SANDY — As has been long expected, three Utah Royals FC players will represent the United States at the FIFA Women's World Cup in France this summer.
Veterans Becky Sauerbrunn (defender), Kelley O'Hara (defender) and Christen Press (forward) were among the 23 players formally named to the United States Women's National Team on Thursday morning.
This will be the third World Cup for Sauerbrunn and O'Hara and the second for Press. The World Cup begins on June 7, and the final will be played on July 7.
All three were on the 2015 roster that won the World Cup in Canada, as was URFC forward Amy Rodriguez. The United States is widely seen as the favorite again this year. In preparation, the team will play three matches this month, beginning May 12 against South Africa in Santa Clara, California. The U.S. team will open World Cup play June 11 against Thailand.
Those two countries, along with Chile and Sweden, will comprise Group F in the tournament.
All of the players on the U.S. women's national team have left their National Women's Soccer League teams in preparation for the World Cup and aren't expected back until sometime after it concludes.
On Sunday, another URFC player, Katie Bowen, was officially named to New Zealand's roster for the World Cup. She'll be making her third appearance, although this one will have unique meaning for the 25-year-old, as she'll be playing in honor of her father, Dave, who passed away in 2017.
New Zealand's roster was unveiled via a video last Sunday, with notable people in the soccer community there announcing the players. Bowen was announced by her mother and sister, who made a number of references to things Dave Bowen would say to Katie as she grew up playing.
"(He's) the reason I started playing football along with my siblings," Katie Bowen said earlier this week. "He was taken too early, but when I step on the field, even if it's training, weight room, whatever, it's where I feel closest to him. It's where I can still hear him yelling from the stands, that kind of thing. I just want to make him proud. He'll be proud of me regardless of the results or what happens."
Two other countries set to compete in the World Cup that are represented on the URFC roster, Canada and Scotland, have yet to officially announce their rosters. Bowen is expected to leave URFC within the next few weeks, as would any players from Canada (Desiree Scott, Diana Matheson) and Scotland (Rachel Corsie) should they get named to their respective national teams.
URFC will begin play without its three USWNT stalwarts on Friday at home against the Chicago Red Stars. The Red Stars will be missing four players (goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, defender Tierna Davidson and midfielders Morgan Brian and Julie Ertz) for the next few months, tied for the most in the NWSL with the North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns FC.
Beyond the USWNT players being absent for Friday, URFC is also incredibly injury-riddled, as six other players have been ruled out and one (Makenzy Doniak, who missed all of last season because of injury and hasn't played yet this season) is listed as questionable. Chicago has no players who have been ruled out because of injury, but three are listed as questionable.Comment on this story
The Red Stars will have the services of perhaps the most lethal goal-scoring combination in the NWSL in Australian star Sam Kerr and Japan's Yuki Nagasato.
"We've got to prevent her from having opportunities to score," URFC head coach Laura Harvey said of Kerr specifically. "I always believe prevention's better than cure, and Sam Kerr is who she is, so we've got to try and prevent the amount of opportunities she gets near our goal. That's as basic and as black and white as you can make it."
Friday's game is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.