USWNT head coach Jill Ellis released her 2015 World Cup roster today, and longtime fans will see few surprising names on the list.
Perhaps the most obvious inclusion was Abby Wambach, one of the team’s captains and most vocal leaders. It’s hard to fault Ellis for bringing the world’s leading international goal scorer to Canada with her squad, even if she has lost a bit of pace as she approaches her 35th birthday just ahead of the tournament kickoff on June 8th. While also not surprising, it was a little interesting to see the naming of long-time captain Christie Rampone, given her recent struggles for match fitness through a recent back injury and a sprained MCL.
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The forwards corps is kept intact, though it’s deceptive given how frequently Christen Press is deployed in the midfield. And most of the rotation midfielders are scheduled to make the trip to Canada, including veteran faces like Carli Lloyd and the wealth of talent on the wings in Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath and Heather O’Reilly.
It was particularly heartening to see Kelley O’Hara and Lori Chalupny’s names on the list. While the individual skill and tirelessness that O’Hara brings to the left back position continues to go under-appreciated on this team, her inclusion on the roster should be a reminder to everyone that anything can happen, from injury to a decreased ability to perform. The depth of this team has always been a point of great pride, and while no one could send anything but best wishes to every single player at every single position, it’s comforting to know the reservoirs of talent that lurk at the end of the bench.
The keenest observers were looking to see which players names were omitted. Leaving behind Rachel van Hollebeke seemed an inevitability with the glut of defenders (and defensive trialists) called in for the training camps organized by Ellis and her staff since her tenure began. With four center-backs already accounted for, and with such a large contingent of full-backs, there just wasn’t the room in Ellis’ plans for “The Buehldozer” or youngster Crystal Dunn, a versatile defender who can also do significant damage as a winger.
Goalkeepers (3): Ashlyn Harris (WAS), Alyssa Naeher (BOS), Hope Solo (SEA)
Defenders (8): Lori Chalupny (CHI), Whitney Engen (WNY), Julie Johnston (CHI), Meghan Klingenberg (HOU), Ali Krieger (WAS), Kelley O’Hara (SBFC), Christie Rampone (SBFC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FCKC),
Midfielders (6): Shannon Boxx (CHI), Morgan Brian (HOU), Tobin Heath (POR), Lauren Holiday (FCKC), Carli Lloyd (HOU), Heather O’Reilly (FCKC), Megan Rapinoe (SEA)
Forwards (5): Sydney Leroux (WNY), Alex Morgan (POR), Christen Press (CHI), Amy Rodriguez (FCKC), Abby Wambach (n/a)
The USWNT faces off against Ireland on May 10 at 2:30 EST, a match that will be aired live on Fox Sports 1.