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U.S. Women's Soccer Squad In Tokyo Will Reunite Winning World Cup Team

At the World Cup in France two years ago, the U.S. Women's national team trounced the competition and came home with the trophy – all while demanding equal pay.

The U.S. hopes to repeat that winning performance at the upcoming Olympic Games – and today, head coach Vlatko Andonovski named the 18 players who are headed to Tokyo.

The roster includes the biggest names in U.S. soccer today, including Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle, and Christen Press.

And it answers one big question: Will forward Carli Lloyd, who turns 39 next month, be on the team? Yes, she will.

So will Julie Ertz and Tobin Heath, both recovering from injuries that had put their inclusion in doubt. Four alternates will also travel to Tokyo — teams are permitted to change their rosters due to an injury at any point before or during the Games.

It will be the fourth Olympic Games for Lloyd and Heath.

Coming off a World Cup victory didn't mean a lock for the 23 players on that team, as the Olympic roster is only 18. Seventeen of those who were on the World Cup team are headed to the Games. Versatility will be key with a smaller squad.

A notable absence from the team is 23-year-old Mallory Pugh, who two years ago was regarded as one of the USWNT's future stars.

Carli Lloyd celebrates scoring a goal during a friendly match between Jamaica and the U.S. earlier this month in Houston. Lloyd is headed to her fourth Olympic Games.
Alex Bierens de Haan / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Carli Lloyd celebrates scoring a goal during a friendly match between Jamaica and the U.S. earlier this month in Houston. Lloyd is headed to her fourth Olympic Games.

The biggest change will be on the sidelines. Andonovski was named head coach of the team in 2019 after Jill Ellis announced she was stepping down from the post.

"We've got a balanced team with many players who can play several positions and that will be valuable as we try to play six games in 17 days in heat and humidity," Andonovski said in a statement. "Our coaching staff has confidence that any player on the roster can perform when they get their chance."

Two of the midfielders named to the team today are sisters: Kristie and Samantha Mewis. Kristie Mewis, who is older by a year and a half, is the only member of the squad who was not on the World Cup roster.

While the U.S. women's team will face sky-high expectations in Tokyo, the U.S. men's team won't be there at all. After a loss to Honduras in March, the U.S. men's team failed to qualify for a third consecutive Summer Olympics.

The U.S. women will play their first match on July 21, two days before the Olympic Opening Ceremony, against Sweden in Tokyo.

It was Sweden that eliminated the U.S. in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Games — the only time that the U.S. women have not reached the gold medal game at the Olympics.

Members of the USWNT team show their support for the LBGTQ community prior before playing Portugal in Houston on June 10.
Alex Bierens de Haan / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Members of the USWNT team show their support for the LBGTQ community prior before playing Portugal in Houston on June 10.

Here's the full roster for the U.S. women's soccer team at the Olympics:

GOALKEEPERS: Adrianna Franch, Alyssa Naeher

DEFENDERS: Abby Dahlkemper, Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn , Kelley O'Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn , Emily Sonnett

MIDFIELDERS: Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Kristie Mewis , Samantha Mewis

FORWARDS: Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Christen Press, Megan Rapinoe

ALTERNATES: Goalkeeper Jane Campbell, defender Casey Krueger, midfielder Catarina Macario, forward Lynn Williams

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.