Crystal Dunn will be making her first Women’s World Cup qualifying appearance. (Matthew Levine Photo)
CHICAGO – Ten players with Women’s World Cup qualifying experience were named to the U.S. team for the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship.
U.S. head coach Jill Ellis picked 20 players for the tournament, which will be contested from Oct. 4-17 at three venues across the United States. Ten of the players named were on the squad that competed in the 2014 Concacaf Women’s Championship.
Of the 10 players with previous qualifying experience, four have played in multiple tournaments. This will be the fourth qualifying tournament for forward Carli Lloyd, while forwards Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe and defender Becky Sauerbrunn will be competing in their third.
The other players who were on the team for the 2014 qualifying tournament are: Morgan Brian, Julie Ertz, Ashlyn Harris, Tobin Heath, Kelley O’Hara and Christen Press. Rockville Centre, N.Y. native Crystal Dunn, who was named to the roster for the 2014 tournament before an injury ruled her out, will be playing in her qualifying competition at the senior level. On that 2014 roster, Dunn was replaced by Julie Johnston, now Ertz, but she did not see action in the tournament.
“We feel really good about the process that has gotten us to this point, and the final selection of this group,” Ellis said. “We’ve had a couple of injuries recently, but the depth of our pool is excellent, and I have confidence that each of the 20 players will perform at their highest level when called upon in these games. Our group is prepared and highly motivated to earn the right to be a part of France 2019.”
The U.S. opens its tournament on Oct. 4 against Mexico (7:30 p.m. ET), faces Panama on Oct. 7 (5 p.m. ET) and then finishes the group stage against Trinidad & Tobago on Oct. 10 (7:30 p.m. ET). All the USA’s Group A matches will be played in Cary, N.C. at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park, home of the NWSL regular-season champion North Carolina Courage.
The championship features eight countries divided into two groups of four with each group’s top two finishers advancing from round-robin play to the semifinals. The two finalists and the winner of the third-place match will qualify directly to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. The fourth-place finisher will earn a spot in a two-game playoff against Argentina, which finished third in South American qualifying, for a final berth to the tournament.
The roster (caps/goals)
GOALKEEPERS (2): Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 17/0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 33/0)
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 23/0), Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 69/23), Hailie Mace (UCLA; 2/0), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC; 108/2), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 143/0), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 25/0), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 21/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars; 79/6), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 66/16), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 56/6), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 13/3), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 38/7)
FORWARDS (6): Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 138/21), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 259/102), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 147/90), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 104/45), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 37/12), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 140/38)