U.S. soccer coach Jill Ellis has named the 23 players who will play for the women's national team in the 2019 Women's World Cup in France next month. The U.S. team will look to defend its championship from the last tournament in 2015, when it defeated Japan in the final.
The roster includes many of the stars who have previously played in high-profile international competition. Leading the way is Carli Lloyd, who scored six goals at the 2015 tournament and will now return for her fourth Women's World Cup. Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, and Becky Sauerbrunn will head to their third World Cup tournaments.
The biggest surprises on the roster are the inclusion of veteran defender Ali Krieger and midfielder Morgan Brian, who have only rarely been named to the national team in recent years. Ellis was clearly looking to add more experience to the squad with Krieger, who will play in her third Women's World Cup. Brian was the youngest member of the 2015 squad, but she has struggled with injuries over the last two years.
In a call with reporters on Thursday, Ellis said both players are on an upward trajectory in terms of fitness, and that Krieger's mental composure was part of the equation. "No moment is ever going to be too big for her," Ellis explained.
This will be the first World Cup for nine of the athletes. All 23 of the players compete in the National Women's Soccer League, the U.S. professional league.
One of the team's fastest-rising stars is forward Mallory Pugh, who just turned 21. The team's youngest member is Tierna Davidson, 20.
Former national team member Heather O'Reilly tweeted her approval of the lineup as the team pursues its obvious goal: "This is a squad that can certainly win the World Cup."
The U.S. has won the tournament three times, the most of any country.
Hope Solo, the goalkeeper who made many headlines in years past, is no longer on the national team. Instead, the 2019 squad includes goalkeepers Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher and Adrianna Franch.
The tournament kicks off June 7 in Paris, as France and South Korea face off. The U.S. begins the group stage against Thailand on June 11 in Le Havre, followed by matches against Chile and Sweden, the team that eliminated the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics.
USA Roster for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup
Goalkeepers: Adrianna Franch, Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher
Defenders: Abby Dahlkemper, Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn, Ali Krieger, Kelley O'Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, Emily Sonnett
Midfielders: Morgan Brian, Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Allie Long, Samantha Mewis
Forwards: Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, Jessica McDonald, Alex Morgan, Christen Press, Mallory Pugh, Megan Rapinoe