Three years ago Crystal Dunn got the call she didn’t want. Jill Ellis wasn’t taking her to Canada as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team for the 2015 World Cup.
Now, the Rockville Centre native will be an integral part of the U.S. women’s team’s attempt to defend its World Cup title as Ellis has named Dunn along with 19 other players to U.S. CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Roster.
“We feel really good about the process that has gotten us to this point, and the final selection of this group,” the head coach said. “We’ve had a couple of injuries recently, but the depth of our pool is excellent, and I have confidence that each of the 20 players will perform at their highest level when called upon in these games. Our group is prepared and highly motivated to earn the right to be a part of France 2019.”
The 20-woman roster includes a mix of veterans that have well in excess of 100 caps including Carli Lloyd (259), Alex Morgan (147) and Becky Sauerbrunn (143) and other such as Rose Lavelle (13) and Hailie Mace (2) who have fewer than 20 caps.
While Dunn has long been an offensive force during her college and professional careers, the North Carolina Courage star is rostered as one of seven defenders for the United States. Ellis throughout the year has used Dunn as an outside defender taking advantage of her speed and offensive tendencies to create mismatches with opposing teams.
The U.S. opens its Group A qualifying schedule on October 4 against Mexico (7:30 p.m. ET), and then faces Panama on October 7 (5 p.m. ET) and closes out group play against Trinidad & Tobago on Oct. 10 (7:30 p.m. ET). All Group A games will be played at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC.
Group B features Canada, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Cuba.
The top two finishers in each group will cross-over to play the second-place finishers in the other group during the semifinals, which will take place on October 14. The third-place match and championship will be held on October 17 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX.
The winners of the semifinal matches and the third-place match will qualify directly to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The fourth-place finisher will earn a spot in a two-game playoff against Argentina, which was the third-place team from South America, for a final berth to France.
U.S. CONCACAF Qualifying Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 17/0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 33/0)
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 23/0), Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 69/23), Hailie Mace (UCLA; 2/0), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC; 108/2), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 143/0), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 25/0), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 21/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars; 79/6), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 66/16), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 56/6), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 13/3), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 38/7)
FORWARDS (6): Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 138/21), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 259/102), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 147/90), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 104/45), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 37/12), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 140/38)