16-year-old Lily Yohannes called up to USWNT SheBelieves squad | USA women’s football team

Lily Yohannes, the 16-year-old Ajax midfielder, has been named to the USWNT squad for the SheBelieves Cup.

The US will play Japan on 6 April in Atlanta and either Canada or Brazil on 9 April in Columbus.

Yohannes is the youngest USWNT player named to the senior squad since 2017, when Sophia Smith, who was also 16 at the time, was named to the team’s roster for two friendlies against Russia.

Yohannes was born in Virginia but moved to the Netherlands with her family in 2017. “My dad used to train us in the basement of our house,” Yohannes told the Guardian in January. “He and I would team up and go against my two brothers. I fell in love with kicking a ball as soon as I started playing at around four years old.”

Earlier this season, Yohannes became the youngest player to ever start a group stage match in the Uefa Women’s Champions League. But the midfielder’s international status has been the source of much discussion ever since she broke through at club level. Yohannes is eligible to represent the US and the Netherlands.

“It’s something I’m not too focused on,” Yohannes said in January. “But [I’m] interested to see what the future holds.”

Growing up outside the traditional US talent pipeline, Yohannes had struggled to break into the national team at youth level. She represented the US in the Under-15/16 age groups, but has not been called up to a national team squad in two years. She does not hold a Dutch passport but is eligible to apply for one having lived in the country for more than six years.

Fifa rules allow players to file to switch the team they represent once if they have played fewer than three competitive matches at senior level before to turning 21. Under Fifa rules, the SheBelieves Cup does not count as competitive match, giving Yohannes some leeway before she makes a final decision on which country she will represent.

Mal Swanson and Cat Macário have also been recalled to the national team. Swanson tore her knee ligaments in a friendly against Ireland prior to the 2023 World Cup and missed the tournament.

Macário was also forced to miss the World Cup after sustaining an ACL injury. She signed for Chelsea last summer but has struggled with injuries for much of the WSL season. In total, the 24-year-old missed 20 months with injuries.

“What’s been most impressive about her as she’s come back is just the quality of her impact on a game regardless of the amount of minutes that she’s been playing,” US interim coach Twila Kilgore said on Tuesday. “So, we’re really excited to get her reintegrated into our team.”

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes was named as the next US national team coach in November 2023, but will not join until the end of the WSL season. The latest squad was put together by US Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker and Kilgore in consultation with Hayes.

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The SheBelieves Cup will be Kilgore’s final two games in charge of the team before Hayes takes over.

Full USWNT squad for 2024 SheBelieves Cup

GOALKEEPERS: Jane Campbell, Houston Dash; Casey Murphy, North Carolina Courage; Alyssa Naeher, Chicago Red Stars

DEFENDERS: Abby Dahlkemper, San Diego Wave; Crystal Dunn, Gotham FC; Tierna Davidson, Gotham FC; Emily Fox, Arsenal; Eva Gaetino, Paris Saint-Germain; Naomi Girma, San Diego Wave; Casey Krueger, Washington Spirit; Jenna Nighswonger, Gotham FC

MIDFIELDERS: Korbin Albert, Paris Saint-Germain; Sam Coffey, Portland Thorns; Lindsey Horan, Olympique Lyon; Olivia Moultrie, Portland Thorns; Emily Sonnett, Gotham FC; Lily Yohannes, Ajax

FORWARDS: Catarina Macário, Chelsea; 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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