Emma Hayes’ first USWNT roster full of surprises to kick off new era of national team

The first Emma Hayes USWNT roster was revealed on Tuesday ahead of two June friendlies vs. South Korea. Hayes gave the nod to veterans like Alex Morgan, gave two players their first USWNT call ups and had an interesting change of position for Crystal Dunn.

This USWNT roster is the final one before the 18-player squad for the Olympics will be made. A total of 23 players are on the team for the games against South Korea. 

Emma Hayes USWNT roster

Hayes coached her final game with Chelsea on Saturday lifting the FA Women’s Super League title yet again. Now she jumps right into USWNT duty and provided fans with several surprises on the roster.

Here were the biggest surprises.

1. Crystal Dunn listed as a forward/no Lynn Williams

The biggest shock for USWNT fans was seeing Crystal Dunn listed as a forward among the likes of Jaedyn Shaw, Trinity Rodman, Sophia Smith and Mallory Swanson. Dunn has historically played as a fullback for the USWNT while playing a more forward role during her time in the NWSL.

The timing is bizarre as Dunn has yet to score for Gotham FC in the NWSL this season. The USWNT’s attack is arguably the most stacked area. Perhaps the injuries to Alex Morgan and Jaedyn Shaw are playing a part in the decision.

Dunn’s Gotham and USWNT teammate Lynn Williams wasn’t named to the latest roster despite scoring three goals in seven games this season. Williams set the all-time NWSL scoring record with her 79th league goal on Sunday.

2. First-time call ups for Sam Staab and Hal Hershfelt

We’re not going to lie, we weren’t really expecting players to be getting their first call ups for the USWNT this June. With this being the final camp before the Olympic roster’s creation we assumed this would be all familiar faces fighting for the 18 roster spots.

Instead, Hayes has thrown a curveball with 27-year-old Chicago Red Stars center back Sam Staab and 21-year-old Washington Spirit midfielder Hal Hershfelt being thrown into the mix.

Staab was named to the NWSL Best XI last season and consistently plays the full 90 minutes every game. She’s not missed a minute of the current season and has made a record 100-straight league starts. 

The notable miss on the USWNT defense is Abby Dahlkemper who recently returned from injury. It seems Hayes wants to try out Staab instead of sticking with Dahlkemper.

Hershfelt is enjoying a great start to her NWSL career. The fifth overall pick in the 2024 NWSL Draft has secured a starting role in the Washington Spirit’s midfield and has also found the back of the net twice this season.

3. Alyssa Naeher out injured

One of the biggest concerns for the USWNT right now is the status of star goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. The Chicago Red Stars goalkeeper suffered a thigh injury and had to leave her side’s game against Utah Royals early on May 12.

The severity of the injury isn’t known yet, but she’s clearly unable to play in the coming weeks. Casey Murphy will likely start in goal against South Korea.

4. Alex Morgan included in roster

Despite not playing since April 19 due to an ankle injury, Morgan made the list for Hayes’ roster.

Morgan is one of several injured players included in the roster. Her fellow San Diego teammate Jaedyn Shaw missed the club’s previous game due to ankle injury suffered on May 12 against Gotham FC.

Tierna Davidson is coming back from a hamstring injury that saw her sidelined for a month. The 25-year-old center back was brought on as a substitute in Gotham’s 2-1 victory on Monday in the 66th minute. Davidson and Naomi Girma have been the go-to center back pair for the USWNT.

“I expect complete commitment from everyone to absorb very quickly the things that I value as the most important so that we can compete this summer,” Hayes said. 

“I know they are a highly coachable group and I’m looking forward to challenging them. It’s time to go to work. I can’t wait to meet the fans and it’s really time to get behind the team as we get closer to putting a roster together for the Olympics.”

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