With a few weeks to go until the U.S. Women's National Team faces off against China PR in two friendlies, head coach Jill Ellis announced the preliminary roster for those matches. 24 players have been called in total and some familiar names will be in contention for a place on the bench when the two teams kick off.
The first friendly will be on June 7th at Rio Tinto Stadium and the second will be on June 12th at FirstEnergy Stadium. Both matches will be shown on FS1/UDN and ESPN2 respectively.
Rodriguez makes return to the national team
One of the most surprising names on the roster is that of Amy Rodriguez. Rodriguez had been missing from the national team set up since October 2015 due to pregnancy and after she had picked up a season-ending injury in the first game of the 2017 National Women's Soccer League season. Rodriguez has since returned to match fitness and has shown that the injury did not slow her down in any way. The 31-year old has made seven appearances so far this season for Utah Royals FC and has managed a goal and an assist in that time period. The return of her game time may be low but Rodriguez has shown great ability in her play to still be an asset to the national team.
Also making returns to the USWNT are Tobin Heath and Samantha Mewis. Heath has not featured for the national team since September and Mewis has not made an appearance since November 2017. Injuries have prevented both players from being called up since then but now both have recovered fully and are ready to reclaim their places in the starting eleven of the team.
Casey Murphy looks to gain a foothold with the senior team
One of the more intriguing names in this preliminary roster is that of Casey Murphy. The goalkeeping position in the team is currently being held by Alyssa Naeher but for both the Chicago Red Stars and the national team, Naeher has been inconsistent at best. Those below Naeher in the depth chart, such as Ashlyn Harris and Abby Smith do not seem to have Ellis' full confidence so this may be a chance for Murphy to move up the depth chart just before the Tournament of Nations in July and more importantly, the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.
For anyone unfamiliar with Murphy, the 22-year old has been in stellar form when called upon for Montpellier HSC in the Division 1 Féminine, and calls for her inclusion in the national team set up by those who watch the French league regularly have seemingly been heard. If Murphy reproduces the same form she's shown in France, it may not be enough at this juncture to unseat Naeher but it will definitely place her name in the hat for the future.
Full preliminary roster
Goalkeepers: Abby Smith (Utah Royals FC), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Casey Murphy (Montpellier HSC).
Defenders: Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC), Margaret Purce (Portland Thorns FC), Merritt Mathias (North Carolina Courage), Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars), Tierna Davidson (Stanford University).
Midfielders: Allie Long (Seattle Reign FC), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), McCall Zerboni (North Carolina Courage), Morgan Brian (Olympique Lyonnais), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage).
Forwards: Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Amy Rodriguez (Utah Royals FC), Christen Press (Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC), Savannah McCaskill (Sky Blue FC), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC).