The United States women’s national team Olympic roster will include Crystal Dunn and Ali Krieger, both of the Washington Spirit. Jill Ellis named her squad for the Rio games today, with 18 players getting the call along with 4 alternates. Players will depart their NWSL clubs for a pre-tournament camp immediately, with the USWNT playing Costa Rica on July 22nd in Kansas City before departing for Brazil.
For Dunn, making the roster underlines an impressive response to being left off of the 2015 Women’s World Cup squad. Rather than let that blow define her, Dunn showed her resolve by lighting up the scoreboard in the NWSL. Dunn scored 15 goals for the Spirit, leading them to a playoff berth and snagging the league MVP award on the way. While she has played in multiple tournaments at the youth national team level - including a starting role for the side that won the 2012 under-20 WWC - this is Dunn’s first major tournament for the senior team.
Krieger has her own reasons for feeling that her inclusion is particularly meaningful. While the Virginia native was a starter for last year’s World Cup-winning team as well as the 2011 side that finished second to Japan in an epic final, her one previous shot at a trip to the Olympics was derailed by a major knee injury at the start of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament. Despite a furious push to recover in time, she did not make the trip to London.
Today’s announcement confirms that the Spirit - currently in third place with games in hand on the teams ahead of them - will be without five starters for quite some time. Dunn and Krieger will be joined at the Olympics by Canadian trio Diana Matheson, Stephanie Labbe, and Shelina Zadorsky. Fortunately, Washington has already seen numerous players step in and have success: Striker Francisca Ordega has three goals in the Spirit’s last four games, while Kelsey Wys has two straight shutouts in goal (helped by Estelle Johnson’s seamless transition into the lineup at center back).
The USWNT will start their pursuit of a fourth straight gold medal on August 3rd, with a match against New Zealand in Belo Horizonte. Three days later will see their most challenging group stage game, as they’ll play France (again at the Minerão in Belo Horizonte), before August 9th’s daunting trip into the Amazon to play Colombia in Manaus.
The full USWNT squad is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Hope Solo, Alyssa Naeher
Defenders: Becky Sauerbrunn, Ali Krieger, Kelley O’Hara, Meghan Klingenberg, Julie Johnston, Whitney Engen
Midfielders: Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath, Megan Rapinoe, Morgan Brian, Lindsey Horan, Allie Long
Forwards: Alex Morgan, Christen Press, Crystal Dunn, Mallory Pugh
Ellis also named four alternates to her squad: goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, defender Emily Sonnett, and midfielders Heather O'Reilly and Samantha Mewis