There are no more friendlies or send-off games. All that’s left is for the U.S. women’s national team to begin their Women’s World Cup campaign in France in two weeks.
With that, here is our final stock watch before the tournament begins, where we look at who has proven their value and who is falling behind.
▲ Rose Lavelle, midfielder
With a talent pool as deep as the one in the central midfield, Lavelle has had to fend off the challenges of other players vying for her spot. But she reminded everyone again Sunday of why head coach Jill Ellis wants to find a starting spot for her so badly.
When Lavelle wasn’t creating pockets of space with her smart through-balls, she was dribbling through the defense and setting up her teammates with crafty touches. Amazingly, Lavelle told reporters afterward she only just now is starting to feel the way she did before a rash of injuries. That means she can get even better.
No one on the USWNT roster can provide the same sort of central playmaking that Lavelle can, and she figures to play a big role in France.
▲ Crystal Dunn, defender
Ellis said that the decision to sub Dunn out at halftime wasn’t planned — Dunn had been dealing with some ankle stiffness, and as a precaution, she took Dunn out. In Dunn’s place was Tobin Heath, a surprising option for left back. Later, when Emily Sonnett came in at right back, Kelley O’Hara took over at left back.
On one hand, this substitution pattern shows that Ellis is relying on depth within her core group of starters. But on the other hand, it highlights how there isn’t an ideal off-the-bench substitute option for Dunn. No one can replace her, and the team is expecting a lot out of Dunn in France.
If you think of our stock watch as measuring a player’s value to the USWNT, Dunn’s stock is off the charts.
▲ Christen Press, forward
The starting core is set: It’ll be Alex Morgan up top, Megan Rapinoe on left and Tobin Heath on the right. That means players like Carli Lloyd, Mallory Pugh and Press are vying to be the first option off the bench.
Press proved she may be that option on Sunday, with a well-taken goal that was quintessential Press — she cut around a defender and calmly struck.
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) May 26, 2019
▼ Jessica McDonald, forward
This isn’t McDonald’s first time on the stock down list, but it’ll be the last before the World Cup begins. She’s one of the only players to have not played a minute in the final three friendlies, and it’s hard to imagine a role for her in France.
Asked about McDonald’s lack of playing time, Ellis said she was cognizant of McDonald as an option.
“Jess, she’s a weapon and we’re going to make sure we know how to use her,” Ellis said.
▼ Morgan Brian, midfielder
If there's a player that shocked followers of the USWNT by making the 23-woman World Cup, it was Brian. She has struggled due to injury, form and playing time, but Ellis said she had seen Brian in the “pressure cooker” of a World Cup and trusted her.
Still, it looks like that will only get Brian so far. She hasn’t featured for the USWNT in these send-off games and it remains to be seen if she can make any sort of impact in France. Ellis, however, was optimistic.
"We brought Moe in and Moe’s been building and doing very well,” Ellis said.
▼ Adrianna Franch / Ashlyn Harris, goalkeepers
Alyssa Naeher is the starting goalkeeper, and will play every minute in France, barring injury or suspension. Any chances that Franch or Harris had to change things are long gone.
Caitlin Murray is a contributor to Yahoo Sports and her book about the U.S. women’s national team, The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer, is out now. Follow her on Twitter @caitlinmurr.
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