The United States women’s national team (USWNT) closes out its 2016 competition schedule with two international friendlies against Romania. The first of these will be on Thursday, November 10 in San Jose, California.
The two friendlies mark the first time the U.S. and Romania have competed against one another. U.S. Soccer has come under a lot of criticism for scheduling opponents that do not give the USWNT much competition, and that seems to be the case once more with Romania.
Romania, currently ranked 36th in the world, should be an easy opponent for the USWNT, as they have yet to qualify for a FIFA Women’s World Cup or Olympics. The team also just failed to qualify for its first ever European Championship.
However, the USWNT struggled at times against Switzerland, the 15th-ranked team in the world, in their last two friendlies. In the first, match, the U.S. failed to score until the opening minute of the second half, while the U.S. went down a goal in just the seventh minute of the second friendly and only managed to score one goal in the first half. The USWNT pulled off convincing wins in both matches, but not before some obvious weaknesses came to light.
As she did in for the October friendlies against Switzerland, head coach Jill Ellis has called in 24 players, once again rotating in new call-ups with the team’s veterans as she begins preparations for the next major tournament, the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Veteran players Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Ali Krieger and Julie Johnston, all of whom were left off the October roster, were called back into camp for the pair of November friendlies. Co-captain Carli Lloyd was not called into camp, as she took time away from the team to get married last week. Emily Sonnett was also left off the November roster, presumably to make room for some of the newer players.
In addition to the returning veterans, Ellis has also called in three uncapped players in defender Emily Menges, midfielder Kristen Edmonds and forward Jessica McDonald.
Menges and McDonald were called in to replace defenders Meghan Klingenberg and Jaelene Hinkle, both of whom were left off the October roster and will now miss November camp because of injuries. Menges played every minute of the 2016 NWSL season for the Shield-winning Portland Thorns, while McDonald was a driving force in the attack for the 2016 NWSL Champion Western New York Flash.
Ellis also called back in defenders Abby Dahlkemper and Casey Short, Stanford midfielder Andi Sullivan, and forwards Kealia Ohai and Lynn Williams, all of whom received their first caps during the last pair of friendlies in October.
Williams, who subbed in at the start of the second half of the first friendly against Switzerland, scored in just her 46th second on the field. That set the record for the fastest goal in a USWNT debut, but it would stand for only four days. Ohai scored just 48 seconds after subbing in to the USWNT’s second friendly against the Swiss, scoring the final goal in the U.S.’s 4-1 win.
Short was the only one of the newly-capped players to play all 90 minutes in each match, and Sullivan arguably made the biggest impression as she held down the midfield and created a number of chances on goal for the USWNT. Her performance earned her a second call up to USWNT camp, the only collegiate player to receive a call into November camp.
The USWNT takes on Romania in the first of two international friendlies on Thursday, November 10 at 10 p.m. EST. The match will be aired on ESPN2 and streamed online at WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app.
Update: Portland Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, who was listed as being called into camp, was removed from the list after not reporting to camp because of family commitments.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (Western New York Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Emily Menges (Portland Thorns FC), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Kristen Edmonds (Orlando Pride), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign), Andi Sullivan (Stanford)
FORWARDS (6): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Jessica McDonald (Western New York Flash), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Lynn Williams (Western New York Flash)