Megan Rapinoe among USWNT roster surprises for CONCACAF tourney

US coach Vlatko Andonovski on Monday called up 23 women for next month’s CONCACAF W Championship, the 2023 World Cup qualifier and the 2024 Olympics. And it’s a list full of surprises – both for those who made it and for those who made it even for those who didn’t make it.

Forward Megan Rapinoe and defender Becky Sauerbrunn made it.

The inclusion of Rapinoe came as a surprise as the 36-year-old has not started for her NWSL club this season and has only played 154 minutes in four games for the OL Reign. And since October she is no longer part of the national team.

Less surprising was the inclusion of Sauerbrunn, which is a week after her 37th birthday. Despite missing national team camp in April with a knee injury, Sauerbrunn has played in the Portland Thorns’ last six NWSL games. She is also the US captain and leads all active players with 202 caps.

Also for the first time since October, NWSL top scorer Alex Morgan returns with nine goals in as many games for the San Diego Wave expansion. She is the national team’s top active goalscorer with 115 goals and she is joined by Wave midfielder Taylor Kornieck, who has played seven times for age-group teams but is making his first senior debut.

Among those missing is Angel City forward Christen Press, who has not played for the national team since the Tokyo Olympics last summer. She left Angel City’s match in Louisville on Saturday with a knee injury.

“Since we were last together in April, we’ve evaluated many games, hours of video and extensive discussions with the coaching staff to arrive at this lineup,” Andonovski said in a statement. “As usual, players don’t take these decisions lightly. But we believe this is a squad capable of achieving all of our goals over the four weeks that we will be together for hopefully seven successful games.

Samantha Mewis, centre, celebrates after a goal with Christen Press and Rose Lavelle.

Samantha Mewis, centre, celebrates with Christen Press (right) and Rose Lavelle after scoring a goal against Portugal in an international friendly match in June 2021.

(Associated Press)

Only 10 of the 23 players in the squad have World Cup and Olympic qualifying experience, but the team also has five players with 100 or more caps in Sauerbrunn, Morgan, Rapinoe, Kelley O’Hara and midfielder Lindsey Horan. Eight players have fewer than 10 caps.

The USA play friendlies against Colombia on June 25 in the Denver suburb and on June 28 outside of Salt Lake City before flying to Monterrey, Mexico for the eight-team CONCACAF tournament that starts on July 4. The USA play against Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico in the group competition. The other group features Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago and reigning Olympic champions Canada.

The top two teams in each group will compete in next summer’s expanded World Cup field, as well as receive spots in the semi-finals of the tournament. The winner of the W Championship will automatically earn a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympics, while second and third place finishers will meet in a playoff in September for another Olympic invitation.

Morgan, Rapinoe and Sauerbrunn, three of the seven players in the roster aged over 30, were from the USA team that last played in a World Cup qualifier in Mexico. The Americans suffered their only loss at that tournament in 2010, against Mexico, which forced them to win a two-game playoff against Italy to qualify for the 2011 World Cup.

Horan, who plays for Lyon in France, is the only player in the squad from outside the NWSL.

The roster

Goalkeeper: Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defender: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington spirit)

Midfield player: Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

Forward: Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns F.C.)

Additional players for the June friendlies against Colombia

Defender: Carson PickettNorth Carolina Courage

Midfield player: Jaelin Howell (Racing Louisville), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC) Megan Rapinoe among USWNT roster surprises for CONCACAF tourney

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