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NC Courage send five players to 2019 SheBelieves Cup camp

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Or is it six?

2017 Tournament Of Nations - Australia v United States
Sam Mewis (left) and Abby Dahlkemper (center) take the field for the USWNT
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The 2019 SheBelieves Cup 23-man roster has officially dropped, and five North Carolina Courage players have been tapped to join the team. The roster gives a snapshot of the players who are most likely to travel to France this summer for the Women’s World Cup. Any players headed to the World Cup are projected to miss about two and a half months of the NWSL season.

Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper, McCall Zerboni, and Jess McDonald are all making their second-consecutive USWNT camp of 2019. Merritt Mathias has also been called into the pre-camp practices, but she is not currently on the roster to play in games. Occasionally players who practice with the team are pulled into the roster due to injury or personal situations with active players, but it is more likely that USWNT head coach Jill Ellis is trying out Mathias to see whether she is up to snuff.

Dahlkemper and Dunn have both been staples of the USWNT defense for over a year. Barring injury, both of those players will be making the trip to France this summer. Mewis, Zerboni, and McDonald are still uncertain about their plans. Mewis has been called in consistently while healthy, but she hasn’t been provided with much playing time lately. The USWNT midfield is stacked with players, but Lindsey Horan and Morgan Brian are both missing from the SheBelieves Cup which should open up more playing time for Mewis in the tournament. Courage head coach Paul Riley has repeatedly suggested that Mewis would eventually be the captain of the USWNT.

McCall Zerboni was seriously injured in a friendly match against Chile just before the NWSL playoffs last season, and it seemed like she might have lost her spot due to that injury. Then she was called into January camp and played 21 minutes in the 1-0 win over Spain. At 32 years of age, Zerboni has taken a less than traditional career trajectory with the national team. It would be a testament to her extreme worth ethic and perseverance if she were able to make the World Cup roster, and a good showing in the upcoming three-game tournament could cement a spot for her.

McDonald is in a very similar boat to Zerboni. She was one of the best striker in the NWSL for years before finally breaking into the national team over the last year. Jess is battling with a very strong field of American forwards, but she did earn two caps in a substitute role in January. McDonald is still a bubble player when considering 2019, but she does provide something unique on the pitch. Her long throw in is a great weapon, and her technical skills have looked strong in her two appearances so far this year. Just as importantly for McDonald from a personal fiscal standpoint, she has now made five appearances for her country. That means that she is bumped into the higher pay bracket for all subsequent games, which is much deserved after spending so many years playing in the NWSL.

The SheBelieves Cup will take place between the United States, England, Brazil, and Japan. The round robin tournament resembles group play in a major tournament with each team playing the other teams once. The USA will play Japan on 2/26, England on 3/2, and Brazil on 3/5.

The full roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 19/0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 40/0)

DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 32/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 14/1), Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 77/24), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC; 112/2), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 151/0), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 27/0), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 28/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars; 2/0), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 74/18), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 21/6), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 43/8), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit 11/0), McCall Zerboni (NC Courage; 8/0)

FORWARDS (7): Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 143/25), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 266/105), Jessica McDonald (NC Courage; 5/1), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 155/98), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 108/47), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 45/13), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC; 146/41)