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Stanford in the NWSL: USWNT Edition

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No games took place within the NWSL this past week, as it was a scheduled international break. However, many former Cardinal from the NWSL and otherwise got the call up to play for the USWNT. 

Sophia Smith, Alana Cook and Catarina Macario are the future of the USWNT

Sophia Smith ’22 of the Portland Thorns, Alana Cook ’19 of OL Reign and Catarina Macario ’21 of French team Lyon were all invited to join the USWNT for the Summer Series camp, the final camp before the Olympic roster will be released. Going into the camp, it was widely inferred that neither Smith nor Cook would be joining the team for the Olympics. With both the defense and forward pool filled heavily with veterans, many anticipate their opportunity will not come until the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Although head coach Vlatko Andonovski has not officially released a roster, the lack of playing time for Smith and Cook within the camp indicates that their Olympic chances are slim. 

Despite their unlikely debuts during the 2020 Olympics, Smith and Cook are future stars of the team. With big names such as Becky Sauerbrunn, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe reaching the later stages of their careers, Smith and Cook are vying to take their spots. The former Cardinal have become consistent young call ups for the team, proving Andonovski’s investment in their future. 

Macario, on the other hand, is still battling for her spot in the midfield. With an injured Julie Ertz and three almost-guaranteed starters in Samantha Mewis, Rose Lavelle and Lindsay Horan, Macario is vying for one final position in the middle. Her competition? Houston Dash star Kristie Mewis. Both players were given the opportunity to start a single game in this Summer Series. The decision will likely come down to who performs best in this final opportunity and who Andonovski thinks has the hot foot at the moment. At the very least, Macario will almost certainly travel as an alternate. 

What does this mean for NWSL teams? The prospect of Smith remaining with Portland during the Olympic window is promising for Thorns fans as the organization will be losing a significant portion of their firepower due to Olympic call ups. OL Reign fans would also be happy to see the arrival of Cook as the organization just recently solidified her contract. Smith and Cook both have the potential to make a huge impact on the standings.

Tierna Davidson likely solidifies her spot for the Olympics

Chicago Red Stars back line leader Tierna Davidson ‘20 got the start in the second match of the Summer Series against Jamaica and likely solidified her role in the upcoming Olympic games. With a solid performance, Davidson marked herself as the primary center back replacement for either Sauerbrunn or Abby Dahlkemper. 

This will come as a huge loss to the Red Stars as Davidson acts as not only the back line leader but also as a vocal member of the squad off the field. Chicago players such as Mallory Pugh and Morgan Gautrat will need to step into larger leadership roles to fill the void. 

Where will Jane Campbell land?

After not getting the start for any of the summer series games, Houston Dash keeper Jane Campbell ’17 will likely not find herself on the 18-player Olympic roster, but an alternate spot is likely. Considering Andonovski has not brought USWNT veteran Ashlyn Harris into any recent camps, many predict Campbell will travel with the team as an alternate. 

For the Houston Dash, this means an almost two-month period without their most vocal leader and starting keeper. This potential loss, in addition to the potential loss of Kristie Mewis and countless other Canadian national team members, the Dash could find themselves looking weak in the middle of the season. 

O’Hara? Sullivan? 

Also called up was longtime USWNT star and Washington Spirit outside back Kelley O’Hara ’10. The veteran is almost certainly going to the 2020 Olympics, leaving the Spirit with a gap in the back. On the other hand, Washington midfielder Andi Sullivan ’18, who is unlikely to make the cut, could have the potential for a breakout season in the domestic league. 

Christen Press dominates the field

Outside the NWSL, former Cardinal Christen Press ’11 is possibly the best USWNT forward heading into the Olympics. Press, who started all three Summer Series games, dominated the field, making huge plays and providing assists. The former Stanford star returned from England recently after a stint with Manchester United. Despite her rights being owned by Racing Louisville, Press has yet to return to the NWSL. 

Regardless, Press is another player who is almost certainly heading to the Olympics. Her ability to threaten up top while being one of the greatest assist generators on the team must certainly earn her a spot. Additionally, Press is one of the fittest players up top, easily lasting the full 90 minutes. 

This coming weekend

On Saturday, June 19, the North Carolina Courage will take on OL Reign for the first match of the weekend. Following that match, Chicago will take on Washington in a table shaking game. If Washington can pull off the win, they’ll remain close to the top of the table. A loss would flip them above the Spirit. 

On Sunday, June 20, Louisville and Houston will start the day, followed by Portland and Kansas City, then Orlando and Gotham. 

On Tuesday, June 22, Chicago will take on OL Reign. 

On Wednesday, June 23, Orlando will face Kansas City and Louisville will once again face North Carolina. 

All game times and broadcast networks can be found here.

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Jenna Ruzekowicz is a staff writer in the sports section. She is a sophomore from Syracuse, New York majoring in Computer Science. Her teams include: Portland Thorns, Arsenal and Man City. Contact her at jruzekowicz 'at' stanforddaily.com.