NWSL scoring champion Alex Morgan tops the 24-player women’s national team roster called up Thursday for an unusual January training camp in New Zealand, where the U.S. will open World Cup play in July.
The team will train for six days before facing New Zealand in Wellington on Jan. 18 and in Auckland two days later.
“We’ve been thinking about and planning for the World Cup for a long time. But when the calendar turns to the World Cup year, for sure it brings some renewed focus and energy as the tournament starts in less than 200 days,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “To get to bring the team to New Zealand in January and play in our World Cup venues has so many benefits so we are going to make sure we maximize our time together, make this trip as productive as possible and enjoy a unique experience as many of our players have never been to New Zealand before.”
The roster features four players with 100 caps or more in defender Becky Sauerbrunn (211), Morgan (200), Crystal Dunn (126) and Lindsey Horan (122) and 14 with 25 or fewer caps, including Hailie Mace (8), Taylor Kornieck (7) and Sam Coffey (4). Morgan, who topped the NWSL with 16 goals for the San Diego Wave last season, is the national’s team leading active scorer with 119 goals.
Defender Emily Sonnett and forward Lynn Williams return to the roster after recovering from injury, but NWSL MVP Sophia Smith (foot) and former world player of the year Megan Rapinoe (ankle) are out.
This summer’s tournament will be the first Women’s World Cup held in the Southern Hemisphere. It will be played July 20 to Aug. 20 in 10 stadiums across nine host cities, five in Australia and four in New Zealand.
The U.S., the two-time defending champion, was placed in Group E along with Vietnam, the Netherlands and the winner of a playoff involving Cameroon, Thailand and Portugal.
Goalkeepers: Adrianna Franch (Kansas City Current), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
Defenders: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)
Midfielders: Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)
Forwards: Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars), Lynn Williams (Kansas City Current)