CHICAGO (Sept. 26, 2011) – Twenty-four players have been named to the roster for the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team training camp being held from Oct. 2-7 that will be overseen by U.S. Soccer Women’s Development Director Jill Ellis, U.S. Soccer Women’s Technical Director April Heinrichs and U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Pia Sundhage.
Sundhage will be at the camp to evaluate this group of top college players and young professionals for possible call-ups to U.S. Women’s National Team camps heading into the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Vancouver, Canada in January and if all goes well there, the run to the 2012 Olympics in London. Bringing some of the nation’s top young talent together for six days will give Sundhage the chance to evaluate, coach, and identify players who may be able to make an impact at the next level.
Sundhage has a track record of giving younger players the opportunity to compete for roster positions with Lauren Cheney, Tobin Heath, Kelley O’Hara and Alex Morgan all making the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup roster through Sundhage’s and U.S. Soccer’s investment in the younger players.
“Experience is important,” said Sundhage. “In order to make the Women’s National Team, you must be able to play with different players and sometimes coming into a training camp you have to adjust your game. It’s not the same teammates in college or club and you have to perform for a week in every single practice. Some players embrace that and get inspired, and for some of them it takes a bit longer, not only one camp, but maybe two or four or five so each camp with a national team is very important.”
The training camp roster features three players who have earned caps with the full U.S. Women’s National Team and at least a dozen players who have starred for the USA in youth World Cups over the last few cycles.
UCLA forward Sydney Leroux and Boston Breakers midfielder Meghan Klingenberg both earned their first caps at the Four Nations Tournament this past January (Klingenberg played in two games) while Penn State midfielder Christine Nairn has played two games for the USA – both in 2009 – while scoring one goal, that a game-winner against Canada in Charleston, S.C.
Six players in camp played in the WPS last season, led by Rookie of the Year Christen Press, the 2010 Hermann Trophy winner from Stanford who scored eight times for magicJack this past season. Boston Breakers players Nikki Marshall, Nikki Washington and Keelin Winters, all key cogs on the U.S. team that won the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (along with Klingenberg, Leroux and U.S. WNT forward Alex Morgan), is joined by WPS colleague Kylie Wright of the Atlanta Beat. Georgetown senior Ingrid Wells was also a member of that 2008 squad.
Boston College junior Kristie Mewis, the 2008 U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year, also has some training time with the full team under her belt. Mewis, along with Leroux, were in the U.S. training camp in Florida last May before Sundhage named the final Women’s World Cup roster.
Some of the country’s most talented players under 20 years old are being called up, including 16-year-old Morgan Andrews, the captain of the U.S. U-17s; 16-year-old Jane Campbell, the first-choice goalkeeper for the U-17s; 18-year-old Morgan Brian, the former captain of the U.S. U-17s and a freshman at Virginia; 19-year-old Mollie Pathman, a sophomore at Duke, which has started the college season on a roll; and 19-year-old Crystal Dunn, a North Carolina sophomore and a standout defender on both the 2008 U.S. U-17 World Cup Team and the 2010 U.S. U-20 World Cup Team.
“Nobody is entitled to anything,” said Sundhage of picking a roster for the Olympic qualifying tournament. “You have to look at the next step. We’ll look at some new players and give them a chance to have a good camp and gain some confidence and then maybe they have a bigger chance to make the qualifying roster or down the line.”
Two more gritty defensive players were named to the roster in UNC midfielder Amber Brooks, a veteran of two youth World Cups for the USA who captained the USA at the 2008 U-17 Women’s World Cup and had an excellent tournament for the U-20s in Germany in 2010, and Stanford defender Camille Levin.
Also called up were four more of college soccer’s most productive forwards. Wisconsin-Milwaukee senior Sarah Hagen, the leading scorer for the U.S. U-23s this year, has 13 goals in 11 games for the Panthers this fall. Stanford senior Lindsey Taylor has seven goals this year. When she was a sophomore, she teamed with the last two Hermann Trophy winners – O’Hara and Press – to form one of the most dangerous forward lines in college soccer history. Wake Forest sophomore Kate Stengel is tearing up opponents’ defenses so far this fall, scoring 13 goals in 11 games. Notre Dame senior Melissa Henderson, who helped lead the Fighting Irish to the NCAA title last season, has 11 goals in 11 games so far.
“You have to get a good sense of what is out there as far as talent,” said Sundhage. “We are looking at a different system of play so we may need players with different qualities and we might find a few younger players that we can give a chance to come in with the Women’s National Team.”
Wake Forest goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe, Stanford goalkeeper Emily Oliver and Colorado defender Amy Barczuk round out the roster.
U.S. WNT goalkeeper coach Paul Rogers, U.S. WNT Strength & Fitness coach Dawn Scott and 2011 Women’s World Cup assistant coach Erica Walsh will also be at the camp to evaluate the players.
Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Bledsoe (Wake Forest; Cincinnati, Ohio), Jane Campbell (Concorde Fire South; Kennesaw, Ga.), Emily Oliver (Stanford; Flossmoor, Ill.)
DEFENDERS (4): Morgan Andrews (FC Stars of Mass.; Milford, N.H.), Amy Barczuk (Colorado; Centennial, Colo.), Camille Levin (Stanford; Newport Coast, Calif.), Mollie Pathman (Duke; Durham, N.C.)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Morgan Brian (Virginia; St. Simmons Island, Ga.), Amber Brooks (North Carolina; New Hope, Pa.), Meghan Klingenberg (magicJack; Gibsonia, Pa.), Kristie Mewis (Boston College; Hanson, Mass.), Christine Nairn (Penn State; Arnold, Md.), Ingrid Wells (Georgetown; Upper Montclair, N.J.), Keelin Winters (Boston Breakers; Englewood, Colo.), Kylie Wright (Atlanta Beat; Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)
FORWARDS (9): Crystal Dunn (UNC; Rockville Center, N.Y.), Sarah Hagen (Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Appleton, Wis.), Melissa Henderson (Notre Dame; Garland, Texas), Sydney Leroux (UCLA; Phoenix, Ariz.), Nikki Marshall (Boston Breakers; Mead, Colo.), Christen Press (magicJack; Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.), Katie Stengel (Wake Forest; Melbourne, Fla.), Lindsay Taylor (Stanford; Redwood City, Calif.), Nikki Washington (Boston Breakers; Mesquite, Texas)