Some players out while rehabbing injures; other players return from injuries of their own.
US women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis has named her 22-player roster for the team’s upcoming set of friendlies against South Korea.
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 9/0), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 53/11), Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars; 1/0), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC; 101/2), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City; 131/0), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 15/0), Taylor Smith (NC Courage; 5/0)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 132/18), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 39/4), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash; 242/97), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC; 31/5), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 30/5), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 125/33), Andi Sullivan (Stanford; 4/0)
FORWARDS (5): Crystal Dunn (Chelsea FC; 55/22), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 130/77), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars; 92/43), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 28/6), Lynn Williams (NC Courage; 11/3)
Players not returning from the previous roster in September when the WNT played New Zealand are Tierna Davidson, Morgan Brian, and Rose Lavelle. Brian and Lavelle are both managing long-term injuries and Davidson is with her team at Stanford.
Returning to the roster are Sofia Huerta, Carli Lloyd, and Andi Sullivan. Huerta technically wasn’t named for the last roster while USSF waited for FIFA approval of her federation switch from Mexico to the United States. After their approval, she was then added to the gameday roster and subbed in as a right back as the US defeated New Zealand 3-1. It looks as though Ellis intends to continue testing her out as a fullback with this roster.
Sullivan will make her first appearance in camp after tearing her left ACL last November during the College Cup. Lloyd also returns after injuring her ankle with the Houston Dash in mid-August, an injury which took her out of the remainder of the NWSL season. The WNT midfield looked fun and fluid in their New Zealand friendlies while Lloyd was gone, so we’ll see how Ellis plans to re-incorporate her into the roster, as well as what kind of time Sullivan gets. Sullivan had such a promising debut for the WNT, there’s undoubtedly some pressure for her to pick up where she left off, but hopefully the team just manages her well so that she can continue to return to full fitness.
South Korea probably offers slightly stiffer competition than New Zealand, but once again this is a game that the United States should expect to win, barring some bizarre experimental lineup or a total collapse in front of goal. This is a good opportunity to test out players who have been rehabbing with a low-stakes game against an opponent that won’t push them too hard.
Of note, many of these players will be days out from the NWSL championship on October 14 in Orlando. With the Portland Thorns and the North Carolina Courage contesting the trophy, that means Abby Dahlkemper, Taylor Smith, Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Allie Long, Sam Mewis, and Lynn Williams will probably have some pretty heavy minutes on their legs ahead of the first friendly on October 19 in New Orleans.
USA vs South Korea schedule:
Game 1, October 19, 8 PM ET, FS1
Game 2, October 22, 2 PM ET, ESPN