It’s a World Cup year for the United States Women’s National Team, and a pair of Coloradans got good news to start the new year Thursday.
Golden’s Lindsey Horan and Highlands Ranch’s Mallory Swanson (née Pugh) were named to the 24-player USWNT January training camp roster, which will be held in New Zealand with a pair of friendlies against the Footballing Ferns — the co-hosts of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup along with Australia.
Two other locals — 2022 NWSL MVP and Windsor native Sophia Smith and Fossil Ridge alum Jaelin Howell — were not selected. Smith is still recovering from a foot injury, while Howell last was called into a national-team camp in October. Star Megan Rapinoe will also miss the camp due to an ankle injury.
The USWNT will train for six days and then will play at a pair of World Cup venues — Sky Stadium in the capital city of Wellington on Jan. 17 (8 p.m. MT) and at Eden Park in Auckland, the home of New Zealand All-Blacks rugby team, on Jan. 20 (8 p.m. MT).
It will take some adjusting for fans to get used to a new last name for Swanson, the Real Colorado product who married Chicago Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson in December and will now have a different name on the back of her jersey. Swanson finished fourth in the 2022 NWSL MVP voting with 11 goals and six assists for the Chicago Red Stars. She had seven goals for the USWNT.
Two key players who recovered from long-term injuries were called back in: defender Emily Sonnett (foot) and forward Lynn Williams (hamstring).
The window falls outside of a traditional FIFA window when club teams are off. But Horan, one of four players with over 100 appearances on this roster, got the OK to join the national team from her French club Olympique Lyonnais, which is in the middle of its season.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski credited USWNT general manager Kate Markgraff for maintaining a strong relationship with the second-place side.
“Kate Markgraff, our GM, is the one that’s been in talks with the clubs and so far, all I can say is that I’m happy to have Lindsey in this camp,” he said. “It’s important to have as many players that we believe have a chance to be on this World Cup roster as possible, in every camp.”
Andonovski also said Smith is back to light training while recovering from her foot injury. The youngest NWSL MVP at 22 scored a Portland Thorns-record 15 goals, including the title-winner, and netted 11 goals for the USWNT last season.
“It’s not serious and in fact, it’s been something that’s bothered her for a long time and we felt like this was the time to fix this and not have any problems going forward,” Andonovski said. “Because of the treatment she received in December, she wasn’t able to train or get up to speed or the necessary fitness for the January camp. Hopefully she will get up to fitness for (the) SheBelieves (Cup).”
More preparations will happen in February with the annual SheBelieves Cup, with games against Canada, Japan and Brazil.
The two-time defending World Cup champions will defend their title against a newly-expanded 32-team field. The event will run from July 20-Aug. 20, with the Americans set to face three opponents in Group E — Vietnam, the Netherlands and an intercontinental playoff team from Group A that will be decided in February.