Today, the roster for the U.S. women’s Olympic soccer team was released, a mere month before the start of Paris 2024.

The team will have a coach with only a couple of games’ worth of experience with the side, and will have a number of players coming back healthy from injuries which hampered the team’s fortunes at last year’s World Cup.

Too, the States are on the clock: it has been 325 days since the United States last held a world-level title in women’s soccer — something that is extremely rare since an underfunded, unsung group won the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Championship in 1991. Indeed, since winning that title nearly 11,800 days ago, the Americans had held Olympic Gold or a FIFA World Cup in all but about 1,000 days.

U.S. head coach Emma Hayes has been a bit constrained with not only her inexperience with the U.S. side, but with more injury concerns. Mia Fishel and Midge Purce are on the shelf with season-ending injuries.

With this morning’s release, it is therefore notable that making the roster are a number of players who are coming back from injury layoffs, including Caterina Macario, Rose Lavelle, and Mallory Swanson.

In addition, the front five forwards all happen to be African-American, something which you couldn’t have said for national teams in the past. The group — Crystal Dunn, Trinity Rodman, Jaeden Shaw, Sophia Smith, and Swanson — are all quick and quality finishers who are going to give the rest of the field nightmares.

But what’s amazing about this roster is the number of veteran players being left at home. Not on the team are veterans like Alex Morgan, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Morgan Gautrat; Lynn Williams is a player who is on the roster as an alternate. Missing from the team also were young stars like Ashley Sanchez, Sam Staab, Sofia Huerta, and Lily Yohannes. The mercurial rookie forward Croix Bethune, who has been tearing up the NWSL as a member of the Washington Spirit, is on the roster as an alternate.

The omission of Alex Morgan is likely to spark outrage in the social media space, but I get it. This is an 18-day tournament and it is hard on players to play an entire group-stage/knockout in that amount of time. Younger players are an absolute must.

Indeed, the United States has often found itself hamstrung by coaching selections in major world tournaments. In 2003, the U.S. found itself with three players coming off injury from the previous year, then Brandi Chastain broke a bone in her foot in the opener.

In 2015, the U.S. side won its way into the final but didn’t use two of their mainstays, Abby Wambach and Christie Pearce Rampone, until late in the going when the States had a substantial lead.

Wambach and Rampone were the last two U.S. players introduced during the medal ceremony in Vancouver and the two mainstays raised the trophy together amongst the confetti shower. That day was more about ceremony and sentimentality.

Neither, however, figured into today’s roster release. The makeup of this group reflects decisions that had to be made. As the States are coming in off losing the last Olympics and World Cup, this is a team on a mission. And this might be the perfect group to accomplish it.


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