Head Coach Jill Ellis has made her final choices for the 23-player roster for the two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion United States Tuesday. This team features a stacked ensemble of talent from familiar faces like all-time leading goalscorer Abby Wambach, veteran captain Christie Rampone and goalkeeper Hope Solo. Several young players and newcomers will also look to make an impact in Canada, like Sydney Leroux, Julie Johnston and Morgan Brian. The USWNT will be in a tough group with Argentina, Sweden and Nigeria opposing them in Group D in an expanded World Cup tournament, as the field grows to 24 teams when the Cup kicks off on June 5.
Rampone will be named to her fifth World Cup, tying Kristine Lilly for most World Cups attended by an American, male or female. Shannon Boxx and Wambach will be competing in their fourth World Cup. All but one player on this year’s final 23 also play domestically in the NWSL, with Wambach choosing to sit out her league campaign to pursue a third world title. All things aside, we’ll break down the roster by position:
Goalkeepers: Hope Solo, Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher
Hope Solo may be the only ‘keeper looking at time in Canada, with the other women untested at this international level, and will be Solo’s third WWC. However, Harris and Naeher both put in serviceable time between the posts in Solo’s absence. Naeher is last season’s NWSL Goalkeeper of the year, playing in every game for the Boston Breakers, while Harris is one of three goalkeepers that had over 10 wins for their team in NWSL play last season.
Defenders: Lori Chalupny, Whitney Engen, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, Kelley O’Hara, Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn
Captain Christie Rampone will be playing in her fifth World Cup, and has a deep and versatile core of defenders with her as they prepare for Canada. Engen, Johnston and Klingenburg are playing in their first World Cup. Engen will be coming back from injury, while Johnston and Klingenburg have gone off to strong starts in the year. Lori Chalupny returns to the World Cup after missing out in 2011, and is back to the USWNT from a five-year absence. Kelly O’Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn add great tools and weapons, as O’Hara can be lethal on the flanks or even up front, while Sauerbrunn is an engine in the back and never seems to tire. Krieger adds great attacking play at defender, and can play many roles.
Midfielders: Shannon Boxx, Morgan Brian, Tobin Heath, Lauren Holiday, Carli Lloyd, Heather O’Reilly, Megan Rapinoe
Morgan Brian is the lone newcomer to an extremely talented midfielder group, and the other six return from the 2011 World Cup squad. Boxx, Holiday, Lloyd, O’Reilly and most recently Rapinoe have all played 100 caps or more for the national team, and together the group of five combine for 819 caps. The very skillful Heath has 90 caps to her name too. The strongest team chemistry lies with this group, and all can very well play off of each other to great lengths, a balanced cohesive unit.
Forwards: Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Christen Press, Amy Rodriguez, Abby Wambach
Perhaps the Murderers’ Row of forwards in the women’s game currently. Over 300 international goals have been shared by this group of five. Christen Press gets her first World Cup call-up after a breakout 2014 campaign at home for the USWNT and abroad in the Swedish league, playing alongside Brazilian legend Marta and leading Tyreso FF to the UEFA Women’s Champions League final, a 4-3 defeat to VfL Wolfsburg. Rodriguez was the second leading scorer in the NWSL in 2014 with 13 goals tallied. Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux and Abby Wambach are all superstars in their own right, with many questions asked toward the legendary Wambach’s career after this World Cup. This quintet of forwards may have to share time together, but all are extremely lethal up front.
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