Do Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe Deserve Spots On The USWNT Olympic Roster This Summer?
The USWNT just completed an expected-but-still-impressive showing at the 2021 SheBelieves Cup, winning all three matches to claim the tournament title for a fourth time in six years. While the exhibition is a good barometer of some of the world’s top national teams, it’s also one of the best chances to evaluate talent ahead of a big summer competition. With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed to 2021, the question is: Who will make the USWNT Olympic roster this summer?
I went into the SheBelieves Cup thinking the USWNT’s young stars would make their case to earn roster spots for this summer’s Olympics. Catarina Macario, Sophia Smith and Jaelin Howell are the future of the USWNT, especially with Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe closer to 40 than 30. After the tournament, I think the old stars may have done just enough to retain their status as USWNT regulars.
But with just 18 roster spots, Vlatko Andonovski will have some tough decisions to make in the coming months. He said last week, a bit tongue-in-cheek, all 18 spots remain open.
Let’s break down the options in each area of the field and provide some USWNT Olympics roster predictions a few months out from the competition. We’re going to make the assumption everyone remains healthy (or in Tobin Heath’s case, gets healthy), but we’ll provide a couple players who will be next in line in case of injury. Remember, only 18 players are allowed to go to the Olympics, with two being goalies. That’s five fewer than most major international tournaments like the World Cup.
USWNT Olympics Roster Predictions
Alyssa Naeher remains the No. 1 keeper and there’s no reason that will change anytime soon. Ashlyn Harris is still listed as a USWNT allocated player for the Orlando Pride, so she’ll still be involved in the team. That said, Jane Campbell could earn the second goalkeeper spot, especially with Harris focused on her adorable new baby.
- Prediction: Alyssa Naeher, Jane Campbell.
- Next in line: Ashlyn Harris.
The easiest choice Andonovski will have to make is at center back, where Becky Sauerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper are locks, and Tierna Davidson is a strong backup. Crystal Dunn will continue to be the first-choice left back despite being one of the team’s best attackers. The right is a bit more of a question mark, but Midge Purce (another forward) has shown promise at the position. Don’t sleep on Alana Cook or Emily Fox making the squad, with versatility likely to play a role in who goes to Tokyo.
- Prediction: Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn, Midge Purce, Emily Fox.
- Next in line: Alana Cook, Emily Sonnett, Kelley O’Hara.
The midfield is where the USWNT has been able to dominate opponents lately, with Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis and Lindsey Horan all providing a combination of defensive power and attacking prowess. Add in the creative Rose Lavelle and it’s an embarrassment of riches for Andonovski. Is there room for fringe players like Kristie Mewis, Jaelin Howell or Andi Sullivan? With just 18 roster spots, probably not. But we are going to include Catarina Macario, who can play as a No. 10, a winger or a false nine.
- Prediction: Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Catarina Macario.
- Next in line: Andi Sullivan, Jaelin Howell.
The U.S. has some incredible attacking talent; the challenge for Andonovski is trying to find the right balance of players, especially with so few roster spots available. Alex Morgan remains the best striking option while Rapinoe showed at the SheBelieves Cup she’s too good to leave off the team. If healthy, I don’t see any way Tobin Heath is left off the squad.
All Christen Press does is score bangers, and her ability to play wide and through the middle gives her a slight nod. Finally, we’re giving the last roster spot to Lloyd, if nothing else for her experience and her indefatigable will to win.
- Prediction: Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Carli Lloyd.
- Next in line: Lynn Williams, Sophia Smith.
We’re still five months away from the Olympics this summer, so there’s still plenty of time for Andonovski to make up and change his mind a million times. But if the competition started today, this is what the USWNT Olympic roster would look like.