US women’s team focus on emerging talent for upcoming camp

National Sports

Several prominent U.S. women’s national team veterans were left off coach Vlatko Andonovski’s January training camp roster as the squad focuses on preparing its younger players for World Cup qualifying this summer.

Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Christen Press and Tobin Heath were not named Wednesday to the 25-player roster for the camp opening next week in Austin, Texas.

Instead, Andonovski is focusing on emerging talent, including forward Trinity Rodman, defender Naomi Girma, and midfielder Jaelin Howell. Thirteen players on the roster have 12 or fewer appearances with the national team.

Andonovski’s evaluation of the young players started following the Tokyo Olympics, where the U.S. earned the bronze medal.

”We wanted to see these young players and we wanted to give them the opportunity,” Andonovski said. ”With more of the senior players being around, the younger players would not have as much opportunity as they got or they’re going to get. Now, we will evaluate all these players in this camp and we’ll start making decisions for the future camps as well. With all this being said, these (veteran) players are not out of the picture by any means.”

Rodman was the 2021 U.S. Soccer Young Player of the Year following her rookie season with the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League. This is the first-ever national team call-up for the 19-year-old Rodman, who is the daughter of former NBA star Dennis Rodman.

”We don’t want to rush anything, obviously we have to be patient,” Andonovski said. ”She’s still a young player, but we do want to expose her to the environment where she can get her feet wet a little bit and get used to the environment, get used to my coaching, and the players that she’s around. And hopefully she can continue growing and show that what she was doing or able to do in the league, she can do it at the international level.”

Girma, the top player selected in the NWSL draft by expansion San Diego out of Stanford, was the 2021 Pac-12 Defender of the Year.

Howell won her second straight Hermann Trophy as the nation’s top college player after her season at Florida State.

The United States will host the annual SheBelieves Cup next month ahead of the new CONCACAF W Championship this summer, which will serve as qualifying for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and the 2024 Olympics.

Among others left off the camp roster were captain Becky Sauerbrunn, who is recovering from a procedure to freeze her embryos, and Julie Ertz, who is recovering from a knee injury.

Additionally, Crystal Dunn is currently expecting her first child and Catarina Macario will remain with Lyon as the team prepares for a French Cup match against Paris Saint Germain later this month.

The roster by position, with club team affiliation:

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

Defenders: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Abby Dahlkemper (San Diego Wave), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Imani Dorsey (NJ/NY Gotham), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit).

Midfielders: Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Jaelin Howell (Racing Louisville), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham), Samantha Mewis (Kansas City Current), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit).

Forwards: Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns), Lynn Williams (Kansas City Current).

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