Jill Ellis’ 23-player United States roster for the Women’s World Cup yielded no surprises on Monday.
Defenders Crystal Dunn and Rachel Van Hollebeke were the two players who participated in the last training camp who were left off the World Cup roster. Neither player made the gameday roster for the U.S. in the Americans’ last match on April 4, a 4-0 win over New Zealand.
“Both of them were incredibly professional,” Ellis said. “They understood the process, understood how competitive it was and they were a class act, both of them. It was an extremely tough decision, because they both offer different things to their positions and it was really coming down to what I was looking for.”
Dunn struggled with injuries in the latter half of 2014, but Ellis said on Tuesday that Dunn is healthy, she just didn’t fit into Ellis’ plans as well as some other players.
“She’s done very well,” Ellis said of Dunn. “With Lori [Chalupny] coming in and with Kelley O’Hara’s flexibility, I think we’ve got kind of a good complement of outside backs. I even looked at Crystal in a higher position up the field. At the end of the day it was a preference of what I needed and what I wanted. Crystal gave her very, very best. She’s still a young player and we talked about her progression and things to continue to refine and get better at.”
The only mildly notable decision for Ellis was selecting midfielder Shannon Boxx to the World Cup roster. Boxx reportedly played 90 minutes and scored a goal in the United States’ closed-door match against New Zealand on April 6.
This will be the fourth World Cup for Boxx, who turns 38 in June. She will be the team’s second-oldest player behind defender Christie Rampone. Boxx has only played 30 minutes across three matches this year after not playing at all in 2014. But Ellis says that she’s seen positive things from Boxx in training and closed-door matches, enough to take her to Canada.
“She’s been remarkable, from where we were in last October when she came for qualifying to now,” Ellis said. “Physically she’s been tremendous and she’s turned it around. She played 90 minutes against New Zealand in our closed-door game and did very, very well. I think the experience, the coverage in the center of the midfield, and knowing what kind of role I would use her in, I think for me it just made sense.”
Van Hollebeke did not make the United States’ World Cup qualifying roster, deciding afterward to play in Japan for the final months of 2014. She was called back into camp in December and at various points early in 2015.
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