Today, U.S. Soccer announced the USWNT’s 23-woman roster for next month’s Algarve Cup in Portugal. Perhaps the biggest name in U.S. women’s soccer, Hope Solo, will not be making the trip, but 18-year-old forward Lindsey Horan, who plays professionally for Paris Saint-Germain, will be after earning her first call-up to the senior team.
Solo will miss the tournament due to a wrist injury according to U.S. Soccer.
[Solo] has a long-standing wrist injury that has flared up recently and may require surgery. Solo has damage to ligaments in her left wrist, and although she was playing with the injury, with Women’s World Cup qualifying not until the end of 2014, the team medical staff advised that now would be the time to address the situation.
Horan, the new inclusion on the roster, comes to the team via her club PSG. Horan made headlines this summer when she signed a reported six-figure deal with the French club, skipping out on a scholarship offer with the legendary University of North Carolina program.
Horan was the leading scorer of the U.S. U-20 team last year, but missed the U-20 World Cup, which her teammates won, due to a knee injury.
The injury to Solo, while certainly a big blow to the overall strength of the team, does have several positive spins.
For one, Nicole Barnhart, Jill Loyden and Ashlyn Harris will all get a chance to impress new USWNT head coach Tom Sermanni and lock down the No. 2 spot in the net.
Another positive aspect of Solo’s absence will be the added challenge to the U.S. defense, which is in need of retooling.
At center-back, Rachel Buehler and Christie Rampone are still the default selection, but Sermanni needs to give opportunities to Becky Sauerbrunn and Whitney Engen. Games without Solo behind the back line to bail out the defense’s mistakes will require the players to be sharp throughout the tournament. Engen, in particular, was impressive in her starting debut against Scotland earlier this month.
Julie Johnston, who captained the U.S. U-20 team to the World Cup championship this past fall, was not called up despite earning her first cap with the full national team earlier this month against Scotland with a seven-minute cameo.
For the outside backs, Crystal Dunn earned her second full national team call-up while veteran Heather Mitts was left off the roster. Ali Krieger and Kelley O’Hara were also called up and will likely be the starters out wide.
Mitts tweeted shortly after the roster was released that she was not at 100 percent, but the fact remains that her appearances over the last two years have left a lot to be desired and she may be nearing the end of her USWNT career.
The midfield pool was the usual cast of characters with Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath, Megan Rapinoe, Heather O’Reilly and Lauren Cheney all receiving call-ups. Yael Averbuch, who has 17 caps with the USWNT, and newbie Kristie Mewis, who also made the roster for the games against Scotland, round out the midfield pool.
The one notable absence among the midfielders is Lori Lindsey, who played for the USWNT in the 2011 World Cup but was only an alternate for the 2012 Olympic Games. Lindsey was called up for the matches earlier this month against Scotland but will miss out on the Algarve Cup. At 32 years old and with a world-class pool of midfielders in front of her, Lindsey may have seen her last game with the USWNT.
The only mild surprise of the forward pool, including Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux, Christen Press and Lindsey Horan, was Horan herself. One wonders where she will be able to find playing time among such a talented group of forwards, especially with the continued development of Press and Leroux.
Sermanni proved when he was the manager of Australia that he liked bringing young players into the mix and has continued that trend with the U.S. With Australia, Sermanni also favored a 4-3-3 and has said he is open to new looks for the USWNT rather than their standard 4-4-2. With so many talented midfielders and forwards in the U.S. pool, whatever formation he chooses will be leaving a number of talented players watching from the sidelines.
The U.S. opens up the Algarve Cup against Iceland on March 6.
Follow me on Twitter @AmerTouchline
Follow me on Facebook www.facebook.com/AmericanTouchline