USWNT: Roster For 2020 Olympic Qualifying Announced

For his first official tournament roster, recently installed United States Women’s National Team head coach Vlatko Andonovski elected not to make any significantly surprise selections, choosing only experienced players, including 18 players from last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup squad, for the upcoming CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.

With no retirements after last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup and all core  WWC players available, except for the pregnant Alex Morgan, Andonovski chose just two players who were not in France last year:  NC Courage forward Lynn Williams and Washington Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan.

 External Link:  USA Set For 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament As Andonovski Names 20-Player Roster (U.S. Soccer)

Only one other player from the 2019 WWC squad was unavailable due to injury:  Defender Tierna Davidson, who has an ankle injury (roster conference call).  Had Davidson been healthy, most likely, either Emily Sonnett or Ali Krieger would have been excluded from the roster.

Not unsurprisingly, Mallory Pugh, who has struggled in the USWNT system, was left out of the qualifying roster.  However, per Andonovski, she will train with the team during the tournament (roster conference call).

In the conference call accompanying (e.g., see this ProSoccerUSA.com article), Andonovski gave some clues concerning his different tactical outlook for the USWNT, compared to Jill Ellis:

  • Julie Ertz could see more time at center back, with Andi Sullivan handling defensive midfielder duties.
  • The USWNT will be “practicing a couple different formations.”  Which formation Andonovski chooses to use will be on a “game-to-game basis” (eventually).
  • Lynn Williams as a “9” forward – makes her “a good complement to Carli” Lloyd.

In addition to Morgan, Davidson, and Pugh, the only other members of last year’s WWC squad not named to this roster are midfielders Allie Long and Morgan Brian.  Long’s absence is not surprising (and, frankly, a relief), but Brian’s is somewhat curious, especially in connection to the inclusion of Ali Krieger or Jessica McDonald.  The roster includes just 5 true midfielders. (Carli Lloyd was always a false midfielder.)

Between an injury and two accumulated yellow cards, the USA could be without a spare central midfielder in the crucial semifinal. If a freak early injury takes out a third midfielder, who on the field or the bench can properly fill a central midfield (non-winger) role?  Perhaps Sonnett or Sauerbrunn could be moved into the midfield, or the USWNT could switch to a 4-4-2, with the wing forwards “converted” to midfielders.

From the 28-player USWNT camp that wrapped up last week, four other players not-yet-mentioned did not make the final cut:  Outside backs Casey Short and the recently-converted Margaret Purce, plus forward Sophia Smith and goalkeeper Jane Campbell.  Of these players, the uncapped Smith is perhaps the most likely to make the Olympic roster, should the USA qualify, with Purce not far behind.

(With Sophia Smith, who was the #1 overall pick by the Portland Thorns in this year’s NWSL College Draft, not participating in the Olympic qualifying tournament, she should be free for next month’s CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship.  The U-20 USWNT’s roster for that tournament should be announced any time.)


Table:  USWNT Roster for 2020 Olympic Qualifying – Detailed

PLAYER             P.     D.O.B.     AGE*    HT.     CAPS   GOALS
Adrianna Franch    GK   11/12/1990   29.21   5"9'      3      0
Ashlyn Harris      GK   10/19/1985   34.28   5"9'     24      0
Alyssa Naeher      GK   04/20/1988   31.77   5"9'     57      0
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Abby Dahlkemper    DF   05/13/1993   26.71   5"7'     53      0
Crystal Dunn       DF   07/03/1992   27.57   5"1'     96     24
Ali Krieger        DF   07/28/1984   35.50   5"6'    104      1
Kelley O’Hara      DF   08/04/1988   31.48   5"5'    125      2
Becky Sauerbrunn   DF   06/06/1985   34.64   5"7'    171      0
Emily Sonnett      DF   11/25/1993   26.17   5"7'     40      0
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Julie Ertz         MF   04/06/1992   27.81   5"7'     95     19
Lindsey Horan      MF   05/26/1994   25.68   5"9'     78     12
Rose Lavelle       MF   05/14/1995   24.71   5"4'     38     10
Samantha Mewis     MF   10/09/1992   27.30   6"0'     60     14
Andi Sullivan      MF   12/20/1995   24.11   5"7'     15      0
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Tobin Heath        FW   05/29/1988   31.67   5"6'    162     32
Carli Lloyd        FW   07/16/1982   37.54   5"6'    288    121
Jessica McDonald   FW   02/28/1988   31.92   6"0'     14      2
Christen Press     FW   12/29/1988   31.08   5"7'    130     51
Megan Rapinoe      FW   07/05/1985   34.57   5"7'    160     50
Lynn Williams      FW   05/21/1993   26.69   5"7'     21      6

*Age is as of the start of the tournament (28-Jan-2020)


NOTABLES

30 is the new 27?  Last year’s WWC squad had an average age of 29 at that tournament.  With no retirements and the two youngest players (Davidson and Pugh) from the WWC squad not on the roster, the average and median age of this roster are both just over 30 (30.02 and 30.15, respectively).  Additionally:

  • Half (10 of 20) of the roster is over the age of 31.
  • No players are under the age of 24.
    • In 2016, 9 of the 20 players were under the age of 24 (in fact, they were all under age 23).
    • In 2012, 4 players were under the age of 24.
  • Of the 6 forwards, only Lynn Williams (26.7 years-old) is the only one under the age of 31.
  • Of the position groups, only the midfielders have an average age under 30, with those five players have an average age of 25.92.
  • Looking beyond 2020, there should be a lot of fresh blood coming into the USWNT as Andonovski reloads the team ahead of WWC qualifying in 2022.

Centurion Watch:  Crystal Dunn (96 caps) and Julie Ertz (95 caps) could earn their 100th caps in the semifinal and final of this tournament.

Looking beyond this tournament, Carli Lloyd (288 caps) is likely to hit 300 appearances this year, potentially joining Christie (Pearce) Rampone (311) and Kristine Lilly (354) in the “300 Club.”

Christen Press (130) has a chance to hit 150 caps this year, especially with Alex Morgan’s absence.

If the USWNT plays in the maximum number of matches allowed by FIFA in 2020 (or goes beyond that), including 6 matches at the Olympics, Kelley O’Hara (125 caps) could also reach the 150 caps mark this calendar year, but only if she featured in essentially every match.

Similarly, Lindsey Horan (78 caps) could make the Centurion Club this year.

Goals-Goals:  Carli Lloyd (121 goals) could easily hit the 125 mark this tournament and perhaps even reach 130 goals, which would tie her with Kristine Lilly.

In the last two CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournaments, at least one USA player had a 5-goal match performance:  Crystal Dunn in 2016, plus Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux in 2012.  A similar break-out performance from Lynn Williams or even Jessica McDonald would not be a surprise.

What’s Cook-ing?  Dual-national defender Alana Cook remains free to choose between England and the USWNT.  The next tournament that the USA could cap-tie her is the Summer Olympics, should the USWNT qualify.

The Fine Print:  As with the 2016 qualifying tournament, three goalkeepers are required to be on the roster, per FIFA’s regulations for the Olympic football tournaments (PDF, page 30).  Previously, just two goalkeepers were required.  Adding to the potential confusion, the 20-player rosters for senior and youth WWC qualifying, at least prior to 2019, only require two goalkeepers.