TopOfTheCircle.com

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July 7, 2021 — A second chance for the “first four out”

A few days ago, FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, decided to allow teams playing in the Tokyo Olympics to have 22 players available for competition rather than the previous limit of 18 players.

This has the effect of extending rosters, even though only 18 can be dressed for individual games. This allows coaches to rotate players in and out of the lineup — a necessity, since there are only two rest days between games at an Olympics, as opposed to the usual break of anywhere from three to six days for most other major tournaments, like a World Cup or a continental championship.

For the United States, this will allow head coach Vlatko Andonovski to freely substitute in some of the players who might never get playing time except for injury, such as goalkeeper Jane Campbell, defender Casey (short) Krueger, teen sensation Catarina Macario and forward Lynn Williams.

Which brings us to the players who didn’t make it. Of the 17 non-World Cup players from the original 39-player provisional list from Olympic qualifying, several names stand out.

Brianna Pinto was a star at the University of North Carolina before signing with Gotham FC shortly after UNC’s season ended. Midge Purce also plays with Gotham, and she was thought of as being one of those “flex” players who could play in multiple roles, a key factor in Olympic roster selection.

Jaelin Howell is a young American star who currently plays her soccer with Florida State University. Andi Sullivan, the current captain of the NWSL’s Washington Spirit, was the league’s top draft pick in 2018.

Now, we’ve known that the depth of women’s soccer in the United States, burgeoned by the NWSL and players going overseas to play professionally, was going to present a puzzle for Andonovski and the U.S. selectors. It’s gotten to the point, as we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, that more is being written about players who didn’t make the roster as opposed to those who did.

Today, the team travels to Tokyo. I do wonder what kind of Games will be there for them. More on that tomorrow.

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