The U.S. women's national team gets back to work this week, as CONCACAF's Women's World Cup qualifying tournament in October starts to loom on the horizon.
Head coach Jill Ellis has summoned 26 players for a winter training camp that will run for two weeks at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Players will arrive on Saturday. They'll head to San Diego later in the month for a Jan. 21 game against Denmark (7:30 p.m., ESPN).
Delran native Carli Lloyd is front and center, of course, with two goals to go until she hits 100 in her national team career. Julie Ertz is also on the roster, which means she could be playing soccer at the same hour that husband Zach plays for the Eagles in the NFC championship game at Lincoln Financial Field. (If the Eagles get that far, of course. The NFC championship game will kick off at just after 6 p.m. on the 21st.)
Here's the full squad:
Goalkeepers (4): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
Defenders (9): Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Tierna Davidson (Stanford University), Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns), Kelley O'Hara (Utah Royals), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Taylor Smith (North Carolina Courage), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
Midfielders (6): Morgan Brian (Olympique Lyon, France), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns), Andi Sullivan (Stanford University)
Forwards (7): Crystal Dunn (Chelsea, England), Savannah McCaskill (South Carolina), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)
The list of notable inclusions starts with Klingenberg, who is back with the national team for the first time since June. The conventional wisdom back then was that she was falling down the depth chart at left back, with Casey Short now at the top. But Klingenberg had an excellent year with the Thorns, who won the National Women's Soccer League title with the league's stingiest defense. She also served up eight assists, including a pretty one in the 4-1 playoff demolition of Orlando.
Sonnett has been a back-line colleague of Klingenberg's in Portland, but hasn't played for the national team since October 2016. She was on the roster this past November for the series against Canada, but did not get any game minutes.
Franch retains a place on the roster after winning NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year honors. She's competing with Campbell for the No. 3 place on the goalkeeper depth chart.
Brian just signed for Lyon this week, after three seasons in the NWSL. She was teammates with Lloyd in Houston until late August, when she was traded to Chicago. A source with knowledge told the Inquirer and Daily News that because of the move, Brian might not be at the U.S. camp for its entirety. Lyon will have a French Cup game on Jan. 7 and a league game on Jan. 14. There's a FIFA international window from Jan. 15-23, so she can definitely come over for that period.
This roster has three college players. Sullivan and Davidson already have senior national team experience. Last month, they helped Stanford win the NCAA title. McCaskill led South Carolina to its first women's soccer Final Four. She recorded eight goals and nine assists in her senior season, and finished her college career with 40 goals and 34 assists.
Sullivan and McCaskill are likely to be among the top picks at the coming NWSL draft, which will take place Jan. 18 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center as part of the United Soccer Coaches Convention. The event will start at 10 a.m. in the convention center's Grand Ballroom. It's free and open to the public, though the convention as a whole is not.
(United Soccer Coaches is the new name of the organization long known as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.)
Notable absences from the roster include three big names who are injured: playmakers Tobin Heath (ankle) and Rose Lavelle (hamstring), and central midfielder Samantha Mewis (knee).
Heath suffered an ankle injury during the NWSL title game in October. Lavelle's hamstring has been a long-term concern, and the U.S. Soccer Federation said she will be at the camp for some "light training and rehab."
Mewis' injury came during the U.S.' series finale vs. Canada in Vancouver. Her absence seems mostly precautionary.
Farther down the depth chart, Kealia Ohai remains sidelined as she rehabs a torn ACL and meniscus suffered in late June.
Players who didn't make the cut for other reasons include Orlando defender Ali Krieger, Chicago midfielders Vanessa DiBernardo and Danielle Colaprico, and North Carolina forward Jessica McDonald.