Soccer-U.S. coach calls up young talent with World Cup, Olympic qualifiers on horizon
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. women's national team head coach Vlatko Andonovski selected a young squad for two friendlies against Uzbekistan next month, among their final games before World Cup and Olympic qualifying.
While there were no first-time call-ups, 14 of the 23 players in the squad have 15 caps or fewer, according to U.S. Soccer, with midfielders Lindsey Horan and Sam Mewis among the most experienced with 25 and 24 international goals, respectively.
They will be joined by their 2019 World Cup winning team mates Abby Dahlkemper, Kelley O'Hara, Rose Lavelle, Mallory Pugh and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
"We have four games left before World Cup and Olympic qualifying and it’s up to the players and staff to maximize every minute we get together on the field and in the meeting room," said Andonovski, who led the four-time World Cup winners to Olympic bronze in Tokyo last year.
Top-ranked U.S. and Canada will face six others in Monterrey, Mexico, in July, for the CONCACAF W Championship, with the winner booking a spot at the 2024 Paris Games and the top four finishers qualifying for the 2023 World Cup.
"We have quite a few injuries in our player pool that we are dealing with, but that also means more opportunities for other players and the chance to continue to deepen our roster as we continue to work to find the best combination of players to take to Mexico," he added.
Nineteen-year-old forward Trinity Rodman, U.S. Soccer's 2021 young female player of the year, is among the young talent headed to the Columbus, Ohio, and Chester, Pennsylvania, games, with veterans such as Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Christen Press and Tobin Heath absent from the roster.
Rodman will be joined by her Washington Spirit team mate Ashley Hatch, who has scored three times in just six appearances for the national team, and 21-year-old defender Naomi Girma, the first overall pick in the 2022 National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) draft.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Toby Davis)
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