Rosters: NWSL Challenge Cup

Teams can bring as many as 28 players to Utah for the 30-day NWSL Challenge Cup.

Note: In bold are new players.

Chicago Red Stars
GOALKEEPERS: Emily Boyd, Cassie Miller (PSV/NED), Alyssa Naeher.
DEFENDERS: Camryn Biegalksi (Univ. of Wisconsin), Julia Bingham (USC), Tierna Davidson, Hannah Davison, Julie Ertz, Zoey Goralski, Sarah Gorden, Zoe Morse (Univ. of Virginia), Kayla Sharples, Casey Short, Bianca St. Georges.
MIDFIELDERS: Morgan Brian, Danielle Colaprico, Vanessa DiBernardo, Savannah McCaskill, Yuki Nagasato, Cassie Rohan (Drake Univ.), Ella Stevens (Duke Univ.).
FORWARDS: Makenzy Doniak (Utah Royals), Rachel Hill (Orlando Pride), Katie Johnson, Sarah Luebbert (Univ. of North Carolina), Zoe Redei (Univ. of North Carolina), Michele Vasconcelos, Kealia Watt (Houston Dash).

Houston Dash
GOALKEEPERS: Jane Campbell, Amanda Dennis, Lindsey Harris (Klepp/NOR).
DEFENDERS: Allysha Chapman, Katie Naughton (Chicago Red Stars), Megan Oyster (OL Reign), Ally Prisock, Erin Simon (West Ham United/ENG).
MIDFIELDERS: Shea Groom (OL Reign), Haley Hanson, CeCe Kizer, Kristie Mewis, Christine Nairn, Cami Privett, Sophie Schmidt, Bri Visalli (Birmingham City/ENG).
FORWARDS: Bridgette Andrzejewski (Univ. of North Carolina), Rachel Daly, Jamia Fields, Veronica Latsko, Maegan Kelly, Kayla McCoy, Nichelle Prince, Katie Stengel (Utah Royals).

NC Courage
GOALKEEPERS: Stephanie Labbe, Samantha Murphy, Katelyn Rowland.
DEFENDERS: Lindsay Agnew (Houston Dash), Abby Dahlkemper, Jaelene Daniels, Abby Erceg, Hailey Harbison, Kaleigh Kurtz, Hailie Mace (Rosengard/SWE), Merritt Mathias, Addisyn Merrick (Univ. of Kansas), Sinclaire Miramontez (Univ. of Nebraska), Ryan Williams
MIDFIELDERS: Debinha, Crystal Dunn, Samantha Mewis, Lauren Milliet, Denise O’Sullivan, Cari Roccaro, Meredith Speck
FORWARDS: Kristen Hamilton, Jessica McDonald, McKenzie Meehan, Leah Pruitt, Ally Watt (Texas A&M Univ.), Lynn Williams

OL Reign
GOALKEEPERS: Michelle Betos, Casey Murphy, Carly Nelson (Univ. of Utah).
DEFENDERS: Lauren Barnes, Amber Brooks (Houston Dash), Alana Cook (Paris SG/FRA), Steph Cox, Machaela George (Santa Clara Univ.), Madison Hammond (Wake Forest Univ.), Celia Jimenez Delgado, Adrienne Jorden (Birmingham City/ENG), Kristen McNabb, Taylor Smith
MIDFIELDERS: Morgan Andrews, Shirley Cruz (Paris SG//FRA), Jess Fishlock, Kelcie Hedge (Santa Clara Univ.), Allie Long, Rebecca Quinn, Dani Weatherholt, Rosie White
FORWARDS: Bethany Balcer, Sofia Huerta (Houston Dash), Darian Jenkins, Mariah Lee (Lugano/SUI), Jasmyne Spencer, Jodie Taylor

Portland Thorns
GOALKEEPERS: Britt Eckerstrom, Adrianna Franch, Bella Bixby.
DEFENDERS: Kelli Hubly, Meghan Klingenberg, Emily Menges, Meaghan Nally (Georgetown Univ.), Madison Pogarch, Katherine Reynolds, Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals), Autumn Smithers (Univ. of Notre Dame), Christen Westphal.
MIDFIELDERS: Celeste Boureille, Lindsey Horan, Emily Ogle, Rocky Rodriguez (Sky Blue FC), Angela Salem, Gabby Seiler.
FORWARDS: Simone Charley, Marissa Everett, Tyler Lussi, Anika Rodriguez (UCLA), Christine Sinclair, Sophia Smith (Stanford Univ.), Morgan Weaver (Washington State Univ.).

Sky Blue FC
GOALKEEPERS: DiDi Haracic, Megan Hinz, Amanda McGlynn (Virginia Tech), Kailen Sheridan.
DEFENDERS: Jennifer Cudjoe (Asheville City FC), Sabrina Flores, Mandy Freeman, Estelle Johnson, Gina Lewandowski, Domi Richardson, Kaleigh Riehl (Penn State Univ.), Erica Skroski, Chantelle Swaby (Rutgers Univ.).
MIDFIELDERS: Nicole Baxter, Cassidy Benintente (Asarum/SWE), Elizabeth Eddy, Nahomi Kawasumi, Midge Purce (Portland Thorns), Madison Tiernan, Sarah Woldmoe, Kenie Wright, McCall Zerboni (NC Courage).
FORWARDS: Imani Dorsey, Paige Monaghan, Ifeoma Onumonu, Domi Richardson, Evelyne Viens (Univ. of South Florida).

Utah Royals
GOALKEEPERS: Nicole Barnhart, Melissa Lowder, Abby Smith
DEFENDERS: Elizabeth Ball, Katie Bowen, Rachel Corsie, Taylor Leach (Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC/SWE), Michelle Maemone, Maddie Nolf, Kelley O’Hara, Marissa Sheva (Alaves/ESP), Gaby Vincent (Univ. of Louisville), Mallory Weber.
MIDFIELDERS: Vero Boquete, Kate Del Fava (Illinois State Univ.), Aminata Diallo (Paris SG/FRA), Gunnhildur Jonsdottir, Lo’eau LaBonta, Diana Matheson, Desiree Scott, Chestley Strother (Sundsvall/SWE).
FORWARDS: Holly Daugirda (Univ. of Utah), Tziarra King (N.C. State Univ.), Taylor Lytle, Brittany Ratcliffe, Amy Rodriguez, Arielle Ship, Raisa Strom-Okimoto. 

Washington Spirit
GOALKEEPERS: Aubrey Bledsoe, Devon Kerr (Metz/FRA), Katie Lund.
DEFENDERS: Jenna Hellstrom, Brooke Hendrix, Tori Huster, Natalie Jacobs (USC), Kaiya McCullough (UCLA), Tegan McGrady, Sam Staab, Paige Nielsen.
MIDFIELDERS: Dorian Bailey, Jaye Boisierre (Le Havre/FRA), Jordan DiBiasi, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Rose Lavelle, Meghan McCool (Univ. of Virginia) Jessie Scarpa, Andi Sullivan
FORWARDS: Averie Collins (Washington State Univ.), Bayley Feist, Ashley Hatch, Katie McClure (Univ. of Kansas), Ashley Sanchez (UCLA), Crystal Thomas, Kumi Yokoyama.

Preview: NWSL gets back to work without many of its big names

The NWSL will be the first major U.S. pro league to return to play when the NWSL Challenge Cup opens on Saturday in Utah.

There will be no fans in the stands at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman and Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy for the 30-day tournament. But viewers will be able to watch all the action on new national broadcast partner CBS, which will carry two games on its main network -- U.S. women's pro soccer's first coverage on national television -- and all games on pay-streaming service CBS All Access.

It might be the only chance for fans to catch the NWSL in 2020 as the league has announced no concrete plans to play more games later in the year. But many U.S. women's national team stars won't be available.

Nine members of the 2019 U.S. Women's World Cup championship are out:

-- Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Tobin Heath (Portland) and Christen Press (Utah) have decided not to play.

In a statement, Heath said she wanted to be with her Thorns teammates on the field doing what she loved but won't play "because of the uncertainty and risks created by COVID-19. (Participation of NWSL players isn't required).

Press' statement contained similar language to that of Heath's. She described her absence from the Royals, the tournament's home team, as "painful," but she also said it was due to "the uncertainty created by COVID-19."

Rapinoe has not spoken about her absence, which was first mentioned by new OL Reign coach Farid Benstiti in an interview with a newspaper in his native France when the Tacoma-based team opened camp in Montana. On Tuesday, Reign CEO Bill Predmore said, “Farid and I would love to have her with the club for the tournament, but we understand and respect her decision.”

-- The team in Utah the most affected by losses is Sky Blue FC, which will be without Carli Lloyd (knee) and Mallory Pugh (hip) due to injuries. The New Jersey club also has defender Caprice Dydasco on the injured list.

Despite the losses, Sky Blue FC head coach Freya Coombe hopes to build on the improvement her team made late in the 2019 season with such offseason acquisitions as McCall Zerboni and Midge Purce, who have both played on the national team in recent years.

“I am really happy with the team we have built at Sky Blue since the end of last season,” said Coombe. “We have blended a talented group of experienced senior players, new signings, and some young players wanting to showcase their talent in the league. They have responded well as a group through the adversity of the last few months and have shown great resilience and mental agility."

-- Alex Morgan, who recently gave birth to her first child, was not going to play, but her club, the Orlando Pride, had to withdraw on Tuesday due to an outbreak of coronavirus on the team. The Pride's players who will miss the tournament include three U.S. world champions: goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and defenders Ali Krieger and Emily Sonnett.

Who will be there?

The two-time defending champion North Carolina Courage will be the heavy favorites with world champions Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn and Sam Mewis, all starters in the 2019 final against the Netherlands, as well as forward Jessica McDonald.

The Chicago Red Stars will be led by Julie Ertz and Alyssa Naeher, two other national team starters. Becky Sauerbrunn, who won her fourth NWSL Defender of the Year award in 2019, was traded from the Royals to Portland in the offseason, while Rose Lavelle, who played only 17 games in two seasons with Washington because of national team call-ups and injuries, will lead the Spirit.

NWSL owners approved new spending measures to allow teams to bring in foreign players on higher salaries, but few foreign players have joined the league in the aftermath of the shutdown due to the COVID-19 in the first week of preseason. French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi and German playmaker Dzsenifer Marozsan, once linked to the Royals, ended up re-signing with French champion Lyon.

Orlando's absence will mean that there will be no Marta in Utah. But fellow Brazilian Debinha (NC Courage) and Canada world scoring leader Christine Sinclair (Portland) should play big roles in the success of their teams.

No European league has the depth on the field or support in the stands -- when fans are allowed to attend -- like the NWSL, but a select group of clubs continue to draw away NWSL talent. Australian stars Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley and Ellie Carpenter all have or are expected to sign with European teams.

NWSL teams were allowed to bring expanded rosters -- 28 players -- to Utah, and they will be playing with the pandemic-era five subs, mandated by IFAB, creating a lot of opportunities for young players who might not otherwise get them. In recent years, college draft picks have had a hard time making NWSL rosters. Most 2020 picks are in Utah, led by Sophia Smith, who gave up her senior season at Stanford to sign with the Portland Timbers.
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