After initially not making the 20-woman roster for the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, Julie Johnston was invited to Kansas City to train with the U.S. team for a week prior to the tournament. She thought she’d be leaving before the first game.
But things change quickly in the world of international soccer and after an injury to her good friend and former U-20 teammate Crystal Dunn, Johnston has been handed the #19 jersey for the her first World Cup qualifying tournament with the senior Women’s National Team.
“In the last camp before this tournament, I really wanted to make the 20-player roster and my whole focus going into that camp was to play and train like I was going to be a part of the team,” said Johnston, a 22-year-old former Santa Clara University star. “Then not making the team was definitely hard, but this team is so good that you just have to value the time you get. When I was offered to come in and train I was so excited because as a young player every training with these players helps you grow.”
Truth be told, her bags were packed and she was ready to head home before the coaching staff made the change official. It wasn’t easy seeing her good friend head to the airport instead.
“Crystal and I are very close and we’ve been through a lot together in soccer, so to replace her on the roster was bittersweet,” said Johnston. “I know these things happen, but I also know how hard she worked to make this roster and how deserving she was to be here, so it was emotional for both us.”
Now that she’s officially among the 20 players that will attempt to qualify the USA for the 2015 Women’s World Cup, her mentality hasn’t changed.
“I initially wanted to come in a do well as if I was on the 20-player roster,” said Johnston, who in her four caps and during training has seen time both at defensive midfield and at center back. “I wanted to learn how it is to prepare for a World Cup qualifying tournament, to get a feel for the whole experience and now I’m going to do whatever the team needs me to do.”
Johnston, who was the NWSL Rookie of the Year for the Chicago Red Stars in 2014 after being the third overall pick in the draft, is ready to step up if needed, and considering the USA will likely play five games in 12 days, she surely will be. Known for her world class ball-winning and grit, she’s also focusing on contributing to the attack and is tremendous going after crosses from set pieces in the opposing penalty box.
“One of the most important things, especially for a young player, is to learn from the players around you,” said Johnston. “My goals are to get totally confident playing at high pace with the best players in the world, understand my roles and play whatever positions I’m asked. I’m excited for the next step of this journey.”
CHICAGO (Oct. 14, 2014) – One day before the USA kicks off the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship on Wednesday against Trinidad & Tobago at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas (7:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports 2), U.S. head coach Jill Ellis has made a roster change due to injury, replacing defender Crystal Dunn with defender/midfielder Julie Johnston.
An MRI confirmed that Dunn suffered a mild sprain to the medial collateral ligament in her right knee at training last Friday and will be out for 2-4 weeks.
“It’s an unfortunate situation and we definitely feel for Crystal, but we are confident that Julie can come in and contribute to our qualifying campaign,” said Ellis. “She’s a versatile player, she’s been training well and she’s ready to go.”
Johnston, who has four caps, including two appearances this year, was the 2014 NWSL Rookie of the Year for the Chicago Red Stars and scored her club’s first and last goals of the season.
She was the captain of the U.S. team that won the 2012 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan (a team on which Dunn also played a key role) and was awarded the Bronze Ball as the third best player in the tournament, a rare honor for a defender.
Johnston has been training with the U.S. team in Kansas City, Mo., since camp began on Oct. 6.
After the match against T&T, the USA will continue Group A play against Guatemala on Friday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m. CT (FOX Sports 1) at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, and finish the first round against Haiti on Monday, Oct. 20, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., at 7:30 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 1).
U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis selected 20 players for the upcoming 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, which kicks off Oct. 15 against Trinidad & Tobago at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas.
The USA’s depth and extensive talent pool will bode well for a variety of reasons, particularly with three games and extensive travel over a six-day stretch at the group stage. It also means finding the proper balance of rotating players while finding some continuity in the lineup during the tournament.
“There are a lot of moving parts of just how we have to move around the country in the short period,” Ellis said during the U.S. WNT’s conference call on Monday following the roster announcement. “High focus will be on recovery. I’m definitely at a point with the players where I want to start to build continuity. I think the way we play, there will be a high-volume workload at certain positions. I’m going to be sensitive to that. We’re expecting a lot from our outside backs and our wide forwards, but I think trying to build a corps consistent group will be a big part of it for me.”
Ellis has put a premium on versatility in making selections for her roster, both from a positional and systematic standpoint.
“I think that most of our players, when I went through the list, versatility was one of the determining factors, especially when it came down to the last spots,” Ellis said. “I think that’s going to be very important. You take a player like Crystal Dunn, she can play multiple positions for us and while primarily we’re going to look at her as an outside back, I think we can have that flexibility. Certainly with getting out of the friendly mode where you can have six subs and now getting into the three subs, it’s very important for us.”
Boasting an offense that has outscored its opposition 48-11 this year, many eyes will be focused on the USA’s attack. Sydney Leroux leads the USA with eight goals this year, followed by Abby Wambach’s seven goals and a trio of players tied with five goals – Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Christen Press. Amy Rodriguez, who has two goals for the U.S. WNT this year, was the top-scoring American in the NWSL this season and scored three goals in the playoffs as she helped lead FC Kansas City to the title.
Press has only started in eight of the USA’s 15 games this year, but she has been a prime example of someone who is willing to wear multiple hats in the team’s offensive third.
“She’s done very well since I’ve taken over,” Ellis said. “She’s a player that has great flexibility. She’s good face-up, she can play wide, she can play centrally, off the line or make runs from behind. She’s very versatile.”
Because of the USA’s scoring depth and the increased role of the WNT’s outside backs, that has also defined the role of players such as all-time goal scoring leader Wambach. Wambach has played in more of a deeper role in recent games, and Ellis said that allows her to focus more centrally in the attack.
“We don’t need her making hard runs out into wide areas because we’re playing with a little more width and we’re asking more of our outside backs,” Ellis said. “Abby can really operate between the width of the 18 and maybe even slightly narrower, so I think it’s been good. We want balls getting wide, her getting at the end of it and also combining and helping our wide players get in.”
CHICAGO (Oct. 6, 2014) – U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis has named 20 players to the roster for the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship that will be contested from Oct. 15-26 in four U.S. cities. CONCACAF will officially announce the rosters for all the competing teams today.
“I’ve said on numerous occasions, I feel this is one of the most competitive rosters to make in our recent history,” said Ellis. “The way the players performed during our most recent camp and two games against Mexico certainly made it difficult on the coaching staff. In the end, we feel we came to the best decisions possible and we have depth and versatility at every position. This is a highly motivated group and we’re ready for the qualifying tournament.”
The 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship features eight countries divided into two groups of four with each group’s top two finishers after round-robin play advancing to the semifinals. The two finalists and the winner of the third-place match will qualify directly to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. The fourth-place finisher will earn a spot in a two-game playoff against Ecuador, which finished third in South America qualifying, for a final berth to the tournament.
The U.S. Women’s National Team opens Group A play at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, against Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 7:30 p.m. CT (FOX Sports 2). The USA will then face Guatemala on Friday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m. CT (FOX Sports 1) at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, and finish the first round against Haiti on Monday, Oct. 20, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., at 7:30 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 1).
In addition, fans will have comprehensive access to all 16 matches with live and on-demand streaming via FOX Soccer 2Go and FOX Sports GO, the app that provides live video of FOX Sports content at home or on the go. FOXSoccer.com will also feature video highlights, editorial coverage, live play-by-play and scoring updates.
Eleven players on the roster have previous Women’s World Cup qualifying experience, led by forward Abby Wambach and midfielder Heather O’Reilly, both of whom played in the qualifying tournaments for the last three Women’s World Cup tournaments. Defender Christie Rampone and midfielder Carli Lloyd played in the last two CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualifying tournaments. Other U.S. WNT players with previous qualifying experience are Lauren Holiday, Ali Krieger, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Amy Rodriguez, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo.
Ellis named a roster that features seven defenders, six midfielders and five forwards, along with two goalkeepers in veteran Solo and Ashlyn Harris, who makes her first CONCACAF qualifying roster at the senior level.
The group of defenders is an excellent mix of young and experienced players. Rampone, the world’s active leader in caps at 297, two-time NWSL Defender of the Year Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara and Krieger all have world championship pedigrees. Whitney Engen and Meghan Klingenberg, who are both working toward 20 caps, have tremendous experience in both U.S. and international pro leagues and played in the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final last season for their Swedish club, Tyresö. Crystal Dunn had a fine rookie season in the NWSL and was a key player on the USA’s 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup championship squad.
The midfield is also vastly experienced with three players sitting on 100 caps or more, led by O’Reilly (208 with 41 goals), Lloyd (175/51) and Holiday (105/23). Tobin Heath (77/9) and Rapinoe (87/27) are also fast approaching the century mark while 21-year-old University of Virginia senior Morgan Brian (13/2) adds a dash of youth to this group as the youngest player on the roster.
The U.S. forwards are a formidable group, having combined for 27 of the USA’s 48 goals this year. Four of the five forwards have played in multiple world championships for the USA, and Christen Press, who has scored 13 goals in her first 27 matches, was an alternate on the 2012 Olympic Team. Wambach, who has scored more goals in Women’s World Cup qualifying (11) than all but two players in U.S. history (Michelle Akers with 17 and Mia Hamm with 12), heads into the tournament with 170 career goals. Sydney Leroux leads the USA in scoring this year with eight goals while Morgan has scored five in five games in 2014. Rodriguez tallied her second international goal of the year on Sept. 18 against Mexico and was second in the NWSL in scoring with 13 goals while adding three more in the playoffs.
- Fourteen of the players on this roster participated in the qualifying tournament for the 2012 Olympics. The six players that did not are: goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, defenders Crystal Dunn, Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg, midfielder Morgan Brian and forward Christen Press.
- The USA is 10-2-3 in 2014.
- The U.S. WNT is 22-1-0 all-time in CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualifying from 1991-2010.
- Thirty-one players have scored for the USA in Women’s World Cup qualifying and four of them have hit double-figures: Michelle Akers (17), Mia Hamm (12), Abby Wambach (11) and Carin Gabarra (10).
- Amy Rodriguez scored five goals in six games in her one previous Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament in 2010. That includes her game-winning goal in the 1-0 victory against Italy in the second leg of the playoff that helped the USA earn its berth to the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
- Qualification for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup did not go exactly as planned for the USA as the Americans were upset in the semifinal by Mexico, 2-1, in Cancun. The USA was forced to win the third-place match to earn a right to face Italy in a two-legged playoff for the final berth to the Women’s World Cup in Germany and emerged victorious by a 2-0 aggregate score.
- Alyssa Naeher will be training with the team as a third goalkeeper during the duration of the tournament, but will not be a part of the official game roster. Defender Julie Johnston and midfielder Kristie Mewis will train with the U.S. team for a week in Kansas City, but will depart camp before the competition begins.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (2): Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (7): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Whitney Engen (Houston Dash), 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 (6): Morgan Brian (Virginia), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Carli Lloyd (WNY Flash), Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS (5): Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Abby Wambach (WNY Flash)
Full name is Crystal Alyssia Dunn … Majoring in sociology … A member of her high school honor roll … Loves all sports … Likes to dance (and is one of the best dancers on the team), sing, go to movies and hang with friends … Likes to entertain people with her musical talents … Also likes to watch scary movies … Is one-quarter Native American … Brother Henry played in the minor leagues for the Cleveland Indians … Is a sneaker fanatic … Favorite athlete is LeBron James … Loves to eat Chinese food … Enjoys listening to Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé … Favorite movie is Love and Basketball.
As a junior, she had a memorable year, scoring five goals with five assists while playing all over the field while leading North Carolina to an improbable NCAA title and winning the MAC Hermann Trophy as college soccer’s best player … Dunn missed the non-conference portion of the Tar Heels' schedule while playing in the Women’s World Cup, but once she joined the lineup, her experience and versatility made an immediate impact … Dunn started at center back for the first 11 games back in the lineup before being moved to the center midfield for UNC's six-game NCAA Tournament run … She played a key role in helping Carolina capture their 22nd national championship in school history, assisting on goals in both Final Four games … The three-year starter earned NSCAA First Team All-America honors and was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year … As a sophomore, she played in 19 of UNC’s 20 games while scoring three goals with six assists … Soccer America Freshman of the Year … A 2010 NSCAA First-Team All-America and was First-Team All-ACC … As a freshman, she was the All-ACC Defensive Player of the Year, the first ever freshman to win the honor … Part of the ACC All-Freshman Team … Started all 23 games she played in as a freshman -- totaling 1,929 minutes -- and was the third-leading scorer with 26 points on nine goals and eight assists … Scored six goals in the final five games of the campaign and played the entire match in 18 games … Attended South Side High School where she scored 20 goals her senior year and was a four-year starter on the pitch at forward and midfield … A Parade All-American and New York Player of the Year … First-team All-State and All-Long Island in 2006, '07 and '09 … She was an All-New York First Team selection and All-Long Island as a freshman, sophomore and senior … 2009 NSCAA, ESPNRise and Parade high school All-America … Only played three games during her junior year due to National Team commitments … The New York Gatorade High School Player of the Year in 2009 … Team captain in 2008 & 2009 … Led team to New York state championships in 2006, 2007 and 2009 … She missed the 2008 campaign due to National Team commitments … The teams she played on in in '07 and '09 went undefeated and were ranked No. 1 in the nation by the NSCAA … Lost only two games in three seasons in high school … Score 46 goals and had 35 assists in three high school seasons… In the 2009 state championship game, she scored four goals and had a hat trick in the first 20 minutes of the match … As a senior, she was named Newsday Long Island Player of the Year, Nassau County Class A Player of the Year, New York Sportswriters Class A Player of the Year, BigAppleSoccer.com youth Player of the Year and the winner of the Mike Clark Award for the best all-around athlete in Nassau County.