U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski has announced his 23-player roster for the 6th annual SheBelieves Cup. The event will be held at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, on February 18, 21, and 24.
Four Coloradoans will participate in the pre-tournament camp that commences on February 8th. Lindsey Horan (Rush Colorado SC) and Sophia Smith (Real Colorado SC) have been named to the 23-player roster. Both were in the January camp; however, Smith sustained an injury before the first of two games against Colombia. Horan played in both fixtures and scored in the second match.
Meanwhile, Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado SC) and Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado SC) will participate in the camp as non-rostered “Training Players.” Howell and Pugh will train with the group for the first week of camp, then head home. Mallory Pugh will return to her National Women’s Soccer League team, the Chicago Red Stars. The NWSL kicks off its preseason this week, ahead of the annual Challenge Cup tourney that will start on April 9. The league’s 24-game regular season is set begin on May 15.
During a press conference earlier this week, Andonovski said of the training players (that also includes Emily Fox from the Racing Louisville FC), “When we made the roster. It wasn’t easy. We can see that there’s some very good players that didn’t make the roster, Jalen and Emily, you know, being some of them.”
Andonovski continued, ”Because of where they are in the stage of the career that they’re at, I feel like, those are the type of players that need to be there regardless of if they’re going to be able to play games or not. Right now at this particular camp, to be around these players, they need to be around this coaching staff, they need to be in the system, to get used to my approach — the coaching staff approach, to get used to the team, team tactical principles, the game idea [and] game model that we have. So when it comes time for them, hopefully, they become more regular on the national team and they’re not a step behind with the process, but they’re up to date.”
With regards to Mallory Pugh, the manager shared with the Burgundy Wave, “We’re not gonna give up on her. We’re going to do everything possible to help her get back up to speed and where we want her to be.”
Pugh has been sidelined for over a year with a rash of unabating injuries. After rehabilitating, she regained her health prior to last month’s camp. Two days into training, she came was re-injured and started rehabilitating again. During the press conference, Andonovski echoed his continued support for the unlucky, yet talent-laden 22-year old forward who just can’t seem to catch a break.
A majority of the players, including Catarina Macario, a Brazilian-born American who is currently playing in France, will arrive on February 8th. The England-based players will arrive on February 13th. The team will be without Tobin Heath, who suffered a severe ankle injury while training with Manchester United and will be out for 10-12 weeks.
The roster also includes forwards Alex Morgan and Christen Press. The pair missed the January training camp in Florida and matches against Colombia.
The USWNT has enhanced their competition by inviting FIFA 8th-ranked Brazil and Canada (tied) and 31st-ranked Argentina to compete in the tournament. Six round-robin matches will be played over three doubleheader gamedays.
“We will hit the ground running in Orlando with most of our roster and will get in some great work in the first part of camp before we start focusing on the games once all the European-based players arrive,” said Andonovski. “I think we made a lot of progress on and off the field during the January camp and games, so we’ll be looking to build on that for these three matches and we want to continue to test different players in tough environments. Each game will present its own unique challenges and the matches are not only a step up in competition from January, but as I’ve said before, are extremely valuable as a test run for group play at the Olympics.”
U.S. Women’s National Team 2021 SheBelieves Cup Roster by Position (Club/University; Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 4), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 65)
DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA; 2/0), Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City, ENG; 63/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 27/1), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC; 107/24), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit; 133/2), Margaret Purce (Sky Blue FC; 4/1), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 179/0), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 48/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 105/20), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 88/20), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City, ENG; 48/13), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnaise, FRA; 2/1), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 18/3), Samantha Mewis (Manchester City, ENG; 70/21)
FORWARDS (6): Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 296/123), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 170/107), Christen Press (Manchester United, ENG; 139/58), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign; 170/54), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 1/0), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage; 31/10)
Training Players: Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC; 4/0), Jaelin Howell (Florida State; 1/0), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars; 63/18)