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USWNT names veteran team for Tournament of Nations

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) The top-ranked U.S. will bring a veteran group to the four-team Tournament of Nations, which begins next week with a match against Japan at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City.

[ MORE: Man City, USMNT’s Mix Diskerud loaned to South Korea ]

U.S. coach Jill Ellis announced her training roster of 25 players Wednesday, all but three of whom played for the national team this year. The newcomers are goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, forward Kealia Ohai and defender Jaelene Hinkle, while defenders Casey Short and Emily Sonnett are back from injury.

The roster will be pared to 22 before the U.S. faces Japan on July 26. Brazil plays Australia the same day in the opener of round-robin tournament.

The Tournament of Nations is an important tuneup for the U.S. ahead of World Cup qualifying, which begins with group matches Oct. 4 in Cary, North Carolina.

FULL ROSTER

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

Defenders: Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson (Stanford), Jaelene Hinkle (NC Courage), Merritt Mathias (NC Courage), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns)

Midfielders: Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage), Allie Long (Seattle Reign), McCall Zerboni (NC Courage)

Forwards: Crystal Dunn (NC Courage), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash), Christen Press (Utah Royals), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign), Amy Rodriguez (Utah Royals)

Heath scores in return, USWNT sweeps China (video)

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CLEVELAND (AP) Tobin Heath scored the go-ahead goal in the 75th minute in her return from injury and the U.S. national team beat China 2-1 on Tuesday night to sweep the two-game exhibition series.

Three minutes after China tied it at 1 on Li Ying’s fast-break goal, Heath chipped the goalkeeper on a miss hit.

[ MORE: PST’s big World Cup roundtable ]

It was Heath’s first game with the national team since appearing as a substitute in a friendly against New Zealand last September. She had surgery to remove bone growth on her right ankle in early January.

Megan Rapinoe put the U.S. ahead in the 35th by heading home Christen Press’ cross at the far post. Press became the 37th player to appear in 100 matches for the U.S.

U.S. goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris made her first start of 2018. She denied a well-placed free kick from just outside the penalty box in the 74th.

The United States beat China 1-0 last Thursday in Sandy, Utah.

Five honored with National Soccer Hall of Fame status

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Don Garber, Brad Friedel, Cindy Parlow Cone, Tiffeny Milbrett, and Robert Contiguglia have been announced in this year’s class of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

The induction will occur Oct. 20 as part of Hall of Fame weekend in Dallas, with FC Dallas facing Sporting KC.

[ MORE: Who will replace Zidane? ]

Friedel is the current coach of New England Revolution, who are off to a surprising start. The longtime Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper was capped 82 times by the USMNT in a playing career which also included time with Liverpool, Galatasaray, Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur, and Columbus Crew.

Parlow Cone scored 75 times in 158 USWNT caps, successfully transitioning to a coaching career which includes the 2013 NWSL title for the Portland Thorns.

Milbrett, 45, bagged 100 goals for the USWNT in 206 caps. She scored seven goals across three World Cups.

Contiguglia is a former USSF president who served from 1998-2006, a wildly successful time for the game.

MLSSoccer.com points out that current MLS commissioner Garber was elected in 2016, “but opted to defer his enshrinement” until the new Hall of Fame was completed in Dallas.

Hinkle says she decided against U.S. team Pride Month call up

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Jaelene Hinkle revealed she decided not to play for the U.S. women’s national team last year because her Christian faith prevented her from wearing a jersey that commemorated LGBTQ Pride Month.

Hinkle revealed the reason for her decision last June in an interview posted Wednesday on The 700 Club website. No formal reason for her absence was given by the national team at the time.

“I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey,” she said.

Hinkle has not been called up to the national team since.

A defender, Hinkle plays for the North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League. The Courage visited the Portland Thorns on Wednesday night, and there were boos heard when she was announced in the starting lineup. Some waved rainbow Pride flags.

Hinkle did not comment after the match.

“She is high on her faith, and in my honest option that’s absolutely incredible,” teammate Jessica McDonald said. “If she’s for God, then that’s fine, that’s great if that’s what keeps her going in her life and keeps positivity in her life, then let that be.”

Courage coach Paul Riley said he heard the boos and echoed McDonald’s sentiment.

“She’s got a good heart, and she battled through the game. It’s not an easy thing for her,” Riley said. “I give her a lot of credit to be perfectly honest. Whatever her beliefs are, whatever she believes in, that’s her. It doesn’t affect the team. It doesn’t seem to affect anybody on the team.”

The Courage, who rank atop the NWSL standings, beat the Thorns 4-1.

USWNT squad announced for exhibitions against China

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CHICAGO (AP) Midfielder Tobin Heath is back on the U.S. women’s national team roster after spending the start of the year recovering from surgery.

Coach Jill Ellis named a 23-player roster Tuesday for a pair of exhibition matches against China next month.

[ MORE: USSF details GM job duties ]

Heath, who turned 30 on Tuesday, hasn’t played with the national team since appearing as a substitute in a friendly against New Zealand last September. She had surgery to remove bone growth on her right ankle in early January.

Also returning to the national team is Julie Ertz, who missed a pair of April exhibition matches against Mexico because of a knee injury.

Christen Press, left off the roster for Mexico because she was not on a club team at the time, also returned to the roster.

Press, who was traded to the Houston Dash in the offseason but never joined the National Women’s Soccer League club, is currently playing in Sweden with Goteborg.