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Five Thorns called up for USWNT duty

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Sonnett and Franch called in along with Heath, Horan, and Long

The US women’s national team celebrated Halloween with a spooky roster reveal ahead of two upcoming friendlies against Canada, on November 9 and 12. The Thorns’ Tobin Heath, Allie Long, Lindsey Horan, Emily Sonnett, and AD Franch were all named to the 23-woman training camp roster. 18 of those players will dress for each match.

Long, Horan, and Heath come as no surprise, although Heath was scratched from the two Korea rosters earlier this month after suffering an ankle injury in the NWSL championship.

For both Sonnett and Franch, on the other hand, this is the first look they’ve had at the national team in some time. Sonnett has 12 caps under her belt, but hasn’t been called up since October last year. She’s also in the unique position of having just gone to Australia on a loan to Sydney FC, presumably under the assumption she wasn’t likely to get a call from the national team. Franch was brought into camp in January of this year, but has never been capped.

The full roster is below:

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position (Caps/Goals):

GOALKEEPERS (4): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 2/0), Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 14/0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 21/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 11/0), Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars; 3/0), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC; 102/2), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City; 133/0), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 17/0), Taylor Smith (NC Courage; 5/0), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 12/0), Chioma Ubogagu (Orlando Pride; 0/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 55/13), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 41/4), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash; 244/97), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC; 32/6), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 32/7), Andi Sullivan (Stanford; 5/0)

FORWARDS (5): Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 132/18), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 132/78), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars; 94/44), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 127/34), Lynn Williams (NC Courage; 13/4)

Questions and comments

A few editorial comments on this roster are in order.

First, the inclusion of four keepers is a departure from Jill Ellis’s standard procedures, wherein she calls in her arbitrarily anointed top three and plays one, or occasionally two of them. It’s certainly possible to look at the tidy, even number here and guess that she intends to play each keeper for a half; but to me, that would come as a pleasant surprise. Franch’s inclusion on this roster is well-deserved, but don’t be shocked if she doesn’t see any actual minutes.

Second, the names listed under the “defender” category continue to mystify. It’s long been clear that Ellis values fullbacks who can attack. It’s now abundantly clear, if it wasn’t after the infamous Huerta Conversion, that she values the “can attack” part of that equation at the expense of the “fullback” part.

In some sense, I can understand the perpetual snubs against Emily Menges: although, to me, Menges is better than Sonnett, there’s at least an argument to be made that centerback slots are always going to be a limited resource. I would also argue that we’re still far enough out from the World Cup cycle that Ellis could afford to sit Sauerbrunn and Dahlkemper and take a look at an entirely fresh CB pairing, but I only have so much energy to worry about these things.

The thing that makes less sense, at this point, is Meghan Klingenberg’s omission. It looks like a real possibility that Kling’s bad run of form in 2016—which we now know was injury-related—has knocked her, Ali Krieger-style, clean out of the national team pool. Kling is, if not quite the archetypal attacking fullback, at least a current version who’s been playing that role at a high level for the Thorns.

The really ironic thing is that Kling, herself, is a converted midfielder. If that isn’t going well, in Ellis’s eyes, why does she keep repeating the same experiment, rather than giving some of the league’s actual fullbacks—Katherine Reynolds comes to mind—a chance?