USWNT announces its roster for CONCACAF Gold Cup. Here’s what you need to know:

The USWNT released its roster for the first CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup. Swanson is back; Morgan and Sauerbrunn are out

We’re taking a break from the NWSL pre-season tour for a look at the U.S. women’s national team ahead of the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup. The United States opens play on Feb. 20. I’ll be heading south to a few of the group-stage matches — not just to see the US — so stay tuned!

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It’s the first women’s Gold Cup, part of an effort by CONCACAF to expand competitive opportunities for women. That’s a good thing for players in countries that don’t invest in women’s soccer and don’t arrange matches for their teams. Whether those nations will pay the players for their work is another issue.

There are two headlines for the US roster. First, Mallory Swanson is back, albiet as a a training player. But it’s a necessary step to get her conditioned for the Olympics. Second, Alex Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn are not included.

Interim coach Twila Kilgore said not to read too much into the absences.

“We have quite a few players that are not in camp that we’re still looking at and evaluating in terms of leading up toward the Olympics. Nobody is out of the mix, that goes for some of our bigger names, that goes for some of our lesser names that we’ve been tracking. We want to get it right, and everybody’s still involved.”

Kilgore went on to point out, correctly, that the Olympics roster is just 18 players, a significant cut from the 23-player World Cup roster, so the mix of players that the team invited includes the players they need to see in the tournament environment.

Here’s what Kilgore said about Swanson, who will be joined by Savannah DeMelo, and Gisele Thompson on as training players.

“I expect that Mal will come in and be Mal. We’re thrilled to have her back in the camp environment. She is going to be a training player with us. and we know that in anything that Mal’s doing she brings a really high level of professionalism, a high level of execution. We belie she’s absolutely ready for this step. She’s just a really important leader in this team. She’s stayed connected and involved in different ways while going through her recovery and this is just the next natural progression. Her influence is always felt in camp so we expect that she’ll just continue to help raise the standards on the field and within our team culture.”

One last interesting thing, she made some comments about Catarina Macario, who has been training with Chelsea but has not played in a match.

“I believe Cat’s in a really good space mentally, she’s progressing well physically. She’s looking forward to the point in time when it’s most appropriate for her to come back into our environment. She’s well supported where she’s at. In terms of where she’s at in the day-to-day, I will leave that to Chelsea and her current club environment to reveal those things as they she fit, as they’re closer to it, but we’re very excited about moving forward with Cat when the time’s right.”

A couple of notes here: Kilgore said she continues to work with Emma Hayes, the team’s soon-to-be head coach after seeing out the Super League season with Chelsea. Kilgore, who will remain on the USWNT staff after her interim tenure, recently went to London to watch Hayes on the job.

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Here’s the overall look at the tournament, which includes teams from CONMEBOL. The United States is in Group A and will play it’s matches at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. That’s where the LA Galaxy play.

The U.S. will open with the winner of a preliminary match between Guyana and the Dominican Republic. The group also includes Argentina and Mexico.

Canada plays in Houston in Group C, along with Costa Rica, Paraguay and the winner of a preliminary match between El Salvador and Guatemala.

Brazil plays in Group B in San Diego with Colombia, Panama and the winner of a preliminary match between Haiti and Puerto Rico. interesting note: While Marta hinted recently about playing for Brazil at the Olympics, and was on the nation’s prelim roster for the Gold Cup, she was left off of the final squad).

The final rosters for the teams participating in the tournament are here, courtesy of CONCACAF.

Lots of folks wrote about the USWNT roster, here are just a few of them.

CBS Sports’ Sandra Herrera looks at the USWNT roster.

ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle with his take

The Athletic’s Meg Linehan weighs in. with speculation that Frank Lampard may take over Chelsea when Hayes leaves.

Jeff Kassouf at the Equalizer says the Gold Cup is more of a “testing ground” for the USWNT as it looks to the future.

Alyssa Thompson was not included because of a minor back injury.

Macario could return from injury after the international break

Ohio’s legislature has approved $1 million toward a women’s soccer stadium in Cleveland.

This was big news last week while I was away for a couple of days: The USL Super League is sanctioned at the top tier of women’s soccer in the United States — alongside the NWSL. Jeff Kassouf took a look at what it means.

The Athletic looks at the USL sanctioning.

Susie Rantz for Sounder at Heart with the question everyone’s been asking: What the heck is going on with the Reign sale?

The Kansas City Star looks at the vibe around the Current heading into the new season.

Nice story here in Sam Coffey from Stars And Stripes FC

Molly Downtain resigns as GM of the Wave.

Is Lieke Martens bound for the NWSL?

Last week the Thorns introduced the Bhathals, the new owners of the Portland Thorns. It was largely a media event because the sale was announced last month, but the players and Jessica Berman were there. Here are some snippets from the afternoon.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Annie Peterson