United States women’s national soccer team will kick off the 2022 SheBelieves Cup on Feb. 17, and on Thursday, head coach Vlatko Andonovski unveiled the 23-player roster that will compete against Czech Republic, New Zealand and Iceland.
Out of the 23 players named, 18 of them have been involved in USWNT camps since the November 2021 window against Australia. This squad is almost identical to callups from the January camp, but it includes the return of Catarina Macario who missed January camp due to important club matches with Lyon, and veteran defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who is making her return after a medical procedure.
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher will see her first USWNT action since sustaining an injury in the semifinals of the Tokyo Summer Olympics. The roster also welcomes Chicago Red Stars midfielder Morgan Gautrat, who made her return to camps in January. The two-time World Cup champion last featured on USWNT rosters back in 2019 at the start of Andonovski’s tenure.
“We had a great camp in Austin and now we need to see this group of players in game environments against highly-motivated opponents,” said Andonovski.
“Every player in the pool is focused on making the roster for World Cup and Olympic qualifying this summer, and every training session and especially every match is a means to that end for them and for the coaching staff. The SheBelieves Cup is also a great opportunity to help prepare for rhythm of group play at the Concacaf W Championship as we have to face three different opponents and different styles of play over a short period of time.”
Younger players getting evaluated
Andonovski has been calling in younger and less experienced players into national team camps throughout his time as head coach, but has recently kept similar players among his roster for development and evaluation purposes ahead of the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Though not officially rostered, Trinity Rodman is included as a training player for the SheBelieves Cup in order to continue her development at the senior national team level. The 20-year-old Rodman recently signed a four-year deal valued at over $1 million ahead of the 2022 National Women’s Soccer League season.
“She’s doing really good in the league, but the national team is a completely different animal,” Andonovski said during Thursday’s USWNT press conference. “We don’t want to just bring her up. We want to give her a chance to slowly accommodate, or adjust herself to the system, to the structure, to absorb information slowly — step by step instead of throwing everything out at her.”
The SheBelieves Cup roster is another camp that won’t feature well-know experienced players with winning pedigree such as Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Julie Ertz, but Andonovski is firm on utilizing this time ahead of the World Cup to evaluate the youngsters who haven’t had the opportunity for development at this level ahead of players who are still mainstays on the national team.
“All these players are very good players. We all know that. They’ve done so much for this team and they’ve won everything possible,” Andonovski said. “But right now in these camps, I felt like I want to give a chance to players like Sophie Smith and Mal Pugh and Catarina Macario. Players that have earned their spots on the national team, or their spots back on the national team.”
Several USWNT veterans have been either been dealing with injury or haven’t been in highly competitive training environments, or logged match minutes — which has led to more opportunities to other players in the larger pool of USWNT caliber players.
“It doesn’t mean these players haven’t done well in the past. They’re not just going to come back in next game because they’ve done well a year ago or two years ago. So I mean, there’s a reason why Mia Hamm is not in camp still. We’re not calling Julie Foudy into camp, right? The same goes here. They need to perform. They need to play in their markets. They to play well in their markets and show that they can still contribute and be valuable for the national team.”
USWNT’s 2022 SheBelieves Cup Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit; 0), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 2), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 78)
DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (OL Reign; 4/0), Abby Dahlkemper (San Diego Wave FC; 77/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 45/1), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC; 8/0), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign; 9/0), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit; 148/2), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 63/0), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 199/0)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Gautrat (Chicago Red Stars; 87/8), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA; 108/25), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign; 68/18), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA; 12/3), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 33/4), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit; 2/0), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 22/2)
FORWARDS (5): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 4/2), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars; 67/18), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 9/2), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 10/1), Lynn Williams (Kansas City Current; 45/14)