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FIFA Women's World Cup 2019: Ali Krieger, Allie Long, Morgan Brian make the cut for defending champions United States' squad

Defender Ali Krieger and midfielders Allie Long and Morgan Brian earned spots on the United States team that will defend their title at the Women's World Cup. All three were widely considered to be on the bubble for the 23-player squad announced Thursday by coach Jill Ellis.

 FIFA Womens World Cup 2019: Ali Krieger, Allie Long, Morgan Brian make the cut for defending champions United States squad

File image of Ali Krieger. AP

Krieger started against Belgium on 7 April, her first appearance since an exhibition against Russia on 6 April, 2017. It will be the third World Cup for the 34-year-old right back, who has 99 international appearances.

The youngest player on the squad for the 2015 World Cup in Canada, Brian has struggled with injuries in recent years and has played just once this year, in a January exhibition against France. But the 26-year-old has experience, with 78 international appearances.

Long, 31, has been in and out of the national team after making playing in the 2016 Olympics.

Ellis said players "challenged the coaches to make some tough decisions."

"These 23 players have been through adversity and success, and it's a group that has the talent, confidence, experience and desire to help us win the World Cup," the coach said in a statement.

The tournament in France starts 7 June, and the United States have first-round matches against Thailand, Chile and Sweden.

Carli Lloyd made her fourth World Cup squad, most among the players picked Thursday.

Lloyd, 36, scored three goals the 5-2 United States victory over Japan in the 2015 World Cup final in Canada, but she likely will have a support role in France, playing off the bench. The oldest player on the squad, she is among nine US women to have played in four or more World Cups.

"Even though this is my fourth World Cup squad, it's just as special as the first one I was named to. It's a different chapter of my career," Lloyd said.

Defender Tierna Davidson, the United States Soccer Federation's 2018 Young Player of the Year, is the youngest player on the squad at 20. Davidson skipped her senior season at Stanford and was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in this year's National Women's Soccer League draft by the Chicago Red Stars.

In addition to Krieger, defenders Kelley O'Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn made their third World Cup team, joining forwards Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe.

"I knew there would be another opportunity, or at least a small chance, and I wanted to make sure I was fully prepared for that chance. I never lost sight of trying to play at the World Cup and if I didn't make it, I could be satisfied that at least I did everything I could to have a chance," Krieger said.

Crystal Dunn, the last player left off the squad for the 2015 World Cup, had 15 goals in the NWSL that year and is among 11 Americans headed to their first World Cup.

Players who didn't make the squad but were also thought to be on the bubble were midfielders McCall Zerboni and Andi Sullivan, and defender Casey Short.

The squad must be submitted to FIFA by 24 May.

The United States Women's National Team squad :

Goalkeepers: Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).

Defenders: Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (NC Courage), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O'Hara (Utah Royals), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns).

Midfielders: Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Allie Long (Reign), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage).

Forwards: Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue), Jessica McDonald (NC Courage), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Utah Royals), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe (Reign).

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Updated Date: May 02, 2019 23:42:39 IST