all scores

Adrianna Franch, Midge Purce make case for USWNT Olympics squad

Brad Smith/ISI Photos

The U.S. Women’s National Team’s Sunday night game against Jamaica saw heavy player rotation and roster experimentation in both the starting line-up and mid-game subs.

The Summer Series has allowed players looking to break into the 18-player Olympic lineup a final opportunity to play their way onto coach Vlatko Andonovski’s roster.

Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch and forward/defender Midge Purce both played the full 90 against Jamaica, capitalizing on the opportunity to make their case for Tokyo.

Purce has been on the outside looking in for most major tournaments since her first USWNT call up in 2017. The 25-year-old, however, has gotten more playing time under coach Vlatko Andonovski, with all seven of her caps coming under the new manager.

Purce started her professional career as a winger, playing higher up the field, but at the international level, she has been converted to a dependable right back. Sunday’s match showcased Purce’s versatility, with her playing up top in the first half and at right back in the second. Purce’s ability to adjust and move around the pitch could be a precious asset heading into the Olympics, given the smaller roster and compact playing schedule. (World Cup squads carry 23 players in contrast to the Olympics’ 18.)

In the game’s opening 45 minutes, Purce showed how dangerous she can be on the flank, beating defenders down the line and exposing gaps in Jamaica’s defense. Purce put an exclamation point on her first USWNT start in an attacking position with a goal in the 22nd minute. Timing her run perfectly, Purce got on the end of a bouncing cross from Christen Press, beating Sydney Schneider at the near post to score her second international goal–not bad for someone who spend the second-half playing at right back.

In the post-game press conference, Andonovski said he was impressed with Purce’s performance but added that at times she could’ve been more patient and in step with the pace of the game.

“We wanted to see how well she’ll react to the adjustment and I thought she did a good job,” said Andonovski of Purce’s shift from offense to defense.

While it’s impossible to predict Andonovski’s final decision, Purce certainly made the roster selection process interesting by putting up a solid performance at both positions.

Adriana Franch got a notable start against Jamaica as well. While Alyssa Naeher is a lock for the starting goalkeeper position, the search for her backup has remained ongoing. Jane Campbell is the only other goalkeeper in the June camp with Franch and Naeher, leaving many to speculate that the backup search has narrowed to her and Franch.

Franch didn’t have much to do in Sunday night’s game, but after missing 2020 due to injury, a start is a promising sign for the Portland Thorn’s keeper. After the match, Andonovski said he was happy with Franch’s communication and organization but that “it was hard to judge because there wasn’t many shots or interventions she had to do.”

The USWNT’s final Summer Series game on Wednesday against Nigeria could give Franch and Purce, among others, one last shot to state their case.

Tune in: USWNT vs Nigeria, June 16th at 9:00pm ET on ESPN2.