By Jenny Masters
Former world players of the year Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe are among the 27 women called up yesterday for the national soccer team’s first training camp of 2021, but captain Alex Morgan will not participate after testing positive for COVID-19.
The two-week training camp will open Saturday in Orlando, and will conclude with two matches against Colombia on Jan. 18 and Jan. 22, part of coach Vlatko Andonovski’s preparations for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. Both games will be played at Exploria Stadium in Orlando before crowds limited to 4,000 ticketed fans.
“It’s not a typical generic camp in several different ways,” coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “I’m very happy with the fact that we’re able to play games because these games are something we’re missing as a team.
“And it’s a mixed group of players. [We] have a chance to see others that haven’t played for a long time and give them a chance to get back up to speed, but also evaluate them around the players that have been in every camp. Same thing for the young players being evaluated and getting used to the system.”
Lloyd and Rapinoe, the Golden Boot winners in the last two women’s World Cups, haven’t played for the national team or their NWSL clubs in 10 months. Also rejoining the team is forward Mallory Pugh, who missed the last two national team training camps with injury.
Lloyd, 38, who missed most of 2020 with a knee injury, is six games shy of 300 for her national team career. Only three players of either gender — Americans Kristine Lilly (354) and Christie Rampone (311) and Canada’s Christine Sinclair (296) — have played more international matches than Lloyd.
World Cup veterans Christen Press and Tobin Heath, who are playing for Manchester United in the Women’s Super League (WSL), were left off the roster. Press is trying to regain fitness after contracting an illness last month, while Heath chose to concentrate on her club team’s games.
Sixteen of the players called up were on the 2019 Women’s World Cup team, including midfielders Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis, who are playing in the WSL for Manchester City, and Alyssa Naeher, who made the shortlist for FIFA’s goalkeeper of the year in 2020.
The U.S., ranked No. 1 in the world by FIFA, is perfect in 11 matches under Andonovski and unbeaten in 31 in a row dating to a January 2019 loss to France. That was the Americans’ only loss in their last 60 games.