What can you expect from the USWNT during Olympic qualifiers?

The U.S. Women's National Team's new head coach, Vlatko Andonovski, is an alum of Ohio University's Master's in Soccer Coaching Education program. Andonovski led the US team to a a 3-2 victory against Sweden in first game as head on November 7, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Ben Siegel

Vlatko Andonovski announced the most anticipated line up for the United States Women’s National Team… the squad for the Olympic qualifiers.

Vlatko Andonovski has had two friendly matches with the team and had their annual January training camp just weeks before the roster was announced.

Andonovsi has been busy with his sights on the qualifications, the SheBelieves Cup then ultimately the Summer 2020 Olympics. He has big shoes to fill, taking over from the incredibly successful Jill Ellis.

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The new coach is looking for ways to continue the success of this program. However, he is still looking to help bring women’s football further into the public eye.

“Vlatko brings a new vibe and an energetic side to this team,” Megan Rapinoe stated during the January training camp. “It is about us getting better not just individually and the competition between us but as a program as a whole.”

So, who made the team?

The squad looks like this:

Goalkeepers: Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).

Defenders: Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals), Emily Sonnett (Orlando Pride).

Midfielders: Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit).

Forwards: Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue), Jessica McDonald (North Carolina Courage), Christen Press (Utah Royals), Megan Rapinoe (Reign), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage).

Big omissions

At first glance, most fans would think that this was a very solid list. There are a few absences that took people by surprise.

Mallory Pugh, Casey Short, Allie Long, Margaret Purce, Morgan Brian, Alex Morgan, and Tierna Davidson all failed to make the squad.

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Since late 2019, Alex Morgan announced that she is expecting a child but is hopeful to make it back in time for the Olympics.

Tierna Davidson was injured in the semi-final match of the NWSL Championship run and is still recovering from that injury.

As for the other names on the list, nothing has been released if they were injured or just simply didn’t make the cut.

Vlatko Andonovski has a vision and purpose to which he picks for each roster.

“Pugh will be training with the team even though she is not on the roster,” Vlatko said. “She is part of the big picture moving forward.”

Casey Short and Margaret Purce were also surprise omissions. Both Short and Purce did fantastic during friendly matches against Sweden and Costa Rica back in November.

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Purce, predominately an attacker switched to defence against Sweden and Costa Rica.

Casey Short had been named on the NWSL Team of Week every week last season and rightly deserved the recognition. Both will surely be around the USWNT soon.

What to expect from the qualifiers

“The group has been practicing multiple formations. The team will set up and be decided on a game to game basis.”

This quote brings Crystal Dunn to mind. In the NWSL, Dunn plays as an attacker but for the USWNT she holds firm at the back on the left side.

With these qualification games approaching along with the SheBelieves Cup, Vlatko may switch some of these formations in order to bring the best result to the team.

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This could also happen with Julie Ertz. In the second half against Costa Rica, Ertz dropped into centre-half. Vlatko has been audible about the versatility of his midfielders.

If what coach Vlatko has said is anything to go by, then USWNT fans will need to be on their toes over the next few months.

What happens up top?

Lynn Williams and Jessica McDonald played together against Sweden and Costa Rica. Individually, the two are fantastic but together, they’re a whole different animal.

They were the force driving the North Carolina Courage to the championship. They also received numerous accolades during the season.

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With Press and Heath on the wings, the combination of Lloyd and Williams or McDonald up top, the possibilities of formation are endless.

With the US playing Costa Rica just a couple of months ago, it is anticipated that the opposition will accommodate accordingly to this new squad that has been named.

Will Vlatko spice things up with these new formations or is this just a form to psych the opposition out?

The USWNT take on Haiti, Panama and Costa Rice in the hunt fo Olympic qualification. The games take place on January 28 and 31, then February 3.

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