Vlatko Andonovski leans younger with USWNT’s SheBelieves roster

Brad Smith/ ISI Photos

The USWNT announced Thursday the roster for the upcoming SheBelieves Cup, taking place Feb. 17-23.

The 23-player roster leans heavily into the USWNT’s youth, with players like Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz left off.

“All these players are very good players. We all know that,” Andonovski said of his decision to leave veterans off the roster. “They’ve done so much for this team, and they’ve won everything possible.

“But right now in these camps, I felt like I want to give a chance to players like Sophie Smith and Mal Pugh and Catarina Macario. Players that have earned their sports on the national team, or their spots back on the national team.”

Citing a desire to give those young players more minutes to better evaluate their game, Andonovski said that final decisions for upcoming camps and qualifiers won’t solely be made off of the SheBelieves Cup.

“In any of these camps, like SheBelieves for example, we call in any of the senior players then we’re not going to be able to see the younger ones, or dial in as deep as we want with the younger ones,” he said.

“Now, again, not that it doesn’t mean these players haven’t done well in the past,” he continued. “They’re not just going to come back in the next game because they’ve done well a year ago or two years ago. So I mean, there’s a reason why Mia Hamm is not in camp still. We’re not calling Julie Foudy into camp, right? The same goes here. They need to perform. They need to play in their markets. They need to play well in their markets, and show that they can still contribute and be valuable for the national team.”

Catarina Macario and Becky Sauerbrunn are the only players on the roster who did not attend the team’s January training camp.

Trinity Rodman has been named as a training player during the lead-up to the tournament. When asked why she wasn’t included on the full roster, Andonovski said that they want to ease Rodman into being a member of the team.

“She did well in camp,” he said. “Her mindset fits well in it. She’s really doing good in the league, but the national team is a completely different animal. We want to give her a chance to slowly adjust to the system.”

The SheBelieves Cup will kick off on Thursday, Feb. 17 in California with the USWNT taking on the Czech Republic at 11 p.m. ET.

Full Roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit; 0), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 2), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 78)

DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (OL Reign; 4/0), Abby Dahlkemper (San Diego Wave FC; 77/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 45/1), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC; 8/0), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign; 9/0), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit; 148/2), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 63/0), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 199/0)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Gautrat (Chicago Red Stars; 87/8), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA; 108/25), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign; 68/18), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA; 12/3), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 33/4), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit; 2/0), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 22/2)

FORWARDS (5): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 4/2), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars; 67/18), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 9/2), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 10/1), Lynn Williams (Kansas City Current; 45/14)