(Reuters) – The United States will be counting on experience as they look to defend their women’s World Cup crown in France with coach Jill Ellis announcing a squad on Thursday that features 12 members from the team that lifted the title in 2015.
Leading the squad is veteran forward Carli Lloyd who was named to her fourth World Cup while defenders Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara and Ali Krieger, and forwards Tobin Heath, Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan will be making their third consecutive appearance in the global showcase tournament.
The roster averages 80 international caps per player.
“Selecting a World Cup team is a long process, and I want to thank the players – the ones that made the final team and the ones that didn’t – for all of their hard work over the past two and a half years,” Ellis said in a statement.
“They all pushed each other in every training session and every game and challenged the coaches to make some tough decisions.
“These 23 players have been through adversity and success, and it’s a group that has the talent, confidence, experience and desire to help us win the World Cup.”
The Americans will be bidding to win the World Cup for a fourth time.
The U.S. and Japan have clashed in the last two World Cup finals, the Americans winning it in 2015 and Japan taking home the trophy in 2011.
With their opening match just 40 days away, the U.S. squad will report to training camp in Northern California and play three friendlies before heading to Europe.
The U.S. take on South Africa in Santa Clara, California on May 12, face New Zealand on May 16 in St. Louis and Mexico on May 26 in Harrison, New Jersey.
The World Cup will run from June 7 to July 7 with the final to be played at the Stade de Lyon in the south of France.
The top-ranked U.S. will open Group F play against Thailand on June 11 in Reims.
The U.S. also play Chile on June 16 in Paris and Sweden on June 20 in Le Havre.