The United States women’s national team truly enters the beginning of a new era on Wednesday against Switzerland (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
U.S. head coach Jill Ellis called up 11 uncapped players for this training camp and the pair of matches against the Swiss as she begins evaluating for the 2019 World Cup. Included in the group of newcomers are NCAA players Jane Campbell, Andi Sullivan and Ashley Hatch, as NWSL Golden Boot winner and MVP Lynn Williams.
Among the most recognized new call-ups is Kealia Ohai, who tied Williams for goals scored in the 2016 NWSL season with 11. Ohai helped lead the 2012 U-20 Women’s World Cup, which the Americans won. Ohai overcoming blindness in one eye makes her story that much more incredible.
She joins a handful of teammates from that 2012 U-20 team who have already cracked into the U.S. senior team: Julie Johnston, Morgan Brian, Crystal Dunn and Sam Mewis are all already part of the senior-team picture. Others from that squad are thriving at the NWSL level, welcomed positive news for the federation as youth teams continue to struggle, including the U-17s at the current World Cup. Japan and North Korea will meet in the U-17 Women’s World Cup final on Friday. (SmartBets has defending champion Japan favored to repeat at the U-17 level.)
Back to the U.S. senior team: This young squad is an unfamiliar feeling for the Americans. Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Ali Krieger and Julie Johnston are among those missing from this camp as Ellis rotates the roster, not to mention the absence of Hope Solo, who Ellis said last week she hadn’t even thought about. Only three players in camp have 100 caps or more, the fewest number of veterans in years for the U.S.
Alyssa Naeher and Ashlyn Harris will continue to compete for time in goal, with Stanford senior Campbell also in this camp.
Abby Dahlkemper — fresh off a 2016 NWSL title with Western New York — joins Arin Gilliland, Merritt Mathias and Casey Short as new defenders in the mix, while Danielle Colaprico is back in camp after training with the team late last year. Sullivan is also new to the midfield mix after a successful youth and college career.
Shea Groom, Williams, Ohai and BYU senior Hatch will challenge for time at forward.
Switzerland will pose a serious challenge for this young U.S. team. The Swiss are ranked 15th in the world and are among Europe’s next up-and-coming teams. Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side is an improved one from the one which lost 4-1 to the U.S. in 2014 and lost 3-0 to the U.S. at the 2015 Algarve Cup.
Goal-scoring spark Ramona Bachman is not available for the match due to injury, but VfL Wolfsburg forward Lara Dickenmann will be a handful for the Americans.
The two teams play again on Sunday in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Sunday at 1:45 p.m. ET on FS1.
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Gaëlle Thalmann (AGSM Verona, ITA), 12-Stenia Michel (FC Basel 1893), 21-Seraina Friedli (FC Zürich Frauen)
DEFENDERS (4): 5-Noelle Maritz (VfL Wolfsburg, GER), 6-Selina Kuster (FC Zürich Frauen), 14-Rahel Kiwic (MSV Duisburg, GER), 15-Caroline Abbé (FC Bayern München, GER)
MIDFIELDERS (8): 3-Melanie Müller (BSC Young Boys), 4-Bangerter (FC Basel 1893), 7-Martina Moser (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, GER), 8-Cinzia Zehnder (SC Freiburg, GER), 9-Lia Wälti (1.FFC Turbine Potsdam, GER), 18-Viola Calligaris (BSC Young Boys), 20-Sandrine Mauron (FC Zürich Frauen), 22-Vanessa Bernauer (VfL Wolfsburg, GER)
FORWARDS (5): 2-Patricia Willi (FC Zürich Frauen), 11-Lara Dickenmann (VfL Wolfsburg, GER), 16-Fabienne Humm (FC Zürich Frauen), 19-Eseosa Aigbogun (1.FFC Turbine Potsdam, GER), 23-Barla Deplazes (FC Zürich Frauen)
BY THE NUMBERS
0.38 — Goals per game the USA allowed in 2016
1 — USA’s FIFA ranking and number of players that made their WNT debut in 2016 (Pugh)
2 — Times the USA has gone unbeaten in regulation in a calendar year when playing 10 or more games
3.31 — Goals per game the USA scored in 2016
4 — Goals needed by Alex Morgan to catch Cindy Parlow (75) for 7th on the USA’s all-time scoring list
5 — Caps Ali Krieger needs to become the 36th woman in U.S. history to reach 100 caps
6 — Goals Carli Lloyd needs to reach 100
12 — Number of different U.S. players to score a goal in 2016
99 — Minutes on the field per goal averaged by Abby Wambach in her career
104 — Minutes on the field per goal averaged by Alex Morgan in her career
130 — Minutes on the field per goal averaged by Mia Hamm in her career
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