Well, the annual USWNT crisis of faith is upon us after the month’s wobbly displays in Brazil. There have been promises of a bigger camp roster for January to try out some more faces before the Spring’s European friendlies and Algarve Cup. Whether they’ll be new faces or the crop of thirty-somethings that have fallen out of favor is up for debate.
Here are the twenty-four I’d pick. I’m keeping this down to players who haven’t gotten recent invites into camps.
GK – Bianca Henninger (Houston), Aubrey Bledsoe (SBFC), Jane Campbell (Stanford)
Weep for the future, I suppose. Every first-string American keeper in NWSL save Kelsey Wys with WNY last year has at least gotten a look, so it’s not like there’s much to choose from. Henninger and Bledsoe figure to start this season, and it’s clearly go time if either want to get the call to the USWNT proper. Jane Campbell’s the best collegiate keeper out there and is probably the best GK prospect since AD Franch. She’s also the only college player on this roster.
DEF – Kassey Kallman (Boston), Leigh Ann Robinson (FCKC), Stephanie Ochs (Houston), Lauren Barnes (Seattle), Kendall Fletcher (Seattle), Elli Reed (Seattle), Gina Lewandowski (FC Bayern)
This isn’t rocket science. Take the defenders from last year’s top two NWSL teams -> Profit. Add in Ochs as an upside longshot after playing at full-back last season, and Lewandowski, who should finally get a look after starting for one of the Frauen Bundesliga’s top teams.
MF – Vanessa DiBernardo (Chicago), Jen Buczkowski (FCKC), Jenna Richmond (FCKC), Erika Tymrak (FCKC), Becky Edwards (WNY), Keelin Winters (Seattle), Katy Freels (SBFC), Christine Nairn (Washington)
Here be defensive midfielders. Buczkowski, Edwards, Winters, and Richmond as a tweener. It’d be nice if Jill Ellis decided to play a defensive midfielder, but c’est la vie. Freels is the merit pick after a great 2014, while Tymrak and Nairn both have brief dalliances with the USWNT in the past, with DiBernardo potentially a breakout player in 2015.
FW – Sarah Hagen (FCKC), Jessica McDonald (Portland), Beverly Goebel (unattached), Lindsey Horan (PSG), Katie Stengel (FC Bayern), Kealia Ohai (Houston)
Hagen, Goebel, and Stengel are the target forwards, Horan and Ohai supply the pace, McDonald’s a little bit of both. Hagen and Horan obviously have a huge lead on a spot for the 2015 WWC roster, but only if injuries strike the main crew. Beverly Goebel’s next move after leaving Japan will be interesting. A return to Seattle could be a boon for both parties, but Goebel may have European suitors eager for her services.