With the Cavaliers on the left coast, the United States Women's National Team is set to take over the city of Cleveland this Sunday. In advance of the contest, we take a look at the names of the ladies who will be taking the pitch at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The usual suspects: Alex Morgan, Christen Press, Crystal Dunn and Mallory Pugh. Morgan and Press were both on the 2015 World Cup winning squad. Dunn just missed the cut for the team in 2015...then scored 15 goals in the National Women’s Soccer League, won the Golden Boot and NWSL MVP. No big deal. Pugh burst onto the scene at age 17 in January and has appeared in all 11 matches so far this year.
With Carli Lloyd out with a knee issue (sorry, kids, no Carli in Cleveland) some shifts needed to be made. Veterans Morgan Brian, Tobin Heath, Heather O’Reilly plus newer faces Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Allie Long and Samantha Mewis round out the midfield.
The solid backline in the 2015 returns with even more options. Initially Christie Rampone was called in but has declined the invite due to not feeling that she is in her best shape to compete. The back four of Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger and Becky Sauerbrunn are joined by Gina Lewandowski (who only has one cap), Kelley O'Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, Emily Sonnett, Whitney Engen and Jaelene Hinkle. Ellis will be looking for diverse players that can step into the midfield role, as well as defensive, since the Olympics roster is only 18 deep.
Hope Solo could have her record 100th shutout in Cleveland. Will it happen? Depends what happens on June 2. Joining her is Alyssa Naeher, Ashlyn Harris and Adrianna Franch.
Against a somewhat shaky Japan squad, these two games are the first rematches since the final in the 2015 Women’s World Cup, where the US beat Japan, 5-2. Japan crashed out of Olympic qualifying and will use this summer to reboot the program. The USWNT play Japan in Colorado on June 2 at 9 p.m. eastern time on FOX Sports 1, and in Cleveland on June 5 at 12:30 p.m. eastern time on ESPN 2.
If you are curious about what is planned for the USWNT match festivities, check out USSoccer.com or the Cleveland Chapter of the American Outlaws. There is a night before party at Merry Arts in Lakewood and the tailgating the morning of the game will start bright and early. The parking lot location should be decided in the next couple of days. Overall, enjoy the soccer crowd and cheer as loud as you can! I’ll be at the game so tweet me at @stephaniemduffy and we can meet up.