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Four Coloradoans — Lindsey Horan, Mallory Pugh, Sophia Smith, and Jaelin Howell — invited to USWNT January camp

Mallory Pugh has recovered from injuries and is ready to compete.

John A. Babiak - @Photog_JohnB

U.S. Soccer announced today that the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) will hold its annual January training camp in Orlando, Florida from the 9th through the 22nd. The player evaluation camp will close with two friendlies against Colombia, on the 18th and 22nd.

I’m very happy and pleased with the fact we are able to play these two games,” USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “Games are something we’re missing as a team, as a group.”

Four Coloradoans in Camp

John A. Babiak - @Photog_JohnB

Andonovski has invited 27 players to the camp, including USWNT mainstay and former Colorado Rush star, Lindsey Horan, along with on-the-rise winger Sophia Smith and Jaelin Howell, both products of the Real Colorado Soccer Club. Also invited is Colorado standout, Mallory Pugh.

Horan, Smith, and Howell are coming off of a successful camp in Denver back in October 2020. Smith and Howell joined the team again in November for a friendly against the Netherlands and become the first players born after the historic 1999 Women’s World Cup to earn caps. Smith became the first player born in the 00s to make an appearance.

Horan missed the trip to Breda, Netherlands. She tested positive with the coronavirus prior to the team’s scheduled departure.

Pugh has had a very low profile for nearly 12 months in both USWNT and National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) training and play. She has been sidelined with nagging hip injuries and has not been in a U.S. Soccer camp since February 2020.

The camp, and subsequent matches, are essential for the Team USA. The Lady Yanks have qualified for this summer’s Olympic games in Tokyo, so the coaching staff needs to determine which players will make the Olympics roster and alternates list. In the meantime, the USWNT is expected to kickoff another SheBelieves Cup Tournament this spring, if not sooner.

From the 27 invites, Andonovski and his staff will select 18 players for the gameday roster when the senior Lady Yanks play against FIFA Women’s 26th-ranked Columbia . Both matches will be played at Exploria Stadium, home to the Orlando Pride of the NWSL and Orlando City SC of MLS.

The first match against Colombia will make it 313 days between domestic games for the American women.

In a press release from U.S. Soccer, Andonovski said, “A big credit goes to our players, team staff and overall medical staff for the tremendous work to make sure we have secure and healthy environments for our camps and games.” He continued, “And a special thanks also goes to our game operations staff for enabling us to host two matches against a talented opponent. It’s extremely valuable to play a team we don’t see that often and it’s important for our Olympic preparation.”