After winning their 10th Algarve Cup title, the U.S. women's national team continue their preparation for this summer's Women's World Cup with a friendly against New Zealand on April 4 (Fox Sports 1, 3:30 p.m. ET). Jill Ellis has named her 25-player roster, and it should look familiar—it's the same team Ellis brought to Portugal.
The USWNT will begin training in Los Angeles on March 23 before heading to St. Louis on March 30. More than 31,000 tickets have been sold for the game against New Zealand, after which the USWNT will face the Republic of Ireland, Mexico, and the Korea Republic in a send-off series in May.
While Ellis' roster brings no real surprises, it does include one player who's going on 35 and currently without a club team. Seem odd? It should, but that player is Abby Wambach, who announced recently that she won't be participating in the 2015 NWSL season. Her decision baffled many, but it's hardly enough to keep a legend like her off a roster. Wambach will be at the World Cup—you know, unless she does something really out-there like take a sabbatical and miss club games and then actually return to club play but still get left behind. Wait, who was I talking about?
Anyway, Wambach doesn't seem to be totally alone in her choice. SoccerWire.com reported that other core USWNT players are considering retirement or sabbatical after the World Cup, including some that would make sense (Christie Rampone, Shannon Boxx) and some that would be a real blow to the team (Lauren Holiday, Ali Krieger). In short, the USWNT we see after the World Cup—whether the U.S. wins, fails, or simply middles—might not be the USWNT we've grown used to seeing.
But for now, this is the team. Predicting an Ellis lineup is usually an exercise in frustration and confusion, but at least the roster makes sense. Keep an eye on Julie Johnston and Morgan Brian, who have impressed recently, as well as the always key Carli Lloyd, always solid Lauren Holiday, and always exciting Christen Press. Oh, and Abby Wambach, too, if you like.
Goalkeepers: Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
Defenders: Lori Chalupny (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Whitney Engen (Western NY Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Houston Dash), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Rachel Van Hollebeke (Portland Thorns FC)
Midfielders: Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
Forwards: Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Abby Wambach (Unattached)