There will be at least one surprising name on the United States roster when coach Jill Ellis announces Thursday the 23 players who will travel to next month’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
Ali Krieger, who helped the Americans win the World Cup in Canada four years ago but who has played just once for the national team over the last 25 months, is included on the squad, multiple sources with knowledge of the selection told Yahoo Sports.
The veteran Orlando Pride defender, 34, made her 99th international appearance April 7 in a 6-0 rout of Belgium in Los Angeles. Before that, Krieger’s last game with the USWNT came more than two years earlier, when she entered as a second-half substitute in a 4-0 friendly victory against Russia in April of 2017.
Krieger went the full 90 minutes in six seven games at Canada 2015, including the 5-2 win over Japan in the final that gave the U.S. its third world title. She is expected to provide cover at right back in France this summer behind fellow 2015 vet Kelley O’Hara. O’Hara has been playing with a sore ankle for much of this year after undergoing surgery last October. She didn’t start in either of the Utah Royals’ matches so far this NWSL season.
“Ali has never been off the radar,” Ellis told reporters when asked about Krieger last month. “Sometimes the experience piece is something you have to take into consideration going into a massive event like [the World Cup].”
While Ellis’ decision to include Krieger is unexpected, it’s not without precedent. The English-born boss pulled a similar move in 2015 when she picked then-37-year-old Shannon Boxx for the final 23 even though Boxx had only rejoined the team in the months leading up to that tournament.
Boxx, who went 23 months without a cap before being recalled in March of 2015, made just one appearance off the bench at that World Cup but was lauded as an important role player and positive locker room presence as the Americans’ triumphed.
In March, Krieger and U.S. goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris announced that they are engaged to be married. Harris, who also plays for the Pride, missed Orlando’s most recent game with a knee injury but coach Marc Skinner indicated that it wasn’t serious. Harris is expected to back up starter Alyssa Naeher this summer.
The Women’s World Cup kicks off June 7. The U.S. opens its group stage slate June 11 against Thailand before closing the first round with games versus Chile and Sweden. Ellis’ roster will be formally announced at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday.
More from Yahoo Sports: