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Team USA stars Megan Rapinoe (L) and Alex Morgan (R) were left off the SheBelieves...

Team USA stars Megan Rapinoe (L) and Alex Morgan (R) were left off the SheBelieves Cup roster to make room for the players needing to prove themselves. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 3 (UPI) — U.S. Women’s National Team coach Vlatko Andonovski announced the roster for this month’s SheBelieves Cup on Thursday, leaving off veterans Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan in favor of up-and-comers like Sophia Smith and Ashley Sanchez.
The 23-player squad will compete in the USWNT’s first matches of 2022 when the Americans play the Czech Republic, New Zealand and Iceland in the SheBelieves Cup, which is scheduled to take place Feb. 17-23.

The international games will be staged at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif., and Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
Established veterans left out of the tournament include Christen Press, Tobin Heath, Rapinoe and Morgan. Andonovski said those players were left off the roster to make room for the players needing to prove themselves.

“All these players are very good players — we know that they’ve done so much for this team,” Andonovski told ESPN. “But right now I want to give a chance to players like Sophia Smith and Mal Pugh and Catarina Macario, Ashley Hatch, players that have earned their spot on the national team or earn their spot back.
“I want to give them maximum minutes or whatever minutes they earn so we can evaluate every aspect of their game, in the training environment or game setting.”
Andonovski also noted that the veterans who were left off the roster for the SheBelieves Cup shouldn’t be considered locks for future events.
“It doesn’t mean that all these players that have done well in the past are just going to come back here in the next camp because they’ve done well a year ago or two years ago,” Andonovski said. “There’s a reason why we’re not calling Mia Hamm or Julie Foudy in camp, right?
“So the same goes here: they need to perform, they need to play in their markets, they need to play well in their markets, and show that they can still contribute and be valuable for the national team.”

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In the USWNT’s midfield, veterans Julie Ertz and Samantha Mewis were left out in favor of rising stars such as Macario and Sanchez. Mewis is coming off an injury, according to Andonovski, and Ertz wasn’t fit enough to receive a roster spot.
Of the 23 players on the squad, 11 are players who have been on the fringes of the U.S. women’s team and have 25 or fewer caps. Six of those players have fewer than 10 caps.


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