Connect with us


USWNT roster projections for 2021 Olympics: Which 18 players will make Team USA in Tokyo?



USWNT roster projections for 2021 Olympics: Which 18 players will make Team USA in Tokyo?

To indulge a badly overused cliche: Vlatko Andonovski is currently facing the problem every coach wants to have. 

With a plethora of top talent to choose from, the U.S. women’s national team boss will somehow have to pick just 18 players for his Olympics roster this summer. 

It will be especially cruel for the final five cuts, who would have otherwise made the 23-player roster that most other tournaments use, including the World Cup.

There is no doubt that some big names will not be going to Japan. The only question is who those unlucky players will be. Here, Goal takes a stab at Andonovski’s 18-player roster for Tokyo.

MORE: USWNT draw announced for 2021 Olympic Games


  • MAKING THE CUT: Alyssa Naeher, Ashlyn Harris
  • MISSING OUT: Jane Campbell, Adrianna Franch, Aubrey Bledsoe, Casey Murphy

Naeher is rock solid as the team’s starter but the picture has grown quite murky behind her.

After years as the team’s clear backup, Harris was omitted from the SheBelieves Cup roster, a decision Andonovski insisted had nothing to do with her recent adoption of a baby along with her wife, USWNT defender Ali Krieger. That omission came after Andonovski bypassed Harris in favor of giving Campbell a start against Colombia in January. 

Campbell again started for the U.S. against Argentina in the SheBelieves Cup, but just like in the game against Colombia, she faced zero shots on target. The Houston Dash goalkeeper is clearly gaining on Harris, but the veteran is still the backup until Andonovski says otherwise.


  • MAKING THE CUT: Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Kelley O’Hara, Crystal Dunn, Emily Sonnett, Tierna Davidson
  • MISSING OUT: Midge Purce, Casey Krueger, Ali Krieger, Alana Cook, Emily Fox

The team’s starting back four of Dunn, Sauerbrunn, Dahlkemper and O’Hara has not changed in recent years and will remain the same heading to Tokyo, barring injury (a particular concern for O’Hara). 

That likely leaves two more defensive spots. Andonovski has seemed to rate Sonnett as his top backup at fullback, though the Washington Spirit defender did not have a strong SheBelieves Cup. She can also play center-back.

Davidson, another versatile player who was a World Cup winner at age 20, gets the nod ahead of Purce, who is cruelly left off due to the U.S. having cover at both of her preferred positions, fullback and forward. 

Julie Ertz can also play center-back but she has become indispensable at her holding midfield position. If possible, Andonovski will want to keep her out of the backline.  


  • MAKING THE CUT: Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Kristie Mewis
  • MISSING OUT: Andi Sullivan, Jaelin Howell, Morgan Gautrat

As mentioned, Ertz is the team’s linchpin and perhaps its most important player. Sam Mewis has developed into one of the team’s best players, while Horan’s world-class ability to control games and Lavelle’s playmaking mean they are both locks if healthy.

That leaves Kristie Mewis as the final inclusion. Starting from far outside the USWNT picture a year ago, the elder Mewis sister has worked her way up the depth chart by making a major impact in nearly every game she has featured in.

Getty Images

Do not count out Howell just yet, as the 21-year-old has a big future and may be the best true backup for Ertz at the holding midfield position. Similarly, Sullivan could make a late charge if she gets healthy.

Both are just outside this roster for now though, with Sam Mewis and Davidson able to fill in as a No.6 if required. 


  • MAKING THE CUT: Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Megan Rapinoe, Lynn Williams, Christen Press 
  • MISSING OUT: Carli Lloyd, Catarina Macario, Jessica McDonald, Ashley Hatch, Sophia Smith, Mallory Pugh

We will save the most room for the forward position, because it is the spot where it is a certainty that some big names will be chopped from the roster.

The number of headline-making cuts at forward will depend on whether Andonovski sees Macario as a forward or midfielder. Though she has played in both spots for the USWNT, Macario, a natural attacker, has looked better in the front three and should be viewed as a contender for one of the forward positions.

For now, the extremely promising Lyon attacker is on the outside looking in. Macario has shown flashes in her brief USWNT career but not enough to force Andonovski to take her to Tokyo at the expense of a more proven star. She does, though, have a handful of games left to force her coach’s hand.

macario uswnt 2021 w4afesjkr36h1gi56c3dru7oo

Morgan, Press and Rapinoe can be considered locks if healthy, based on past performances and recent displays. Rapinoe and Morgan, in particular, have recently answered a lot of questions about their sharpness after long absences. 

Heath is a big question mark due to a serious ankle injury that will likely keep her out until April or May. The winger should have around two months to regain her form and fitness before the tournament in Tokyo, which is enough time to keep her on the right side of the cut for now.

Andonovski, though, will be wary of bringing any player who isn’t 100 percent after his predecessor Jill Ellis was burned by bringing a hobbled Rapinoe to Rio five years ago.

That brings us to our final major call: Williams or Lloyd? Williams has not inspired a huge amount of confidence with her finishing ability, though she does create a high volume of chances.

Where she really has the edge, though, is in her pressing. Andonovski has noted repeatedly how important Williams is to the team’s suffocating high press, and her energy will be even more crucial than usual in a tournament with short turnarounds like the Olympics. For Andonovski, bringing at least one forward younger than 30 seems like a prudent move. 

And so, Lloyd is the odd woman out.

It would be extremely cruel on the 38-year-old, who is showing precious few signs of ageing as she nears 300 USWNT caps. However, the need for Lloyd as a backup target forward is diminished by the inclusion of Press, who has played the position before and is currently featuring there at Manchester United. 

Lloyd, Macario, Pugh and Smith. On most teams, that is a front four good enough for medal contention. For the USWNT, it is a group who could be doing what all the rest of us will be come summer: watching the Olympics. 

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Twitter reacts to Russell Westbrook’s NBA-record 182nd career triple-double



Twitter reacts to Russell Westbrook's NBA-record 182nd career triple-double

Russell Westbrook made history Monday night, notching his 182nd career triple-double — and moving past Oscar Robertson for the all-time NBA record.

Robertson’s record lasted 47 years, from 1974 through Monday night when a fourth-quarter rebound in front of a reduced-capacity crowd in Atlanta gave Westbrook sole possession of the record. It took him 12 years to surpass Robertson’s record after he achieved his first triple-double (17 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds) in 2009 as a rookie with the Thunder.

MORE: Jaylen Brown injury update: Celtics star out for rest of season with torn wrist ligament

Monday’s triple-double was Westbrook’s 36th of the year. That insane output is helping him average, for the fourth time in his career, a triple-double over the course of the season. The previous such campaigns came in 2016-17 through 2018-19.

Westbrook finished with 28 points, 21 assists and 13 rebounds in the Wizards’ 125-124 loss to the Hawks; the loss dropped Washington to 32-37 on the season, but the team still ranks 10th in the Eastern Conference standings. The Wizards’ playoff hopes pale in comparison to the history Westbrook made, however.

He even made sure to get the game ball from officials so he could be certain to commemorate the historic achievement.

Here are some of the best reactions to Westbrook’s history-making feat:

Continue Reading


Kenny Mayne’s ESPN cover letter was perfect precursor to his incredible career



Kenny Mayne's ESPN cover letter was perfect precursor to his incredible career

ESPN’s Kenny Mayne, one of the most recognizable talents in sports broadcasting, is leaving the network, he announced on Monday.

The 27-year ESPN anchor broke the news on Twitter, describing his exit from the worldwide leader in sports as a “salary cap casualty.” Naturally, he could only include some of the dry humor that helped him become a beloved presence in the studio and on millions of sports fans’ TVs.

MORE: ESPN anchors get emotional over laid-off co-workers: ‘We are all hurting’

The longtime “SportsCenter” host’s final day will be on May 24, bringing to an end a 27-year stint at ESPN that began in 1994. His absence will undoubtedly be noted among fans who appreciated his humor and presence in ESPN’s studios — but his Monday announcement is as good a reason as any to remember the incredible cover letter that first landed him the gig in 1994.

Mayne sent a short and sweet cover letter to ESPN’s John Walsh in 1994, offering him three checkboxes in the former’s bid to land a job with ESPN:

Unsurprisingly, Mayne made Walsh smile. Walsh wouldn’t be the last person to smile at Mayne’s humor and creativity.

Continue Reading


Jaylen Brown injury update: Celtics star out for rest of season with torn wrist ligament



Jaylen Brown injury update: Celtics star out for rest of season with torn wrist ligament

The Celtics will have to fight for a playoff spot without one of their most important players.

Boston announced Monday night that All-Star forward Jaylen Brown has suffered a torn scapholunate ligament in his left wrist and will miss the rest of the 2020-21 season. He is expected to undergo surgery later this week.

MORE: Will LeBron James return vs. Knicks?

The Celtics offered no specific timetable for Brown’s return to the court, but as The Athletic’s Jared Weiss noted, Boston guard Romeo Langford suffered the same injury last year and took about six months to recover. If Brown stays roughly on that timeline, he should be available to rejoin the lineup for the start of the 2021-22 campaign.

Brown dealt with injury and COVID-19 issues throughout the season, but the 24-year-old still managed to earn his first All-Star selection with some of the best individual numbers of his career. He averaged a career-high 24.7 points per game while shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from 3-point range.

Without Brown available, Boston will rely heavily on Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker to produce offensively. The Celtics will also need more from trade deadline acquisition Evan Fournier, who most recently scored 30 points in a loss to the Heat on Sunday — his highest scoring output since joining the team.

Even if other players step up in Brown’s absence, the Celtics, currently the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference standings, are unlikely to make a deep run in the 2021 NBA playoffs. They would face an uphill battle in a potential first-round series against the 76ers, Nets or Bucks, the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference.

Continue Reading