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Vlatko releases USWNT January camp roster

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Plus: three interesting picks

Soccer: Womens World Cup-USA Training Session Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports

On the third day of Christmas US Soccer gave to us: the USWNT January training camp roster.

In the official release from USSF, head coach Vlatko Andonovski said that he expects a productive camp with players who are coming off a needed rest.

“The players are coming off their break, so I know everyone will be excited, rested, refreshed and ready to tackle our next goals, which are having a productive training camp and preparing for Olympic Qualifying,” Andonovski said.

Here are some interesting tidbits from the roster drop:

Welcome To The X-Men, Sophia Smith

Remember the Women’s College Cup earlier in the month? That was a lot of fun, huh? Katie Meyer may have dominated the headlines, but Stanford forward Sophia Smith very nearly stole the show. A hat-trick in the semifinals against UCLA was the tree-topper on a thoroughly impressive performance from the 19-year-old sophomore, one that helped guide Stanford to their third NCAA title. Vlatko is obviously striking while the iron is hot— Smith got the call. While she probably won’t make the 20-woman Olympic Qualifying roster, she could make things interesting at camp and get her name in Vlatko’s mouth when future roster selections come up.

Stick With What You Know

Smith notwithstanding, the roster overall feels very safe. Of the 28 players being called down to Tampa, only six didn’t go to the World Cup. This isn’t entirely surprising; Vlatko’s only been on the job for two months, and NWSL has been in offseason mode the entire time. Combined with Olympic Qualifying a month away, and it seems prudent not to rock the boat too much right now. Even so: January camp historically tends to be a time to give young and fringe players a chance to fight their way into contention, and not doing that feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.

Best Foot Forward

One thing to keep an eye on will be who gets minutes up top. Alex Morgan is on the shelf due to pregnancy, Carli Lloyd still has one or two question marks hanging over her, and Megan Rapinoe is still working her way through a slump. One thing Vlatko could do to make January camp productive is to start sussing out what the forward line could look like without the current established stars. Jess McDonald and Lynn Williams don’t have many caps to their names, but they most recently led North Carolina to consecutive NWSL Championships; if they can bring that same magic to the national team, it’ll go a long way toward preserving US dominance on the world stage.

Below is the full 28-woman roster:

GK (4): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEF (9): Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC), Margaret Purce (Portland Thorns FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)

MID (7): Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Allie Long (Reign FC), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

FWD (8): Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald (North Carolina Courage), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC), Sophia Smith (Stanford), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)