Soccer-U.S. women’s coach still tinkering ahead of World Cup defence | The Mighty 790 KFGO

Soccer-U.S. women’s coach still tinkering ahead of World Cup defence | The Mighty 790 KFGO

By Amy Tennery

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. women’s head coach Vlatko Andonovski is still tinkering with his team to find what he hopes will be a winning combination at this year’s World Cup, as the Americans vie for a unprecedented third consecutive title without former mainstays.

Sam Mewis and Julie Ertz, who once formed the bedrock of a stellar American midfielder, are both expected to miss the tournament which begins in July.

After a long absence from the pitch, Mewis said this week that she underwent another knee surgery in June and is out indefinitely.

Ertz, who did not play in 2022, is yet to sign with a professional team this season after giving birth in August and Andonovski said time is running out for her return.

“It’s something we planned for, and that’s why we tried different names, different players,” said Andonovski, who announced the 23-man squad for the SheBelieves Cup on Wednesday.

“We’re going to keep trying in this camp until we solidify the players who we believe will give us the best chance of succeeding.”

The United States kicks off its title defense in the SheBelieves Cup, an annual round-robin tournament that this year also includes Canada, Japan and Brazil on February 16 in Orlando, Florida.

With veteran Megan Rapinoe back in the mix after recovering from injury, Andonovski said the competition was a chance to be creative with the World Cup less than six months away.

Mallory Swanson, whose stock rose by three goals in the United States’ two friendlies last month against World Cup co-hosts New Zealand, was also named on the list along with veteran Alex Morgan and rising star Trinity Rodman.

“It will show us where the team is now, but I don’t think it will be a real (barometer) of what the team will be like in five and a half months,” Andonovski told reporters.

“We’re going to try different things and test different combinations of players.”

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, editing by Ed Osmond)

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