(L-R) Megan Rapinoe celebrates with Alex Morgan in a friendly against Australia on April 4, 2019 in Commerce City, Colo.
Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and nine other players are back to defend their championship at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
U.S. Soccer announced the 23-woman roster on Thursday, which marks 40 days to go before the U.S. opens the Women’s World Cup in France.
Lloyd, who scored a stunning hat trick in the U.S. team’s 5-2 victory of Japan in the 2015 final, will take part in her fourth Women’s World Cup. The 36-year-old forward has moved into more of a supporting role in recent years.
Morgan and Rapinoe join four other players in making a third consecutive World Cup team. They are defenders Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O'Hara and Ali Krieger, and fellow forward Tobin Heath.
The other World Cup veterans on the U.S. squad are goalies Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher; midfielders Morgan Brian and Julie Ertz; and forward Christen Press.
That leaves 11 players who will make their World Cup debuts in France. Fifteen players were on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team.
Among the surprise inclusions to the roster was Krieger, a veteran right back who played in the 2015 final but then hadn’t been part of the national team picture for two years until returning to a training camp last month. She announced her engagement to Harris in March.
Brian, who also started the 2015 final, has been in and out of the national team picture in recent years but ultimately made the cut.
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Riding an unshakeable defense, the U.S. won its third World Cup four years ago in Canada. The Americans had previously won the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991, as well as their iconic 1999 championship on home soil.
However, Team USA is coming off a disappointing performance in its most recent major tournament, when it fell to Sweden in the 2016 Olympic quarterfinals. That marked the first time the U.S. fell short of the semifinals in a World Cup or Olympic tournament.
Following a dominant stretch from July 2017 to January 2019 in which the U.S. went 28 games without a loss, coach Jill Ellis has been tinkering with lineups and tactics in recent months to mixed results, a process that helped her determine the final squad for France.
“These 23 players have been through adversity and success, and it’s a group that has the talent, confidence, experience and desire to help us win the World Cup,” she said in a statement.
The U.S. has three domestic matches this month before heading to Europe for final preparations.
The World Cup kicks off on June 7, and the U.S. opens group play against Thailand on June 11. The Americans also face Chile and Sweden in group play. The World Cup final is set for July 7.
Goalkeepers (3): Adrianna Franch* (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris** (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher** (Chicago Red Stars)
Defenders (7): Abby Dahlkemper* (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson* (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn* (NC Courage), Ali Krieger*** (Orlando Pride), Kelley O'Hara*** (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn*** (Utah Royals FC), Emily Sonnett* (Portland Thorns FC)
Midfielders (6): 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* (NC Courage)
Forwards (7): Tobin Heath*** (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd**** (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald* (NC Courage), Alex Morgan*** (Orlando Pride), Christen Press** (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh* (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe*** (Reign FC)
* First Women's World Cup
** Second Women's World Cup
*** Third Women's World Cup
**** Fourth Women's World Cup
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic Movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.