The U.S. Women's National Team has traveled to Connecticut in preparation for a pair of friendlies this week against Colombia.
The last time the two teams squared off was in the round of 16 during the Women's World Cup back in June. The U.S. defeated Colombia 2-1 off of goals by Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd, eliminating Colombia from the tournament.
Unlike their previous match-up, Wednesday's match has very little implication for either team, but that does not mean it comes without drama. Less than than a week ago, five players on the USWNT filed a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee (EEOC) on behalf of the team accusing U.S. Soccer of wage discrimination.
At the same time the news of the EEOC complaint was breaking, rumors that the Colombia Women's National Team may strike as a result of wage issues with their federation had the Internet buzzing. Colombian midfielder Yoreli Rincon has since stated the team would travel for the matches, but it has been suggested that a protest of some kind by the Colombian players could still be held.
Although Colombia is not a top-five team like the U.S.'s SheBelieves Cup opponents, the 24th-ranked team has the potential to give the U.S. some difficulty.
The U.S., who have been in camp for the past week in preparation for these matches, is coming off its March victory of the inaugural SheBelieves Cup. The team defeated the top-five-ranked national teams of England, France and Germany to win the tournament.
Head Coach Jill Ellis is bringing almost the same roster as she did for the SheBelieves Cup. The only changes are Ellis leaving off defender Lauren Barnes in exchange for midfielder Allie Long and the call-up of 17-year-old forward Ashley Sanchez.
With much the same roster, expect to see head coach Jill Ellis play many of the same players and use the same formations that she did in March.
The only exception may be to leave Alex Morgan on the bench, who sat out practice with the Orlando Pride because of a hip injury. Morgan has already had to battle back after knee surgery last summer and is arguably too valuable of a player to risk further injury in a friendly exhibition. Now would be a good time for Ellis to give the start to Christen Press or Crystal Dunn, both of whom have proven themselves off the bench in recent matches.
Backup goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher is also the hometown girl for Wednesday's match, and whether she gets the start in her hometown or not, it would be nice to see Ellis give a backup goalkeeper some playing time. Naeher and Ashlyn Harris have just 13 caps between them, and it would be useful going into the Olympics for the #2 goalkeeper, whoever she may be, to have experience against a team the U.S. may likely face again in the Summer Games.
The U.S. WNT first faces Colombia on Wednesday, April 6, at 7 p.m. EST in East Hartford, Connecticut. The game will be aired on Fox Sports 1 and streamed on the Fox Sports Go app.
U.S. WNT Roster By Position:
DEFENDERS (8): Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado), Ashley Sanchez (So Cal Blues)
*Update: Jill Ellis has stated that Alex Morgan, Morgan Brian, Jaelene Hinkle and Ashley Sanchez are unavailable for Wednesday's match. Morgan and Brian will be sitting out with injuries, while Hinkle and Sanchez have been struck from the roster because of injury and school respectively.