by TOM SLATER
As the United States Women’s National Team stars begins their mission to redefine itself after last summer’s Olympic defeat, the auditions begin next week.
Coach Jill Ellis called in 29 players for a training camp that will run from Jan. 13 to 23 at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, California.
While many of the faces will be familiar, six uncapped players will be in camp. And the team will also welcome back Amy Rodriguez back to camp. A striker on the 2015 World Cup team, Rodriguez will make her first appearance with the national team after giving birth to her second child on July 1.
“The players have had a good break since our last games in November, and I know everyone is anxious to get back to work,” said Ellis. “January Camp has always been valuable to set the tone for the upcoming year and it will be good for the players to get back on the field. For the staff, evaluation and performance remain the focal points during camp as we begin a build up to the SheBelieves Cup.”
The January training camp will be a key evaluation period for Ellis to choose a squad for the upcoming SheBelieves Cup. The second tournament will feature four of the world’s top-five ranked teams in the USA (1), Germany (2), France (3) and England (5). The same four sides competed in the inaugural tournament, won by the United States.
Most of the names in camp are familiar. Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Julie Johnston, Crystal Dunn and Tobin Heath are all back. Lloyd is the most capped player on the roster with 232 games played and is four goals away from becoming the sixth player in U.S. history to score 100 international goals. The 2016 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year Tobin Heath comes into the camp with 128 caps and 18 goals.
The six uncapped players on the roster are goalkeepers Jane Campbell and Adrianna Franch and midfielders Kristen Edmonds, Christina Gibbons, Rose Lavelle and Taylor Smith.
Morgan, who recently signed to play in France with Olympique Lyonnais for the remainder of the European season before returning to the Orlando Pride for the latter part of the NWSL season, will attend camp only during the upcoming official FIFA dates, which run Jan. 16-24.
Two regulars — Mallory Pugh and Meghan Klingenberg — will miss camp while recovering from injuries.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (4): Jane Campbell (Stanford), Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS (7): Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (11): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Kristen Edmonds (Orlando Pride), Christina Gibbons (Duke), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Wisconsin), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC), Taylor Smith (Western New York Flash)
FORWARDS (7): Crystal Dunn (Chelsea Ladies FC, ENG), Jessica McDonald (Western New York Flash), Alex Morgan (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA), Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Lynn Williams (Western New York Flash)