The main goal of the US women’s national team in 2021 is to regain Olympic gold, and the first order of business to achieve this is to shrink an expanded talent pool to 18 players.
That process will continue in Orlando, Florida, starting Saturday after coach Vlatko Andonovski revealed his 27-man squad for January camp and two closing camp friendlies against Colombia on Wednesday.
Two of the biggest questions regarding the Olympic squad are the statuses of Megan Rapine and Carli Lloyd, the aging veterans and World Cup heroes who have not been active recently and have not played for the United States since the Cup. SheBelieves from last March. Rapine, 35, opted out of the NWSL Challenge Cup and Fall Series, while Lloyd, 38, was out with injury. Both also missed the US WNT camps in October and November and the November friendly against the Netherlands, although they have maintained that they want to be in contention for the Olympic team. Now is their chance, after they were included in Wednesday’s team announcement.
In addition to Rapine and Lloyd, Mal Pugh will also make his return to the US setup for the first time since the SheBelieves Cup. She was recently traded to the Chicago Red Stars as part of a second NWSL deal in 12 months as she seeks to rejuvenate her career. A 2019 Women’s World Cup winner, Pugh was an Olympian as a teenager in 2016 and is still only 22 years old.
Some American veterans will not participate this month, which opens up opportunities in the pecking order. Alex Morgan would normally have been in the frame to participate after cutting his way through Tottenham last month, but revealed on Tuesday that he contracted COVID-19 during the holidays, ruling it out. She had made her first appearance with the national team since giving birth to her first child against the Dutch.
” Unfortunately my family and I closed 2020 upon learning that we had hired Covid while in California for the holidays,” Morgan wrote on Twitter. “We are all in a good mood and recovering well. Once our isolation is complete, I will follow the US Soccer return-to-play guidelines to ensure my body makes a full recovery and can join my teammates on the field soon. Be safe and happy new year. “
While England-based Manchester City teammates Sam Lewis and Rose Lavelle will join the squad, Man United’s Christen Press and Tobin Heath will not. Press has just overcome a nonacid illness and is working to get back in top shape, while Heath was invited to the camp but will remain in Manchester to participate in club programming. Matches, according to US Soccer.
Other key players involved include goalkeeper Alyssa Neither; defenders Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Kelley O’Hara and Crystal Dunn and midfielders Julie Ertz and Lindsey Horan.
Catarina Macario, the 21-year-old Brazilian-born Stanford star player who recently became a U.S. citizen, has also been included in the camp, though she is not yet eligible to play in a game. US Soccer says it is in the “final stages of the process” to achieve that eligibility, adding another potential star to the mix and creating more competition for one of those precious tickets to Tokyo.
Here’s the full US WNT list:
GOALKEEPERS: Aubrey Bledsoe (Washington Spirit), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Neither (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS: Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain), Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Learn Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Fox (UNC), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O ‘ Hara (Washington Spirit), Margaret Pure (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnet (Washington Spirit)
MEDIA: Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Javelin Howell (Florida State), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City), Catarina Macario (Stanford), Kristie Lewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Lewis (Manchester City), Andi Sullivan (Spirit of Washington)
FORWARD: Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Megan Rapine (Of Reign), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.