16-year-old Lily Yohannes called up to USWNT SheBelieves squad

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

The US plays Japan on April 6 in Atlanta and Canada or Brazil on April 9 in Columbus.

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

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

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

“It’s something I’m not really focused on,” Yohannes said in January. “But (I’m) interested to see what the future brings.”

Yohannes grew up outside the traditional American talent pipeline and struggled to break into the national team at the youth level. She has represented the US in the Under 15/16 age groups but has not been called up to a national team for two years. She does not have a Dutch passport, but is eligible for one if she has lived in the country for more than six years.

Under FIFA rules, players can apply to change the team they represent once if they have played fewer than three competitive matches at senior level before turning 21. Under FIFA rules, the SheBelieves Cup does not count as a competitive match, giving Yohannes some leeway before making 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 during a friendly against Ireland ahead of the 2023 World Cup and missed the tournament.

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

“What’s most impressive about her now that she’s coming back is the quality of her impact on a game, regardless of the number of minutes she’s played,” U.S. interim coach Twila Kilgore said Tuesday. “So we are very excited to integrate her back into our team.”

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes was named the next coach of the US national team in November 2023, but will not join until the end of the WSL season. The latest roster 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 last two games in charge of the team before Hayes takes over.

Complete USWNT roster for the 2024 SheBelieves Cup

GOALKEEPS: 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, Armory; Eva Gaetino, Paris Saint Germain; Naomi Girma, San Diego Wave; Casey Krueger, Washington Ghost; 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

FORWARD: Catarina Macario, Chelsea; Alex Morgan, San Diego Wave; Trinity Rodman, Washington Spirit; Jaedyn Shaw, San Diego Wave; Sophia Smith, Portland Thorns; Mallory Swanson, Chicago Red Stars