Ahead of two friendlies against Japan early next month, United States women's national team coach Jill Ellis announced a roster featuring 25 players. It will come as no major surprise that Washington Spirit stars Crystal Dunn - the reigning NWSL MVP - and Ali Krieger were among those called up. Dunn's play since being left off of the World Cup roster has left Ellis with no choice but to call her in, while Krieger has been a regular call-up for roughly six years running. With the friendlies taking place on June 2nd and June 5th, the USWNT will gather for training on May 27th.
Despite having secure spots on the roster, both players find themselves in a fight for playing time. Dunn finds herself competing for minutes as a forward. Alex Morgan was deemed undroppable during a spell of indifferent form, and she's played quite well with the Orlando Pride during the first quarter of the NWSL season. Christen Press, meanwhile, is t he most technically proficient attacking player in the squad.
Normally, the presence of Carli Lloyd leaves Ellis with room for only one forward, but the World Player of the Year has been left off the roster as she continues to recuperate from an MCL sprain. That likely opens the door for a return to a 442 formation, which would leave a big opportunity for Dunn to establish that she's the best alternative when Morgan and/or Lloyd need to rest during the upcoming Olympics.
However, we could also see Dunn spending time on the wing, as the laughably restrictive Olympic roster requirements - a team playing in the Gold Medal game will face 6 games in 16 days with a squad of just 18 players - demand versatility. Dunn has played all over the field in the past, and Ellis may want to give her some reps on the right flank in preparation for a tournament that will require some odd-looking lineups.
Krieger, meanwhile, faces a more straightforward battle for the starting right back job. Kelley O'Hara has been given serious consideration for that spot in recent months, and Ellis's preference is unclear. Both players will surely play in the Olympics - O'Hara, in fact, could end up playing on either side or as a winger - but the question of who would get the call when a medal is on the line is unclear.
As pointed out by Stars and Stripes FC, that May 27th start to training camp will result in NWSL clubs being without their stars that weekend. For the Spirit, that means playing a potentially tricky road game against the Houston Dash without their team captain (Krieger) and the key cog in their attack (Dunn). However, both players will be back in time for June 10th's trip north to face the Boston Breakers.