Six months after coaching one of the deepest teams in U.S. history to a Women's World Cup title, Jill Ellis is beginning to run out of warm bodies, with Sydney Leroux announcing she is pregnant and will miss the entire year.
"Surprise! My plans have changed for this summer," Leroux, who is married to Major League Soccer player Dom Dwyer, tweeted Monday. She is expected to deliver in September.
The U.S., which begins play in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament in two weeks, is without eight players from its 23-woman World Cup squad — four who retired, two who are injured and two who are pregnant.
Forward Amy Rodriguez, the team's most experienced forward, previously announced she was pregnant with her second child and would miss both the Olympic trials and, should the U.S. qualify, this summer's Olympic Games in Brazil.
Ellis will announce her 20-player roster for the qualifying tournament this week, and the absences of Rodriguez and Leroux, plus the retirement of Abby Wambach, will leave it thin up front. Ellis called six forwards, including Leroux, into this month's training camp. But one, Crystal Dunn, is better suited to play wide in the midfield, while another, Mallory Pugh, is a 17-year-old high schooler who earned her first U.S. cap last week against Ireland.
Leroux, 25, did not dress for that game. She played four games at the World Cup and was limited to 11 games and just four starts in 2015 because of an ankle injury.
"The average age of our team declined dramatically since the World Cup," said Alex Morgan, who made her 100th international appearance in the win over Ireland.
Morgan and Christen Press are the only two veteran forwards left on the 26-player training camp roster. After that, the experience level drops off rapidly with Dunn and Stephanie McCaffrey, 22, having combined to play just a third as many international games as Leroux and more than 100 fewer than Rodriguez.
Against Ireland, Ellis started a lineup that featured Morgan, Press and Dunn, the reigning National Women's Soccer League MVP, up front.
Leroux's announcement comes less than two weeks after she was traded from the Western New York Flash to NWSL rival Kansas City so she could be with her husband, who plays for Sporting Kansas City in MLS. Kansas City is her fourth professional club in less than four seasons. The trade was supposed to give Kansas City a forward to replace Rodriguez.
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