Photo by John Reiger/USA Today Sports
By DAN KARELL
U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis is taking a nearly full-strength squad on a two-week trip to Europe next month.
Ellis announced a 24-player squad featuring the likes of Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux, and Alex Morgan, but also including a few surprises as well. Ellis recalled 37-year-old midfielder Shannon Boxx to the squad for the first time since the 2013 Algarve Cup.
After Washington Spirit midfielder Tori Huster’s first USWNT call-up for the team’s January training camp, she will join the team in Europe and could earn her first cap. Allie Long, Samantha Mewis and Kristie Mewis, all midfield options, did not make the cut.
The USWNT faces France in Lorient on Feb. 8 and England in Milton Keynes on Feb. 13.
“These games are exactly what we need,” Ellis said in a statement. “Our goal leading up to the World Cup is to play some of the best teams. These are two opponents that will test us and certainly two teams we could meet in Canada. Both teams are exceptionally well-organized, have a high level of athleticism and will pose some excellent challenges.”
Megan Rapinoe is out with a knee injury and Christine Rampone is rehabbing a back injury. Goalkeeper Hope Solo remains suspended by U.S. Soccer and has not been included in the squad either.
Here’s a closer look at the USWNT squad for the European friendly matches:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Nicole Barnhart (FC Kansas City), Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers)
DEFENDERS (9): 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), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Rachel Van Hollebeke (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Tori Huster (Washington Spirit), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): 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)
What do you think of this squad? Do you see the USWNT defeating England and France? Do you see Huster earning her first cap?
Share your thoughts below.