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Resources Oct 01, 2013

Reaction: Sermanni manages some surprises in USWNT roster for October matches

U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Tom Sermanni on Tuesday called up 25 players for this month’s trio of stateside friendlies – and there were a few surprises. I decided to take a break from normal reporting duties for a quick blog post of my immediate reaction to the roster announcement.

College conflicts? Guess not

In my news analysis about Sermanni’s tough roster decisions, I mentioned that college players Crystal Dunn and Morgan Brian have other commitments on Oct. 20 when the USWNT will play Australia. The other commitments? A match against each other as the University of North Carolina and the University of Virginia face off that same day.

Not to worry – the USWNT will be playing games later in October so Dunn and Brian can skip the Oct. 20 game… right? Apparently not.

Per U.S. Soccer’s roster notes: “Dunn and Brian, whose schools face off against each other in ACC play on Oct. 20, will be with the U.S. team only for the match against Australia and will return to their schools for the remainder of the college season.”

morgan brian sept 3 2013 by murray

Morgan Brian will miss her UVa team game for the USWNT’s Oct. 20 match in San Antonio, Texas.
(Photo credit: Caitlin Murray/SoccerWire.com)

Dunn and Brian won’t be appearing when the U.S. plays New Zealand on Oct. 27 and Oct. 30. They will only appear in the first game while their college teams face off.

Missing players

FC Kansas City’s Leigh Ann Robinson, who got her first cap last month after impressing Sermanni during the National Women’s Soccer League season is back. But her NWSL teammate and NWSL Rookie of the Year Erika Tymrak is not.

It’s a surprising omission for a couple reasons reasons. Tymrak, who got her first cap alongside Robinson last month, was called up on the basis of her outstanding NWSL season – and her first USWNT game showed promise. Indeed, both Robinson and Tymrak showed potential (if some first-game jitters) but arguably, Tymrak made more of her chances.

Secondly, although Tymrak is overseas right now playing for FC Bayern Munich in Germany, several of her fellow globetrotters will be back for the October camp. Ali Krieger, Tobin Heath, Megan Rapinoe, Christen Press, Whitney Engen, Yael Averbuch and Meghan Klingenberg will all be back from their European clubs.

A first cap for a future goalkeeper?

The USWNT’s goalkeeper roster rarely changes, but the Western New York Flash’s Adrianna Franch, who was arguably the best goalkeeper of the NWSL has been called in. (Franch was voted runner-up by the clubs and media for NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year behind FC Kansas City’s Nicole Barnhart – despite having the best goals against average and most saves of the season.) The 22-year-old has trained with the full national team, but is yet to earn a cap. Could October be her month?

Hope Solo’s position as the top goalkeeper for the USWNT has never been in doubt and doesn’t appear to be at risk any time soon, even if her NWSL season lacked acclaim. Barnhart has seemed to be the consistent second choice.

The third and fourth spots, for now, are where things get interesting. Jill Loyden injured her hand going into the NWSL season, allowing backup Brittany Cameron to prove herself for Sky Blue FC by eventually recording eight shutouts on the season, second only to Barnhart. After Loyden recovered, Cameron remained the club’s preferred keeper, leading to the curious situation where a USWNT ‘keeper was slotted at second string in her club for most of the season.

Given the uncertainty of those last goalkeeper spots, the absence of Ashlyn Harris isn’t exactly surprising. One would think Sermanni has his starting goalkeepers set through at least the World Cup in 2015 (Solo and, if need be, Barnart) while Loyden seems to be favored, having been a consistent back-up. Sermanni may be keen to use a fourth spot to develop a younger talent like Franch, who shows massive potential – if he opts to call up a fourth goalkeeper at all. It’s an unlikely scenario where a fourth-string goalkeeper is playing in games and I don’t think it’s surprising for Sermanni to take a closer look at Franch after a very impressive first pro season.

A return

Sermanni’s roster marks the return of veteran defender Stephanie Cox, who last played with the USWNT on April 3, 2012 for the Kirin Cup tournament in Japan, according to line-up information on U.S. Soccer’s website. In that match, coached under Pia Sunhage, Cox subbed in for Amy LePeilbet in the 32nd minute.

If Cox plays this coming month, it will be her first game under Sermanni, who took over as coach at the start of this year. She has 82 caps with the USWNT and plays for Seattle Reign FC in the NWSL.

Coaching insight

Sermanni told me this upcoming October camp was a chance for him “to continue to get to know the players and their strengths.” This will be the longest camp for the USWNT since the NWSL got started back in April.

It seems we couldn’t expect the shake-ups he delivered last month for the Sept. 3 match against Mexico, where he gave three players their first call-ups. Dare I say, this feels more like a serious camp than the short one-off stints of the past few months. (For the Mexico game, the USWNT had just one pre-match training that was open to the public and players signed autographs for fans as much as they trained.)

The full roster:

GOALKEEPERS (4): Nicole Barnhart (FC Kansas City), Adrianna Franch (WNY Flash), Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)

DEFENDERS (10): Rachel Buehler (Portland Thorns FC), Stephanie Cox (Seattle Reign FC), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina), Whitney Engen (Tyresö), Meghan Klingenberg (Tyresö), Ali Krieger (Tyresö), Kristie Mewis (FC Kansas City), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Leigh Ann Robinson (FC Kansas City), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Yael Averbuch (Göteborg), Morgan Brian (Virginia), Tobin Heath (Paris Saint-Germain), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Carli Lloyd (WNY Flash), Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Lyon)

FORWARDS (4): Sydney Leroux (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Tyresö), Abby Wambach (WNY Flash)

Extra roster notes

Here are the rest of U.S. Soccer’s roster notes via a press release:

  • The majority of the USA’s European-based players will be unavailable for the Oct. 20 match at the Alamodome as they will be competing in league play in Sweden and France, as well as playing UEFA Women’s Champions League matches.
  • However, all of the USA’s NWSL-based regulars will be in for the USWNT’s first match in San Antonio in 17 years. Those NWSL players include league MVP Lauren Holiday, NWSL Defender of the Year Becky Sauerbrunn and NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year Nicole Barnhart. In addition, forward Sydney Leroux, who scored four times against Mexico on Sept. 3, U.S. all-time leading scorer Abby Wambach, as well as Christie Rampone, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Heather O’Reilly, Rachel Buehler, Kristie Mewis and Hope Solo will all be with the U.S. team for the Oct. 20 contest.
  • Sermanni has called up two defenders – Leigh Ann Robinson and Stephanie Cox – who will be with the squad only through the first match on Oct. 20. Although Robinson and Cox are both 27, they are on opposite ends of the USWNT experience spectrum. Robinson, who had an excellent NWSL season for FC Kansas City, earned her first cap on Sept. 3 against Mexico while Cox, a veteran of two Women’s World Cup Teams (2007, 2011) and one Olympic Team (2008) gets her first call-up since May of 2012. Cox, who had her first child on April 7, returned to the field for the end of the inaugural NWSL season and played in four games for the Seattle Reign.
  • Sermanni named two college players to the roster in North Carolina defender Crystal Dunn, who has five starts in her first seven caps for the USA this year, and University of Virginia midfielder Morgan Brian, who scored her first WNT goal against in just her second cap against Mexico on Sept. 3. Dunn and Brian, whose schools face off against each other in ACC play on Oct. 20, will be with the U.S. team only for the match against Australia and will return to their schools for the remainder of the college season.
  • Morgan Brian is the first active collegiate player to score a USWNT goal since Morgan did so in 2010 during her senior season at California.
  • The 20-year-old Brian is the youngest USWNT goal scorer since an 18-year-old Christine Nairn tallied against Canada in 2009.
  • The match in San Francisco will be a Bay Area homecoming of sorts for Morgan, who graduated from UC Berkeley, as well as for Stanford University grads Rachel Buehler, Barnhart and Christen Press.
  • Wambach heads into the match with a world-record 161 career goals in 208 games.
  • The USA’s quartet of forwards – Morgan, Wambach, Press and Leroux – has scored 28 of the USA’s 43 goals so far in 2013, led by Wambach with a team-high nine goals.
  • U.S. captain Christie Rampone is currently the second most-capped player in U.S. history and the most-capped active player in the world with 284 career games played. She is recovering from minor knee surgery and may not be available for action for the Oct. 20 match against Australia.
  • Seventeen of the players on the roster play for NWSL clubs, but one (Ali Krieger) is on loan to Sweden club Tyresö. Tyresö also features Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg and Christen Press.
  • Engen, who just helped Liverpool win the FA Women’s Super League title for the first time, will play Champions League with Tyresö on Oct. 9 and Oct. 16 when they take on Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan’s Paris Saint-Germain of France.
  • The U.S. team are 10-0-2 in 2013 and have scored 43 goals while giving up eight, three of which came in a 3-3 tie with European champion Germany on April 5 in Offenbach.

[+Follow Caitlin Murray on Twitter / Read more articles by Caitlin Murray]

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