After spending most of the last three years bringing new blood into the U.S. women's soccer team, coach Jill Ellis dramatically reversed course Thursday and named three experienced warhorses to her 23-player roster for this summer's World Cup.
2015 World Cup veterans Ali Krieger and Morgan Brian and 2016 Olympian Allie Long got some of the final places on the squad, even though each has recently gone through long spells without playing for Ellis.
Krieger, a 34-year-old Penn State alumna, was called up to the national team last month for the first time since July 2017. After earning her 99th cap in the last game before the roster announcement, she earned a ticket to France as a backup right back.
In a statement issued with the roster announcement, Krieger said being dropped "was a bit of kick in the butt" after years as a stalwart.
"It helped me reset my goals, and sparked the incentive to try to get back on the national team," she said. "I knew there would be another opportunity, or at least a small chance. ... I never lost sight of trying to play at the World Cup."
In addition to her playing experience, Krieger is engaged to Ashlyn Harris, one of three goalkeepers on the roster. The couple, both of whom play for the NWSL's Orlando Pride, have been together for years. Harris proposed last September, and the couple went public about it in March.
Brian was one of the most important players in the Americans' 2015 championship run, delivering some big performances late in the tournament. But the 26-year-old struggled at times in 2018 and was omitted from three of four rosters after World Cup qualifying last fall -- including the most recent two this year. On both occasions, the moves were coach's decisions.
Long, 31, was a regular for a long time after the Olympics. But she didn't play in 11 straight games last year between June 12 and November 13. As with Brian, Long wasn't on the roster for the high-profile SheBelieves Cup in March. She also wasn't on the team for its trip to France and Spain in January.
Making their first World Cup trips are forwards Jessica McDonald and Mallory Pugh; midfielders Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Samantha Mewis, and Long; defenders Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn, and Emily Sonnett; and goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.
McDonald, 31, has a fascinating story. The only mother on the U.S. squad, she played in the shadows in the NWSL for years, then delivered 10 goals and 8 assists in 2018 to help the North Carolina Courage win three trophies.