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 Predicting The USWNT Olympic Roster

Today is the day that members of the USWNT will find out if they are going to Brazil to compete for Olympic Gold. Fresh off a friendly with South Africa, Ellis now has the information she needs to make her final roster decisions. The Olympic rosters only allow for a total of 18 players and 4 alternates which, for the US, is a difficult decision even after pregnancies, injuries, and retirements pared down last years World Cup roster to below 18. Here’s our best guess as to who makes the team.

Goalkeeper: Hope Solo is clearly a lock. She remains at the top of her game, and is the only consistent option for Ellis in goal. Having just recorded her 100th shut out, another Olympic Gold, should solidify her claim as the best goalkeeper to ever play women’s soccer. Alyssa Naeher appears to be Ellis’s preferred #2. Although her numbers in league play are very similar to Ashlyn Harris, Naeher has 2 recent starts while Harris has none. Given the similarities between the tww, and Jill Ellis’s view of the Olympics as a training ground for the 2019 WWC, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Adrianna Franch make the team as an alternate.

Prediction: Solo, Naeher

Alternate: Franch

Defensive Backs: Becky Saurbrunn, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Kelley O’Hara, Ali Krieger. The USWNT top 5 defenders is pretty much set in stone. The only change from last year is that the more versatile Kelley O’Hara has replaced Ali Krieger in the starting lineup. Krieger is probably the best right back in the world but O’Hara is better on the attack and Jill Ellis seems focused on having her outside backs attack up the field. Klingenberg and Saurbrunn are, like Krieger, the best players in the world at their respective positions, while Julie Johnson is extremely talented and a key part of the team’s set pieces. The only real question is whether Ellis chooses Sonnet or Engen for the final roster spot. Engen is, as of now, the superior player, but Sonnett appears to be the future at centerback for the US. Again, given Ellis’s desire to use the Olympics to strengthen the team for 2019 Sonnett should get the nod here.

Prediction: Saurbrunn, Johnston, Klingenberg, O’Hara, Krieger, Sonnett

Alternate: Engen

Center Midfielder: Carli Lloyd, Morgan Brian, Lindsey Horan, Samantha Mewis, Allie Long

Lloyd is back, Brian will hopefully be healthy soon, and Horan looks like Lloyds replacement as the offensive centerpiece of the future. Brian makes this team much better when she is on the field and should be a leader on the field for the next decade. The only battle is between Long and Mewis. Mewis has been on the team more regularly since the World Cup, and when given playing time has looked like the most natural fit next to Morgan Brian. Long, however, is a late blooming prospect that seems to realize that this is her last chance to earn time with the national team. She has, so far, made the most of it. Long looks like this year's roster feel good story.

Prediction: Lloyd, Brian, Horan, Long

Alternate: Mewis

Wingers: Heath, Rapinoe, Pugh, O’Reilly

Tobin Heath has been among the most consistent players for the USWNT in 2016. She is as much a lock as anyone on this team. Mallory Pugh has brought a burst of energy and enthusiasm to the flanks - and she leads the team in assists. The battle here is between Rapinoe and O’Reilly. Rapinoe, coming off a torn ACL, is among the most creative right wingers in the world. Ellis says she believes that she has seen enough of Rapinoe’s recovery from the injury. O’Reilly is probably the last true winger left on the team as Ellis prefers to fill that role with converted forwards. O’Reilly has 3 Olympic golds but has clearly fallen out of favor with Ellis - due only to the style of play the coach wants to utilize.

Prediction: Heath, Pugh, Rapinoe*

Alternate: O’Reilly*

*Rapinoe’s health is the major factor here.

Forwards: Morgan, Press, Dunn

Here there is no competition. Morgan, Press, and Dunn will all make the roster. Both Press and Dunn have seen time at winger in 2016, and that will likely continue.

Prediction: Morgan, Press, Dunn

Alternate: None

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