Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
Tom Sermanni’s latest U.S. Women’s National Team roster marks the return of two players who haven’t played for the Stars and Stripes in nearly a year.
The USWNT head coach selected a squad of 24 players to take on Canada next Friday and Russia in two friendlies in February, and the roster includes forward Amy Rodriguez and left back Kelley O’Hara. Rodriguez is back in playing shape after taking the 2013 season off to have a child, while O’Hara has successfully recovered from a serious ankle injury suffered last June. Rodriguez last played for the USWNT in December 2012 against China while O’Hara last played in April 2013 at the Netherlands.
“The players and staff are looking forward to playing matches,” Sermanni said in a statement. “We had productive training camps in December and January, but having three games in less than two weeks is a great opportunity for these players to continue to show their growth as individuals and as a team. This is the start of a year in which competition for places becomes much more critical, as does team performance and results.”
Both Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath are missing from the squad due to injuries. The roster release states that Morgan will join the U.S. team for part of the duration of the friendlies but only for rehabilitation purpose, while Heath is rehabbing her foot injury with her club team Paris Saint-Germain.
The rest of the USWNT squad, lead by veterans Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone, also include college players Morgan Brian and Samantha Mewis, as well as recent first overall draft pick in the 2014 National Women’s Soccer League Draft Crystal Dunn. Mewis is the sister of USWNT regular Kristie Mewis and it will be the younger one’s first senior cap.
All nine NWSL clubs are represented on this roster, with five players coming from FC Kansas City.
The USWNT kick off 2014 with a match against Canada next Friday in Frisco, Texas at Toyota Stadium. After that, the U.S. will face Russia in two friendlies, first in Boca Raton, Fla. on Feb. 8 and then again on Feb. 12 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.
Here’s the USWNT roster for the upcoming friendlies against Canada and Russia:
USWNT ROSTER FOR CANADA, RUSSIA FRIENDLIES
GOALKEEPERS (3): Nicole Barnhart (FC Kansas City), Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (9): Stephanie Cox (Seattle Reign FC), Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Whitney Engen (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)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Morgan Brian (Virginia), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Carli Lloyd (WNY Flash), Samantha Mewis (UCLA), Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC), Erika Tymrak (FC Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC), Christen Press (Tyresö), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Abby Wambach (WNY Flash)
What do you think of this roster? Glad to see O’Hara and Rodriguez back? Which players are you looking forward to seeing play the most? Who is going to step into the lineup to replace Morgan and Heath?
Share your thoughts below.