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Gallery: WNT Reps its New Nike Home Kit

Photos from the U.S. Women's National Team photo shoot in its new Nike designed home kit the players will wear at this summer's FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. 

The WNT 23: Depth, Versatility and Balance

Through the first six FIFA Women’s World Cups, 61 American players saw action in the tournament while representing the USA on the grandest stage of the sport. The seventh Women’s World Cup roster in U.S. history has now been set, and we can add eight new names who are hoping to join that elite club.

The eight Women’s World Cup debutantes -- Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher, Whitney Engen, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Morgan Brian, Sydney Leroux and Christen Press – represent the main strengths of this roster: depth, versatility and a blend of tremendous experience with some extremely gifted young talent.

These young guns not only give U.S. head coach Jill Ellis options in the starting lineup (they have been in the first XI for 26 games combined this year) but like many of their teammates, several can contribute at multiple positions. And of course, they provide some remarkably important ingredients to any successful team; young legs and an influx of youthful energy and wonder.

Depth

This Women’s World Cup roster may be the deepest ever assembled for a U.S. team, with almost every player having shown she can start and produce in an important match. It’s no secret that depth will be a key component for the teams that find success this summer, as the tournament now requires seven games to lift the trophy.

It will take seven of the most pressure-packed and competitive matches of a player’s career over a 30-day span to win the Women’s World Cup, and it’s a big ask for any player to play every minute. Ellis and her staff will be able to navigate those difficulties with 20 field players who are all confident and ready for the challenge.

“The past six months we’ve absorbed some injuries, but that’s helped improve our depth, and I feel confident that any one of our 23 players can start a game in the World Cup if needed,” said Ellis. “We’ve been able to play challenging teams and that has allowed us to vet our younger players and get them some great experience.”

Although Hope Solo will likely play every minute in goal for the second Women’s World Cup tournament in a row, Harris has done well in her starts this year and Ellis’ stated goal of having at least two starters at every position seems to have come to fruition.

At center back, the USA has four legitimate starters, including of course captain Christie Rampone, who has played the lion’s share of her 304 caps in the middle. Becky Sauerbrunn has become the USA’s most consistent presence in the middle of the defense, bolstered by Whitney Engen and Julie Johnston, the latter of whom has recently shown her international chops with a tremendous performance in three games at the Algarve Cup. She has already captained a U.S. team to a World Cup title, leading the U-20s in 2012 in Japan.

The USA also has four outside backs ready for selection, three of whom – Meghan Klingenberg, Kelley O’Hara and Lori Chalupny – can play on both flanks. Ali Krieger, who was one of the USA’s best players at the 2011 Women’s World Cup, is solidly entrenched on the right side, but has played in the middle extensively with her club.

The USA could play any of several combinations of central midfielders with veteran Carli Lloyd, Lauren Holiday and 22-year-old Morgan Brian likely to see the most minutes. Thirty-eight-year-old Shannon Boxx makes her fourth and final World Cup team and could provide valuable minutes to lock down a match.

On the flanks, the USA’s experience is vast, with Heather O’Reilly, Tobin Heath, Megan Rapinoe, and recently, Christen Press, adding many valuable dimensions from both sides of the field.

Of course, the USA’s five forwards bring an array of strengths, all of them sure to cause trouble for opponents. The lethal finishing abilities of Abby Wambach inside the penalty box, the breakaway speed of Alex Morgan and Amy Rodriguez, the scoring guile and final third explosiveness of Christen Press and the tenacity and bravery of Sydney Leroux are all difficult for opposing defenses to deal with.

Versatility

Having depth is one thing, but having depth AND versatility among those players is another thing entirely. The combination of the two gives the coaching staff the ability to line up in different starting formations and to change tactics during the course of the game, with substitutions, with the players already on the field, or both.

As mentioned above, the USA has outside backs who can play on both sides as well as several other players who can play flank midfield or push more forward, most notably Press, who has 20 goals in her first 41 games, and wingers Heath and O’Reilly. Lloyd, who has also played a few games in a wider role, Brian and Holiday are equally comfortable in defensive and attacking roles in the midfield while the offensive chops of Boxx, long more of a defensive-minded player, have never been questioned. She has 27 international goals and 24 assists in her long career.

Ellis has often spoken of the importance of relationships on the field, and who plays where and with whom will of course be a key to the USA’s success this summer.

“We’ve had several players over the past six months who have familiarized themselves with different roles within the team,” said Ellis. “The players have a really good understanding of their role, but if needed, can play another one as well.”

Balance

Any successful team has a blend of veteran leadership, young pros with plenty of experience and wide-eyed twenty-somethings who are itching to make an impact while pushing the veterans. This U.S. roster seems to have that mix.

History has shown that older teams tend to more often win world championships, but dependence on just experience is a gamble, as a team never wants to have too many players with too many miles on their odometers. Although the U.S. Women’s World Cup roster averages a remarkable 101 caps per player (with Rampone’s 304, Wambach’s 238 and O’Reilly’s 217 skewing that figure a bit), the average age is 28 years old, seemingly a perfect number. That’s how a team can combine talent with experience and fitness, as the majority of the roster is in their prime for international players.

“With only three subs in a match, having good cover in positions in all major lines and being able to have flexibility in the lineup allows you to adjust and adapt,” said Ellis. “Having players with that versatility allows us to do that within a match. With the potential of several games in heat and all of them on turf, having a good balance at goalkeeper, defense, midfield and at forward allows us to potentially rest players or have fresh legs when we need them.”

Any successful team has players who not only know their roles and embrace their roles but also execute their roles to the overall benefit of the team. With tremendous depth, versatility and balance to the 2015 U.S. Women’s World Cup Team, the squad seems poised for another deep run in this tournament.

2015 U.S. Women’s FIFA World Cup Team: By the Numbers

By the Numbers…

2          Number of players in U.S. history to be named to Women’s World Cup rosters for non-consecutive tournaments: Brandi Chastain (1991, 1999) and Lori Chalupny (2007, 2015)

4          Number of players to have previously played in five Women’s World Cups: Kristine Lilly of the USA (1991-2007), Formiga of Brazil (1995-2011), Birgit Prinz of Germany (1995-2011) and Homare Sawa of Japan (1995-2011). Christie Rampone could join that group in Canada. Formiga and Sawa have a chance to play in their sixth tournaments this summer. Bente Nordby of Norway (1991-2007) was on five Women’s World Cup rosters but played in four tournaments.

4          Number of players on the WWC roster from the Chicago Red Stars and FC Kansas City, most of any NWSL teams.

6          Players on the roster who hail from California. Four are from New Jersey, two are from Georgia and two are from St. Louis, Mo.

7          Number of games it will take to win the 2015 Women’s World Cup, up from six in the previous six editions of the tournament.

8          U.S. players making their first Women’s World Cup roster: Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher, Whitney Engen, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Morgan Brian, Sydney Leroux and Christen Press.

8          Number of players on the U.S. roster who have scored in a WWC tournament.

9          Former FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup champions on the 2015 WWC roster: Harris (2002), Naeher (2008), Lori Chalupny (2002), Johnston (2012), Klingenberg (2008), Brian (2012), Heather O’Reilly (2002), Leroux (2008), Alex Morgan (2008)

9          Caps for Johnston, the least of any of the field players to make the WWC team.

11        Number of players, out of 13, who played in the 2012 Olympic gold medal game who made this WWC roster.

13        Goals by Abby Wambach in Women’s World Cup play, a U.S. record.

15        Players on the roster have played for the USA in a FIFA Women’s World Cup at the         youth level.

18        Women’s World Cup matches played by Wambach, the most on the 2015 WWC roster. Rampone has played in 17 Women’s World Cup games while Boxx has 15. Other players in double figures in Women’s World Cup matches are Carli Lloyd (11), O’Reilly (11) and Hope Solo (10).

22        Age of Brian, the youngest player on the WWC roster. Johnston is 23.

23        Number of players on Women’s World Cup rosters, up from 21 for the 2011 tournament.

24        Number of nations that will participate, for the first time, in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, up from 16 that participated in the previous four editions. The 1991 and 1995 Women’s World Cups featured 12 teams.

27        Total Women’s World Cup goals scored by the USA’s WWC roster.

28        Average age of the USA’s WWC roster.

32        Goals allowed by the U.S. Women in WWC play.

36        Number of matches played by the USA in the WWC (27-4-5), most by any team.

39        Age of Rampone, the oldest player on the WWC roster. Boxx is 38.

98        Goals scored by the U.S. Women in WWC play.

101      Average caps per player on the WWC roster.

122      Number of Women’s World Cup matches combined played by the WWC roster.

304      Caps for Rampone, most of the Women’s World Cup roster, most of any active player in the world, and second most in soccer history.

Ellis Names U.S. Roster for 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team

CHICAGO (April 14, 2015) – With 55 days until the USA’s opening match of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis has named the 23 players who will represent the United States on women’s soccer’s grandest stage. The roster will not become official until it is submitted to FIFA on May 25, which is the deadline for all teams to submit their final squads.

U.S. captain Christie Rampone has been named to her fifth Women’s World Cup roster, tying Kristine Lilly for most World Cups for an American player, man or woman. Midfielder Shannon Boxx and forward Abby Wambach will be playing in their fourth World Cups while Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo and Heather O’Reilly make their third Women’s World Cup roster. Ellis named eight players who will be participating for the first time and nine who will be participating for the second time.

The roster, which features three goalkeepers, eight defenders, seven midfielders and five forwards, is the product of nearly 11 months of player evaluation since Ellis was named head coach in May of 2014. During that time, she has been on the bench for 23 international matches (including two as interim coach before being officially named head coach) and has seen 34 players in training camps, 29 in international matches and many more in NWSL matches. Ellis selected 14 players who were part of the 2012 Olympic gold medal-winning team in London.

“The players selected have the confidence, experience and desire to help us win a world championship,” said Ellis. “We had an excellent group to pick from and at the end of the last camp, I complemented all the players on how much they pushed each other and competed to make this selection challenging."

The Women’s World Cup roster will make up the squad for the USA’s final three matches before departing for Canada. The three-match Send-Off Series takes place in May and will start when USA faces the Republic of Ireland on Sunday, May 10, at 11:30 a.m. PT at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California, the new home of Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes. From there, the USA will travel down the coast for its second Send-Off Series match, facing Mexico on Sunday, May 17, at 6 p.m. PT at StubHub Center in Carson, California. Both California matches will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1.

The U.S. heads to the East Coast to conclude the Send-Off Series against Korea Republic on Saturday, May 30, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. The match will kick off at 4:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN and WatchESPN. Fans can follow all the upcoming WNT matches on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and @ussoccer_esp

This summer, the USA will face Australia, Sweden and Nigeria in Group D at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. The USA opens against Australia on June 8 at Winnipeg Stadium, followed by Sweden on June 12 in Winnipeg and Nigeria on June 16 at BC Place in Vancouver.

“It’s been a thorough process of evaluation, and we had a lot of good opportunities to see the players in highly competitive situations. I feel that this group of players can accomplish our goals,” said Ellis. “We have positional depth, versatility, and players that will give us balance on every line.”

The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup runs from June 6-July 5 and all 52 games will be shown live on FOX, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2 and on tablets and mobile devices through the FOX Sports GO app and FOXSportsGO.com.

2015 United States FIFA Women’s World Cup Roster By Position: (Detailed Roster)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ashlyn Harris* (Washington Spirit), Alyssa Naeher* (Boston Breakers), Hope Solo*** (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (8): Lori Chalupny** (Chicago Red Stars), Whitney Engen* (Western NY Flash), Julie Johnston* (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg* (Houston Dash), Ali Krieger** (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara** (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone***** (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn** (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Shannon Boxx**** (Chicago Red Stars), Morgan Brian* (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath** (Portland Thorns FC), Lauren Holiday** (FC Kansas City), Carli Lloyd*** (Houston Dash), Heather O’Reilly*** (FC Kansas City), Megan Rapinoe** (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS (5): Sydney Leroux* (Western NY Flash), Alex Morgan** (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press* (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez** (FC Kansas City), Abby Wambach**** (unattached)

*        First Women’s World Cup
**       Second Women’s World Cup
***     Third Women’s World Cup
****   Fourth Women’s World Cup
*****  Fifth Women’s World Cup

Additional Notes:

  • The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be the seventh time FIFA stages the event and the first to include 24 nations, up from 16 that participated in the previous four editions. The 1991 and 1995 Women’s World Cups featured 12 teams.
  • With the addition of eight teams, the format now includes an additional knockout round game (Round of 16) and it will now require seven matches to win the tournament, up from six in the previous tournaments. In part due to the additional match, Women’s World Cup rosters now have 23 players (up from 21 in 2011).
  • Christie Rampone is poised to play in her fifth Women’s World Cup tournament. Four female players have previously played in five Women’s World Cups: Kristine Lilly of the USA (1991-2007), Formiga of Brazil (1995-2011), Birgit Prinz of Germany (1995-2011) and Homare Sawa of Japan (1995-2011). Formiga and Sawa have a chance to play in their sixth tournaments this summer. Bente Nordby of Norway (1991-2007) was on five Women’s World Cup rosters but played in four tournaments.
  • Rampone is the last remaining active player from the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship team.
  • Only two men have appeared in five World Cups: Goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal of Mexico (1950-1966) and midfielder Lothar Matthäus of Germany (1982-1998). Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was named to five teams but played in four tournaments.
  • Lori Chalupny becomes the second player in U.S. history to be named to non-consecutive Women’s World Cup rosters, following Brandi Chastain (1991, 1999). Chalupny was a member of the 2007 Women’s World Cup team.
  • Of the players named to the roster, Wambach has the most experience in the Women’s World Cup, having played 18 matches while scoring 13 goals, an all-time U.S. Soccer record. Rampone has played in 17 Women’s World Cup games while Shannon Boxx has 15. Other players in double figures in Women’s World Cup matches are Carli Lloyd (11), Heather O’Reilly (11) and Hope Solo (10).
  • The players making their first Women’s World Cup roster are: Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher, Whitney Engen, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Morgan Brian, Sydney Leroux and Christen Press.
  • Johnston and Brian were a part of the U.S. team that won the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan.
  • Naeher, Leroux, Klingenberg, and Morgan were a part of the U.S. team that won the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Chile.
  • O’Reilly, Harris and Chalupny were a part of the U.S. team that won the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup in Canada.
  • Fifteen players on the roster have played for the USA in a FIFA Women’s World Cup at the youth level.
  • Brian is the youngest player on the team at 22. Johnston is 23. Rampone is the oldest player at 39 and will turn 40 during the tournament on June 24. Boxx is 38.
  • All nine NWSL clubs are represented on the roster with the Chicago Red Stars and FC Kansas City having four players each.
  • Rampone is the most capped player on the roster with 304 games played. Johnston is the least capped field player, making the World Cup team after having only played in nine games so far, starting four.  She has scored twice already, once each in the last two matches.
  • Back-up goalkeepers Harris (6 caps) and Naeher (1) are the least-capped players on the roster.
  • The roster averages 101 caps per player and has a combined total of 122 Women’s World Cup matches.
  • The average age of the U.S. roster is 28 years old.
  • Eight players have previously scored in a Women’s World Cup tournament, totaling 27 goals.
  • Of the 13 players who played in the 2012 Olympic gold medal game, 11 were named to this Women’s World Cup roster.
  • Six players on the roster are from California, while four are from New Jersey, two from Georgia, and two are from St. Louis, Mo.

1Nation. 1Team. 23STORIES.

Watch "One Nation. One Team. 23 Stories." on ussoccer.com Starting April 29!

U.S. National Team: A gifted young defender who has been part of the U.S. Soccer program since 2006 when she attended a U-14 National Identification Camp, Johnston found tremendous success with the U-20 WNT, captaining the team to the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup title. The 2012 U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year earned her first cap with the WNT in 2013.

2015: Has played and started in four games so far this year, setting a new career-high in starts... Was one of three defenders to notch a goal in the 4-0 victory over New Zealand on April 4 in St. Louis...  Scored her first career goal with the WNT during the USA's 2-0 victory over France in the final of the Algarve Cup on March 11, helping the U.S. capture its 10th title while starting in three matches ... Did not see any action but was part of the roster that traveled to Europe for the U.S.'s first two matches of the year against France on Feb. 8 and England on Feb. 13... 2014: Made three substitute appearances for the WNT in the latter half of the year, featuring in international friendlies against Mexico and Switzerland as well as getting some time against China PR in the International Tournament de Brasilia … 2013: Earned her first senior cap in a 4-1 win against Scotland on Feb. 9 … Played her first full 90 minutes at the international level against the Netherlands on April 9 … Youth National Teams: The 2012 U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year … A member of the full WNT and U-23 WNT player pools … The captain of the U.S. team that won the 2012 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan … She won the bronze ball as the third-best player in the tournament, a rare honor for a defender … Marshaled a U.S. defense that defeated three extremely talented group winners in the knockout rounds of the tournament, downing Korea DPR, Nigeria and Germany in the quarterfinal, semifinal and final, respectively, while allowing just one goal … Started all six games of the U-20 Women’s World Cup and played all but 32 minutes of the tournament  … A member of the team that won the 2012 CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship and earned a berth to the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan … Played in three games in the qualifying tournament and scored three goals, including one in the 4-0 semifinal victory over Mexico that sent the USA to Japan … Scored a goal against Switzerland at the La Manga tournament in Spain in 2012 … Finished her U-20 career with 19 caps and four goals … Attended U.S. Under-18 Training Camps in 2010 and 2011 … Attended the U.S. Under-14 National Identification Camp in 2006. First cap: Feb. 9, 2013, vs. Scotland First goal: March 11, 2015, vs. France


Professional/Club – 2014: Signed her first professional contract with the Chicago Red Stars after being selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the NWSL Draft… Started all 21 games she played for the club, tying for third in games played … Was second in starts (21) and minutes played (1,890) only to WNT teammate Lori Chalupny … Named the 2014 NWSL Rookie of the Year … Scored two goals, the first one of the season for Chicago and the last one  … Also had two assists … Youth: Played U-9 through U-12 for Arsenal GSC … Played U-13 through U-19 for Sereno Soccer Club … Won the state title nine times with Sereno Soccer Club … Was the captain at Sereno.

College / High School: As a senior in 2013 she was a First-Team All-American, First-Team All-West Region  and the West Coast Conference Player of the Year … Also was First-Team All-WCC ... Played in all 22 games  and led the team with eight assists and four game-winning goals ... Was third on the team with 12 goals and 32 points ... Scored two goals vs. Long Beach State ... Scored game-winner in double overtime at Fresno State ... Had a goal and two assists vs. Iowa State ... Scored a goal vs. Kansas ... Scored the only goal vs. San Diego ... Scored two goals at Saint Mary's ... Has a goal and two assists vs. San Francisco ... Scored two goals vs. Pepperdine ... As a junior in 2012, and despite missing the team's first seven games while leading the USA to the U-20 Women’s World Cup title, Johnston was a 2012 First-Team All-WCC selection while leading the team in goals with eight and points with 21 … She added five assists and had three game-winning goals … She finished second in the conference in goals per game (0.53) and points per game (1.40) … She was named NSCAA First-Team All-American and a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist for the second year in a row … As a sophomore in 2011, she was a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist, an NSCAA First-Team All-American and All-WCC First-Team … Started all 21 games and led the Broncos with nine goals and four assists ... Scored four game winning goals (at Cal Poly, vs. WSU, vs. Cal and vs. Nevada) … As a freshman in 2010, she was named the WCC Freshman of the Year, Second-Team All-West Region, First-Team Soccer America All-Freshman, Second-Team All-WCC and WCC All-Freshman ... Played in 20 games, starting 16 and totaling 1,519 minutes played ... Led the team with five assists … Opted not to play soccer at Dobson High School, but rather volunteered as a student athletic trainer.

Personal: Full name is Julie Beth Johnston … Nicknames are “JJ” or “Jules” … Majored in Communications … Enjoys cooking and baking, traveling, hanging out with friends and family and doing Pilates … Favorite foods are avocados and sweet potatoes… Favorite dessert is anything chocolate … Favorite movies are Bridesmaids, The Notebook, and Superbad … Favorite TV shows are “Modern Family” and “The Voice” … Sister Melanie played soccer at Grand Canyon University … Father David played football at Louisiana State University … Boyfriend Zach Ertz plays tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles … She was a member of the National Junior Honor Society and the National Honor Society at Dobson High School.


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