up for recent USWNT games, including SheBelieves, and has been struggling to return and stay at full health for years - and in fact still isn’t fully a 90-minute player, given her recent time on the field for the Chicago Red Stars. But it looks like the lack of WNT callups might have been Ellis giving Brian some time to truly rest before calling her back in for good and hoping for a repeat of Brian’s 2015 World Cup performance.
It’s disappointing, meanwhile, not to see McCall Zerboni make this squad. Zerboni has repeatedly proved her bona fides with the Courage and would make a fine deep midfield option for the United States and would add depth after Julie Ertz. She’s proven more reliable than Allie Long at the club level but is perhaps a casualty of personal preference rather than field evaluation; Long has been with the squad longer and Ellis might be more comfortable with her as part of the team’s interpersonal dynamics.
As an end note, it is completely wild that Carli Lloyd will be attending her fourth World Cup. There are also six players on this roster at their third WWC. That could help make a difference when it comes down to a matter of who can just stay cool for the last 3 minutes and who can’t.