U.S. Women Open Quest for Berth to London on Jan. 20 against the Dominican Republic at BC Place
CHICAGO (Jan. 16, 2012) â€“ U.S. Womenâ€™s National Team head coach Pia Sundhage has named the 20 players who will represent the U.S. at the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Womenâ€™s Qualifying Tournament from Jan. 19-29 in Vancouver, B.C. The top two finishers in the eight-team tournament qualify for the 2012 Olympics.
Nineteen of the 20 players chosen by Sundhage were on the USAâ€™s 2011 FIFA Womenâ€™s World Cup team with 21-year-old forward Sydney Leroux the only player on the roster not in Germany.
â€œThe players made it hard for us to choose the 20 for Canada,â€ said Sundhage. â€œWe had a great camp in December and this past week in Los Angeles. Iâ€™m excited that we have a new player in the mix who wasnâ€™t in the World Cup (Sydney Leroux) and that will change the environment a bit in a positive way. As always, we are excited to play the next game and we will be prepared.â€Â Â Â Â Â
Sundhage has included a full complement of veteran players and World Cup stars, led by forward Abby Wambach, who heads into the tournament with 125 career goals; Hope Solo, winner of the best goalkeeper award at the Womenâ€™s World Cup; and team captain Christie Rampone, who travels to Canada with 244 career caps.
The U.S. team arrives in Canada on Monday, Jan. 16 and will train for three days before opening its competition against the Dominican Republic on Friday, Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m. PT. All the U.S. games will be televised live on the Universal Sports Network. The USA continues first round action against Guatemala on Sunday, Jan. 22 (4:30 p.m. PT) and finishes group play against Mexico on Tuesday, Jan. 24 (7:30 p.m. PT).
All the matches of the tournament will be played indoors on artificial turf at the newly renovated BC Place. The group winners and runners-up will play in the all-important semifinals on Friday, Jan. 27 with the winners of those games qualifying for the Olympics. The championship game will be played on Sunday, Jan. 29. All the group games and the semifinals will be played in double-header formats. Host Canada heads Group A, which also features Costa Rica, Cuba and Haiti.
Leroux, who was taken first in the WPS Draft on Jan. 13 by the Atlanta Beat, is a Vancouver native and will be returning to her hometown in hopes of helping the USA earn a berth to London. Born in Canada to a Canadian mother and American father, Leroux played for Canada as a 14-year-old in the 2004 FIFA U-19 Womenâ€™s World Cup before coming to the United States for high school and to pursue her dream of earning a college scholarship and playing for the United States.
Leroux switched international affiliations in 2008 and played in two FIFA U-20 Womenâ€™s World Cups for the USA, scoring 10 goals over those two tournaments to become the all-time leading scorer for the USA at the U-20 level and in U-20 Womenâ€™s World Cups. She has just one cap for the full U.S. National Team, earned against Sweden in January of 2011 at the Four Nations Tournament in China.
All of the players who scored for the USA last summer in Germany were named to the roster, which means that defender Rachel Buehler, midfielders Heather Oâ€™Reilly, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd and forwards Lauren Cheney and forward Alex Morgan, will all be trying to add to their goal totals.
Twenty-three year-old Kelley Oâ€™Hara is the only other player besides Leroux who made her first qualifying roster for a world championship. Oâ€™Hara, who won the Hermann Trophy for Stanford as college soccerâ€™s top player in 2009, played mostly forward in college and midfield for the USAâ€™s youth national teams and full national team. However, she has recently been playing left back and may get a chance to see some minutes on the back line in Canada.
The U.S. will be attempting to qualify for a fifth consecutive Olympic Games and finish in first place at CONCACAF Womenâ€™s Olympic Qualifying for the third consecutive time. In 2008, the USA won the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Mexico and went on to win the gold medal in Beijing. In 2004, the U.S. won the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Costa Rica and went on to win gold in Athens, Greece. The U.S. qualified for the 1996 Atlanta Games as host and for the 2000 Sydney Games as a top-seven finisher at the 1999 FIFA Womenâ€™s World Cup.
Nine teams have already qualified for the 12-team Olympic Football Tournament: host Great Britain; Japan and Korea DPR from Asia; Cameroon and South Africa from Africa; Brazil and Colombia from South America; and Sweden and France from Europe. New Zealand will likely earn Oceaniaâ€™s lone berth, which leaves just the CONCACAF entrants to be decided.
U.S. Womenâ€™s National Team Roster by Position Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Nicole Barnhart (out of contract), Hope Solo (out of contract)
DEFENDERS (7): Rachel Buehler (Atlanta Beat), Ali Krieger (FFC Frankfurt), Amy LePeilbet (Atlanta Beat), Heather Mitts (out of contract), Kelley Oâ€™Hara (Atlanta Beat), Christie Rampone (out of contract), Becky Sauerbrunn (Sky Blue FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Shannon Boxx (out of contract), Tobin Heath (out of contract), Lori Lindsey (Western New York Flash), Carli Lloyd (Atlanta Beat), Heather Oâ€™Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (out of contract), Amy Rodriguez (out of contract)
FORWARDS (4): Lauren Cheney (out of contract), Sydney Leroux (Atlanta beat), Alex Morgan (Western New York Flash), Abby Wambach (out of contract)