United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) head coach Vlatko Andonovski announced his picks for the June Summer Series camp. This will be the last camp before the 18-player squad is chosen for Tokyo this summer. During camp, the USWNT will play three friendlies, facing Portugal, Jamaica and Nigeria.
The roster consists of the following: for keepers, Jane Campbell ‘17, Adrianna Franch and Alyssa Naeher; for defenders, Alana Cook ‘19, Abby Dahlkemper, Tierna Davidson ‘20, Crystal Dunn, Kelley O’Hara ‘10, Margaret Purce, Becky Sauerbrunn and Emily Sonnet; for midfielders, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Catarina Macario ‘21, Kristie Mewis, Samantha Mewis and Andi Sullivan ‘18; for forwards, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Christen Press ‘11, Megan Rapinoe, Sophia Smith ‘22 and Lynn Williams.
Forward Tobin Heath will also be joining the team as a training player as she works her way back from a knee injury. Julie Ertz has been ruled out due to an MCL injury.
The keeper situation
To much fan surprise, decade-long back-up keeper Ashlyn Harris was left off the final camp roster. Harris, who currently plays for the Orlando Pride, had an incredible Challenge Cup, full of performances that many believed would win her the number two spot. This new roster, however, makes it clear that in Andonovski’s eyes, she is nearly out of the picture.
This does, however, open the field more to Campbell, the former Cardinal keeper. It is assumed that Andonovski will start longtime starter Naeher for the Olympics, but Campbell may now have a shot at number two. The 18-player roster will likely feature two keepers total with a third keeper traveling as an alternate. If Naeher, Campbell and Franch are the only three Andonovski plans to consider, Campbell is guaranteed a trip to Tokyo, even as just an alternate.
To make the top two, Campbell will need to outplay 2019 Women’s World Cup champion Franch, an experienced keeper who has played and traveled with the team during high stake tournaments already. Depending on the philosophy of Andonovski, he may opt to bring the more experienced keeper as the number two, leaving Campbell as an alternate. However, if Campbell can get minutes during the Summer Series, she may be able to work for a spot amongst the 18.
Strong in the back
The USWNT is undeniably strong with their backline. Andonovski will most likely not need to think hard about who the starting four would be with Dunn, Sauerbrunn, Dahlkemper and O’Hara. The question will be, who does he bring to supplement these starters?
Davidson has been a frequent favorite and is praised to become the next Sauerbrunn, when she ultimately chooses to retire. Davidson is experienced internationally and currently plays for the Chicago Red Stars with starting keeper Naeher. She was also tapped to start against Sweden in the last series of USWNT friendlies.
Another option for Andonovski is high-performing Cook, who is currently playing abroad with PSG. This past season, Cook has helped bring PSG to the top of the French table, currently beating longtime European champions Lyon. The defender has experience playing against varying styles of soccer abroad and may bring some European influence into the squad.
The other two options would be Sonnet, a 2019 WWC champion and experienced international player, and Purce, a rising star in the NWSL. If both Davidson and Cook want to make the roster, they will need to beat out one, if not both, of Sonnet and Purce.
Packed in the middle
The midfield is nothing short of extraordinary, with almost guaranteed starters Lavelle, S. Mewis and Horan. Ertz is still a huge unknown, as she is out with an MCL injury and most are unsure if she will be back to action.
Vying for one of the final spots is recent Stanford star Macario. The midfielder is already making her mark on Lyon, scoring in her last five games and becoming a consistent starter. The young superstar is not letting herself go unnoticed by Andonovski, and she seems to be peaking at just the right time. Depending on the condition of Ertz, and the total number of forwards that Andonovski brings, Macario could find herself easily within the 18. If Ertz, however, is back to fitness and the team opts to bring more forwards, Maracio will have to beat out another player with undeniable skill, K. Mewis.
Mewis has made an incredible comeback to the national team in the last year, showing off her killer left foot. If the numbers fall in their favor, Andonovski could choose to bring both Macario and Mewis, creating the most stacked midfield in the game.
Sullivan is another contender for the position with a deep history of being in and out of favor with the team. Again, the situation with Ertz and the number of midfielders ultimately chosen will determine her fate. Sullivan is likely however to gain a spot as an alternate if Ertz is indeed out.
Messy up top
The USWNT forward pool is arguably the most talented in the world. With players like Lloyd and Rapinoe, the forward pool is nothing but the world’s best, and Smith is up there with them.
After her performance against the Chicago Red Stars, where Smith scored two goals and forced an own goal, she undeniably deserves the call up. Smith seems to have the hot foot at the moment, scoring for Portland and leading the front line. She also has lots of experience playing with and against most of the players on the roster. The chemistry between Horan and Smith, if given the chance to be shown on the national level, may just earn Smith a spot.
On the other hand, her chance at the 18 will be heavily determined by the status of Heath, who is coming back from a knee injury. If Heath is ready for Olympic action, both Smith and Williams will have a hard time making the cut.
Press, however, is almost a guarantee. After a successful season with Manchester United, and frequent starts in the last few camps, it would be a shocker not to find her immediately within the 18 and likely in the starting 11.
It all comes down to performance, and numbers
All players will have a mere three matches and a single camp to prove themselves to Andonovski as he is set to announce the 18-player roster and four alternates closely after the conclusion of the Summer Series. There’s no telling what could happen between now and then, but with eight Cardinal on the camp roster, we can be nearly sure there will be some Stanford representation on the USWNT for the Olympics.