US Soccer released an "updated" 25-player USWNT roster today for a training camp in Los Angeles before the team travels to St. Louis to play New Zealand in the first of four domestic send-off games. It's likely this squad list contains the names of the 23 players who will go to the World Cup in June, with two facing cuts. This is also the same squad list that performed recently at the Algarve Cup, ultimately coming away with the title after a 2-0 defeat of France. Barring any late breakout performance - and even then - Jill Ellis seems to have mostly made up her mind.
Who, then, will get cut? Let's break it down by position.
GOALKEEPERS: No cuts.
Hope Solo, Ashlyn Harris, and Alyssa Naeher are the respective numbers one, two, and three keepers going to the World Cup, barring injury. Whether Harris (6 caps) and Naeher (1 lonely cap) are ready for the big stage and bright lights is an entirely different story.
Probably safe: Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn, Whitney Engen, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger
Iffy: Lori Chalupny, Rachel Van Hollebeke, Kelley O'Hara
Most likely to be cut: Crystal Dunn
Chalupny may be closer to the "safe" category than to to the "cut" one considering all the hoops Jill Ellis had to jump through to bring her back after several years in the wilderness. Her consistent minutes in the Algarve are also an indicator of a probable roster spot.
Kelley O'Hara is a puzzle wrapped in an enigma - too talented and useful to really consider leaving off the roster, but not enough to displace either a defender or a forward. And then there's the part where Ellis tossed her into the midfield against France during Algarve before shifting her back into defense. Was it a case of just giving her minutes or truly toying with her position?
Rachel Van Hollebeke has been a fairly stalwart central defender for the US but seems to have lost favor with Ellis, instead seeing the central pairing usually ending up as some combination of Rampone, Sauerbrunn, Johnston, and Engen. At this point Sauerbrunn has to be a lock as a starter, leaving the other position as a four-way fight between RVH, Johnston, Rampone, and Engen. Who knows, Van Hollebeke may knock someone out of contention with a late run of performance in the next few months, but that's unlikely.
Crystal Dunn. Poor Crystal Dunn. There's been no indication she was injured, though that means next to nothing with the USWNT's lackadaisical approach to injury reporting. Dunn could be a fast, strong asset on the wing but Ellis doesn't seem interested, and in any case Chalupny and Klingenberg seem to have dibs-ed the left while Krieger quite justifiably owns the right. Dunn was dressed and listed as a sub during Algarve but had to make herself comfortable on the bench for all of it. Dunn last saw action as a 79' sub for Meghan Klingenberg in the United States' narrow 1-0 victory over England on February 13.
Probably safe: Morgan Brian, Tobin Heath, Lauren Holiday, Carli Lloyd, Heather O'Reilly, Megan Rapinoe
Iffy: Shannon Boxx
Most likely to be cut: Shannon Boxx
Just because Boxx is the most likely midfielder to be cut doesn't mean it's more likely she'll be cut over anyone else on the team regardless of position, but one has to wonder what Ellis' game plan is with Boxx. Will Boxx really be match fit in June? There's no doubt Boxx is an extraordinarily committed athlete, fighting through the joint pain and decreased energy common to lupus to continue playing. But Ellis has shown she prefers either Morgan Brian or Lauren Holiday to take on that defensive midfielder role, leaving Boxx as a bit of an emergency backup.
All-time forward: Abby Wambach
Probably safe: Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan
Iffy: Christen Press
Most likely to be cut: Amy Rodriguez
A-Rod finally got some minutes in the Algarve and even managed a nice, composed goal against Switzerland.
But it just doesn't feel like Jill Ellis has much increased her confidence in Rodriguez. This could be paranoia talking based on Rodriguez's long absence from the pitch, and it's probably more likely that a midfielder and/or defender will go before her, but also keep in mind the 4-2-2-2 formation currently in vogue with Ellis. That front two pairing is most likely to be Wambach and Morgan or Press and Morgan, with Leroux thrown in when back lines really need the extra punishment.
Christen Press is another whose spot leans more towards safe than being cut. After returning Stateside to help solidify her chances at earning a national roster spot, she showed very well during the Algarve as a midfielder. Don't forget this confident, composed goal from her against France.
Press' goal from our friends at Stars and Stripes FC via a Vine from US Soccer Post:
Overall, out of those in the danger zone, Boxx, Van Hollebeke, and Crystal Dunn are probably most likely to go based on the competition for their positions and their recent playing time. Dunn may squeak in as Krieger's backup, but Boxx has the pull of a veteran, something not to be discounted on this team.