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USWNT roster: Harris, Heath among talking points for Sweden and France friendlies

03-Apr-2021, 01:08 am

Heath Harris USWNT GFX

The U.S. womens national team roster for Aprils friendlies at Sweden and France had very few surprises when it was announced on Tuesday.

That is to be expected as the clock ticks down toward the kickoff of the Olympics in July. With the extremely difficult task of picking just 18 players for the tournament, USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski is starting to narrow down his player pool.

But that doesnt mean there werent talking points from Tuesdays roster announcement, as well asAndonovskis comments to reporters afterwards on a conference call.Here are three takeaways from Tuesdays USWNT roster release.

With 23 players named to the roster on Tuesday and at least five of those set to miss out on the Olympics, it would be easier forAndonovski if he only needed to pick from the group heading to Europe next month.

But, due to some injury concerns, thats not the case.

Chief among those is Tobin Heath, who suffered a seriousankle injury in January and appears set to be out until April at the earliest.Andonovski is optimistic that Heath will be able to return in time for the end of Manchester Uniteds season, before returning to the USWNT in Junes Tournament of Nations.

"I wouldn’t say it’s safe to say the 18 [Olympic roster players] are going to come from this 23,"Andonovski said.

"Tobin is a very important player for this team, she’s done incredible up until the injury. So we’re anxious to see her back on the field.

"Its just unfortunate that she picked up this injury, and we’re glad at this point that she’ll at least be able to play some games with her club before she comes into camp [in June]."

Andonovski added that Casey Krueger and Mallory Pugh are both recovering from injuries. Though both are in the picture still, the lost opportunity to impress next month is a massive blow with the pairlikely on the wrong side of the Olympic roster bubble right now.

For non-injured players left off the roster, such as Ali Krieger, Emily Fox, Andi Sullivan and Jaelin Howell, time appears to be running out.

Ashlyn Harris has been the USWNTs backup goalkeeper for some time now, but that period is now in real danger of ending.

The veteran shot-stopper has now been omitted from two straight rosters, with Jane Campbell and Casey Murphy preferred – the former appearing to have the inside track on a role as Alyssa Naehers backup.

Andonovski denied that Harris recent adoption of a baby with her wifeand fellow roster omission Krieger, had anything to do with her being left out of the 23-player squad.

"Family had nothing to do with that," Andonovski said."It was merely based on their performance in camp."

The USWNT will faceSweden in Stockholm on April 10 before taking onFrance in Le Havre on April 13. Both opponents are ranked in FIFAs top five andAndonovski has said they will test his side in different ways.

"These teams were selected for a reason," Andonovski said. "We felt like both of these teams will present slightly different challenges for us and that’s why we wanted to play them.

"We feel like they’re going to be able to expose different weaknesses of ours in different ways.

"Obviously Sweden is an extremely physical team, and organized team, and the same thing goes for France.

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