The United States women's national soccer team will face Colombia for a pair of friendlies this month ahead of the Concacaf W Championship in July. The first match will take place on June 25 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, while the second game will be played at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on June 28.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski has named the 23 player roster ahead for the friendlies, which will be the final prep for the USWNT before they head to Mexico for Concacaf W Championship. Eight teams will compete for four spots in the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand (you can catch all the action on CBS Sports Network and Paramount+).
The USWNT are currently undefeated at home during 2022, and while Colombia will the final test ahead of World Cup qualifiers, it will be the also be the final time to get player evaluations in ahead of the summer tournament with several key players still out with or navigating lingering injuries. "As usual, the players don't make these decisions easy, but we feel this is a roster that can accomplish all of our goals over the four weeks we will be together for what we hope will be seven successful games," Andonovski said.
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Pregnancy and injury help shaped qualifying roster
The national team has been dealing with a flurry of injuries to begin their calendar year. Center-back Tierna Davidson and forward Lynn Williams sustained season ending injuries earlier this year. Abby Dahlkemper and Samantha Mewis have been dealing with various injuries since the start of their club seasons and are not included on the roster.
Forward Christen Press also suffered a torn ACL and was ruled out for the remainder of the season for Angel City FC, though Andonovski confirmed during a press conference that she was not included in the recent roster prior to her sustaining her injury, despite playing consistently for Angel City.
"Christen Press was not on the roster, even before the injury," Andonovski said. "There are other injuries that happened along the way that shaped the roster in different ways. I mean, there's players like Sam Mewis and Abby Dahlkemper are both injured and were not able to be on the roster. Then we have, you know, pregnancy where we're, first, very happy for all of them -- but at the same time, other players that would probably take take spots on the roster as well, like Crystal Dunn, Julie Ertz, Casey Krueger."
Though, the most jarring injury blow to the national team to midfielder Catarina Macario, who recently announced she sustained a torn ACL with Olympique Lyonnais during their final game of the season. Macario has been in the midst of a breakout year where she was the lead scorer for Lyon and won a recent Champions League title with the French side. She's also already become an important part of the USWNT under Andonovski's tenure, and led the national team in goals scored in 2022.
"It was a no brainer that she was going to be an instrumental for us in this qualifying tournament, but I just want to say, you know we're sad and and really there's no words that can explain how devastated we are for for Cat's injury, but at the same time, knowing her drive and desire to get back and be the best version of herself is what is going to be the base of her quick recovery."
Veterans return into the mix
Several notable veterans made their return to the national team mix ahead of the qualifiers. Kelley O'Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn are back in camp after navigating some lower leg injuries. Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe are also back after extended absences going all the way back to October 2021.
Morgan's return is easy to understand as she currently leads the NWSL with nine goals scored for San Diego Wave FC, well ahead of the pace needed to eclipse last years golden boot tally of 11 goals scored by Washington Spirit forward Ashley Hatch. Rapinoe, on the other hand, has been more limited in her role with OL Reign, featuring in four games this year with only 154 total minutes played.
"Very proud of Alex and how she has bounced back and became obviously one of the best goal scorers in the league, actually the best goal scorer in the league at the moment, and the form that the she's at. But the thing with Alex is, I mean, she falls in a group with Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, who are experienced players who have gone through some some tough times, but some great times as well, who know how to win, and how to win under tough circumstances, and how to go through adversity."
Player pool will lead to success in Mexico
The current roster is a somewhat awkward mix. Whether it's injury, or pregnancy or a decision by Andonovski to include some veterans on short minutes, this may not be the most ideal collection of players the USWNT can put forward. Despite that, the depth and expanded player pool of the USWNT means the team is prepared in ways that their Concacaf rivals won't be. There is no women's professional league in Canada or Jamaica. Mexico's Liga MX Femenil is under 10 years old.
The evolution of play in NWSL's recent history has allowed the USWNT player pool to expand beyond its youth teams, and to rely more heavily on club play when evaluating and discovering talent. The inclusion of players like Naomi Girma, Taylor Korneick, Carson Pickett, Sam Coffey, and Jaelin Howell are examples of the current talent pipeline that exists for the USWNT coaching staff ahead of such big tournaments.
The USWNT is in really strong place right now with a deep roster of talented options. In a tournament like the Concacaf W Championship even choices that might not be ideal aren't going to slow them down.
USWNT Concacaf W Championship Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit; 1 cap), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 4), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 80)
DEFENDERS (7): Alana Cook (OL Reign; 9 caps /0 goals), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC; 13/0), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC; 1/0), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign; 12/0), Kelley O'Hara (Washington Spirit; 152/2), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 202/0), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 65/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 109/25), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC; 0/0), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign; 71/20), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 38/5), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit; 7/2), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 27/3)
FORWARDS (7): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 8/4), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC; 190/115), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars; 72/23), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 14/3), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign; 187/62), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit; 3/1), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 15/4)
Additional Players for June Friendlies
DEFENDERS (1): Carson Pickett (North Carolina Courage; 0/0)
MIDFIELDERS (2): Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0), Jaelin Howell (Racing Louisville: 5/1)