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USWNT World Cup roster: Which players are on the bubble?

Sofia Huerta is one of the U.S. women's national team players on the bubble ahead of the World Cup roster drop. (Robin Alam/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Whittling down a World Cup roster to 23 players can be difficult, particularly if you are head coach of the U.S. women’s national team and have a plethora of talent to choose from.

USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski will announce his choices next week, and while some players have solidified their spots, others remain on the bubble. Which players are fighting for a trip to Australia and New Zealand?

Goalkeepers: AD Franch, Aubrey Kingsbury

Kingsbury has been playing lights out to begin the season. Franch, on the other hand, has seen limited appearances on the field, and has struggled when she has appeared for the Kansas City Current.

And while Alyssa Naeher is a staple for the USWNT, she has given up nine goals in her last two outings for the Red Stars, so Andonovski may want to stick with the backup who has the better recent résumé.

Defenders: Sofia Huerta, Tierna Davidson, Kelley O’Hara, Casey Krueger

Sofia Huerta had a great game last weekend against Kansas City, burying a penalty kick to give OL Reign the win. She was named Player of the Match and earned a nomination for NWSL Player of the Week. A former attacker turned right-back, her 35 regular-season goals rank 17th in NWSL history, so she could bring an additional scoring presence to a USWNT squad that has had a defender score in each of its last two friendlies. But she’s going up against O’Hara and Krueger, with each bringing a different element to the table — and while O’Hara has been struggling to stay healthy, Krueger’s versatility could give her the nod.

Davidson is another bubble player who faces stiff competition to make the final 23. At center-back, she is likely competing with OL Reign’s Emily Sonnett. In Chicago, Davidson has struggled – as has the rest of the Red Star defense – and was out before that with an ACL tear. She was the youngest player on the roster at the 2019 World Cup, but she could find herself on the outside looking in this time around.

Midfielders: Taylor Kornieck, Savannah DeMelo

Julie Ertz’s return to the USWNT lineup has meant one less spot on the USWNT roster because, let’s face it, there’s no way Ertz is being left at home. Kornieck has had solid USWNT minutes, and at 6-1 she is the tallest player the USWNT has to go up against opposition. Before sustaining an abdominal injury, Kornieck was leading the NWSL in aerials won. She’s already scored once this year for the USWNT, one of just a few players to do so, and would be a solid bench option for Andonovski.

DeMelo, meanwhile, has had an outstanding start to her NWSL season and week after week continues to make her case for the USWNT roster. She scored in four of five appearances to start the season and forced an own goal against Chicago. In May, she was named the NWSL’s Player of the Month. If NWSL play really does matter that much to Andonovski, then he’ll take DeMelo down under.

Forwards: Jaedyn Shaw, Midge Purce

If Andonovski is considering young star Alyssa Thompson for a roster spot, he should also be considering Shaw. Shaw has been a force for San Diego this season, not just as the team’s second-leading scorer but also as a passer. While her consistency needs some work, she has two seasons of professional experience under her belt that could be helpful on the world’s biggest stage.

Purce, meanwhile, has had a bumpy road with the USWNT, and a recent hip injury has kept her from NWSL play. While Purce has the talent to help the USWNT, her lack of recent playing time means she could get left at home.