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World Cup champion Americans to host Columbia in East Hartford on April 6

Carli Lloyd and the U.S. national women's soccer team will host Columbia in East Hartford on April 6. (Photo courtesy U.S. Soccer)

Carli Lloyd and the U.S. national women’s soccer team will host Columbia in East Hartford on April 6. (Photo courtesy U.S. Soccer)

EAST HARTFORD, March 23 – The World Cup champion U.S. women’s national soccer team has named 23 players to their training camp roster as they prepare for their next two games – which include a match on Wednesday, April 6, against Columbia at 7 p.m. at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford.

U.S. coach Jill Ellis will select 18 players to play in the game. The Americans and Columbia will meet again on April 10 in Chester, Pa.

More than 18,000 tickets have been sold for the game in East Hartford, which is just shy of the stadium record for a women’s national team game in Connecticut. On Oct. 23, 2012, there were 18,870 fans at the stadium to see the Americans battle to a 2-2 with Germany.

Tickets are still available through ussoccer.com, by phone at 1-877-522-8499 (8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET only) and at the XL Center ticket office (open Monday-Friday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.). Tickets will be sold at Pratt & Whitney Stadium only on the day of the game.

The United States roster features 21 players who helped the Americans win the 2016 SheBelieves Cup in early March, as four of the top five teams in the world squared off in three doubleheaders across three cities in the U.S. The USA defeated England, 1-0, France, 1-0, and Germany, 2-1.

“We don’t have that many international matches before the Olympics, so every game takes on increased importance as far as the performance of the players, the evolution of the relationships among the positions and the overall growth of the team,” said Ellis. “Most of the players will be coming in from NWSL pre-seasons so we expect everyone to be sharp and we are looking forward to the challenges that a team like Colombia will present as we continue our Olympic preparations.”

The field for the 12-team Olympic tournament is set and will feature Brazil and Colombia from South America, France, Germany and Sweden from Europe, the USA and Canada, Zimbabwe and South Africa from Africa, Australia and China from Asia and New Zealand from Oceania.

In the SheBelieves Cup, American forward Alex Morgan scored against France and Germany to win the Golden Boot and was awarded the Golden Ball as the top player in the six-game competition. Hope Solo won the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper. Forward Crystal Dunn scored the game-winner against England and midfielder Samantha Mewis scored the winning goal against Germany.

Ellis has added two players, recalling Portland Thorns midfielder Allie Long, who spent some time with the team in 2014, earning four appearances, and giving a first senior team call-up to 17-year-old forward Ashley Sanchez, the current captain of the U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team.

Sanchez recently helped lead the USA to a berth in the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup at the CONCACAF U-17 women’s championship in Grenada, scoring five goals over the five games as the USA defeated Canada, 5-0, in the semifinal to earn its World Cup berth and then downed Mexico, 2-1, in the championship game to win the regional title.

This will be the sixth team for the Americans in East Hartford having played games here in 2004, 2007, 2010, 2012 and most recently in June 2014 when the U.S. battled to a 2-2 tie with France.

Colombia, ranked 25th in the world, put in a fine performance at the World Cup last summer, drawing 1-1 with Mexico, defeating world power France 2-0, and then falling to eventual third-place finisher England by a 2-1 score to complete group play. The four points were enough to earn Colombia a Round of 16 match with the USA, where it put up quite a fight against the eventual world champions before bowing out.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)

DEFENDERS (8): Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado), Ashley Sanchez (So Cal Blues)

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years.

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