The United States Women's National Team closed out the April international window with two friendlies in Europe where they played to a 1-1 draw against Sweden and a 2-0 victory over France. The two rivals are fifth and third in the FIFA rankings respectively, and provided different challenges to the USWNT as head coach Vlatko Andonovski prepares to make decisions on the 18 player roster for the Tokyo Olympics.
There will be difficult cuts to make, while some specific positions are likely still being evaluated ahead of the summer tournament. Let's take a look at a projected line up and some positional areas that still need closer looks.
Who is on the bubble and could crack the lineup?
Unsurprisingly, the number one ranked team has a number of talented players that will likely miss out on the Olympics this year, but narrowing down a 23 player World Cup roster to 18 means that someone will be staying home. For the Olympics there is room to to take four alternates, however should the team medal, alternates are not awarded the same accolades.
As a former NWSL coach, Andonovski has been vocal about evaluating players in their NWSL matches, and even specified that he watched all the matches during Challenge Cup opening weekend and has plans to watch more. There are a number of players, both based in NWSL and abroad who have been active in USWNT camps since Andonovski's appointment as head coach, and here's who we think are still being evaluated and has a shot at cracking the 18.
- Midge Purce
- Kristie Mewis
- Carli Lloyd
- Catarina Macario
- Tierna Davidson
Who is a long shot?
There are players who have been getting call ups into camps specifically during the last seven months who understand what is expected within USWNT camps and provide that same competitive mentality that the team looks for during preps. Those same players however have had limited camps and games with the national team, and will mainly have club play as evaluation as the Olympics loom closer.
The outside bask position is still a huge point of contention for the team with Crystal Dunn as the one assurance at left back. Despite the right back position currently being split between Kelley O'Hara and Emily Sonnet, there are players who are considered long shots to crack the roster at the position.
- Ali Krieger
- Casey Krueger
- Mallory Pugh
- Emily Fox
- Jaelin Howell
- Sophia Smith
- Alana Cook
Tobin Heath is a big question mark ahead of the tournament as she is currently sidelined in England with Manchester United. Heath's arrival to the FA WSL club was transformational, as her time with the team immediately elevated them in the standings with her impressive combination play and play making skills. An ankle injury was projected to sideline her for 10-12 weeks, making the timeline for her return painfully close. Though Megan Rapinoe rehabbed from an ACL injury back in 2016 and still cracked the Olympic roster for Jill Ellis.
Alana Cook missed out on the previous international window after an injury, with Kreuger taking her place during the camps. Cook has been back playing with Paris Saint-Germain, and recently participated during the April window of camps.
Who is going to the Olympics?
Even with limited games in 2020 due to the on-going pandemic, there have been several players who have featured in USWNT training camps and international friendlies under Andonovski. While there's fierce competition throughout all positions, there are some players who have featured as regulars throughout the matches, and others who have gotten additional looks with players out either do to injury or maternity leave. Here's who we think is going to Tokyo.
GOALKEEPERS: Alyssa Naeher, Ashlyn Harris (Alternate: Jane Campbell)
DEFENDERS: Becky Sauerbrunn, Crystal Dunn, Kelley O'Hara, Abby Dahlkemper, Emily Sonnett, Tierna Davidson (Alternate: Ali Krieger)
MIDFIELDERS: Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Samantha Mewis, Kristie Mewis (Alternate: Catarina Macario)
FORWARDS: Alex Morgan, Christen Press, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath (Alternate: Lynn Williams)
Based on prior tournaments, experience has been the main deciding factor in who goes and who stays, and Harris and Lloyd provide that for the team and could edge out players like Campbell, Krueger, and Purce for the summer Olympics. If Heath returns in time to get a camp in with the team, she is a lock to reunite the top line of her, Rapinoe, and Morgan.