Emma Hayes' first USWNT roster reveals a team that already evolved in her absence

There are a few peripheral surprises, and one intriguing positional designation. But for the most part, Emma Hayes' first U.S. women's national team roster speaks to an evolution that began long before her much-anticipated arrival.

U.S. Soccer revealed that roster Tuesday, as Hayes prepared for a Wednesday flight from London to New York City. She'll go from there to Denver, where she'll formally take charge of the USWNT next week.

But for months, ever since her November appointment, she was working "in the background," as she said Saturday. She was communicating with interim coach Twila Kilgore, helping mold the team she'd soon inherit. She was steering it, silently, when she had spare time, through a bumpy transition that already feels closer to its destination than its starting point.

Case in point: Her 23-player roster features only 11 holdovers from the 2023 World Cup. Of the 12 others, though, 10 have USWNT camp experience.

They have coalesced into a trophy-winning team in recent months, and into a depth chart that Hayes won't have to tear up or even disrupt.

Naomi Girma, Tierna Davidson and Emily Fox are starting defenders.

Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle and Sam Coffey are midfield mainstays.

Jaedyn Shaw, Mallory Swanson, Sophia Smith, Alex Morgan and Trinity Rodman comprise an attack that is overflowing with options.

All 11 of those players are on Hayes' inaugural roster, just as they have been when healthy since the turn of the year.

Also included, to nobody's surprise, are a half-dozen players presumably on the Olympic roster bubble: Emily Sonnett, Casey Krueger, Jenna Nighswonger, Korbin Albert, Crystal Dunn and Catarina Macario.

The surprising inclusions are defender Sam Staab (over Abby Dahlkemper) and midfielder Hal Hershfelt (over Olivia Moultrie). Rounding out the field of non-goalkeepers is 16-year-old Lily Yohannes, who received her first call-up in April. But the squad, on the whole, represents a refinement, not an overhaul.

From those 20, and perhaps a few other bubblers, Hayes must pick 16 outfield players for the Olympic roster, plus two goalkeepers.

From two friendlies against South Korea next month, and two more against Mexico and Costa Rica in July, she will gather information that might inform her final decisions. She will tweak the tactics; toy with different combinations; and develop preferences for certain players over others.

Her library of learnings, though, is already well-stocked. Kilgore, who will stay on as an assistant coach, has filled it. She met with Hayes in person during the interim period. They chatted via phone or Zoom regularly. She grew into the role, and did well to steady a wobbling ship.

So, when Hayes arrives this week, although she'll have plenty of familiarizing to do, her core — the players, the most important part of any national team — will largely already be in place.

USWNT roster for June friendlies vs. South Korea

Below, sorted by position, is the USWNT roster for a May training camp and two games, June 1 and 4, vs. South Korea.

There are two notable positional designations. Dunn, long viewed as a fullback by multiple national team coaches, is listed as a forward. She has spent most of her club career in various midfield and attacking roles — in the NWSL and at Chelsea, where she played for Hayes in 2017 and 2018.

And Sonnett, who has played as a defensive midfielder for club and country over the past year, is back among the defenders, where she spent most of her career.

Goalkeepers (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage)

Defenders (7): Tierna Davidson (Gotham FC), Emily Fox (Arsenal), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave), Casey Krueger (Washington Spirit), Jenna Nighswonger (Gotham FC), Emily Sonnett (Gotham FC), Sam Staab (Chicago Red Stars)

Midfielders (6): Korbin Albert (Paris Saint-Germain), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns), Hal Hershfelt (Washington Spirit), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Rose Lavelle (Gotham FC), Lily Yohannes (Ajax)

Forwards (7): Crystal Dunn (Gotham FC), Catarina Macario (Chelsea FC), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars)

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