It is a time of transition for the U.S. women’s national soccer team, with several new faces vying for permanent spots alongside some familiar ones.
The U.S. will face Romania tonght at StubHub Center (6:30 p.m.; Fox Sports 1) in the final game of 2016.
One of the positions under the spotlight is at goalkeeper. The U.S. is without longtime start Hope Solo. Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride) and Alyssa Naehere (Chicago Red Stars) were all called into this camp.
Harris earned the start in Thursday’s 8-1 victory over Romania at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. It was her third appearance of the year.
“Everything for the keepers is about game experience and decision-making,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said following Thursday’s victory. “I don’t know how many caps between them Ash (Ashylyn Harris) and Alyssa (Naehere) have but it’s not very many. So the more you put them in these situations, this is what it comes down to.
“They can be brilliant in training and now it’s can they make good decisions in a game. That’s for every player. So everything is a takeaway at this point.”
Ellis initially called in just five players from the 2015 World Cup and Olympic Team (defenders Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, midfielder Megan Rapinoe and forward Alex Morgan).
Klingenberg and newcomer Jaelene Hinkle were both replaced during camp due to injuries. Forward Jessica McDonald and Emily Menges were the replacements. This is their first call-up to the senior national team.
One of the young “veterans” in camp for this series is Christen Press. Press scored a hat trick in Thursday’s game and is the fourth player to score double digits goals this year.
“It is an interesting time for our team,” Press said Thursday. “We’re kind of ending a cycle and being reborn at the same time. It is great for us to go out there and get results but also work on our soccer.
“We’re playing a new formation, we have a lot of new players out there, so we’re trying to push and break the threshold. Even though we’re about to go into a period of break, we’re just trying to get the maximum out of ourselves.”
Alex Morgan scored a pair of goals in Thursday’s game, giving her 17 for the year and 73 in her career.
“This is an early process for us,” midfielder Tobin Heath said. “We’re going through a transition. Kind of getting up to speed and continuing this journey and path the way we want to play, incorporate the new players and continue to grow.”