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Rampone returns to USWNT ahead of Japan friendlies

Christie Rampone hasn't played for the U.S. since September. (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

Christie Rampone hasn’t played for the U.S. since September. (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

Christie Rampone will return to United States women’s national team camp later this month ahead of a pair of matches against Japan after being named to Jill Ellis’ 25-player roster.

Rampone, the team’s former and longtime captain, hasn’t played for the U.S. this year after recovering from December knee surgery and then getting back to playing shape through the opening five matches of the National Women’s Soccer League season with Sky Blue FC. Rampone is seeking to play in her fifth Olympics later this year in Rio. She has not played for the U.S. since September. Rampone turns 41 in June.

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Returning to camp for the first time since October is Bayern Munich defender Gina Lewandowski. University of Wisconsin midfielder Rose Lavelle is also back with the team.

“We are going with a slightly larger roster for this camp than the last few, so internally we can play in more 11v11 training scenarios,” Ellis said. “My staff and I have been watching the league play, and now we get to evaluate them back together. Both environments are important.”

Co-captain and 2015 FIFA World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd remains sidelined with a sprained MCL. She is not expected back on the field until at least mid-June.

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The U.S. hosts Japan on June 2 in Commerce City, Colo., and on June 5 in Cleveland, Ohio. Japan shockingly failed to qualify for the Olympics earlier this year after following up an unlikely 2011 World Cup title with runners-up finishes at the 2012 Olympics and the 2015 World Cup, losing to the U.S. both times.

Training camp begins May 27, meaning players will miss NWSL games on Memorial Day weekend.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position:

GOALKEEPERS (4): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)

DEFENDERS (10): Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Gina Lewandowski (FC Bayern Munich), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Wisconsin), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City)

FORWARDS (4): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)

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