Carli Lloyd will be back for her fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup after United States coach Jill Ellis announced her 23-player roster for the 2019 edition this summer in France.
Ellis attempted to bridge the gap between experience and change, with almost half of the players named to the U.S. roster set to participate in the sport’s signature event for the first time.
The roster includes 11 first-time participants, three more than the team that won the World Cup four years ago and tied for the third-most rookies among U.S. entries in the women’s tournament that began in 1991.
But the roster announced Thursday also includes eight players who started in the 2015 World Cup final against Japan. That experience includes Lloyd, the tournament’s reigning Golden Ball winner and now the ninth American woman to appear in four World Cups. Six more players are appearing in their third World Cup — including a potential starting forward line of Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. Morgan and Rapinoe share the captain duties with Lloyd.
“Coming out of the Olympics it was looking at just not player personnel but profiles, what kind of players, where were things headed, where we trending and making sure we had players to fill those needs and being able to contribute to where I envisioned the game going four years on,” Ellis said during a conference call.
“What we’ve come to is exactly that, a team with great energy, a team with great experience.
“Even though there is younger players, I think those players have been with us for awhile and have experience a lot of top quality matches.”
Defenders Ali Krieger, Kelley O’Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn also make a World Cup roster for the third time, with O’Hara and Sauerbrunn likely to fill starting roles on the back line.
In all, 12 players return from the 2015 team that won the championship.
There is also experience of a sort among the newcomers. Only goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, midfielders Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis, forward Jessica McDonald and defenders Abby Dahlkemper, Tierna Davidson and Emily Sonnett have no prior major tournament experience. Mewis and Sonnett were Olympic alternates in 2016 who traveled with the team before and during that tournament in Brazil.
Those 2016 Olympics turned out to be something of an early look at 2019. Despite Ellis’ stated desire to expand the player pool and open up competition after the U.S. was eliminated from that event in the quarterfinals, 15 of the 18 players named to the smaller Olympic roster also appear on the current World Cup roster.
Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan, and Mallory Pugh, all first-time World Cup participants who are expected to play leading roles, made their major tournament debuts in the Olympics.
This year also marks the first time since the first Women’s World Cup in 1991 that a U.S. team will compete in either the World Cup or Olympics without either Briana Scurry or Hope Solo among its goalkeepers. Named to this roster, Alyssa Naeher and Ashlyn Harris was part of the 2015 team but did not play any minutes in the tournament.
Among the notable omissions were defender Casey Short, who started 13 of the team’s 16 games as recently as 2017, and midfielder McCall Zerboni, an NWSL standout who became the oldest player to earn her first cap when she debuted in 2017. After giving debuts to current and recent college players such as Emily Fox, Hailie Mace, Savannah McCaskill and Andi Sullivan, Ellis also opted to instead complete the roster with veterans such as Morgan Brian, Krieger, Allie Long and McDonald.
The average age of the World Cup roster is 28, as was the case for the roster four years ago. That despite the inclusion of Davidson, the youngest player on the roster at 20, and Pugh, 21. Both Davidson and Pugh are younger than any player on the 2015 roster.
The only holdover from the 2007 team, Lloyd is the oldest player on the roster at 36.
The United States plays Thailand in its opening game on June 11 in Reims, France. It also faces Chile and Sweden in Group F play. The only other team in the group ranked among the top 30 in the world, Sweden eliminated the U.S. in the 2016 Olympic quarterfinal.
Women’s World Cup roster by position (Club):
Goalkeepers (3): Adrianna Franch* (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris** (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher** (Chicago Red Stars)
Defenders (7): Abby Dahlkemper* (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson* (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn* (NC Courage), Ali Krieger*** (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara*** (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn*** (Utah Royals FC), Emily Sonnett* (Portland Thorns FC)
Midfielders (6): Morgan Brian** (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz** (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan* (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle* (Washington Spirit), Allie Long* (Reign FC), Samantha Mewis* (NC Courage)
Forwards (7): Tobin Heath*** (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd**** (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald* (NC Courage), Alex Morgan*** (Orlando Pride), Christen Press** (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh* (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe*** (Reign FC)