Coach Vlatko Andonovski, who fielded the oldest women’s soccer team in last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, has called in a much a younger 23-player roster for this month’s SheBelieves Cup, which kicks off with a doubleheader at Dignity Health Sports Park on Feb. 17.
The U.S. will open the three-team tournament against the Czech Republic, playing its first competitive match since the bronze-medal game in Japan last August. Iceland will play New Zealand in the first game of a doubleheader that day.
The U.S. faces New Zealand and Iceland will play the Czechs on Feb. 20 in Carson before the competition shifts to suburban Dallas for the final day of play on Feb. 23.
The team Andonovski has summoned averages 26.8 years of age, about four years younger than his team in Tokyo, and includes 21 players from last month’s winter training camp in Austin, Texas.
“We had a great camp in Austin and now we need to see this group of players in game environments against highly motivated opponents,” Andonovski said in a statement. “Every player in the pool is focused on making the roster for World Cup and Olympic qualifying this summer, and every training session and especially every match is a means to that end for them, and for the coaching staff.”
The CONCACAF W Championship, which will serve as the qualifying tournament for both the 2023 Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Paris Olympics, will be played this summer.
“The SheBelieves Cup is a great opportunity to help prepare for rhythm of group play at the CONCACAF W Championship as we have to face three different opponents and different styles of play over a short period of time,” Andonovski said.
Missing from the SheBelieves roster are national team stalwarts Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe. Morgan, the youngest of the four forwards, is 32. Also missing is defender Crystal Dunn, who is on maternity leave.
However veteran captain Becky Sauerbrunn is back; her next appearance will make her the 12th player with 200 caps for the national team.
Two others – Kelley O’Hara and Lindsay Horan – have more than 100 caps while 10 have played in 12 or fewer international games. Among the latter group is forward Ashley Hatch of San Dimas, who scored her first two international goals in a pair of November friendlies in Australia, and former UCLA forward Ashley Sanchez.
Goalkeepers: Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
Defenders: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Abby Dahlkemper (San Diego Wave FC), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC)
Midfielders: Morgan Gautrat (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyonnais), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnais), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)
Forwards: Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Lynn Williams (Kansas City Current)
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.