Ertz, Smith return to USWNT team against Ireland

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The returns of Julie Ertz and NWSL MVP Sophia Smith highlight the United States women’s 26-player roster for a pair of upcoming friendlies against Ireland.

Ertz last played for the U.S. at the 2021 Olympics, and gave birth to her first child in August 2022. She is without a club. Smith returns after dealing with a foot injury that kept her out of the first two camps of the year.

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Defender Casey Krueger is also returning after giving birth to her first child in July of 2022. The camp is her first since October of 2021.

Veteran defender Kelley O’Hara also comes back into the U.S. side after an extended absence. OL Reign midfielder Megan Rapinoe was left off the roster as she deals with a lower leg injury.

The U.S. will face an Ireland side that qualified for the World Cup for the first time in its history. The first match is on April 8 at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas, followed by a second encounter three days later at CITYPARK in St. Louis, Missouri. The matches are the final tune-ups ahead of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which starts in July. Andonovski is expected to name his World Cup roster later in the spring.

“It’s exciting to get the group back together and we’re getting closer to how we want to look this summer,” head coach Vlatko Andonovski said in a statement. “The team is gelling and getting these players back in camp, all who know the environment very well, is just going to make it more competitive and turn the intensity up a notch. I know there is a lot of pressure on the players as the competition for World Cup spots increases, but that’s not something we shy away from. We talk about it, and we embrace it, as we all know these players make each other better.”

Defender Tierna Davidson will aim for her first game action since tearing her ACL in March of 2022. She participated in training camp prior to the 2023 SheBelieves Cup.

Also included in the roster are San Diego Wave forward Alex Morgan, whose 121 goals for the U.S. top the roster and are fifth-highest all time. Mallory Swanson, whose seven goals lead the U.S. in 2023, and is on a six-game goal scoring streak, is also included.

In what is an unofficial record, the USWNT will have five mothers in camp: Krueger, Ertz, Crystal Dunn, Adrianna Franch and Morgan.

United States squad:

Goalkeepers: Adrianna Franch (Kansas City Current), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).

Defenders: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Fox (North Carolina Courage), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars), Kelley O’Hara (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (OL Reign).

Midfielders: Julie Ertz (Unattached), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit).

Forwards: Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars), Lynn Williams (NJ/NY Gotham FC).

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