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The Week in Women's Football: NWSL review and possible expansion; US U23 team announce rosters;

This week we look at three-quarters time in the 2019 National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) season with five teams having six games left in the 24 game regular season, three having five games left and North Carolina having seven games remaining. At this point in the season, Portland, North Carolina, Chicago Red Stars and the Utah Royals would make the playoffs—with the top three playoff repeats from last season and the Royals replacing 2018 NWSL semifinalists the then Seattle Reign FC, who are only one point behind Utah in fifth. We also touch on the International Champions Cup tournament, possible NWSL expansion and the Nordic Cup roster for the U.S. U-23 team and the full national team roster for the Portugal series as part of the NWSL review.

2019 NWSL Season Preview to Date (Through Games of August 25, 2019)

Portland Thorns (10-6-3 W-T-L—36 points—First)

Portland has been rolling along nicely since the end of the Women's World Cup, including attracting a record crowd of 25,518 on August 11, the largest in NWSL history at their newly enlarged Providence Park stadium. The game was a repeat of the 2017 and 2018 championship games against the North Caroline Courage. The Thorns' crowd surpassed the previous NWSL record of 23,403 for the Orlando Pride's home opener on April 23, 2016, a 3-1 win over Houston. Portland's record is now the second-largest crowd for a stand-alone match in the history of U.S. women's professional soccer, trailing only the record-setting crowd of 34,148 fans at the inaugural match of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) on April 14, 2001, at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. between the Washington Freedom and the Bay Area CyberRays.

In the Thorns' record-setting match against the Courage, Portland rallied from 1-0 down with two second half goals. Australian international forward Haley Raso has been particularly dangerous up top this season, with 4 goals in 9 games. She affected the winning goal against the Courage, but both scores were North Carolina own goals, the first by Courage and Canadian national team goalkeeper Steph Labbe in the 56th minute. Then in the 82nd minute, Tobin Heath sent a cross to Raso on the edge of the six-yard box but Raso's shot was partially blocked by Courage defender Jaelene Hinkle and it careened off of New Zealand international defender Abby Ercig into her own goal past Labbe. U.S. international goalkeeper Adrianna Franch was a big contributor to the Portland win with 10 saves—tying the Thorns single game record set in their first year by former Canadian international goalkeeper and now ESPN announcer Karina LeBlanc on Aug 24, 2013 against FC Kansas City (now Utah Royals). Franch made a phenomenal save on U.S. international forward Jess McDonald's header in the 87th minute that looked certain to tie the game.

Canadian international forward Christine Sinclair (9 goals) is second in the league in scoring and 2019 sensation Midge Purce (eight goals) is tied for third among league goalscorers. Purce had two goals in a 3-0 home win over Chicago in front of 17,542 fans on August 25. The Thorns lead the league in goals for with 39—seven ahead of second place North Carolina—but are only fifth for goals allowed with 22; they will need to tighten up their defense in order to reach their third consecutive championship final, but they should be nicely placed for a home playoff spot in the semifinals (by finishing first or second in the final league table).

Ana Crnogorcevic of Switzerland, who has 113 caps and 53 goals for her national team, has been hampered by a left thigh injury and has only 1 goal and 1 assist in 10 games. Mark Parsons pursued her for two years before she arrived last season but she could be surplus to requirements next year if the Thorns look to bring in a higher profile international.

North Carolina Courage (9-4-4--31 points—Second)

The Courage is doing well in the league, so we will focus on their second International Champions Cup (ICC) championship tournament, which they hosted this month. We also have learned from Paul Riley via Twitter that he is not considering himself as a candidate for the U.S. national team head coaching position to replace Jill Ellis: "Although flattered, I am determined to continue the project we started in Western New York."

The North Carolina Courage took on Olympique Lyonnais in the Women's ICC final for the second consecutive year on August 18, when they fell to the current French and European Club champions 1-0. The defending ICC Champions advanced to the championship after scoring two goals in the final 15 minutes of the semifinal game against Manchester City Women following a weather delay that lasted over an hour. McKenzie Meehan had the equalizing goal in the 84th minute off of a corner kick taken by Heather O'Reilly for the Courage; it was Meehan's first professional goal. In the second minute of stoppage time, 2019 World Cup winner Jessica McDonald scored the game-winning goal to advance the Courage to the championship. McDonald received a pass from defender Jaelene Hinkle and made a move on a Man City defender before running full speed ahead at goal. McDonald sent the ball through the goalkeeper's legs and into the net for the winner. McDonald is no stranger to game-winning goals, as she holds the all-time game-winning goal record for the NWSL. Three of the NC Courage's four World Cup Champions (Crystal Dunn, Jessica McDonald and Samantha Mewis) played at Sahlen's Stadium for the first time since winning the World Cup. The fourth World Cup Champion, Abby Dahlkemper, was named to the bench but did not feature in the game.

Olympique Lyonnais also advanced to the final via a stoppage-time goal to defeat Atletico Madrid 1-0. In the 91st minute, Lyon defender and French national team captain Wendie Renard headed a ball in to score the lone goal in the first semifinal. The semifinals drew 5,426 fans at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.

Lyon's star-studded squad for the tournament included 2018 Ballon d'Or winner Ada Hegerberg, French stars Wendie Renard and Amandine Henry, Germany's Dzsenifer Marozsan, Dutch wingerShanice van de Sanden and English star Lucy Bronze, who played one year at nearby University of the North Carolina. Thirteen of the 14 players Lyon used in their semifinal win—all but Hegerberg, who has refused to play for Norway since 2017—played at the 2019 Women's World Cup. Atletico is the three-time defending Spanish league champion with a multi-national roster that included former Boston University American defender Kylie Strom.

The two finalists met once before, last year in the 2018 Women's International Champions Cup Championship. The Courage came out victorious in the game after holding on to the lead after an early goal by former American international Heather O'Reilly. A year ago, the ICC took place during a FIFA international window and most of their starters were missing, unlike this year. In the 2019 final in front of in front of 8,208 fans, German international midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan scored the winner in the 57th minute and Lyon held on, having been outshot 14-9 (6-2 for shots on goals) by the Courage. North Carolina head coach Paul Riley said after the match: "I thought we were terrific. We battled to the end and it could have gone either way. It took a worthy goal to win the game." The Courage's four U.S. World Cup Winners (Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, Jessica McDonald and Samantha Mewis) all played together. Jessica McDonald, McKenzie Meehan, Heather O'Reilly, McCall Zerboni and Cari Roccaro appeared as second-half substitutes.

In the third place match, Manchester City defeated Atletico Madrid 3-2, the latter which included Charlyn Corral, the Mexican international and former University of Louisville player. Man City opened the scoring in the 22nd minute against the run of play. Madrid defender Laia Aleixandri played a terrible pass to fellow defender Elena Linari, but the pass was so slow that City midfielder Lauren Hemp was able to jump in front and steal the pass. She blew past both defenders and took on Atletico's Dutch international and 2019 World Cup goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal. Madrid scored shortly into the second half after their captain, Amanda Sampedro was taken down about thirty yards from goal. Angela Sosa sent a looping free kick that fell just outside of the 6-yard box for Virginia Torrecilla to head home. Sosa then scored in the 63rd minute, pulling the ball back 25 yards from goal, causing Man City midfielder Jill Scott fell a few steps away from her. Sosa shot from distance and Manchester City and English international goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck (19) watched the ball nestle just under the crossbar and into the goal. Madrid looked to be ready to score another goal as they rattled off a long string of chances, but Manchester capitalized against the run of play once again. Keira Walsh took control of the ball at midfield and sent a searching ball forward to Canadian international Janine Beckie, who beat her defender and shot from the top of the box for the tying goal. Manchester's late winner came from Belgian forward Tessa Wullaert.

Currently, only UEFA and CONMEBOL organize confederation club championships and the Women's ICC looks set to fill a void as FIFA still hasn't finalized a club Women's World Cup. It has been reported that men's and women's ICC tournament organizers Relevant Sports Group is looking at expanding the 2020 event to eight teams, including two NWSL sides as hosts.

Lyon's owner Jean-Michel Aulas made an interesting statement about the club's intent vis-à-vis the American market and the NWSL after the championship match: "You have to accept that they're there only part of the time [referring to the 7 month NWSL season]. That being said, they are world champions. We have to keep the American soccer market in mind. Olympique Lyonnais' ambition is to have a women's franchise rather quickly in the United States. And for us it is sort of a 'teasing' to have American players from the world championship team who play at Lyon [Alex Morgan in 2017] and better build our roots in the United States. There's no guarantee, but we are in advanced negotiations with two players." Barcelona has also mentioned an interest in starting a team in the NWSL and it will be interesting to see if the European club interest in expansion sides in the U.S. professional league comes off in the next few years (see more on possible NWSL expansion sites below).

Chicago Red Stars (9-2-8--29 points—Third)

Chicago struggled earlier in the season but was on fire in a 7 game period since early July, with 5 wins in a row—including a 2-1 home win over North Carolina on July 21 and a 4-0 win away against Reign F.C. in Tacoma—which boosted Chicago's playoff hopes while damaging the Washington State based club's chances. Their only losses in those seven games were at the beginning of the streak when they lost at home to their bugaboo team Sky Blue 2-1, and then again on the road by the same score to the same team on August 14, when the Jersey side won late in injury time. Sam Kerr added four goals during those games to take her Golden Boot leading total to 13 goals, along with 2 assists in 14 games. Japanese international Yuki Nagasato has 5 goals and 5 assists. After the August 14 Sky Blue loss, Chicago fell at home 2-1 to Orlando on August 21 in front of 5,454 fans in a largely listless performance, and then were shut out in Portland on August 25 in a 3-0 defeat. Chicago has on paper what seems a relatively easy schedule for their final five games against teams in the bottom half of the table, but in the NWSL—as Chicago has found out this season—there are no easy games.

Chicago had a record crowd of 7,959 for the game against North Carolina on July 21 with 8 U.S. Women's World Cup players on display, but over 17,000 [17,338 to be exact] tickets were distributed [some freebees] but a torrential rainstorm the day of the game curtailed some from attending.

The Red Stars added Australian international goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold after the World Cup, which is puzzling as they had two-time American Women's World Cup winner Alyssa Naeher returning in goal after France. Arnold (25) played last season with the Brisbane Roar—along with Yuki Nagasato—and has played with Perth Glory, Canberra United and Western Sydney Wanderers. She was named the Westfield W-League Goalkeeper of the Year in consecutive seasons in 2013 and 2014 and then again in 2018 with the Roar. She also played in Norway and has 23 caps for the Westfield Matildas since joining the squad in 2012; she is viewed by many as the future starter for the Matildas. She has been a part of the last two WWC sides for her country. It doesn't make sense for Chicago to bring in a top quality goalkeeper like Arnold to have her sit on the bench. It will be interesting to watch the situation at the end of this season and during the off-season.

It is looking more and more likely that Sam Kerr will spurn Perth Glory this winter and the Red Stars next season for a large European pay-day and the chance to pay in the Women's Champions League. Last season the Australian Football Federation paid her about $300,000 as the league's first marquee player. Chelsea has offered her $1 million dollars across a two year contract. The NWSL is talking about adding a Designated Player, such as the men's Major League Soccer does, which allows them to pay one marquee player more than the $45,000 salary maximum limit, and not have it count against their team salary cap. That would help to attract or keep top quality internationals while also keeping a U.S. international star such as Megan Rapinoe or Rose Lavelle in the league.

Utah Royals (8-4-6—28 Points—Fourth)

The return of 2015 and 2019 Women's World Cup winner Christen Press (6 goals, 1 assist on the season) after France has helped to drive positive results for Utah and push them back strongly into the playoff race, along with the goals from former U.S. international Amy Rodriguez's 8 goals. The team relies on those two for almost three-quarters of the team's 19 goals, with now largely backup but former starter Katie Stengel (1 goal) and Spanish international Vero Boquette (4 assists) not meeting expectations in terms of their goal tally, though Boquette has added quite a bit of class to the midfield attack. The Royals have won their last three matches in a row, including two on the road at Orlando on August 17 (2-0) and in Tacoma on August 11 (3-1).

Former Stanford University star Lo'eau LaBonta (2 goal, 2 assists)has been fantastic in midfield and former U.S. international Nicole Barnhart still leads the league in shutouts with 9 for this defense-first side, which leads the league with only 15 goals allowed in 18 games.

Reign FC (7-6-5--27 points—Fifth)

The Reign will look back on some crucial dropped points this season if they don't make the semifinals, including to Sky Blue FC in a 1-1 tie on August 18 (albeit in front of a record crowd for the WPS original franchise at Red Bull Stadium outside of New York City). They have only 2 wins and that tie in their last six matches. Megan Rapinoe has still not played since returning from France with a second Women's World Cup winner's medal, as she recovers from an Achilles injury. The Reign could use her influence and passion during the push run for a playoff spot.

New Zealand international and three-time Women's World Cup player Rosie White has been a strong acquisition after the World Cup (previously she was in Chicago in 2018 and played collegiately at UCLA) with two consecutive game-winning scores to open August with 1-0 wins away over Houston and at home over Portland. The Reign set a record home attendance of 7,479 on July 28 for the official welcoming home of the Women's World Cup Players, but it was a downer as the team crashed to Chicago 4-0.

This club, so devastated with injury losses, was hit again in the August 18 game in New Jersey when Shea Groom (2 goals this season) was stretchered off in the 19th minute after a midair collision with her former Sky Blue FC teammate Carly Lloyd. Groom will be out indefinitely with a broken rib.

Canadian international defender Rebecca Quinn, who played at Duke University and was with the Washington Spirit last season, played briefly with Paris FC last winter before returning to the NWSL in mid-July, signing with the Reign. She played with Canada this summer in the side that made the Round of 16.

It's not over yet for Vlatko Andonovski's crew to make the playoffs for his second consecutive year in the Pacific Northwest, but they need to string more wins together like they did in June and early July, when they were undefeated in five straight matches, with three wins and two ties.

Washington Spirit (7-4-7--25 points—Sixth)

The side has struggled of late to match their early season surprise start, but they had a crucial home win over Orlando 2-1 in front of a club record sellout record crowd in Washington D.C.'s Audi Field, in an exciting match that put Washington back in the hunt for their first playoff spot in three seasons. They draw well at their suburban Maryland home but for a few special/high profile games a year, Audi Field (which attracted 7,976 last season in the Spirit's only game at the then new stadium) is a viable and certainly special option.

Richie Burke probably still needs another year to implement his system and add a few more players and it will be interesting to see if he sticks with his three Australians (midfielders Amy Harrison, Choloe Logarzo and recent acquisition from Reign FC Elise Kellond-Knight). The latter two are solid but Harrison could be replaced by another import. Look for former Arizona State University pair Cali Farquharson and McKenzie Berryhill to move on after the season.

Paige Nielsen, after some struggles internationally and to initially catch on in NWSL after finishing her college career at the University of North Carolina, has been a key starter in the back for the Spirit. Jordan DiBiasi, who won a College Cup with Stanford University in 2017 and was the third overall pick of the 2019 College Draft, has proven a very valuable addition and has 4 goals out of midfield, one behind forward Ashley Hatch with 5 goals, while Jamaican international Cheyna Matthews has 3 goals and 2 assists. Bailey Feist, a rookie who had 22 goals in 78 games at Wake Forest, has 2 goals and 1 assist in 8 games and has looked dangerous in attack.

Audrey Bledsoe, who did so well in Australia last season in winning the Grand Final with Sydney FC, has been amazing this season and had a world class last-second save from Rachel Hill in the Audi Field win over Orlando; she has been an ever present in goal, and has seven shutouts so far this season, second in the league with the team surrendering only 19 goals in 17 games—third best in the league. The Spirit's 22 goals are fourth best. Regardless of what happens, Richie Burke has done a superb job of turning around a team that many times beat themselves in two previous seasons and they are much more positive in their approach to their games now.

Houston Dash (6-4-8—22 points—Seventh)

This team is so hard to predict from one game to the next and recent results range from a 1-0 home loss to Reign FC on August 3 to 1-0 road win in Houston on August 10—the Dash is up and down and hard to gauge which team that will come out for each match. A 2-2-6 record at home is just not reflective of a playoff team and has hindered them this season—crowds are down and rather apathetic and this team needs a spark of excitement for the market, or perhaps it should explore a move. It is looking more and more likely that 2019 will be a sixth consecutive year for this franchise to miss the playoffs, though first year head coach James Clarkson has clearly improved the side and the Dash should allow him to continue his plans with the side.

Midfielder Christine Nairn, who came in a trade from Orlando in the off-season, has been solid in midfield with 1 goal and 2 assists while a 2018 midseason acquisition Sofia Huerta has 3 goals and 3 assists.

Rachel Daly, despite WWC and Euro qualifying duty for England, has 5 goals in 10 games and is so important to this team. All-time team scoring leader Kealia Ohai only has 2 goals and 1 assist in 17 games—29 in total in her NWSL career which has been entirely with Houston, as she was the first college player drafted ever by Houston in the 2014 NWSL College Draft (second overall).

A sum of 18 team goals for seventh in the league and even with their league table position is not good enough for a serious playoff contender. Their 28 goals allowed are second worst only to Orlando's 37. U.S. international Jane Campbell in goal has been heroic at times but has been under siege and their strong defensive play of last year seems to have left with former coach Vera Pauw.

On August 21, the team announced that Australian international full back (118 caps and 9 goals and a four time Women's World Cup player) and Brisbane Roar Captain Claire Polkinghorne has returned home to Australia for family reasons. She came to the NWSL in June of 2018, making 18 starts for Houston. We hope to see her again this winter for Brisbane and back in the NWSL next season.

Sky Blue FC (4-4-11--16 points—Eighth)

Things have been looking up for the New Jersey side, including a stirring 2-1 midweek win on August14 over Chicago, from two brilliant goals from rookie Paige Monaghan. Monaghan is a New Jersey native who played at Butler University in Indiana and was the 10th overall pick in the 2019 NWSL College Draft. She is one of the few Sky Blue FC draft choices that chose to play with the club and not flee oversee; she took her two goals like she was a 10 year veteran—she is a definitely future star for the side. Monaghan said about her first goal after the Chicago match: "Carli [Lloyd] had the ball and peeled out wide, she had the perfect hole to slip me through, I cut the girl inside and smacked it as hard as I could far post and it went in. It was really cool [to score] my first goal, but probably an even better feeling having an assist from Carli Lloyd." She then discussed her dramatic game winner: "And then the second one [from Julie James Doyle] I peeled out and [Doyle] slipped the ball in. I saw Naeher off her line and knew I had to one-touch it to finish so I just hit it near post. My team really set me up on that one; I just had to put it away."

Monaghan talked about the win, which was Sky Blue FC's third of the year at that time: "It was awesome, looking at this season it can be challenging but you have to take it one game one moment at a time, so it was awesome going up one nothing but unfortunately we let out at a moment when we were tied 1-1. But I knew for my teammates all the work they put in for me I had to do it for them, so it was huge for us and I think it shows that we need to stay fresh on these moments and we can't turn off any moments because we are not always going to win 2-1 in overtime."

Lloyd talked in late July about adjusting to league play after the World Cup: "It's different, you know. I left feeling really, really sharp and good, and now—when you go through the cycle of a World Cup, when it's a game in a 3-4 day rhythm—there's not much training, especially those who aren't playing a lot of minutes, so it's just coming back into this environment and getting 90-minute game fit and just continuing to kind of find that sharpness. I wish I would've hit at least one of those in the back of the net [in a 1-0 loss at her former club Houston on July 28], but just got to continue to be better, and do anything I possibly can to help the team."

Sky Blue FC followed up with a 1-1 tie with Seattle on August 18 before a record crowd of 9,415 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison NJ, an easy train ride from Manhattan, which is not the case at their Rutgers University home. It was their fourth tie of the season. The crowd came to see Sky Blue FC Captain and U.S. Women's National Team Co-Captain Carli Lloyd (who has 4 goals and 1 assist in 9 games), Canadian Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, and Cameroon Defender Estelle Johnson along with Reign FC's eight World Cuppers, while Megan Rapinoe—who won the 2019 World Cup Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards—was resting due to an Achilles strain.

In relation to home fields, Sky Blue FC announced that they will leave Rutgers Yurcak Field ahead of the 2020 season—their home since the 2009 season in WPS—but where they will go next is the ultimate question. Do they stay in New Jersey and move closer to New York City, or go south towards Philadelphia, or somewhere else such as Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Los Angeles or Atlanta—the latter three teams being mentioned and are all MLS organizations. Former national team player Kristine Lilly is trying to land an expansion side for Hartford, Connecticut. Red Bull Arena is fine for a one-off venue but the rent would be excessive for them. Anywhere else other than Rutgers would be an improvement, as last season they averaged 2,531 fans a game but this year were attracting 1,501, before the Red Bull Stadium game.

Sky Blue FC is currently being coached by interim head coach Hugo Macedo after Denise Reddy was fired mid-season; Macedo joined Sky Blue FC at the beginning of the 2019 season from the Des Moines Menace of the Women's Professional Soccer League and Premier Development League (USL amateur men's league) where he served as the head coach. In addition, he was an assistant coach for Drake University in Iowa.

Macedo has been aided by Christiane Lessa. She is a Brazilian-American and played at Corcordia University in California and coached at Shandong Federation of China from August 2018 to January 2019; before that she was an assistant coach at Avaldsnes Idrettslag in Norway from January 2018-July 2018. She spent a brief time with the Washington Spirit in 2017 and was head coach for two years at Young Harris College in Georgia and four seasons as head coach of Iowa Central Community College in Des Moines, Iowa.

Orlando Pride (4-2-12--14 points—Ninth)

The Pride, struggling all season, had more bad news in early August when they learned that defender Toni Pressley was diagnosed with breast cancer and has started treatment after a surgery on August 2 and was placed on a 45 day disabled list. Pride General Manager Erik Ustruck said: "We can't imagine what Toni is going through. On behalf of everyone at the Club, I would like to extend our unconditional support to Toni, her family and the members of our Orlando Pride family throughout the entirety of the treatment process. Toni's health and well-being is, of course, our biggest priority. We are happy to be able to provide her with the full backing of the club, the NWSL and our partners at Orlando Health." Since joining the team through the 2015 Expansion Draft as the number 8 selection, she has 52 appearances, including 9 this year.

This team just keeps losing and we should see a complete rebuild of the roster, sans Marta, Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris, but with Alex Morgan and Rachel Hill as lynchpins, while Scottish international Claire Emslie has been a real plus in attack after her acquisition from Manchester City after the World Cup.

Orlando Pride Canadian Defender Shelina Zadorskytalked after a 2-0 home loss against Utah on August 17 about the lessons learned this season as the team has been mired in the bottom two places this season: "At this point it's being a professional and taking pride in every moment you have on this pitch. I mean, we live an awesome life getting to play for the Orlando Pride and we need to, no pun intended, take pride in that and show up and absolutely be able to dominate games and put away games. My aim doesn't change. I want to win every game, we want to as a team. I think that in terms of [a] learning process, it's learning from the mistakes and being brutally honest with your own performance, first and foremost, and really correcting those mistakes and bringing that to each and every game. I think we are building a culture that we don't want to be a soft team, we don't want people to think 'Oh, we are playing the Pride, this is going to be an easy run.' We want to be a really, really dominant team and for me it's being aggressive and I think I've learned that a lot this season."

U.S. U-23 and Full National Team Rosters for Games over the next week.

The U.S. U-23 Women's National Team took a primarily professional team (21 players—with 16 from the NWSL and 5 with foreign clubs) and 2 collegians to England for the 2019 Nordic Tournament from August 28-September 2. The two collegians are defender Emily Fox from North Carolina and forward Sophia Smith from Stanford. The USA will face Norway on Aug. 28, England on Aug. 30 and finish with Sweden on Sept. 2. All the matches will be played at Loughborough University in Loughborough, England, which is in the center of the country about 45 miles northeast of Birmingham. The tournament is allowing three overage players per team and U-23 and current U.S. U-17 and former UCLA head coach B.J. Snow named two overage players in forward Kristen Hamilton from the North Carolina Courage—who is currently tied for third in the NWSL in goals with eight—and Erin Simon, who is playing left back for West Ham United.

U.S. U-23 WNT Roster – 2019 Nordic Tournament - England
GOALKEEPERS (2): Emily Boyd (Chicago Red Stars; Seattle, Wash.), Casey Murphy (Reign FC; Bridgewater Township, N.J.)

DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; Worcester, Mass.), Schuyler Debree (Reign FC; Fair Haven, N.J.), Brooke Denesik (Biike Kazygurt/KAZ; Anthem, Ariz.), Emily Fox (UNC; Ashburn, Va.), Madison Pogarch (Portland Thorns FC; Hartland, Mich.), Erin Simon (West Ham United/ENG; Oakhurst, N.J.), Samantha Staab (Washington, Spirit; San Diego, Calif.), Gaby Vincent (Utah Royals; Colombia, Md.)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Carlyn Baldwin (Sporting CP/POR; Oakton, Va.), Jordan DiBiasi (Washington Spirit; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Julie James Doyle (Sky Blue FC/Fairview, Texas), Haley Hanson (Houston Dash; Overland Park, Kans.), Cece Kizer (Houston Dash; Overland Park, Kans.), Savannah McCaskill (Chicago Red Stars; Chapin, S.C.), Marisa Viggiano (Orlando Pride; Troy, Mich.)

FORWARDS (6): Bethany Balcer (Reign FC; Hudsonville, Mich.), Imani Dorsey (Sky Blue FC; Elkridge, Md.), Kristen Hamilton (NC Courage; Littleton, Colo.), Hailie Mace (Rosengård FC/SWE; Ventura, Calif.), Paige Monaghan (Sky Blue FC; Roxbury Township, N.J.), Sophia Smith (Stanford; Windsor, Colo.)

Note: Hamilton was sent instead to help the U.S, for their Victory Tour matches against Portugal in Philadelphia (August 29)—in front of what should be a record crowd for a women's national team stand-alone friendly with over 40,000 tickets sold to break the record set in the same state in Pittsburgh in 2015 in front of 44,028 against Costa Rica—and St. Paul, Minnesota (September 3). Casey Short was also brought in to replace some WWC players who are injured.

U.S. Head Coach Jill Ellis said: "With the injuries we currently have to several World Cup players, and with two of our main priorities on the Victory Tour being spreading around the minutes and keeping players healthy for their clubs during this critical playoff push, it made sense to call in Casey and Kristen to give us options and depth for these games against what will be a tough Portugal team. Both players have been performing very well in the NWSL and I know they'll fit right in with our group for these matches."

Victory tour team is all-NWSL based as was the full WWC team this summer. In the weeks to come, we will discuss this issue as we expect that more NWSL players—including some leading Americans—will head abroad either before but certainly after next summer's Olympic Games.

U.S. Women's National Team Roster by Position - 2019 Victory Tour vs. Portugal:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS (8): 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), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), 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 (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage)
FORWARDS (8): Kristen Hamilton (NC Courage), 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)

Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey

Tim Grainey
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