U.S. players will learn today who’s going to Rio — and who’s not

ashlyn megan

My guess: These two will be outside, looking in. (Twitter)

After the U.S. women beat South Africa 1-0 Saturday night, co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn said on Instagram that coach Jill Ellis “confirmed she will be calling players tomorrow [which is now today] to let them know if they’re on the Olympic roster.”

That doesn’t mean the rest of us will find out; Ellis has until July 18 to submit the roster.

Eighteen Americans are headed to Rio, including two goalkeepers. (Each of the 12 competing nations may also designate four alternates, who can be activated to replace players injured during the tournament.)

There are 24 players on the current training roster.

Assuming Ellis takes six defenders, six midfielders, and four forwards in addition to the two keepers — and she might or might not choose that mix — here are my guesses about who’s in and who’s out.

But first, two asterisks:

*We don’t know the true status of Megan Rapinoe’s knee.

When Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated asked last week, her answer was, to be charitable, confusing. She said she was “pretty close” to recovered from her December surgery and had resumed training with her club team, the Seattle Reign.

megan nigeriaBut then she said she was “basically doing everything except contact.” That’s like a point guard saying he’s “basically doing everything except driving to the basket.”

She said she was “trying to work back in” and felt “pretty comfortable on the ball and moving around.” That hardly sounds like “ready for the Olympics.”

There are still  24 days until the Games, but only eight until Ellis must decide.

I’m guessing Rapinoe won’t make it. But if her comeback is farther along than it seems, she deserves — and will have — a roster spot, even if she’s only used sparingly in Brazil.

 

**Some players defy easy classification by position.

That’s intentional. Ellis said all along that the small Olympic roster (18 spots, compared with 23 for last summer’s World Cup) put a premium on versatility; she’s sought out players who can help at more than one position.

Lindsey Horan, for example, is listed as a forward, but her best chance of making the Olympic team is as a midfielder.

lindsey

Lindsey Horan after scoring her first international goal against Trinidad and Tobago, Dec 10, 2015. (Soobum Im/USA Today Sports)

 

Christen Press, also listed as a forward, sometimes plays mid. Kelley O’Hara, principally a defender, can play up front. Crystal Dunn, listed as a forward, used to be a defender.

Having to guess whether a certain player will wind up in Column A or Column B makes it harder to fill out the rest of those columns.

Still, I’m betting I get at least 17 of 18 right.

Sixteen, for sure.

GOALKEEPERS:
IN:
Alyssa Naeher
Hope Solo
OUT:
Ashlyn Harris

DEFENDERS:
IN:
Whitney Engen
Julie Johnston
Meghan Klingenberg
Ali Krieger
Kelley O’Hara
Becky Sauerbrunn
OUT:
Jaelene Hinkle
Gina Lewandowski
Emily Sonnett

MIDFIELDERS:
IN:
Morgan Brian
Tobin Heath
Lindsey Horan
Carli Lloyd
Allie Long
Sam Mewis
OUT:
Heather O’Reilly
Megan Rapinoe

FORWARDS:
Crystal Dunn
Alex Morgan
Christen Press
Mallory Pugh

 

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