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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Predicting the USWNT’s ultimate roster for the 2024 Olympics

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Emma Hayes is a number of weeks into her official tenure as head coach of the U.S. girls’s nationwide staff and she or he already has a pivotal choice to make: She should slender a gifted pool right down to an 18-player roster for the Paris Olympics, the place the Individuals hope to win a gold medal for the primary time since 2012 and transfer on from final yr’s World Cup failure. No strain, proper?

It’s a lot more durable to decide on an Olympic roster than a World Cup roster — there are 5 fewer gamers for the Olympics and solely two relaxation days between video games. The event, although smaller than the World Cup, is grueling, and main questions loom as Hayes readies to call her official roster within the coming weeks.

The place does veteran striker Alex Morgan — and her 123 profession worldwide objectives — match into the equation? And what about 16-year-old midfielder Lily Yohannes, who scored minutes into her debut earlier this month?

The necessity for versatility on a small roster is clear: Can a defender play heart again and fullback? Is a gifted attacking participant able to acting on the wing or as a striker, or possibly even a No. 10 midfielder in a pinch? It will get extra difficult to consider the complete 18-player roster inside the ways that Hayes hopes to implement, all whereas gaming out the worst-case situations for accidents and replacements.

Hayes has formally been in command of the USWNT for less than two video games, and she or he is a daring coach, so she might have some surprises in retailer. However right here is our prediction of her 18-player roster for the Olympics in France, plus 4 alternates, justified by the methodology we predict she’ll comply with.

Goalkeepers (2)

Alyssa Naeher (Age: 36 | Caps: 104)

Naeher missed the newest USWNT coaching camp due to a thigh damage, however she was again in web for the Chicago Pink Stars on Saturday at Wrigley Area, a relieving sight for USWNT followers.

Naeher has been the clear No. 1 for over 5 years. Her skill to do the spectacular was strengthened in a pair of penalty shootout victories earlier this yr. In every, she stopped three kicks and scored certainly one of her personal. She routinely makes unbelievable saves, and she or he is by far essentially the most skilled goalkeeper within the pool.

Casey Murphy (Age: 28 | Caps: 18)

The No. 2 goalkeeper place has been up for grabs, and whereas Jane Campbell has the sting on Murphy in some superior metrics in NWSL play — reminiscent of post-shot anticipated objectives minus objectives, which suggests superior shot-stopping — Murphy has held on to the No. 2 spot for a few years.

Murphy solely reaffirmed her rising confidence within the position with a number of high-quality saves within the second pleasant towards South Korea. (Campbell performed in purpose for the primary pleasant.)

Defenders (6)

Naomi Girma (Age: 23 | Caps: 32)

Girma could be the primary identify on the USWNT roster and beginning XI. She was one of the best and most constant participant for the USWNT eventually yr’s World Cup, and she or he continues to show she is one of the best defender within the pool every time she performs for membership and nation.

Girma can defend the highest forwards on the earth and, importantly, generate assaults on the dribble or with exact passing. Her progressive ball from a excessive space arrange the opening purpose of the USWNT’s first pleasant towards South Korea.

Tierna Davidson (Age: 25 | Caps: 58)

Davidson’s omission from final yr’s World Cup roster was a product of unhealthy timing as she recovered from a torn ACL in 2022 and the Chicago Pink Stars struggled via a wretched NWSL season. Davidson is again in kind now and is clearly the popular central companion alongside Girma.

Davidson’s left foot is a singular asset and, like Girma, she will be able to set play with a singular imaginative and prescient. Anticipate Girma and Davidson to hold the complete Olympic load at heart again barring accidents.

Jenna Nighswonger (Age: 23 | Caps: 9)

No participant has improved her inventory extra over the previous eight months than Nighswonger. She earned her first call-up in November, proper after successful NWSL Rookie of the 12 months and a league title, and she or he has thrived because the left fullback requested to successfully play as a winger when the staff is in possession.

Her help to Crystal Dunn within the USWNT’s most up-to-date match reiterated why her left foot is such an asset on that wing. Nighswonger completely suits the profile of a Hayes fullback, and she will be able to play (and has already) as a extra conservative third heart again when the system will get modified.

Emily Fox (Age: 25 | Caps: 49)

Like Nighswonger, Fox is an attacking fullback with the tempo to stand up and down the wing and the defensive skills to carry her personal in a number of completely different roles. There was and stays an expectation on Fox to be a long-term resolution at fullback. She is well a part of this 18-player squad — the query is whether or not she begins on her standard proper aspect.

Crystal Dunn (Age: 31 | Caps: 146)

The second a part of that Fox query has to do with Dunn. Finally yr’s World Cup, Dunn and Fox patrolled reverse sides of the again line. With Nighswonger’s emergence on the left, Dunn and Fox now seem like competing for one spot on the correct aspect of protection. Each provide distinctive skills to get ahead — Fox extra centrally, Dunn in extensive overlaps — and powerful restoration defending.

Dunn is the veteran whose expertise might be wanted on and off the sector. She additionally skilled in the newest USWNT camp as a ahead. No participant within the USWNT’s trendy period has outlined the time period “versatility” higher than Dunn, and it’ll serve her once more on this roster choice.



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Emma Hayes says it is essential that the USWNT sees numerous modifications going into its second pleasant versus South Korea.

Emily Sonnett (Age: 30 | Caps: 91)

The theme of versatility rings true once more for Sonnett’s inclusion on this roster. Like Dunn, Sonnett has been one thing of a sufferer of her versatility, unable to settle into anybody place all through her USWNT profession. It seemed like Sonnett had taken over the defensive midfielder No. 6 position within the fall just for Sam Coffey to emerge because the starter there this spring.

This ultimate defensive spot probably comes right down to Sonnett vs. Casey Krueger, and whereas Krueger is the superior attacking fullback and lots deserving of a spot, Sonnett’s skill to additionally play as a No. 6 will turn out to be useful since Hayes’ midfield pool leans closely towards attack-minded gamers.

Veteran Abby Dahlkemper and up to date first-time call-up Sam Staab are heart backs worthy of inclusion in a vacuum, however they every purely play that position and might be a luxurious in an 18-player roster. Sonnett probably prevails right here for Hayes attributable to her versatility.

Midfielders (5)

Lindsey Horan (Age: 30 | Caps: 148)

Hayes just lately and often lauded Horan, the USWNT’s captain, for her management and on-field decision-making — traits Hayes has not-so-subtly attributed to Horan’s expertise in Europe with Lyon.

Horan most closely fits into the USWNT’s mixture of midfielders as a box-to-box No. 8 midfielder who enhances her extra defensive- and attack-minded central companions. She is clearly somebody Hayes will lean on to guide the staff on and off the sector.

Rose Lavelle (Age: 29 | Caps: 100)

Lavelle stays arguably essentially the most inventive participant within the USWNT’s pool. Catarina Macario and Jaedyn Shaw make robust challenges to that declare, however Lavelle has completed it for longer and continues to provide moments of pure magic.

She is phenomenal on the ball and could be the USWNT’s best choice on the No. 10 playmaker place. Her problem has at all times been staying wholesome, and she or he is correct now. She is a simple identify so as to add to this roster.

Sam Coffey (Age: 25 | Caps: 17)

The endless query of how you can remedy the USWNT’s defensive midfield gap seems to be solved. Coffey is the plain reply, and Hayes — together with interim-turned-assistant Twila Kilgore — has discovered the right combination of a hybrid double pivot towards sure opponents, or Coffey because the lone No. 6 when the opponent warrants it.

Coffey is a superior ball distributor who retains cool underneath strain. Defensively, she is bodily and clever when she must execute some refined darkish arts, however she is not a wrecking ball sort of defensive midfielder. Hayes will lean on Coffey closely as the one true No. 6 on this roster, which impacts a number of different selections within the 18.

Catarina Macario (Age: 24 | Caps: 19)

There is no such thing as a denying that Hayes has particular perception into Macario’s sport and trajectory. Hayes signed the attacking midfielder at Chelsea final yr after which oversaw Macario’s return to the sector earlier this yr, in the course of the six months of Hayes’ double responsibility as Chelsea coach and impending USWNT coach.

Macario returned to the No. 10 position for the USWNT just lately in a pleasant towards South Korea. Macario also can play as a No. 9 (even a false 9) and appears wholesome sufficient now for inclusion within the staff.

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Korbin Albert (Age: 20 | Caps: 10)

On sporting advantage, Albert’s inclusion on this 18-player roster is hardly controversial. Kilgore lauded Albert late final yr for the midfielder’s skill to return into the USWNT setting and concurrently be taught a number of midfield roles. Albert then began all three Concacaf W Gold Cup knockout video games subsequent to Coffey because the pair mixed to solidify the staff’s midfield.

In her final USWNT look earlier than Hayes will choose her Olympic roster, Albert had a powerful displaying in her begin towards South Korea on June 4. She is dependable as a No. 8, a No. 10 if wanted, or one other defensive midfielder in a double pivot. She offers Hayes in-game choices without having to make a substitution.

The potential controversy over Albert’s potential inclusion would stem from how she suits into the staff’s chemistry following her social media exercise that drew condemnation from a number of USWNT gamers previous and current and a subsequent apology from Albert. Albert reportedly shared a video with anti-LGBTQ+ views and favored a put up that mocked an damage to now-retired USWNT veteran Megan Rapinoe final yr.

Albert’s continued inclusion within the squad in Hayes’ first two video games on the helm earlier this month, and Hayes’ latest pointed feedback a couple of tolerant setting — which got here moments after the Colorado crowd booed Albert — appear to point the staff internally has chosen to maneuver ahead with Albert.

Albert’s inclusion in midfield would come on the expense of 16-year-old Lily Yohannes, 18-year-old Olivia Moultrie and even the extra skilled Andi Sullivan, all of whom have had fewer appears to be like in Hayes’ new system.

Forwards (5)

Mallory Swanson (Age: 26 | Caps: 92)

Swanson is nearing a return to her world-beating self of early 2023 earlier than an damage ended her World Cup goals. That’s excellent news for the USWNT and makes her a simple inclusion on this roster.

She is more likely to be one of many staff’s beginning wingers, and she or he even noticed a couple of minutes within the No. 9 position in latest friendlies. Her skill to interchange with teammates makes her exhausting to trace, and her abilities are distinctive. A wholesome Swanson is an issue for opposing defenses.

Trinity Rodman (Age: 22 | Caps: 38)

Rodman is the one participant to have performed in each USWNT sport because the begin of 2023. Want we are saying extra?

Rodman is one of the best two-way winger the staff has. She terrorizes defenses together with her creativity on the ball and she or he is defends tirelessly on the wings, monitoring again to cowl for fullbacks and forestall opponents from transitioning. Rodman is electrical.

Sophia Smith (Age: 23 | Caps: 48)

Smith is a lock to be on the roster and is more likely to be the staff’s first choice up prime at striker as effectively. It’s her greatest place, and she or he is particularly efficient in it with Swanson and Rodman taking part in beside her.

Granted, the trio entered the sport collectively on the finish of the match towards a drained opponent, however have a look at how the USWNT’s assault got here alive within the second pleasant towards South Korea when these three performed off one another. Smith bagged a powerful purpose moments after coming into the match. Her latest play with the Portland Thorns reveals that she might be efficient in extensive areas, too.

Jaedyn Shaw (Age: 19 | Caps: 14)

Probably the most gifted younger participant within the USWNT pool — and within the NWSL — is Shaw. Determining the place to play her is the most important query.

She has thrived for the USWNT and San Diego Wave in central areas, however she has usually needed to accept an inverted winger position primarily based on these round her. That flexibility provides to her case to be included on this roster — scoring in 5 straight video games earlier this yr did not harm, both — and the query then turns into how you can greatest make the most of her.

Hayes might want to reply that now and in the long run, and the Olympics could be the place the answer takes form.

Alex Morgan (Age: 34 | Caps: 224)

No roster matter has demanded extra dialog over the previous two years than the standing of striker Morgan. Every time she has ostensibly been transferring towards the bubble, Morgan has answered the decision to remind Hayes and the broader world of her continued worth to the staff. She did that once more with a powerful displaying within the Gold Cup after becoming a member of the staff a day earlier than the opener following Mia Fishel‘s damage.

Morgan bucks the USWNT’s development of versatility as an out-and-out No. 9, however she has a number of issues in her favor. Hayes has lauded Morgan’s management on a number of events and careworn the necessity for veterans within the locker room. Morgan is well essentially the most capped participant left within the combine, one with two World Cup titles and the final remaining participant from the 2012 gold-medal staff.

On the sector, her skill to carry up the ball, management play and endure physicality from opposing defenses to win free kicks in harmful areas makes her stand out as a lone striker. Morgan led the counterattack to spark Dunn’s opening purpose within the staff’s most up-to-date pleasant.

Morgan’s inclusion would come on the expense of a younger participant at a special place — or perhaps a wholesome Lynn Williams, who was left off Hayes’ first and solely camp roster thus far — however Hayes has constantly careworn the necessity to steadiness veterans and youth.

The alternates (4)

In contrast to World Cups, the Olympic Video games characteristic 4 so-called “alternates” who might be added to the roster within the occasion of a tournament-ending damage to a participant. One of many 4 have to be a goalkeeper.

These aren’t throwaway positions — the alternates will journey to France and prepare with the staff day by day. Though alternates have been was full members of the squad for the 2021 Olympics attributable to COVID, the 2024 Olympics will see a return to alternates as coaching gamers solely.

Prior to now, alternate spots have gone to up-and-comers who weren’t able to make the complete squad however who have been anticipated to play a future position with the staff. In 2012, for example, Christen Press joined the gold medal-winning staff as an uncapped participant, and she or he later turned a staple with the USWNT, successful two World Cups. Sonnett made her first main event for the USWNT in 2016 as an Olympic alternate, and she or he has been an everyday within the staff since.

Different occasions, these spots have gone to veterans, like Heather O’Reilly, who in 2016 was named as an alternate for the Rio Olympics in what ended up being her ultimate event with the USWNT earlier than she retired.



May the Netherlands steal Lily Yohannes from the USWNT?

Hercluez Gomez believes Emma Hayes must act quick if she wish to safe Lily Yohannes for the USWNT.

So, how can we venture Hayes will use these 4 spots?

Casey Krueger (Age: 33 | Caps: 49)
Lily Yohannes (Age: 16 | Caps: 1)
Olivia Moultrie (Age: 18 | Caps: 4)
Jane Campbell (Age: 29 | Caps: 8)

Deducing the correct steadiness of Olympic alternates is a matter of private choice for every coach. It is about having gamers who’re prepared if wanted in emergency conditions, whereas additionally making an attempt to provide younger gamers a preview of life on the large stage.

Yohannes is essentially the most fascinating of the group. At 16 and having simply performed her first worldwide match, together with her on a truncated roster might be dangerous. (Then once more, Hayes likes to be daring.) Yohannes nonetheless has not dedicated to her worldwide future amid public courting from the Netherlands (which she shouldn’t be but eligible to symbolize), however her continued presence within the USWNT setting suggests the connection between her and the USWNT is growing.

Having Yohannes within the Olympic setting could be the right precursor to the 2027 World Cup. Satirically, if she have been an alternate who by no means performs, she nonetheless would not be cap-tied to the U.S., which means she might nonetheless choose to play for the Netherlands.

Krueger can function the alternate to interchange anybody throughout the again line, and Moultrie has the right combination of at the moment out there expertise, potential and familiarity with the system. Campbell appears to be like just like the clear third goalkeeper, too.

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