USWNT: Olympic roster revealed

Vlatko Andonovski named the 18 players (plus four alternates) he will take to the Tokyo Olympics.

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U.S. Olympic Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).
DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Man. City/ENG), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit).
MIDFIELDERS (5): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage).
FORWARDS (5): Tobin Heath (Man. United/ENG), Carli Lloyd (Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Man. United/ENG), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign).

* * * * * * * * * *

Only one player -- Kristie Mewis -- wasn't a member of the USA’s 2019 Women’s World Cup championship team.

The competition for roster spots was tight -- the 2019 World Cup team had 23 players -- with little separating players at several positions.

The selection process was complicated by knee injuries to two starters. Julie Ertz and Tobin Heath were both determined to be ready for the Olympics.

In the end, Andonovski took ...

-- Adrianna Franch over Jane Campbell as the backup keeper. Franch had been away from the national team for more than a year with a knee injury of her own, but her strong play for the Portland Thorns earned her the nod over Campbell.

-- Tierna Davidson as the third center back. Davidson is another player who came back from injuries. She is one of three players who were not on the 2020 Olympic qualifying roster along with Alex Morgan (on maternity leave) and Mewis who earned tickets to Tokyo.

-- Emily Sonnett as the extra outside back. Midge Purce, who also played as a winger, and Sonnett, who can both both outside back positions and as the holding midfielder, were recently battling to make the team as cover.

-- Mewis over 21-year-old Catarina Macario as the fifth midfielder. Mewis, Sam Mewis' older sister, made her first roster at the age of 30 for a world championship eight months after her return to the national team. She had played for Andonovski in the NWSL, drafted by   FC Kansas City out of Boston College in 2013, but went more than six years between national team appearances before her return in November 2020.

“For Kristie, she is a product of NWSL," Andonovski said bring a media call. "She played extremely well in the league in the last year and a half or so, earned herself an opportunity. Then after the opportunity was given to her, she took full advantage of it. Every game that she came in, whether it was 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, she maximized that opportunity and continued growing and developing in the league and performing in the league.”

Macario had a strong run in late spring for French club Lyon but she was not as consistent as Mewis was in her national team appearances. It hurt the Brazilian-born youngster that she missed the two April friendlies in Europe because of a COVID-19 outbreak at Lyon that forced her to quarantine.

“Catarina is an exceptional player,” Andonovski said. “But other players were more ready than her for the Olympics. The fact that she’s an alternate will give her the experience necessary to see what it takes to compete on world stage. We expect her to be a main figure on this team for a long time.”

WNT turnover:
In 2012, not part of 2011 WWC team: Leroux.

In 2016, not part of 2015 WWC team: Horan, Long, Dunn, Pugh.
In 2021, not part of 2019 WWC team: K.Mewis.

With Heath in the fold, Andonovski kept the five-player U.S. frontline intact even if its average age will be more than 34 when the Olympics start. He did not take Lynn Williams, Sophia Smith and Purce, all wingers.

"We know there are some very talented players that won’t be in Japan," said Andonovski, "but these were the difficult decisions that we had to make. We have a very experienced roster that has been through adversity at the highest levels."

Andonovski named Campbell, defender Casey Krueger, Macario and Williams as the four alternates.

U.S. Schedule:
July 21. Sweden (5:30 p.m. local / 4:30 a.m. ET) in Tokyo.
July 24. New Zealand (8:30 p.m. local / 7:30 a.m. ET) in Saitama.
July 27. Australia (5 p.m. local / 4 a.m. ET) in Kashima.

25 comments about "USWNT: Olympic roster revealed".
  1. R2 Dad, June 23, 2021 at 11:09 a.m.

    Don't really understand how centerbacks can double as outside backs. Dunn and O'hara are the outside backs, with AD, TD, BS and ES centerbacks. Unless Vlatko is planning on mostly playing with 3 centerbacks like you might against lightweight CONCACAF teams, these picks don't seem to make much sense. Can anyone enlighten?
    Also, Grandma Lloyd instead of Macario in hot/humid Japan in the summer? Why carry a player who is only good for 20-25 minutes in the second half, maybe?

  2. Nick Gabris replied, June 23, 2021 at 11:27 a.m.

    R-2 Add Rapino to that as well. 34 yr. old front line is what happens when you don't bring along younger players. Seems to me that coach A., Lloyd, Rapino, all just want to pad their numbers. 

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, June 24, 2021 at 12:51 a.m.

    R2, your confusion arises from classifying Sonnett as a CB rather than a 3rd FB.

  4. R2 Dad replied, June 24, 2021 at 11:14 a.m.

    Sonnet plays primarily as a centerback at club, but I'd say her official position for the Nats is agressive pitbull. She's certainly not in the mold of Dunn/O'Hara, though occassionally gets a goal or assist. Her long passing is average/below average, based on her "highlight" reel. Every team needs a player like her, though she's a liability. Her highlight reel shows her coming from behind and getting carded a couple times. At club she's marking skill players, being a nuisance, mouthing off. If this is an acceptable outside back, she an exception to the rule that centerbacks make poor outside backs.

  5. Chance Hall, June 23, 2021 at 6:36 p.m.

    Usual players.  That's OK I guess.  Except why peeno?  It's going to be very hot in Tokyo.  She is too slow and too predictable.  Should have named Smith or Williams, or Purce.  Better get some young blood on this team before the World Cup!  Good Luck USA!!!

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, June 24, 2021 at 1:08 a.m.

    Did you forget that she was the 2019 FIFA player of the year? She was called slow and predictable then too. She is also an important leader on the team. You should realize that some people value her more than you evidently do. IMO having Heath and Ertz available is an important consideration.

  7. Chris Wasdyke replied, June 24, 2021 at 8:58 a.m.

    To me it's a sign they have no confidence in the younger generation or even worse this group of players has too much power over the roster.  Luckily for the USWNT the Olympic field is pretty weak.

  8. Bob Ashpole, June 24, 2021 at 12:47 a.m.

    Uncontroversial selections. There were more deserving players than spaces available. Best wishes to all. 

  9. Chance Hall replied, June 24, 2021 at 4:45 p.m.

    Have no idea why or how she got selected 2019 player of the year. Certainly many other players more talented and skilled and deserving. As for leadership she brought more controversy didn't see any leadership. Someone or institution must be spending a lot of money to make that happen. Hope the team can cover for her again. 

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, June 24, 2021 at 9:12 p.m.

    Why is obvious. She scored both goals against host France, eliminating them in the quarterfinals. That was the biggest highlight of the finals. It really impressed Europeans who have a lot of votes and had hoped that France would eliminate the US leaving an all European final four. Europeans also tend to be more impressed with superior technical skills than sprint speed.

    If Rapinoe hadn't scored those goals she likely would not have been rated top ten even.

  11. Peter Bechtold replied, June 25, 2021 at 8:02 p.m.

    Bob A.: Replying to your reply that Rapinoe was FIFA player of the year. Do you believe that she was actually the best player in 2019 ? In the world ? In the USWNT ? In her club team, then in Seattle, now in Tacoma ?
    Anyone who followed this closely would agree that the answer is "NO" on all counts. She contributed virtually nothing to the Reign. She did score penalty kicks for the US, but was not in the top three as a soccer player. (The Guardian list of women soccer players has her at # 39/40; about right.) The goals against France is another subject; you have to include her foul play.
    So why did she win that award from FIFA ? In the year of the lawsuit and the "Me-too-movement"?

  12. Bob Ashpole replied, June 26, 2021 at 1:08 a.m.

    Peter, apparently you didn't see the last line of my post.

  13. E Velazquez, June 24, 2021 at 6:26 a.m.

    If we don't win the next World Cup, the responsable will be andonowski  for selecting old players for the olympics. At this time  he might be thinking about himself rather than the National team. If USA does not win the next World cup ,we will need  a NEW COACH  at once, What do you  say gentleman ? (Bob Ashpole)

  14. Bob Ashpole replied, June 24, 2021 at 9:19 p.m.

    Where I disagree is that the coach is not allowed to use the Olympics as a development opportunity. His job is on the line if the team doesn't win the gold medal. Expectations are through the roof thanks to Jill Ellis's success with the team in 2015 and 2016. The competition rules makes every roster spot crucial. There is no room to carry someone.

  15. John Sabala, June 24, 2021 at 12:48 p.m.

      To All,
    Selection of many of these players is one based on versatility due to an 18 player roster.  Many players can play multiple roles.  Lloyd can play the 9 and 10 easily and is always a threat to score. Despite her age, I don't see many players outwork her. The woman is a beast.  Sonnett can play defender and midfield if needed. Dunn can play literally anywhere.  Going with a three back set is a great idea as you can put more of your attacking players on the pitch. Horan can play the 6 or the 8, the same with K Mewis.  The only selection I completely disagree with is T. Heath.  She has not played in over 10 months and you can't expect her to perform at that level with no match play at all.   Pure lunacy.   Macario, Pugh, Williams are all better selections. I get she has contrinuted to the past, but you are trying to win with limited players.  I would not worry about the lack of youth on this team for the future. The USWNT know how to build players and playing in the NWSL is like the men playing in the top clubs in Europe.

    Make offense your defense. A 3-4-2-1 could be devastating with the speed on the team.  Chelsea showed how hard the formation is to defend with the right players.   You can high press from this formation which Andonvoski likes to do. Starting XI

  16. mock mook replied, June 24, 2021 at 7:38 p.m.

    @John Sabala -- Love the formation, but not the players.
    Given the constraints of this roster, I'd choose:

    (BTW, I think you meant MR, not MP)
    Christen Press is not suitable for a Wing Back, a position that often involves extensive defending.

  17. mock mook replied, June 24, 2021 at 7:40 p.m.

    Oh, and I'd be saving Rapinoe and Lloyd's legs/energy for later in the game when the opposition is tired.

  18. Bob Ashpole replied, June 24, 2021 at 9:32 p.m.

    Are you considering that slower opponents are defending in a low block to negate the speed advantage? Health provides creativity to break down compact defences.

    Are you considering that the 3 back defense leaves us outnumbered on the flanks and allows opponents to defend less space?

    Specifically what I don't like about your system is that it weakens the attack to provide a more defensive shape. I don't like 2 "6"s or wing backs who have to run an additional 40 yards to make an attack. Arguably we are strongest in wingers, yet this is a formation without any.

  19. John Sabala, June 25, 2021 at 7:44 a.m.

    Mock Moot, yes you are correct. MR not MP.  Not sure how I messed that one up since the keys are so far apart on the keyboard  :)  Christen Press does play defense well, though she has the speed to cover the outside of the formation.  She has a great work rate.  The great thing about this formation is it allows the team to attack from all along the top of the box with penetrating passes from the wing backs or from the holding or attacking midfielders.  It also allows AD to make some of her best passes from the back.

    Bob, most teams playing the US will sit in a low block and try to counter attack with a long pass to one or two forwards on top of their defensive formation.  This formation allows for one centerback to attack that outlet pass and two to move behind to protect the keeper.  I agree TH is a creative player, but she does not have quick movement with the ball and you can't shake 10 months of rust and no match play entering a tournament that will test fitness limits with such a small roster and shorter rest days.  The last world cup TH held onto the ball far too long trying to beat players on the wings and completely broke the flow of the offense. You beat low block teams with quicker passing and ball movements, not trying to dribble through everyone.  I think Pugh or Macario were better picks with creativity and good skills in traffic.

  20. John Sabala replied, June 25, 2021 at 7:57 a.m.

    Also Bob, this formation has wingbacks that push foward the same as a back four with RB/LB.  This way they are farther up the pitch.  It will create more chances to score from the run of play.  The top three forwards are interchangable and make it very difficult for CB to mark just one striker.  You really need to look at film at how Thomas Tuchel used this formation at Chelsea beating Man City (X3), Real Madrid and moved to 4th from 9th place in the Premier League.  Yes it is good for defense, but it created a ton of chances that were not converted due to Werner's woes up top.  The ability to press high in the wide areas is hard to break if done well.  Based on who we have to use, this also fits well for Rose Lavelle (MF/F/WB), Emily Sonnett (WB/MF), and Lindsey Horan. There are 6 players that can potentially score. 

  21. Bob Ashpole replied, June 26, 2021 at 1:29 a.m.

    So now you are saying that the wingbacks are going to push high in the wide areas to press while at the same time defending in a low block? Your system is depending on the wingbacks to play end to end the whole game. Makes me wonder if you ever played winger (or winghalf or wingback) in a competitive match under FIFA substitution rules. 

    This weakness in your system is what I was refering too when I pointed out that the wingbacks have to run 40 yards further to make an attack. 

    The EPL does not play a match every 3 days with a roster of 18.

  22. Matt Cardillo, June 25, 2021 at 2:33 p.m.

    I do not disagree that this selection has the best chance of winning. To me, there's no one left off the roster that is shocking. (see Donovan being left off Brazil WC roster...and even then there's "some debate.) 

    The problem is the system. The coach's job at this level is to win. It's not to develope. It's that simple. Until the Olympic committee changes the women's tournament to U-23 (like the men), we will continue to see these aging rosters.

    I have asked pundits and soccer writers for an explanation as to why the womens' teams aren't age restricted for the Olympics. No one has explained it to me. Maybe, back in the day, there wasn't enough talent around the world to make for a competitve tourney if you imposed U-23 limit. However, that excuse has long passed. I would love to see a US U-23 roster sprinkled with a couple of over-23s. That would also give the youngsters a chance to get experience in big big tournaments. I think our youngest player is 23 or 24. 

    Here's to hoping this is the last Olympics without a u-23 limit

  23. John Sabala replied, June 25, 2021 at 3:20 p.m.

    You bring up great points.  The development of the women's game across the globe is just not there yet to have a U-23 limit on the women.  When you look at the funding for the women's side in Europe it is being done by the professional clubs and not by the country itself.  There is more growth in Europe as you would expect, but going to Asia, it is China and Japan. Africa, just does not fund woman's programs. Most countries don't have full time woman's professional soccer and no collegiate system in place.  So the gap across the globe remains the size of the Grand Canyon between women and the men in the case of soccer.  My two cents, and I hope gives some what of an answer to your question.

  24. Bob Ashpole replied, June 26, 2021 at 1:49 a.m.

    Matt, you are looking at it from the wrong angle. FIFA does not make clubs release players for Olympic competition. That means that the Olympics will never have the best players. So the men's U23 limit is not driving the talent level. Many clubs won't release the best U23 players for Olympic competition. FIFA wants to make sure that its competitions remain top draw.

    As for the women, up until recently there were no women's professional clubs, except in the US. And the US clubs aren't about to hold back their US players. This lack of an age limit probably also is influenced by the lack of revenue FIFA generates for the women's competition. FIFA is not as concerned about the women's game. 

  25. Matt Cardillo, June 25, 2021 at 5:46 p.m.

    i see you point, but disagree...generally. The reduced number of teams that make the Olympics usually sets it up so that it's the "advanced" countries that make it anyway.  

    Another solution. Make it U25?  I think i finally saw a aricle (haven't read yet) by Beau Dure (SA Confidential) addressing these issues.

    we'll see. cheers

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