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Sky Blue announce final Challenge Cup roster

Carli Lloyd, Mallory Pugh among the names to miss out

SOCCER-NWSL-SKY BLUE-SPIRIT Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

On Tuesday morning Sky Blue officially announced their roster for the upcoming 2020 NWSL Challenge. While most of the selections were all but expected, fans did finally receive the one answer they feared the most.

Mallory Pugh was left off the roster for the July tournament with a reported right hip injury, the third scratch in the last few weeks. Pugh joins midfielder Carli Lloyd (knee) and defender Caprice Dydasco (ACL) on the list of players who will be watching the Challenge Cup from home.

2020 SheBelieves Cup - United States v Japan
Though somewhat expected, Mallory Pugh’s absence is a blow
Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Obviously the exemptions of Pugh, Lloyd, and Dydasco, who were all projected to be key players in Sky Blue’s plans, will have a big effect on what we can expect from the team in the Cup, but scratches aside, the remaining roster that Sky Blue fans can expect to see in Utah is a strong one. Midge Purce, Sky Blue’s other major signing from this prior offseason, will likely be thrust into the spotlight solo, hoping to lead her new team to a strong showing in her first games. On the attack line, Sky Blue’s two young returning forwards (Imani Dorsey and Paige Monaghan) will each look to build off of promising 2019 campaigns alongside a pair of newcomers in first-round draft pick Evelyne Viens and former OL Reign forward Ifeoma Onumonu.

In the midfield, club captain Sarah Woldmoe (formerly Killion) will continue to be a presence at the center of the pitch, and she’ll be joined by McCall Zerboni, who will make her club debut after being acquired from the North Carolina Courage over the winter. Other midfield options include Jennifer Cudjoe and Nicole Baxter, who inked short term contracts with the club just days ago. There’s no shortage of local talent in the midfield as well, with Nicole Baxter, Kenie Wright, Madison Tiernan, and Cassidy Benintente all hailing from corners of New Jersey with three of them attended Rutgers as well. Returning veterans Dominique “Domi” Richardson, Naho Kuwasumi, and finally the ever-versatile Elizabeth Eddy round out a deep Sky Blue midfield.

2019 NWSL Championship
Midfielder McCall Zerboni arrives from North Carolina Courage

Erica Skroski will continue anchor the backline in her 5th consecutive year with the club, but the rest of the starting backline is less certain. Mandy Freeman and Estelle Johnson will return to the defence for their 4th and 2nd years with the club, respectively. They’ll compete for minutes with potential rookie debutants Kaleigh Rieh and Chantelle Swaby, as well as veteran and Livingston, New Jersey native Sabrina Flores. The backline options are rounded out by the oldest player in the group heading to Utah, former Bayern Munich defender Gina Lewandowski.

The backline will protect a familiar face in net, incumbent starter and Canadian international Kailen Sheridan, who’s kept the net for the club since she was drafted in 2017. Backing up Sheridan will be a platoon of Didi Haracic, Megan Hinz, and rookie Amanda “Mandy” McGlynn.