We asked ASN contributor John D. Halloran to give us insights into U.S. women's soccer team coach Tom Sermanni's roster for the the upcoming Algarve Cup in Portugal. Here is his take.
John D. Halloran
ON MONDAY, UNITED STATES
February 28, 2014
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women's national team head coach Tom Sermanni named a 24-player roster for next month's Algarve Cup in Portugal. Along with the many familiar names you would expect to be a part of the U.S. squad, Sermanni, as usual, had a few surprises up his sleeve.
The U.S. has won the Algarve Cup nine times and this year's tournament will be especially significant as it is the only official tournament the U.S. will compete in prior to World Cup qualifying in October. In this year's tournament, the U.S. will be tested by a number of top-tier opponents, including third-ranked Japan, sixth-ranked Sweden, and 13th-ranked Denmark. The U.S. could also see second-ranked Germany in the final round.
Here's a breakdown of the roster.
To no one's surprise, Sermanni named the players that everyone expects to form the core of the team over the next year. This group includes Hope Solo, Whitney Engen, Christie Rampone, Rachel Van Hollebeke, Becky Sauerbrunn, Ali Krieger, Kelley O'Hara, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Heather O'Reilly, Sydney Leroux, Abby Wambach, and Christen Press.
On the Trainer's Table
A number of players in contention for spots on the U.S. World Cup roster won't be part of the squad in Portugal due to injury or illness. Those players include goalkeepers Ashlyn Harris and Nicole Barnhart, defenders Amy LePeilbet and Crystal Dunn and, finally, forward Alex Morgan.
Among the fringe players vying for a World Cup roster spot, several may be able to use the Algarve Cup to advance their hopes. At goalkeeper, Alyssa Naeher is back in camp after being called in several times over the past few months. Jill Loyden, who is in a battle for one of the backup goalkeeper spots behind Solo, will also be headed across the Atlantic with the team.
Along the backline, Meghan Klingenberg was recalled after missing the most recent friendlies against Canada and Russia. Joining her on the Algarve Cup squad are Stephanie Cox and Kristie Mewis, both of whom were part of the U.S.'s last camp. Cox and Mewis appear to be locked in a battle for the last defensive roster spot along with Klingenberg.
In the midfield, Sam Mewis received another call-up after her first senior national team camp last month. Morgan Brian, who was impressive for the U.S. against Canada and Russia, is also with the team again and appears to be close to locking down one of the center midfield spots for the U.S. And Tobin Heath returns to the team after a long absence due a foot injury.
Up top, Amy Rodriguez is back with the squad again. So is Sarah Hagen, who made the team's January camp roster, but not the squad that faced Canada and Russia earlier this month.
Where Are They?
As has become his norm, Sermanni threw a few curveballs with his latest roster. Once again, Amber Brooks and Yael Averbuch were excluded from the roster. Both Averbuch and Brooks are returning to the NWSL this season in hopes of making the U.S. team, but neither has made the last two national team rosters.
After making the squad for the Canada and Russia friendlies, but not playing a single minute, Julie Johnston didn't receive a call-up this time around. Erika Tymrak isn't on the team, but that really wasn't much of a surprise as she called up to the U-23 squad last week for the Six Nations Tournament in Spain.
Finally, Lauren Holiday didn't receive a call-up. According to U.S. Soccer, this was due to a "family commitment."
In just over a year in charge, Sermanni has called up 45 different players to camps with the U.S. women. His tendency to give new players a shot continued with this roster as U.S. U-20 player Sarah Killion was called up for the Algarve Cup, marking his 46th call-up since taking over the reins as U.S. coach.
What do you think—is this a team that can take the Algarve Cup? Share your thoughts below.
John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.