Megan Rapinoe is expected to add more creativity to the U.S. midfield. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
CHICAGO – Megan Rapinoe is back with the U.S. women’s national team.
The veteran midfielder was not called into the squad for the SheBelieves Cup earlier this month, but she will return to the team training camp prior to a pair international friendlies against Russia in Texas next month.
The U.S. could have used the playmaker in that competition because it finished fourth among as many times with a 1-2 mark.
Rapinoe was among 24 players called into training camp for the two games. The first is set at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas April 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET and at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston April 9 (1 p.m. ET).
A key performer for the U.S.’s championship side at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, Rapinoe has scored 31 goals in 117 international appearances.
U.S. head coach Jill Ellis will choose 18 players for the game roster for each match. These will be the final U.S. WNT matches before the National Women’s Soccer League kicks off its fifth season with four games April 15.
“This is our last chance to get together before the NWSL starts and we’ll take full advantage of the training time as well as the two matches against a team in preparation for the European championships,” Ellis said in a statement. “Following these matches, my staff and I will begin a heavy investment in attending and evaluating the NWSL games as well as tracking our players overseas before we get back together for our European trip in the summer. I’m very much looking forward to our domestic league starting.”
Ellis named several familiar local names to the team, including Sky Blue FC defender Kelley O’Hara, Portland Thorns midfielder Allie Long of Northport, N.Y., and forward Crystal Dunn of Rockville Centre, N.Y.
Dunn, who is playing with the Chelsea Ladies in England, will join the camp March 30.
Ellis named three goalkeepers, six defenders, eight midfielders and seven forwards, although numerous players can play multiple positions. Nineteen players selected were on the roster for the SheBelieves Cup in March.
The U.S. coach also has given a first call-up to new Boston Breakers defender Megan Oyster, who had a quality NWSL season last year for the Washington Spirit. Forward Amy Rodriguez (129/30) and defender Meghan Klingenberg (70/3), who both attended the USA’s training camp before the SheBelieves Cup but did not make the final roster, also ertr selected, as was Houston Dash forward Kealia Ohai, who earned her first three caps and scored her first WNT goal at the end of 2016.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS (6): Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Megan Oyster (Boston Breakers), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Boston Breakers), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash/Manchester City), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign)
FORWARDS (7): Crystal Dunn (Chelsea FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/Olympique Lyonnais, FRA), Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (UCLA), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Lynn Williams (NC Courage)