USA Opens World Cup Qualifying Tournament on Oct. 4 vs. Mexico in Cary, N.C.; Ten Players Return from Team that Qualified for 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup
CHICAGO –U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis has named Morgan Brian, Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher and Casey Short among 20 players to the roster for the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship that will be contested from Oct. 4-17 at three venues across the United States. Ten of the players named were on the squad that competed in the 2014 Concacaf Women’s Championship.
The 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship features eight countries divided into two groups of four with each group’s top two finishers advancing from round-robin play to the semifinals. The two finalists and the winner of the third-place match will qualify directly to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. The fourth-place finisher will earn a spot in a two-game playoff against Argentina, which finished third in South American qualifying, for a final berth to the tournament.
U.S. WNT Concacaf Women’s Championship Roster by Position (Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (2): Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 17/0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 33/0)
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 23/0), Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 69/23), Hailie Mace (UCLA; 2/0), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC; 108/2), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 143/0), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 25/0), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 21/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars; 79/6), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 66/16), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 56/6), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 13/3), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 38/7)
FORWARDS (6): Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 138/21), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 259/102), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 147/90), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 104/45), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 37/12), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 140/38)
“We feel really good about the process that has gotten us to this point, and the final selection of this group,” said Ellis. “We’ve had a couple of injuries recently, but the depth of our pool is excellent, and I have confidence that each of the 20 players will perform at their highest level when called upon in these games. Our group is prepared and highly motivated to earn the right to be a part of France 2019.”
The USA opens its qualifying tournament on Oct. 4 against Mexico (7:30 p.m. ET), faces Panama on Oct. 7 (5 p.m. ET) and then finishes the first round against T&T on Oct. 11 (7:30 p.m. ET). All the USA’s Group A matches will be played in Cary, N.C. at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park, home of the NWSL regular season champion North Carolina Courage.
FOX Sports, the home of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, will show 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship across the FOX Sports family of networks. For viewers on the go, matches can be streamed live via FOXSports.com and the FOX Sports app.
Of the ten players with previous Women’s World Cup qualifying experience, four have played in multiple tournaments. This will be the fourth World Cup qualifying tournament for forward Carli Lloyd, while forwards Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe and defender Becky Sauerbrunn will be competing in their third.
The other players who were on the team for the 2014 qualifying tournament are: Morgan Brian, Julie Ertz, Ashlyn Harris, Tobin Heath, Kelley O’Hara and Christen Press. Crystal Dunn, who was named to the roster for the 2014 tournament before an injury ruled her out, will be playing in her first World Cup qualifying competition at the senior level. On that 2014 roster, Dunn was replaced by Julie Johnston, now Ertz, but she did not see action in the tournament.
The group of defenders is an excellent mix of young and experienced players. Sauerbrunn, the three-time NWSL Defender of the Year, and O’Hara are both capped more than 100 times. Dunn has 69 caps and has play in 12 of the USA’s 13 games this year at left back while starting nine of those matches. Abby Dahlkemper, the 2017 NWSL Defender of the Year, along with Emily Sonnett and Casey Short, have been three of the top defenders in the NWSL over the past few seasons. UCLA senior Hailie Mace is the only collegiate player on the roster but has earned two caps already.
The midfield is also an experienced group even though just one player – Brian – played in the last qualifying tournament. Ertz has 66 caps to go along with her 16 goals, and Brian has 79 caps. Lindsey Horan, who had an MVP-caliber NWSL season, has 56 caps, and Samantha Mewis has 38 caps and seven goals. Rose Lavelle has 13 caps to go with her three goals.
The U.S. forwards are a formidable group, having combined for 28 of the USA’s 37 goals this year. All six of the forwards have played in a world championship, and five of them have played in multiple world championships. Lloyd leads the USA with 14 games played in World Cup qualifying and is the leading scorer with seven goals. Megan Rapinoe has ten World Cup qualifying caps with three goals while Alex Morgan has seven with two goals.
- Eleven players on this roster were members of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship team.
- The players participating in their first World Cup qualifying tournament are G Alyssa Naeher, D Abby Dahlkemper, D Crystal Dunn, D Hailie Mace, D Casey Short, D Emily Sonnett, M Lindsey Horan, M Rose Lavelle, M Samantha Mewis and F Mallory Pugh.
- Julie Ertz was on the roster for the World Cup qualifying tournament in 2014 but did not play. She could see her first qualifying minutes this time around.
- The USA is 11-0-2 in 2018 and is on a 21-game unbeaten run.
- The USA is 27-1-0 all-time in World Cup qualifying from 1991-2014, including 13-0-0 at home.
- Thirty-six players have scored for the USA in Women’s World Cup qualifying, and four of them have hit double figures: Abby Wambach (18), Michelle Akers (17), Mia Hamm (12), and Carin Gabarra (10).
- Six players on this U.S. roster have scored in Women’s World Cup qualifying: Carli Lloyd (7), Megan Rapinoe (3), Tobin Heath (2), Alex Morgan (2), Christen Press (2) and Morgan Brian (1).
- With one more goal, Lloyd would tie Brandi Chastain, April Heinrichs and Tiffeny Milbrett for sixth all-time in World Cup qualifying.
- The United States won the first four Concacaf Women’s World Cup qualifying tournaments in which it competed (1991, 1994, 2002 and 2006) but fell to Mexico in the semifinal of the 2010 competition, which forced the USA to win the Third-Place match and then defeat Italy in a two-game playoff to earn a berth to Germany. That loss to Mexico was the USA’s lone setback in this tournament.
- The USA won this competition in 2014, defeating Mexico 3-0 in the semifinal to qualify for the 2015 Women’s World Cup, and then took down Costa Rica 6-0 in the title game.
- In the semifinal, Lloyd scored twice while Press scored once.
- In the Championship Game, Abby Wambach had four goals, while Lloyd and Sydney Leroux had one each.
- The USA has played Mexico in all six Concacaf World Cup qualifying tournaments in which it has participated. As host, the USA did not participate in the qualifying tournament for the 1999 Women’s World Cup.
- Midfielder McCall Zerboni (elbow) and defender Tierna Davidson (ankle) were not available for selection due to injuries.
- North Carolina Courage defender Merritt Mathias and Portland Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch will train with the squad to assist in preparation for the matches.