In the aftermath of a poor showing in the Algarve Cup, U.S. women's national team coach Tom Sermanni will be watching closely as the Americans battle China twice in five days.
John D. Halloran
March 25, 2014
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United States women's national team head coach Tom Sermanni named a 24-player roster for the team's upcoming friendlies against China (April 6 in Commerce City, Colo.; April 10 in San Diego). Coming off a disastrous performance in the 2014 Algarve Cup, in which the team went 0-2-1 in group play and gave up five goals in a defeat to Denmark, the team will be looking to reassert itself.
Here's the full roster:
: Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
: Stephanie Cox (Seattle Reign FC), Whitney Engen (Tyresö), Meghan Klingenberg (Tyresö), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kristie Mewis (Boston Breakers), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Rachel Van Hollebeke (Portland Thorns FC)
: Morgan Brian (Virginia), Tobin Heath (Paris Saint-Germain), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Carli Lloyd (WNY Flash), Samantha Mewis (UCLA), Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
: Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC), Christen Press (Tyresö), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Katie Stengel (LA Blues), Abby Wambach (WNY Flash)
And here's a quick look at the roster's ins and outs.
It's commonly said that results in friendlies don't matter, but considering how the U.S. played in Portugal, Sermanni and many of the women on the team will certainly be motivated to bring home two wins against China. In net, the U.S. will have Hope Solo and she will be protected by U.S. regulars Whitney Engen, Ali Krieger, Kelley O'Hara, Rachel Van Hollebeke, Christie Rampone, and Becky Sauerbrunn.
In the midfield, Sermanni will have veterans Tobin Heath, Lauren Holiday, Carli Lloyd, Heather O'Reilly, and Megan Rapinoe. Heath should be more fully recovered from her foot injury (she did play a limited role in Portugal) and Holiday returns after missing the Algarve Cup due to a family commitment.
At forward, the team will have regulars Sydney Leroux, Christen Press, and Abby Wambach.
On the Trainer's Table
Alex Morgan and Crystal Dunn were not part of the squad Sermanni named for the games against China. Both were ruled out due to injury—Morgan with a stress reaction and Dunn with an ankle injury.
The Fringe Players
Outside of the 17 "regulars" for the U.S. women, a number of Americans were called in that will be fighting for roster spots as World Cup qualification approaches. In goal, Jill Loyden and Alyssa Naeher were called in again—both were a part of the Algarve Cup roster. Stephanie Cox, Meghan Klingenberg, and Kristie Mewis seem to be engaged in a battle for the last roster spot at outside back (Mewis can also play in the midfield) and all three will get an opportunity in this camp to make a stronger impression on Sermanni.
Morgan Brian has been getting a number of opportunities as of late—including several opportunities in the starting lineup—and may be close to sealing a spot as the U.S.'s third center-mid. Samantha Mewis, Kristie's sister, also received a call after being part of the team in Portugal.
Finally, at forward, Sermanni has elected to give Amy Rodriguez another opportunity to prove she should be part of the World Cup qualification pool.
Where Are They?
Several prominent players were not included on the roster, including Amber Brooks, Yael Averbuch, Sarah Hagen, Nicole Barnhart, Ashlyn Harris, and Erika Tymrak.
Brooks and Averbuch seem to have lost out to Brian for a spot in the U.S. midfield as both have now been excluded from three straight U.S. rosters, while Brian continues to see increased playing time. Making it worse for Brooks and Averbuch is the fact that Kristie Mewis can also be used as a center midfielder and that her sister Samantha (also a center midfielder) has now received her second straight call-up. It seems that Brooks and Averbuch have some work to do to get back into the picture for the national team.
Hagen played well in limited minutes in the Algarve Cup and recently announced that she'll be returning to NWSL, but she was still left out of the mix this time around.
Harris is still recovering from injury, but Barnhart played over the weekend for FC Kansas City. Tymrak also started this weekend for FCKC and does not appear to have been left out due to injury.
The Lone Newbie
Sermanni continued his tradition of giving new players a shot with the national team by calling up Katie Stengel this time around. Stengel missed most of her senior season with Wake Forest due to blood clots, but recently represented the U.S. at the youth level in Spain with the U-23's. She is the 47th player called-up in the Sermanni era.
John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.