Former University of Kentucky soccer standout and Lexington native Arin Gilliland has been named to the U.S. Women’s National Team’s training camp roster as head coach Jill Ellis begins her search this month for players who might be a part of the next World Cup squad in 2019.
Gilliland, 23, who plays professionally for the Chicago Red Stars in the National Women’s Soccer League and was a finalist this season for NWSL Defender of the Year, is among nine players who got their first call up to the women’s team Thursday. Gilliland had participated in U.S. camps at a number of youth levels but is the first UK player ever to be called up to the National Team.
“I am above and beyond ecstatic to have the opportunity to come into such a great environment and be able to train and play alongside not just some of the best players in the world, but on the best team in the world,” Gilliland said in a news release. “It’s an honor every single time you get to represent your country, the badge and the National Team, so I am looking forward to what this camp has in store and how I can contribute.”
Gilliland was an All-American and Kentucky’s Miss Soccer for West Jessamine High School in 2010, and an All-American for the Cats playing from 2011 to 2014. Other honors included SEC Defender of the Year and the 2014 Honda Inspiration Award. She scored 30 goals and a record eight game-winning goals for Kentucky, becoming the program’s greatest player ever according to UK head coach Jon Lipsitz.
She was selected eighth overall in the 2015 NWSL Draft by Kansas City and acquired by Chicago. As a rookie for the Red Stars last year, she started 17 of 20 games and was named to the NWSL’s Second XI as the Red Stars’ primary right back. This year she was subbed off only once in 21 starts and was part of a team that led the league in goals against average (1.00 per game) and reached the NWSL semifinals where they lost in overtime last week to the Washington Spirit, 2-1.
“Our staff has been watching NWSL games this season and these are the ones that stood out,” Ellis said. “The league is vitally important to create a tremendous competitive environment for these players to show their talents as professionals and we are excited to give them a chance with the National Team.”
The U.S. will play two friendlies against Switzerland this month that will be televised nationally: Oct. 18 (ESPN) in Sandy, Utah, and Oct. 23 (FS1) in Minneapolis, Minn. Eighteen of the 24 players in camp will be active for each of those matches.
U.S. Women’s National Team roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Stanford), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (Western New York Flash), Arin Gilliland (Chicago Red Stars), Merritt Mathias (Seattle Reign), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), Andi Sullivan (Stanford)
FORWARDS (6): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Shea Groom (FC Kansas City), Ashley Hatch (BYU), Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Lynn Williams (Western New York Flash)