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Sermanni Names U.S. WNT Roster for 2014 Algarve Cup

CHICAGO (Feb. 24, 2014) – Following three victories in the team’s first three matches of the year, U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Tom Sermanni has named a 24-player roster that will travel to the 2014 Algarve Cup in Portugal.

This year’s tournament will run from March 5-12, and the U.S. team will depart for Europe on Tuesday, Feb. 25. The majority of the games will be played at small venues across the Algarve region on the southern coast of the country, with several matches (including the championship game) at the 30,000-seat Algarve Stadium. The placement matches will take place on March 12.

Fans will be able to follow the U.S. matches on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and highlights will be available on ussoccer.com. For the entire tournament schedule, please go to the Algarve Cup tournament page on ussoccer.com.

The world’s top-ranked U.S. team, which has been placed in Group B for the annual tournament, will open play on March 5 against third-ranked Japan (7:45 a.m. ET) in Parchal. The USA will face sixth-ranked Sweden on March 7 in Albufeira (8:30 a.m. ET), and will finish group play on March 10 against 13th-ranked Denmark in Albufeira (10:40 a.m. ET). Before the competition starts, Sermanni will name 23 players to the tournament roster.

“The group we’re in at the Algarve Cup will probably be the most significant test since I’ve come aboard and a different kind of challenge as we will be playing teams that have the belief and aim to come out to attack us and beat us,” said Sermanni. “The dynamics of these games will be different than some of the more recent matches, and that’s something that we want, that we need and that the players are looking forward to.”

Group A features Germany, Norway, China PR and Iceland. Group C features host Portugal, Austria and first-time participants Russia and Korea DPR.

Since the expansion to 12 teams 13 years ago, the Algarve Cup format has been as follows: The winners of Groups A and B will compete for the Algarve Cup championship on Wednesday, March 12. The two second-place finishers in Groups A and B will play for third place while the third-place finishers in each group will play for fifth. The Group C teams will compete for a chance to play for spots 7-12 as the winner of Group C will play the best fourth-place team from Groups A or B for seventh place. The second-place team in Group C will play the worst fourth-place team from Groups A or B for ninth place, and the third- and fourth-place finishers in Group C will play each other for 11th place.

This year will mark the 19th trip to the Algarve Cup for the U.S. Women, who have won the tournament a record nine times, including an unprecedented three straight championships from 2003-05. Last year, the USA defeated Germany 2-0 in the championship game as forward Alex Morgan scored twice. The USA’s most recent loss took place at the Algarve Cup in 2012, a 1-0 setback to Japan in group play (which turned out to be the team’s only loss of the year) and the U.S. missed the championship game for the first time in 10 years.

Fifteen players from last year’s Algarve Cup roster return, including the core of the U.S. team, many of whom have played in numerous Algarve Cup tournaments. Morgan will not be one of them, however, as she is in the final stages of her return from an ankle injury.

Midfielder Tobin Heath does return to the U.S. roster and could see action in a U.S. jersey for the first time in almost eight months. Heath, who is currently playing in France with Paris Saint-Germain, is one of five players who will have shorter trips to the tournament. Heath and forward Sarah Hagen, who is playing in Germany with Bayern Munich, will arrive into camp on March 2 while Christen Press, Whitney Engen and Meghan Klingenberg will enjoy the trip south from chilly Sweden where they are playing with Tyresö for the remainder of its UEFA Women’s Champions League campaign, after which they will join their NWSL clubs.

Sermanni has once again called up several young players as midfielder Morgan Brian, who turns 21 the day the USA arrives in Portugal, gets another call-up after scoring her second career goal in the USA’s 8-0 victory against Russia on Feb. 13. In addition, Sermanni gave Samantha Mewis, younger sister of U.S. defender Kristie Mewis, another call-up, as well as naming Mewis’s midfield partner at UCLA, Sarah Killion, to her first senior team roster. Like Mewis, Killion is a rising UCLA senior and was a part of the USA’s 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup championship team.

“Again, we’re going into a competition phase with a number of players unavailable and that’s something that we’ve had to adjust to over this past year,” said Sermanni. “But players have come in and performed extremely well and that’s continued to increase the already intense competition in the squad.”

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3):
Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (9):
Stephanie Cox (Seattle Reign FC), Whitney Engen (Tyresö), Meghan Klingenberg (Tyresö), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kristie Mewis (Boston Breakers), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Rachel Van Hollebeke (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7):
Morgan Brian (Virginia), Tobin Heath (Paris Saint-Germain), Sarah Killion (UCLA), Carli Lloyd (WNY Flash), Samantha Mewis (UCLA), Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS (5):
Sarah Hagen (Bayern Munich), Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC), Christen Press (Tyresö), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Abby Wambach (WNY Flash)

Additional Notes:

  • The USA has a 52-10-9 record all-time at the Algarve Cup and has scored 158 goals while allowing 54.
  • U.S. forward Abby Wambach comes into the tournament with 165 career goals, 19 of which have been scored at the Algarve Cup in nine tournaments. Wambach is the top Algarve Cup scorer in U.S. history, having found the net six more times than Kristine Lilly’s 13 scores.
  • Christen Press is the USA’s leading scorer this year with three goals and has scored 11 times in her first 14 games for the National Team.
  • Hope Solo leads a group of three goalkeepers that features Jill Loyden and Alyssa Naeher. Solo is two shutouts away from tying Briana Scurry for the most in U.S. history at 71.
  • U.S. midfielder Heather O’Reilly heads into the tournament with 196 career caps and could earn her historic 200th in the USA’s placement match if she features in all three group games. O’Reilly will be playing in her 12th Algarve Cup and made her U.S. debut at the Algarve Cup in 2002 at the age of 17.
  • Last year, Rachel Van Hollebeke earned her 100th-career cap at the Algarve Cup.
  • U.S. captain Christie Rampone, who currently is the second most-capped player in U.S. history with 289, will lead the U.S. team that features nine defenders. Rampone will be playing in her 13th Algarve Cup.
  • Midfielder Carli Lloyd was the MVP of the 2007 Algarve Cup after scoring in all four games that year. She also scored three goals in the 2010 tournament and has 10 goals in total at the Algarve Cup. That ranks third among active players behind only Wambach (19) and Alex Morgan (11).
  • Defender Whitney Engen made her U.S. debut at the 2012 Algarve Cup. Van Hollebeke made her debut at the 2008 Algarve Cup. Amy Rodriguez made her U.S. debut at the 2005 Algarve Cup.
  • Sarah Killion, Samantha Mewis, Sarah Hagen and Naeher are all looking for their first cap at the senior level.
  • U.S. midfielder Lauren Holiday will not be with the U.S. team for this tournament due to a family commitment.
  • Defender Crystal Dunn is not ready for game action as she recovers from an ankle injury.

Sarah Killion: Doin' Work

Sarah Killion is a Midwesterner who embodies the qualities which are representative of her home state: Indiana. She’s industrious, humble and friendly, and won’t be outworked.

Fort Wayne, Ind., is the headquarters for numerous major companies spanning the auto, insurance, communications, health care and manufacturing industries.

In short, the people of this Midwestern city of just over 250,000 know how to work. So it’s no surprise that U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team defensive midfielder Sarah Killion calls Fort Wayne home.

On the field, the wiry yet graceful Killion is not about flash or recognition, she just does her job. And that job, as a holding midfielder for the United States, is to do the “dirty” work for her team.

“When we first started watching Sarah, we saw this gangly player with more legs and arms than anything, floating around the field, but as you watch the game, you can quickly see how much she impacts the game,” said U.S. head coach Steve Swanson. “She’s a distributor, and we need her to distribute the ball, find the space, solve pressure and she does a great job of that.”

You could watch an entire match and perhaps you wouldn’t notice Killion that much, but all game long she has that engine going, doing the things a team needs to win: directing the spacing of the midfield, winning balls and keeping possession while moving the ball in a productive way around the field.

It’s a role she’s happy to play, even though like all players on the U.S. Women’s National Team, she was used to playing a different sort of game during her club career.

“Back in Fort Wayne I had bigger roles,” said Killion. “I was more looked up to and more of a leader, but when I moved to California (to attend UCLA), it was more about doing my job for my team. I’m surrounded by so many good players (in college and for the USA) that it makes me better and it made me see that playing a one-or-two touch ball is better than trying to make something happen on my own.”

That philosophy basically defines Killion on the U.S. team as she’s always making the simplest yet most productive decisions with the ball. She tries to be a role model of consistency to her teammates and consistency at the highest levels of soccer is an extremely valuable trait.

“I just want to be a good example by being a positive person,” she said. “I want to always be on time, follow rules and do the right thing. There’s never a reason to be out of line.”

“She’s our anchor in the middle,” said Swanson, who says Killion has grown quite a bit in her defensive abilities during her time in the national team program, becoming a better ball-winner and more of a presence in the center of the field. “I call it the pivot player, the player that really keeps the ball moving from one side to the other while looking for penetrating balls when it’s on. With our style and the way we play and how we want to possess the ball, she’s an integral part of the team.”

Killion generally plays deeper than the USA’s pair of attacking midfielders – Morgan Brian and Vanessa DiBernardo – both of whom are among the most skilled young players in the country. She’s willing to let those two maestros weave their magic while she just gets them the ball in the best positions possible. Still, like any defensive-oriented player, she has a hankering to get forward more, and may have the leash taken off a bit when she gets back to college soccer with the Bruins.

“I feel like I have a very stable role on the U.S. team,” said Killion. “I need to try to control the tempo of the game, be a strong defensive player in the midfield and move the ball around. It’s a bit easier for me in that position and the job responsibilities are a little simpler. Going forward takes more creativity and I’m the kind of person who takes a while to get comfortable enough in an environment to let that creativity come out of me. With a year of college behind me, I’m hoping to have more of an attacking player and I’m looking forward to that.”

For now, her talents will be utilized in front of the back line on the U.S. team, a role she honed while one of the youngest players on the Fort Wayne Fever in the USL W-League. It’s a long way from the fields of Fort Wayne to the U-20 Women’s World Cup, but Killion has relished the journey. So far she’s played all but 18 minutes of the tournament.

“It’s definitely been a learning experience as far as playing a lot and dealing with the crowds, and the nerves and speed,” said Killion. “But the way I see it, it’s still the same game I was playing in Fort Wayne growing up playing two-on-two and that’s what I keep reminding myself. Still, it’s been amazing and the best soccer experience I’ve had.”

It’s always a good thing to love your work.

My Favorite Olympic Moment

Midfielder Morgan Brian:
“My favorite moment was seeing all of them up on the podium getting their gold medals. That gave me chills. At that moment, I was thinking about how long and hard they worked to get there and with us a few weeks away from our World Cup, it was really inspiring to me. It was awesome to see all that work pay off.”

Defender Julie Johnston:
“It had to be Carli Lloyd coming off the bench in the first game and making a HUGE difference. You have to respect someone who was a starter and scored the winning goal in the gold medal game in 2008 and then was given a reserve role. It’s awesome when you are ready anytime to come off the bench and help your team and not just play, but make a tremendous difference. You go girl!”

Forward Becca Wann:
“For me, it was probably Abby’s goal when they were down 2-0 against France. It sparked the comeback. She’s a leader on the team and that goal instilled the confidence that they could come back. And then they did just that and got the dub!”

Midfielder Sarah Killion:
“Just the Canada game overall was inspiring to me. Seeing the team being able to come back from being down a goal three times in one game was outstanding. We always look up to the full team and our U.S. women’s teams have always represented the attitude of not giving up and that game was a perfect picture of that. No matter what goes wrong in a game, we’ll never give up and we’ll always keep fighting for a goal.”

Midfielder Samantha Mewis:
“For me, it was when Sydney Leroux scored against New Zealand and just seeing how excited she was, it made me just as excited for her. I got to play one year with Syd in college (at UCLA) and seeing her succeed at such a high level was really inspiring. If I had to describe her facial expression, it would be pure shock and joy.”

Midfielder Kealia Ohai:
“I just loved watching Megan Rapinoe in the Canada game. She kept our team alive. Who scores off a corner kick? Megan Rapinoe. Who shoots with no space through traffic off the post and in? Megan Rapinoe. Twice when Canada thought they were about to take over the game she answered back with a moment of brilliance. It wasn’t just her goals, it was her entire performance. As a winger, that’s how I aspire to impact a game.”

Defender Cari Roccaro:
“I’m huge a Carli Lloyd fan. I liked her first goal in the final, but the second was mind-blowing. I knew it was going to go in as soon as she started dribbling and I’m not just saying that. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it! And when it did go in, I just got really happy for her. When that ball flew into the corner of the goal, I knew we were going to win. I was hoping she would get the hat trick, but two was enough!”

Goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin:
“Hope Solo made some great saves in the tournament, but my favorite moment was actually her punch in the final when she went through Rachel Buehler and the Japanese player. She got the ball out of danger and that was the most important thing. Hope Solo is a force to be reckoned with. That makes opponents second-guess if they want to go hard for a ball in the box again.”

Midfielder Mandy Laddish:
“I think one of my favorite parts of the Olympics was just the way we played in the final. You could tell that the team wasn’t dwelling on the World Cup, but that they also had something to prove. Japan played a tremendous game, but we never looked nervous and had amazing focus and tenacity. It was awesome to watch two great teams play that well in a world final and even better for our team to come out on top.”


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 at qualifying and totaled 111 minutes … Heads into the Women’s World Cup with 14 career U-20 caps … Came into training camps with the U.S. Under-18s in 2008, 2009, and 2010 … Attended the U.S. Under-14 Identification Camp in 2005.

Full name is Sarah Christine Killion … Major is undecided … Was a member of the National Honors Society … Enjoys hanging with friends, watching movies, and fishing … Sister Gina plays soccer at Murray State … Favorite food is pizza … In fact, if she were stranded on a desert island, one of the things she would want is an unlimited supply of pizza (and an iPhone and a bag of comfy clothes) … Favorite desserts are brownies … Likes the Rascal Flatts … Loves reading inspirational books … Favorite women’s soccer player is Kristine Lilly … Is a big Boston Celtics fan … Some of her favorite TV shows are Grey’s Anatomy, Vampire Diaries and Revenge … Has a teacup Yorkie named Lola.

As a freshman, she played in 21 games for UCLA and had two assists … Captain of the Bishop Dwenger High School Saints as a senior … Indiana Soccer Coaches Association Player of the Year as a senior … An NSCAA All-American as a junior and senior … An NSCAA Scholar All-American as a senior … ESPN Rise All-American as a senior … The Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year as a sophomore, junior, and senior … Totaled 63 goals and 73 assists in her high school career... Club: Played for Fort Wayne Fever for her entire club career … Also played with the Cleveland Internationals for one summer and won the Super Y Championship in 2007 … As a member of Fort Wayne Fever she won the Indiana State title in 2004, 2007, and 2010 … Played W-League for Fort Wayne Fever from 2007-2010 … Also played in the WPSL for Fort Wayne FC in 2011.

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