Jill Ellis Releases Roster for June Friendlies


The 21-players named to the roster will travel to Europe for a June 8th match against Sweden in Gothenburg and a June 11th match against Norway in Sandefjord.

GOALKEEPERS (2): Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Abby Smith (Boston Breakers)

DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Jaelene Hinkle (NC Courage), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Boston Breakers), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash/Manchester City), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)

FORWARDS (5): Crystal Dunn (Chelsea FC), Sydney Leroux (FC Kansas City), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/Olympique Lyonnais), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit)

A few interesting points to talk about in Ellis’s choices.

The most obvious place to start is the goalkeeper position, where due to Ashlyn Harris’s Week 6 injury, may have undergone a last-minute shakeup. While it’s no surprise that Alyssa Naeher has been called up–she’s been the de facto #1 since Hope Solo’s termination in late 2016, Abby Smith getting her first call-up to the Senior team was a little unexpected. Unless, of course, you’ve been watching her play this season with her club team, where she has 22 saves for the season already, and a 1.0 GAA. Some might have expected to see Houston Dash’s Jane Campbell on the roster, but she’s been playing backup for Lydia Williams so far this season (minus her unfortunate debut against Seattle in Week 2), while Smith has been out on the line every week and keeping her team in the top half of the table.

Jaelene Hinkle  makes her return to the USWNT after several months without being called-up. Hinkle, who was allocated for the 2016 season, did not make the roster for Rio and has struggled with injuries in the meantime. But after winning the 2016 NWSL championship with the WNY Flash, and making the move to North Carolina, she has been looking fit and ready to compete at the highest level again. The question will be: can she bring her excellent club performance to the international pitch, and elevate it further? It’s not often players get second chances at this level, so hopefully Hinkle will be able to make the most of it.

The biggest news on the roster, though, is Sydney Leroux’s long-awaited return to international play. After taking off 2016 to give birth to her first child, Leroux has been working non-stop to return both for club (making her first start with FC Kansas City and netting her first goal for the Blues in their opening weekend game) and country. And no better time than the present. Leroux has always been a wildcard on the attack, and that’s something the US has been lacking since the World Cup. The closest anyone has come to making the kind of commotion on the field that Syd the Kid has been capable of in the past is Houston’s Kealia Ohai, who doesn’t appear on the roster for these games.

For all the discussion that will take place over this roster (who made it, who didn’t, who should have, who shouldn’t have) all-in-all, it’s well-balanced and strong. Full of experience and energy. And I can’t wait to see how they all come together on the field for the US’s first friendlies overseas since before the 2015 World Cup.

The matches will be aired on US television. The June 8th game against Sweden can be seen at 1:30pm ET on ESPN2 and UDN, and the June 11th game against Norway will air at 1:00pm ET on Fox.

As always, Backline Soccer will be here to break down the games in our weekly podcast, so make sure you tune in.

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