The United States has their team for the Algarve Cup. The tournament in Portugal will serve as preparation for the team in advance of this summer's World Cup and with Hope Solo back from suspension, as well as Christie Rampone and Megan Rapinoe's return to fitness, manager Jill Ellis has a first choice 25-player roster.
Neither Solo, Rampone nor Rapinoe played in the Americans' friendlies against France and England earlier this month. Solo was handed a 30-day suspension on January 21 after an incident with her husband, Jerramy Stevens, while Rampone and Rapinoe were injured. But Solo has been reinstated by the team and Rampone and Rapinoe are healthy again, clearing the way for their inclusions.
Joining the trio are all of the familiar faces. Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux, Christen Press and Amy Rodriguez make up the forward corps, while Cali Lloyd, Lauren Holiday and Morgan Brian lead the way in the midfield and all of the normal defenders are in the squad. There aren't any surprises, as Ellis continues to use the same players and, presumably, the same approach that she has been pushing since taking over the team last year.
The U.S. lost to France in their friendly on February 8, having been thoroughly outplayed by the French. They bounced back with a win five days later against England, but they didn't play splendidly in that match either. There are serious questions about the team and Ellis' approach. With the World Cup less than four months away, the Americans are running out of time to put things together and mount a serious challenge to win the tournament.
Those problems make the Algarve Cup especially important for the U.S. They will play Norway on March 5, then Switzerland and Iceland before a placement game. That gives them pretty competitive matches in a tournament that is of relative importance, even if their opponents aren't incredible. They need to not just win, but put together good play and good performances to continue making progress and get on track for the World Cup.
All of the Algarve Cup matches will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
Goalkeepers: Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
Defenders: Lori Chalupny (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Whitney Engen (Western NY Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Houston Dash), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Rachel Van Hollebeke (Portland Thorns FC)
Midfielders: Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Heather O'Reilly (FC Kansas City), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
Forwards: Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Abby Wambach (Western NY Flash)