As the U.S. Women’s National Team gets prepared to face Mexico in the first of two friendlies, it marks the first time in several months that the team will be testing itself against a regional rival. They will have to do it, though, without a lot of the team’s mainstays.
An injury crisis has his the reigning world champions, only getting worse as the year has progressed. The team is currently without six possible starters because of injury, and is also missing Christen Press, who is settling in with new club Goteborg FC. An opportunity to rotate and test other players is imminent, and it may be one of the final ones as the Concacaf Women’s Championship nears.
At this point, many players are fighting to be the first name called in case of emergency in certain positions, but with that comes a precious spot in the team’s World Cup qualifying team and eventual World Cup squad, should they qualify. Then again, if they perform well enough, a starting spot could be up for grabs.
Here is a closer look at how the team could line up tonight:
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher will likely get another match as Jill Ellis continues to stress the importance of the defensive unit building chemistry in the months leading up to the World Cup qualifying tournament. That also means that Abby Dahlkemper will likely keep her place, now that she has become a starter in the backline.
Co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn could return to the lineup after missing the first four matches of the year with a foot injury, potentially replacing Tierna Davidson after a stellar start to her national team career. The left and right back spots are without frequent starters Kelley O’Hara and Casey Short, respectively, leaving several candidates in position for the gigs. Emily Sonnett got the start at right back in the SheBelieves Cup finale against England, and U-23 outside back Tegan McGrady could get her first cap after replacing O’Hara on the roster.
In midfield, usual starters Julie Ertz and Samantha Mewis are unavailable, making anything a possibility. Ellis has experimented with just about everyone currently healthy in the mix to start. Ellis will try to find the best trio of available players, though that has not been easy. Morgan Brian could get another shot as she continues to reacclimatize to the national team, while Lindsey Horan has been one of the few mainstays this year. The third spot is a genuine toss-up, as it has seen a different starter almost every time over the last few months. Andi Sullivan has impressed in her short time with the national team, though, and may get the shot after an off day against France in the SheBelieves Cup.
The front line is usually the most consistent part of the lineup, with the trio of Mallory Pugh, Alex Morgan, and Megan Rapinoe starting when healthy. However, Morgan missed Orlando Pride’s match on Saturday with a concussion, and may not be fit to play against Mexico. With Press out, Ellis’s usual choices at forward are unavailable, and she may give Crystal Dunn a chance there if Morgan cannot play. Dunn has been seen as a back-up attacking option over the last few months, though most recently played left back against England.
Changes and experiments are probably the only sure thing about the lineup as the U.S. continues to use its depth to the fullest.