Allie Long has played for the USWNT 51 times. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)

By Michael Lewis Editor

Having coached Allie Long for two seasons at Reign SC, U.S. women’s national coach Vlatko Andonovski admits it was an “extremely difficult” decision not to include the Northport, N.Y. native on the team roster for Olympic qualifying.

A member of the U.S. side that secured the Women’s World Cup in France last summer, Long was left off the 20-player squad, which was announced Friday. Part of the reason could be a numbers game as 23 players made the WWC roster.

During a Friday conference call, Andonovski was asked about the exclusion of Long and midfielder Morgan Bryan, who both play in the National Women’s Soccer League.

“The decision came down to the structure of the roster and if you look. We have six defenders, five midfielders and six forwards,” he said. “So the opportunities for the midfielders was a little bit less than forwards and defenders. I had a good conversation with both of them and we have a schedule follow with both.

“The bottom line, there’s certain things that I feel like they can do better. Definitely the opportunity is there for them. They’re both great players. We’ve seen both at their best and how good they can be. It’s on them and club environments and ourselves to help them reach their best.”

Long, 32, has made 51 appearances for the USWNT, scoring eight goals. Last week it was announced that the former Albertson Soccer Club player would be inducted into the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame on May 26.

“Every time you call a player and tell that she didn’t make the roster or didn’t make the team its difficult, whether its Allie Long or anybody else that was in camp,” Andonovski said. “It was difficult for me. Allie Long … she played for me for two years and I consider her a friend.

“It was extremely difficult but it’s what I believe it was the right thing to do. The players that I picked are those that will give us the best chance to be successful. I also believe Allie does have qualities to be a world class player and she proved that especially in 2018 when she came to Seattle. I think she was one of the best midfielders in the league.”