If the NWSL means a damn thing, Haley Kopmeyer needs to be called up to the USWNT.
Jill Ellis hasn’t had a dominate number one goalkeeper since the post-game incident that shall not be named. With Ashlyn Harris now expected to miss at least eight weeks, and who knows how long she might take to reach her form again afterward, it’s time to face the fact that the USWNT goalkeeping pool is in serious trouble.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Ellis has spoken before about wanting to reward NWSL players who play well during the season with calls up to USWNT camps. And while the CBA does limit how many players she can call up, goalkeeping needs to be a priority for the program if they are going to have a chance to defend their World Cup title in France in 2019.
Kopmeyer has played better than Harris this season. She’s played, on the whole, better than Alyssa Naeher, the player currently wearing the #1 for the USWNT. Really, the Boston Breakers’ Abby Smith is the only real challenger for best goalkeeper in the NWSL that has the eligibility to be called into a USWNT camp.
And Kopmeyer can make saves like this.
The one glaring issue with how the USWNT goalkeeping pool has been run was simply that it didn’t have to be like it was. Solo should have been the number one goalkeeper during her tenure with the team, that isn’t in question. But the lack of quality minutes for the backup keepers in case the worst happened, and the overall lack of development for the pool as a whole, is shameful.
And while in the past I have cautioned against bringing someone in their late 20’s up, the USWNT doesn’t have the luxury of having Hope Solo to act as a safety net for the program anymore. They need to find a better group of goalkeepers who can fill in the usual three spots on a 23-person roster. They may not have the depth in the position or the time to do years worth of neglected goalkeeping development.
Right now, the race for the starting goalkeeper in 2019 is wide open. Really, the race for who will be starting in the qualification for 2019 is wide open. Franch hasn’t been impressive. Campbell’s first outing is best to be forgotten. Barnhart’s time with the USWNT has come and gone. Naeher hasn’t locked it down. And right now Harris is out.
It’s time Kopmeyer is given the chance to step up for country as much as she has for club.
And bringing in NWSL goalkeepers who are having seasons like Kopmeyer gives Ellis a chance to reward NWSL players who are playing well. Ellis would also get a look at a seasoned player who has shown tremendous growth over the last five years.
Canada has three of the best goalkeepers in the league right now. And quite frankly has the best goalkeeper unit in the world right now between Steph Labbe, Sabrina D’Angelo, Kailen Sheridan and the recovering Erin McLeod. If the USWNT wants to be able to compete, they are going to have to find the next great American goalkeeper.
Kopmeyer has shown she can fill Hope Solo’s cleats for club. It’s time to see if she can fill them for country.