Meet the 2019 USWNT: Lindsey Horan

The 2019 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, June 7 in France. The United States team is the defending champions but their path to repeating is a perilous one. The field is stronger than it ever has been before and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the top ten teams lifting the trophy on July 7.

To help prepare you to root for team and country, we’re going to run a short profile of every player on the 23-person roster. When female athletes take their turn in the spotlight, they often receive coverage that is slanted toward non-game aspects of their stories — marriage, children, sexual preference, perceived lack-of or bountiful sexiness, social media activity, etc. In the hope of balancing things out, just a tiny bit, these previews will strive to stay on the field, with only a little bit of non-gendered personal interest when possible.

Lindsey Horan

Position: Midfielder

Club: Portland Thorns FC

Number: 9

National team experience: Horan has played 68 games with the national team and has eight goals. During the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, she was out with a quad injury.

What to expect from Lindsey Horan in 2019 (Guest written by my friend, Gillian Stewart!!): Any time Horan appears on the pitch, Ezra goes “Look Gillian! It’s your girl!” – and it’s true. I love watching Horan play, because while she rarely takes center stage, she shows up at the edge of every play, ready to dive in and get shit done. In the spirit of full disclosure, my love of Lindsey Horan originated during the 2016 SheBelieves Cup because her facial expressions reminded me of someone I had a crush on at the time, which is relatively arbitrary way to choose a favorite player. However, my hormones appear not to have led me astray (at least in this case): Horan is a BAMF.

Horan plays central or attacking midfield for the Portland Thorns, and like any great midfielder, she can do pretty much anything pretty dang well. Her 2018 NWSL season stats are incredible – she shows up on the leaderboard in every single non-goalie category. She led the league in total touches, total duels, duels won…and yellow cards. Unsurprisingly, she was the league MVP. On the national team, she stands out for her forward passing, her physicality, and her ability to win head-to-head (called aerial duels in technical parlance, which I really enjoy). She may not be as fast as Pugh or have the goal scoring prowess of Morgan or Lloyd or the vision of Pinoe or the fancy feet of Heath – but she’s there to pick up the slack wherever it may be. And to win fights. Any player should think twice before going toe-to-toe (or head-to-head) with Horan – she’s fast enough to get to the ball first, skilled enough to win possession, fearless enough to charge full speed, and smart enough to know which duels she can win.

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My favorite video of her is from the Thorns’ last regular-season game of 2018. Seattle had scored early, and Portland were trying to equalize. Christine Sinclair, captain of the Canadian team and one of the world’s greats, receives a beautiful cross to the center of the box, winds up…and gets tackled and goes down. Horan runs in from out of frame to fire the ball into the net with the force and accuracy of a Marvel character zooming in to save the day. Did she need to hit it that hard? Probably not. Is it deeply satisfying to watch an amazing player land a perfect shot? Absolutely.

Non-gendered personal interest item: Horan was the first American woman to skip college and go pro. At 18, she turned down a scholarship at UNC to take a six-figure deal with Paris Saint-Germain, where she spent three and a half seasons as a striker, racking up 46 goals in 58 appearances. Returning to France after three seasons in the NWSL for her first world cup experience has a lovely symmetry, and I’m pretty sure she’s finally learned to speak French. She does use “football” and “soccer” interchangeably when speaking, which I also find deeply charming.

Links: A couple of good articles about Horan from Slate, Oregon Live, and the Washington Post, plus her Wikipedia page, U.S. Soccer page, and Twitter.

Meet the 2019 USWNT: Rose Lavelle

The 2019 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, June 7 in France. The United States team is the defending champions but their path to repeating is a perilous one. The field is stronger than it ever has been before and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the top ten teams lifting the trophy on July 7.

To help prepare you to root for team and country, we’re going to run a short profile of every player on the 23-person roster. When female athletes take their turn in the spotlight, they often receive coverage that is slanted toward non-game aspects of their stories — marriage, children, sexual preference, perceived lack-of or bountiful sexiness, social media activity, etc. In the hope of balancing things out, just a tiny bit, these previews will strive to stay on the field, with only a little bit of non-gendered personal interest when possible.

Rose Lavelle

Position: Midfielder

Club: Washington Spirit

Number: 16

National team experience: Lavelle has played 27 games for the national team with seven goals. During the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, she started two games, playing the full 90 minutes in one and being subbed in for in the other. She did not play in the third game.

What to expect from Rose Lavelle in 2019: Rose Lavelle is the USNWT’s wild card. She’s the joker in a card game, the knight in chess. She moves a little differently than everyone else. She’s less predictable. The USWNT’s offense is projected to be a well oiled machine. Alex Morgan in the front, running at the defense and scoring goals. Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath on the wings, breaking ankles and sending arcing crosses into the box. Lindsey Horan in the center, distributing the ball. Kelly O’Hara and Crystal Dunn sprinting up the sidelines from their wing back positions. Rose Lavelle is expected to fill the last slot in what is essentially a six player attack, but what exactly will she be doing? If all goes well (and injury-wise for Lavelle, things have so often not gone well during her career,) Lavelle will be wandering, probing the defense for weaknesses, thinking three steps ahead so that she’s open well before anyone is even thinking of passing it. Once she has the ball, watch out. She has (almost) Tobin Heath’s one-on-one ability AND (almost) Megan Rapinoe’s vision AND (almost) Christen Press’ shooting touch. She can be, as Noah Davis claimed in a Bleacher Report article, the “American Messi.” Will this be the tournament that Lavelle becomes a household name? Hard to see when the U.S. attack is so crowded with bigger names already but I’ll be rooting for it. She’s just so fun to watch when she’s firing on all cylinders.

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Non-gendered personal interest item: Rose Lavelle was selected first overall in the 2017 NWSL draft by the Boston Breakers. The team was dissolved at the end of the season, making her (for now) the last first draft pick of a team whose brand had been around for longer than most women’s teams, having been a part of the WUSA starting in 2000. I still hope the team is somehow reanimated!

Links: A piece from Bleacher Report that claims Lavelle is the “American Messi” and one from Forbes about her “magic”, plus her Wikipedia page, U.S. Soccer page, and Twitter.

Meet the 2019 USWNT: Tobin Heath

The 2019 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, June 7 in France. The United States team is the defending champions but their path to repeating is a perilous one. The field is stronger than it ever has been before and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the top ten teams lifting the trophy on July 7.

To help prepare you to root for team and country, we’re going to run a short profile of every player on the 23-person roster. When female athletes take their turn in the spotlight, they often receive coverage that is slanted toward non-game aspects of their stories — marriage, children, sexual preference, perceived lack-of or bountiful sexiness, social media activity, etc. In the hope of balancing things out, just a tiny bit, these previews will strive to stay on the field, with only a little bit of non-gendered personal interest when possible.

Tobin Heath

Position: Forward

Club: Portland Thorns

Number: 17

National team experience: 150 appearances and 30 goals. This will be Tobin Heath’s third World Cup. During the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, Heath played all but five minutes of the tournament.

What I wrote in 2015: You know that kid on your youth soccer team who just never stopped running? He or she might not have been the biggest, the most skilled, the strongest, the most aggressive, or the most clever player, but they just never, ever, ever stopped running. When your team was on the attack, she was there. When your team needed an extra set of legs on defense, there she was. And she never, ever, ever seemed even a little bit tired. That’s Tobin Heath. Heath plays an attacking midfielder role for the national team. In this World Cup, she’ll most likely be coming off the bench to replace Christen Press or another starting midfielder.

What to expect from Tobin Heath in 2019: Of all the players from the 2015 World Cup team, Tobin Heath has improved the most over the past four years. She is still an extraordinary one on one player but because many of the other facets of her game have risen to match her ball skills, that facet of her game is less notable. She’s now a well-balanced attacking midfielder with the ability to score with her head and her feet, up close and from far away. In the past she could get isolated quite easily out on the wing — she would sprint onto a ball, beat a few defenders, often making them look foolish in the process, and then waste the ball with an errant shot or a pass to an empty spot on the field. Now she’s more connected to the players around her, her talents more in sync with the team. She should be an absolute fixture on one side of the midfield, with Megan Rapinoe, giving the United States the best pair of outside attacking midfielders in the world.

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Non-gendered personal interest item:  Tobin Heath is a rascal addicted to nutmegging her teammates and coaches.

Links: Her Wikipedia page, U.S. Soccer page, and Twitter.

Meet the 2019 USWNT: Mallory Pugh

The 2019 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, June 7 in France. The United States team is the defending champions but their path to repeating is a perilous one. The field is stronger than it ever has been before and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the top ten teams lifting the trophy on July 7.

To help prepare you to root for team and country, we’re going to run a short profile of every player on the 23-person roster. When female athletes take their turn in the spotlight, they often receive coverage that is slanted toward non-game aspects of their stories — marriage, children, sexual preference, perceived lack-of or bountiful sexiness, social media activity, etc. In the hope of balancing things out, just a tiny bit, these previews will strive to stay on the field, with only a little bit of non-gendered personal interest when possible.

Mallory Pugh

Position: Forward

Club: Washington Spirit

Number: 2

National team experience: Pugh has played 53 games for the USWNT and scored 16 goals. In the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, she started all three games and was subbed in each of them. More recently she has been coming off the bench.

What to expect from Mallory Pugh in 2019: When Mallory Pugh first came on the scene for the USWNT in 2016, she was 17 and seemed like a revelation. She was tiny, preternaturally fast, and seemed like she could more than hold her own at the senior level. It’s therefore somewhat disappointing that at 21 she’s not starting regularly for this edition of the team. This often happens to prodigy-like players who get a lot of exposure early. The truth is, it’s a hard path from 17 to 21, and the weight of expectations and public attention doesn’t make it any easier. Bodies change and take getting used to. What seems like pure fun at 17 feels different when you’re still only 21 and you’ve been doing it professionally for a few years now. Injuries add up and slow your development. Pugh seems to have experienced a little of all of that over the last three years. Her work in progress is currently in a positive state, but it’s that of the first player off the bench as a sub in most games, not as a starter. Her speed and imaginative movement are still noticeable when she gets on the field and it would not be surprising at all to see her spark a come from behind win in a game in this World Cup. There’s literally no shame to being behind Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan, and Megan Rapinoe at 21.

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Non-gendered personal interest item:  When Pugh was 14, she broke her femur during a game and was back on the field in FOUR MONTHS. AGHHHHA.

Links: A Bleacher Report article about Pugh, plus her Wikipedia page, U.S. Soccer page, and Twitter.

Meet the 2019 USWNT: Tierna Davidson

The 2019 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, June 7 in France. The United States team is the defending champions but their path to repeating is a perilous one. The field is stronger than it ever has been before and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the top ten teams lifting the trophy on July 7.

To help prepare you to root for team and country, we’re going to run a short profile of every player on the 23-person roster. When female athletes take their turn in the spotlight, they often receive coverage that is slanted toward non-game aspects of their stories — marriage, children, sexual preference, perceived lack-of or bountiful sexiness, social media activity, etc. In the hope of balancing things out, just a tiny bit, these previews will strive to stay on the field, with only a little bit of non-gendered personal interest when possible.

Tierna Davidson

Position: Defender

Club: Chicago Red Stars

Number: 12

National team experience: Davidson has 20 appearances for the national team and one goal. During the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, she played the full 90 minutes in two of three games and was used as a late sub in the other.

What to expect from Tierna Davidson in 2019: Being the youngest player on an USWNT World Cup roster is partially a function of luck (if you’re 18 on a World Cup year, you won’t be 22 until the next one) but it’s also a badge of honor. Davidson is very much worthy of that honor and she could potentially be a very important player for the team as well. She plays a position of strength for the team, central defense, but it’s also quite shallow. If presumed starter, Abby Dahlkemper isn’t up to the task or co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn (perish the thought) gets injured, Davidson would probably be called on to step up and fill the void. By all accounts, she could do it. When she was called up to the national team as a 19 year-old, she played all 90 minutes of her first five games. She’s as solid as they come. Since that time, she broke her ankle and left college (not totally unrelated) to become the first overall draft pick in the NWSL draft. Her choice had a lot to do with challenging herself to get ready for this World Cup and I’m glad she did it. Nonetheless, if all goes well, we might not see her on the World Cup stage for another four years. Well – maybe coach Ellis will get her into the third group stage match.

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Non-gendered personal interest item: It wasn’t until relatively recently that Davidson’s path to professional soccer was clear. Until then, she had wanted to be an astronaut. What’s the connection between astronaut and central defender? Being calm under pressure, having enormous self-confidence, and enjoying solving problems as they come up.

Links: Articles from Top Drawer Soccer, All For XI, ESPN, and The 18 about Davidson, plus her Wikipedia page, U.S. Soccer page, and Twitter.

Meet the 2019 USWNT: Morgan Brian

The 2019 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, June 7 in France. The United States team is the defending champions but their path to repeating is a perilous one. The field is stronger than it ever has been before and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the top ten teams lifting the trophy on July 7.

To help prepare you to root for team and country, we’re going to run a short profile of every player on the 23-person roster. When female athletes take their turn in the spotlight, they often receive coverage that is slanted toward non-game aspects of their stories — marriage, children, sexual preference, perceived lack-of or bountiful sexiness, social media activity, etc. In the hope of balancing things out, just a tiny bit, these previews will strive to stay on the field, with only a little bit of non-gendered personal interest when possible.

Morgan Brian

Position: Midfielder

Club: Chicago Red Stars

Number: 6

National team experience: Brian has made 82 appearances for the national team and has scored six goals. During the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, she was not on the national team roster. For the last two friendlies of the year, she was on the team but did not get into the games.

What I wrote in 2015: At 22, Brian is the youngest player on the United States team… Although she was a prolific scorer in college, in the context of the national team, she’s played a more defensive or holding midfield position. It’s not a natural fit for someone of her size (5’7″ but so slight that her college teammates nicknamed her, “Plankton”) but she’s more than held her own. When you watch the team, you probably won’t notice Brian, but she’s an essential part of the glue that connects defense to offense and makes sure nothing slips through.

What to expect from Morgan Brian in 2019: Seen as the spark that ignited the USWNT’s run through the knockout rounds of the 2015 World Cup, you’d expect Brian to have spent the last four years solidifying her spot on the team. Instead, it’s been a terrible time of seemingly dozens of injuries that have taken her out of the lineup entirely at times. She’s never regained her heroic 2015 form and is on this year’s team as just one of several midfield options off the bench. Perhaps it was inevitable – one of the team’s slightest players playing defensive midfield, soccer’s most physically demanding position. At only 26, there’s hope for Brian to come back to star in a World Cup again, it just won’t be this one.

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Non-gendered personal interest item:  As per her US Soccer page, Brian “grew up in Georgia on St. Simon’s Island, a tiny island that is three miles wide. When she worked on fundamentals in her driveway, she’d trample the crabs that crept up out of the marsh.” Okay, that’s amazing.

Links: An Equalizer Soccer article about Brian, plus her Wikipedia page, U.S. Soccer page, and Twitter.

Meet the 2019 USWNT: Megan Rapinoe

The 2019 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, June 7 in France. The United States team is the defending champions but their path to repeating is a perilous one. The field is stronger than it ever has been before and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the top ten teams lifting the trophy on July 7.

To help prepare you to root for team and country, we’re going to run a short profile of every player on the 23-person roster. When female athletes take their turn in the spotlight, they often receive coverage that is slanted toward non-game aspects of their stories — marriage, children, sexual preference, perceived lack-of or bountiful sexiness, social media activity, etc. In the hope of balancing things out, just a tiny bit, these previews will strive to stay on the field, with only a little bit of non-gendered personal interest when possible.

Megan Rapinoe

Position: Forward

Club: Reign FC

Number: 15

National team experience: 153 appearances with 44 goals scored. During the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, Rapinoe played all but seven minutes and was a co-captain.

What I wrote in 2015: Megan Rapinoe is a world class playmaker. She has exceptional vision… She seems to know exactly where to put the ball. Her other exceptional skill… is her technical ability to pass the ball to just the spot she wants. In the flow of play, Rapinoe’s approach to playing midfielder is acquire the ball, survey the field, move the ball to the player in the position most dangerous to the opposing team. Rapinoe takes the majority of the more technical set pieces, including corner kicks. Her skill on the ball allows her to be a formidable goal-scorer, especially on shots from a distance, but it’s not her primary focus.

What to expect from Megan Rapinoe in 2019: Four years later and coming of a serious knee injury, everything I wrote about Megan Rapinoe is… still true. She’s a fixture on the left wing, still making herself available for service and doing wonderful things with the ball once she has it. In recent years, she can get slight tunnel vision on scoring instead of applying herself to what is her greater skill of playmaking. I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that on the world’s biggest stage, she can put aside her goal scoring ambitions in lieu of contributing to team victories. A less celebrated facet of Rapinoe’s game is her defensive ability. She rarely needs to show it during national team games, but when called upon, Rapinoe can be a determined defender with an impressive slide tackle.

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Non-gendered personal interest item:  One of the very earliest athletes to support Coliln Kaepernick’s activism, Rapinoe will continue protesting injustice, racial and otherwise, during this year’s World Cup by standing silently during the anthem with her hands by her sides.

Links: Rapinoe’s Wikipedia page, U.S. Soccer page, and Twitter.

Meet the 2019 USWNT: Ashlyn Harris

The 2019 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, June 7 in France. The United States team is the defending champions but their path to repeating is a perilous one. The field is stronger than it ever has been before and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the top ten teams lifting the trophy on July 7.

To help prepare you to root for team and country, we’re going to run a short profile of every player on the 23-person roster. When female athletes take their turn in the spotlight, they often receive coverage that is slanted toward non-game aspects of their stories — marriage, children, sexual preference, perceived lack-of or bountiful sexiness, social media activity, etc. In the hope of balancing things out, just a tiny bit, these previews will strive to stay on the field, with only a little bit of non-gendered personal interest when possible.

Ashlyn Harris

Position: Goalie

Club: Orlando Pride

Number: 18

National team experience: Harris has played 14 games with five shutouts. During the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, she played (like each of the three goalies) one full game.

What I wrote in 2015: Harris is everything you’d expect from a world class goalie. She’s aggressive, fearless, determined, and a little bit obsessed. At 5’9″ she’s got the physical ability and presence to command the area around the net. Harris would be the starting goalie for virtually every other country in the world but unfortunately for her, she’s stuck behind goalkeeping legend, Hope Solo. When Solo was suspended this winter, Harris got her chance to start and played well, cementing her position as the second goalie on the team. If Solo gets injured, Harris’ experience will come in handy. Get it, handy?

What to expect from Ashlyn Harris in 2019: Ashlynn Harris is probably going to sit on the bench for the next month and watch her team as they, hopefully, lift the trophy as repeat champions. She’s the second string goalie on the team and it’s unlikely that coach Jill Ellis will chose to rotate goalies, although she did just that during the SheBelieves Cup earlier this spring. If Harris does get into a game because of an injury or poor performance by Alyssa Naeher, she will perform admirably. Honestly, I don’t know how Ellis chose Naeher over Harris. It must have been a close choice. If anything, Harris is a smidge more acrobatic than Naeher. When Naeher goes up in a crowd of players, you get the sense that she’s fearless because she’s too strong to be scared. When Harris does it, it looks like she’s fearless because it simply has never occurred to her to be scared. That’s a classic goalie attitude! For a “break in case of emergency” option, I can’t imagine one better than Harris.

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Non-gendered personal interest item:  Harris is as fiery off the field as she is on the field. Somtimes that fire gets channeled into her work with her nonprofit, To Write Love on Her Arms. Sometimes it comes out in post-game press conferences where she leans into her coach or blasts her teammates for not caring enough. Seeing both sides of an athlete like that really makes me what to root for them!

Links: Here are her Wikipedia page, U.S. Soccer page, and Twitter.

Meet the 2019 USWNT: Alyssa Naeher

The 2019 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, June 7 in France. The United States team is the defending champions but their path to repeating is a perilous one. The field is stronger than it ever has been before and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the top ten teams lifting the trophy on July 7.

To help prepare you to root for team and country, we’re going to run a short profile of every player on the 23-person roster. When female athletes take their turn in the spotlight, they often receive coverage that is slanted toward non-game aspects of their stories — marriage, children, sexual preference, perceived lack-of or bountiful sexiness, social media activity, etc. In the hope of balancing things out, just a tiny bit, these previews will strive to stay on the field, with only a little bit of non-gendered personal interest when possible.

Alyssa Naeher

Position: Goalie

Club: Chicago Red Stars

Number: 1

National team experience: Naeher has appeared in 46 games for the USWNT and has 24 shutouts. During the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, she (like each of the three goalies on the roster) played one of three games.

What I wrote in 2015: Naeher is the least likely player on the entire team to make it into a game. This isn’t a reflection on her, she’s a great goalie, but Hope Solo is a fixture in the net and Ashlyn Harris seems to be coach Jill Ellis’ second choice. Naeher’s path to playing would be a Hope Solo injury followed by a poor Harris performance. Seems unlikely. If called on Naeher could do the job. A tall goalie at 5’9″, Naeher is used to being called on in desperation. She won National Women’s Soccer League goalkeeper of the year in 2014 despite playing for the Boston Breakers, a team with a shaky defense that finished second to last in the league.

What to expect from Alyssa Naeher in 2019:  One sign that the USWNT is being treated seriously by the sports media world is that there’s an obvious storyline about it that’s getting emphasized beyond reason. That story is the absense of Hope Solo, who dominated the goalie position for the team for more than a decade. What will happen now that she’s gone? As the first choice goalie for the team, Naeher is inevitably a part of this story. She has to put up with everyone’s questions. Can she rise to the occasion? Can she be as good as Solo? To support these doubts, critics may point to what has looked like an increasingly shaky defense since Solo left and certainly more goals scored against. It must be incredibly aggravating. As a fan of the Boston Breakers (who sadly folded a couple of seasons ago), I got a chance to watch Naeher play in person. She’s great. She’s rarely out of position and when caught out can use her tall frame and enviable athletisism to compensate. She’s good distributing the ball to defenders. I truly can’t imagine her being anything other than completely solid. I have my doubts about this team’s ability to prevent goals being scored against them, but they lie with the field players, not the goalie.

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Non-gendered personal interest item:  Okay, I guess this is pretty cool – USA Today (of all organizations) released an augmented reality game where you get to pretend to be Alyssa Naeher and try to stop penalty shots. Just make sure you clear that heirloom lamp out of the way before you try it…

Links: A New York Times article about Naeher, plus her Wikipedia page, U.S. Soccer page, and Twitter.

Meet the 2019 USWNT: Kelley O’Hara

The 2019 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, June 7 in France. The United States team is the defending champions but their path to repeating is a perilous one. The field is stronger than it ever has been before and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the top ten teams lifting the trophy on July 7.

To help prepare you to root for team and country, we’re going to run a short profile of every player on the 23-person roster. When female athletes take their turn in the spotlight, they often receive coverage that is slanted toward non-game aspects of their stories — marriage, children, sexual preference, perceived lack-of or bountiful sexiness, social media activity, etc. In the hope of balancing things out, just a tiny bit, these previews will strive to stay on the field, with only a little bit of non-gendered personal interest when possible.

Kelley O’Hara

Position: Defender

Club: Utah Royals FC

Number: 5

National team experience: O’Hara has played 118 games for the national team and scored two goals. During the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, when she was recovering from injuries, she started each game and was subbed for mid way through.

What I wrote in 2015: All [O’Hara’s] versatility is impressive, but I wonder if it has done her a disservice. It’s hard to be the best at any one thing when you’re asked to do so many different things. Coming into this year’s World Cup, O’Hara has been unable to grab a starting position in any position. She’s played as a wing-defensive sub and also as a reserve midfielder. It’s comforting to have such a versatile substitute on the bench, ready to step in wherever she’s needed, but you have to ask yourself what could have been if she had been able to play one position for her whole career.

What to expect from Kelley O’Hara in 2019:  I was lucky enough to snag a ticket to the World Cup semifinals back in 2015 between the United States and Germany. Having watched both women’s and men’s teams lose to Germany in World Cups before, my heart was in my mouth from a few hours before the game until the final whistle. So, I’ll never forget watching O’Hara score from right midfield just a few minutes after she came in as a sub in the second half. After the game, I heard about how coach Jill Ellis decided to put O’Hara in (in discussion with an assistant coach, she said “You know, we need a bitch. Get Kelley.”) In the context of sports, outside of super stars, it’s hard to imagine a higher compliment. What Ellis meant was that O’Hara would rise to the occasion, makes her opponents’ lives miserable, and finds ways to get even greater performance out of her teammates. Although O’Hara is a veteran of two World Cups, her career arc is still trending up. A perfect fit for Ellis’ plan of having versitile two-way players at outside defense, O’Hara is assumed, despite struggling with an ankle injury this spring, to be the starting right fullback. If her body cooperates, you should expect to see O’Hara dominating the right side of the field, flying up in overlapping runs on offense and racing back on defense when needed. She’s a tough tackler. She can run around you or, if she decides to, run over you.

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Non-gendered personal interest item: Don’t misspell O’Hara’s last name. It has an apostrophe! That’s hard for some pieces of technology, including custom jersey software. Earlier this year, O’Hara responded on Twitter to a fan who was trying to customize a jersey from Fanatics.com but could’t get the apostrophe in O’Hara! I believe it’s now been fixed.

Links: Articles about O’Hara from goal.com and ESPN plus her Wikipedia page, U.S. Soccer page, and Twitter.