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USWNT Olympic roster predictions 3.0: Olivia Moultrie, Lynn Williams miss out as Crystal Dunn moves to attack

Written by on June 26, 2024

The Olympics are just 30 days away and the official U.S. women’s national team Olympic roster could drop any day now. Head coach Emma Hayes and her staff will have to narrow down a pool of players to just 18 names. The roster deadline is July 3, but most national teams will announce ahead of that date, and the USWNT has Olympic sendoff matches beginning July 13. 

Hayes kicked off her new era with a pair of victories against South Korea during the June international window. Former interim head coach Twila Kilgore is now a full-time assistant on Hayes’ staff, alongside Denise Reddy, Stuart Searle, and Bart Caubergh. The staff has had three weeks of NWSL play for any last-minute evaluations ahead of dropping the final roster for the Paris Games.

The Olympics will begin kickoff with opening ceremonies on July 26, but the women’s football tournament will begin on July 25. The USWNT will begin their Olympic journey in Group B alongside Germany, Australia, and Zambia. They’ll kick off their group stage against Zambia, followed by Germany, and will close out against Australia.

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The tournament is now just weeks, and things have changed since our second mock roster, so here’s our third (and final?) projection:

USWNT 2024 Olympic Roster 3.0 

Goalkeepers

  • In (2): Alyssa Naeher, Casey Murphy 
  • Alternate: Jane Campbell
  • Out: Aubrey Kingsbury

We’ve had Naeher and Murphy as locks for the Olympics in our previous mock rosters, and that’s not changing with the Summer Games just a month away. Naeher sustained a minor thigh injury a few weeks back and missed the June international window, paving the way for Murphy and Campbell to split starts over the two-game series.

Kingsbury has been having a successful season with Washington Spirit and was also a part of the June training camp, but was one of two players to not feature against South Korea. Campbell’s performance in June, and her consistent form for Houston Dash, will ultimately get her on the plane to France as an alternate.

Defenders 

  • In (6): Naomi Girma, Tierna Davidson, Emily Fox, Casey Krueger, Jenna Nighswonger, Emily Sonnett 
  • Alternate: Sam Staab
  • Out: Abby Dahlkemper, Alana Cook, Becky Sauerbrunn, M.A. Vignola, Sarah Gorden

If the June friendlies showed us anything, it revealed that versatility will stay a key ingredient in the roster-building recipe for the national team program. We saw Dunn move to the forward core, score, and then during a game, rotate lower into the backline as the staff implemented a tactical shift. It means that players named to the Olympic roster will get asked more of themselves depending on the game situation in front of them.

Sonnett put in shifts as a defensive midfielder at the end of 2023, but she’s been the answer to center back alongside Davidson with NJ/NY Gotham FC since late April, so she’ll head to the Olympics as a defender with the ability to shift higher if needed. Girma and Davidson will anchor the backline as the preferred center back duo, while Fox and Nighswonger rotate fullback positions. 

Krueger’s stellar season with the Washington Spirit, previous Olympic experience, and ability to play anywhere along a four or three back provides reliability, with Dunn as an x-factor instead of just the defacto left back option. Staab goes as an alternate with her limited window of time with the team, but her defensive back abilities and strong left-footed distribution make her an asset. 

Midfielders 

  • In (5): Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Jaedyn Shaw, Sam Coffey, Catarina Macario
  • Alternate: Korbin Albert, Lily Yohannes
  • Out: Andi Sullivan, Savannah DeMelo, Olivia Moultrie, Kristie Mewis

Lavelle went from “Will she be healthy in time?” to “Make sure she’s on the pitch.” The attacking midfielder is back starting games for club and country and reminding everyone how she can operate as the connective tissue, provided her own connective tissue remains, well, connected. 

Horan’s title-winning form with Olympique Lyon and her status as team captain will keep her a lock in the midfield, and a recent ankle injury to Sam Coffey during NWSL play likely has her week to week until USWNT training camps. Macario is in a similar position, finally healthy, but building minutes, and versatile enough to cross lines in the middle third or on the attacking line.

After an outstanding Concacaf W Gold Cup run, Shaw’s recent performances as an attacking mid for the USWNT might bump her lower on the pitch and in position for the Olympic roster, and her lingering knock has limited her effectiveness for San Diego with just three goals in 13 appearances. She’s had a long build-up with the team toward this summer and will be on the roster, just as a midfielder instead of a forward. 

Korbin Albert’s rise and fall due to her anti-LGBTQ social media activity could be a locker-room issue after Alex Morgan and Horan spoke out against the harmful sentiments. Hayes has spoken out about the program being a place of tolerance and learning while prioritizing winning. The player pool is also extremely competitive, and Yohannes’ impressive debut in June already raised enough eyebrows to wonder whether or not Albert would be missed if there’s a rising talent in Yohannes, 

Both are young talents with high ceilings, that have had short introductions to the team, and it’s why they’ll both be alternates.

Forwards 

In (5): Alex Morgan, Trinity Rodman, Sophia Smith, Mallory Swanson, Crystal Dunn

Alternate: None

Out: Lynn Williams

Similar to Shaw, Morgan had a solid and productive W Gold Cup, but slowed down during the NWSL season, and an ankle injury halted any further impact. However, enough has been said on record by the coaching staff about her veteran leadership, tournament experience, and center-forward ability that she’s likely a lock.

Swanson, Smith, and Rodman are attacking generators for their respective clubs and have remained in good form when jumping in and out of USWNT camps. The trio could be the ideal attacking line for the coaching staff during the Olympics. 

Dunn’s recent game against South Korea all but effectively killed off any chances of Lynn Williams cracking the Olympic roster. The long-time USWNT leftback was a threat on the front line and scored a goal (assisted by her Gotham FC teammate Nighswonger). With Shaw and Macario’s ability to get into games along the attacking line if needed, and Dunn’s flexibility on the pitch, the staff might not see a need for a “pure forward” type of alternate.

The post USWNT Olympic roster predictions 3.0: Olivia Moultrie, Lynn Williams miss out as Crystal Dunn moves to attack first appeared on CBS Sports.


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