Jill Ellis has selected 26 players to partake in this year's USWNT January camp. The first camp of 2016 is highlighted by a friendly on Jan. 23 against Ireland. The match will be the final chance for players to make an impression on Ellis before she selects her squad for Olympic qualifying in February.
The Orlando Pride's Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris will be attending the camp and are very likely to make the final cut for the Olympic team. With the retirement earlier this month of legend Abby Wambach, the U.S. will need Morgan to step up and help lead the team both by scoring goals and being a vocal leader in the locker room and on the field.
The Yanks will be expected to cruise through Olympic qualifying, but the loss last time out at home to China shows that this team is vulnerable. Couple that with the loss of talisman Megan Rapinoe to an ACL tear and the U.S. will certainly not be guaranteed to defend their Olympic title. Outside of the team's own issues, teams like France will want to bounce back from a disappointing World Cup with a gold in Rio, as will the Germans who, after losing in the semis to the Red, White & Blue, failed to finish third.
A very intriguing name on the January roster is 17-year-old Mallory Pugh. The U-20 captain led her team to a CONCACAF championship and a ticket to the 2016 U-20 World Cup earlier this month, while leading the tournament in goals scored. With goal scorers Morgan, Christen Press and Sydney Leroux all established veterans at this point with the senior side, it will be tough for Pugh to find her way onto the field against Ireland and even tougher still to make the Olympic team. That said, a few weeks of training with the USWNT can do nothing but help Pugh continue to develop -- and with her 18th birthday not until April, there will plenty of time for the young forward to win her spot up top down the road.
Here's the full roster for the January camp according to ussoccer.com:
Goalkeepers: Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
Defenders: Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O'hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Emily Sonnett (University of Virginia)
Midfielders: Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (PSG), Rose Lavelle (Wisconsin), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), Heather O'Reilly (FC Kansas City)
Forwards: Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Sydney Leroux (Western New York Flash), Stephanie McCaffrey (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)