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USWNT SheBelieves Cup preliminary roster includes five Washington Spirit players

A year after having no one on the U.S. roster for this tournament, the Spirit are well-represented in Jill Ellis’ squad

United States women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis has named 26 players to the preliminary roster for the upcoming SheBelieves Cup, and nearly one-fifth of the call-ups play for the Washington Spirit. Mallory Pugh, Taylor Smith, Ashley Hatch, Andi Sullivan, and Rose Lavelle have all made the USWNT squad, which will be narrowed from 26 to 23 in time for the tournament itself.

The SheBelieves Cup will take place during the first week of March, with the U.S. joined by Germany, England, and France. The USWNT will face Germany in Columbus on March 1st, followed by a game against France on March 4th at Red Bull Arena before finishing up against England in Orlando on March 7th. Last year, the U.S. ended up finishing last after being trounced by France at RFK Stadium.

Of the Spirit’s group of players, Pugh, Smith, and Sullivan are the most settled into the U.S. squad. Pugh appears to be solidly first-choice for Ellis, while Smith and Sullivan are at this point both in position to make the roster for next year’s World Cup. Lavelle would be in a similar position were she fully healthy, but she has been dealing with a hamstring issue for several months. At last month’s USWNT camp, she was able to join in some parts of training, but was primarily with the team to continue her rehab. If she is able to play during this tournament, it would be her first action in competitive play since last September.

Hatch, acquired in a huge pre-draft trade with the North Carolina Courage, has the most to gain. She hasn’t received a call-up since 2016, but a Rookie of the Year campaign during her first pro season has put her back on Ellis’ radar. The path to playing time as a center forward is difficult on a team with Alex Morgan, Christen Press, and Lynn Williams, but with Williams seeing more time wide in recent friendlies, there might be room for one more out-and-out striker to make a claim for a spot.

Elsewhere in the squad, team co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn has been left out as she recuperates from a foot injury. Samantha Mewis (knee) and Tobin Heath (ankle) are in the same boat, which likely has left room for some younger players. UCLA’s Hailie Mace, one of many former attackers being groomed for a defensive role in the future, has gotten her first senior team call-up after success with the under-23 national team, while Stanford center back Tierna Davidson has kept her place in the squad.

The full roster is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
Defenders: Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Tierna Davidson (Stanford University), Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars), Hailie Mace (University of California-Los Angeles), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Taylor Smith (Washington Spirit), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC, on loan with Sydney FC)
Midfielders: Morgan Brian (Olympique Lyonnais), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Allie Long (Seattle Reign FC), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)
Forwards: Crystal Dunn (Chelsea), Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit, on loan with Melbourne City FC), Savannah McCaskill (Sky Blue FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Houston Dash), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)