In two weeks, the U.S. Women’s National Team will come together for the first time since early April when its two-game tour of Scandinavia gets underway. The USA will square off against two of the best teams in the world when it takes on Sweden on June 8 in Gothenburg and Norway on June 11 in Sandefjord. Today, U.S. head coach Jill Ellis named 21 players for the trip.
In the last six weeks, Ellis has had time to evaluate and observe players both home and abroad and has brought together a group that is performing well and ready to take on the test of playing overseas.
“These are going to be some really good games that will challenge us this year,” Ellis said. “Our goal is to continuously play top-10 teams and the games against Sweden and Norway are just that. It’ll be exciting to see what we face on the road, and for some players this will be their first time going to Europe or going on the road in tough conditions. It will be different but it’s important, and it’s just what we need to face to get better.”
The domestically-based WNT players have all been with their clubs since the start of the NWSL season. The league will enter the seventh of its 20-week schedule this weekend and a few players have already stood out for Ellis, including Samantha Mewis, who has played every minute of every game for North Carolina so far while adding a goal, and Rose Lavelle, who has added an assist and scored two goals while starting every game in her rookie NWSL season.
“Right now, I’m really happy with our young players in the league. Sam [Mewis] and Rose [Lavelle] are looking good. They have scored goals and are playing well. Mallory [Pugh] has obviously just made her NWSL debut which is exciting. Seeing these young players compete every weekend is crucial and now to take them into a hostile environment, it will be invaluable.”
The last time the U.S. women played a pair of friendlies abroad was in 2015 when they faced France (a 2-0 loss) on Feb. 8 in Lorient and England (a 1-0 win) on Feb. 13. Of the 21 players named to Ellis’ roster for this year’s games, 10 were part of the roster for the 2015 matches. Those not part of the squad were Samantha Mewis, Lindsey Horan, Mallory Pugh, Abby Dahlkemper, Casey Short, Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle, Abby Smith, Allie Long and Jaelene Hinkle. For Dahlkemper, Short, Lavelle, Smith and Hinkle, this will be their first trip abroad with the senior WNT.
Returning to the roster for the Europe friendlies is Leroux, who was last in with the team in January Camp of 2016 but then missed the entire year due to pregnancy and the birth of her son. She has been back on the field as a starter for FC Kansas City since Week 1 of the 2017 NWSL season. Leroux has 75 caps with the WNT and 35 goals.
Also, back for the first time since 2016 are North Carolina Courage teammates Abby Dahlkemper and Jaelene Hinkle. Dahlkemper and Hinkle have helped the Courage to a 4-2-0 record so far this season, allowing only one goal through the first four weeks of the year. The only other newcomer is Boston Breakers goalkeeper Abby Smith who erns her first call-up to the National Team. Smith currently ranks fifth in the NWSL with 22 saves, helping Boston to a 2-2-2 record.
The U.S. will face Sweden on June 8 (1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 & UDN), followed by Norway on June 11 (1 p.m. ET on FOX).