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Heinrichs Names Michelle French to Olympic Roster; Former Under-21 Captain Adds Depth in Midfield and Defense

CHICAGO (Monday, August 28, 2000) - U.S. Women's National Team head coach April Heinrichs has named defender Michelle French to the Olympic roster to fill the spot vacated when legend Michelle Akers announced her retirement from international soccer last Thursday.

French, 22, was one of the four alternates named when the Olympic roster was announced on Aug. 10, and now moves onto the 18-player squad. The wonderfully skillful French is a four-year captain of the U.S. Under-21 National Team and helped lead the team to back-to-back Nordic Cup titles the last two summers. She has played on five consecutive Nordic Cup teams, also winning a championship in 1997, and has nine full caps with the national team, six coming this year. A left-footed player, she can play outside back, in the central defense or at flank midfield. Heinrichs named midfielder Aly Wagner to take French's place on the alternate list.

"Obviously, it's a completely unfortunate situation that Michelle was unable to play in the Olympics and I know that everyone will miss her a lot on and off the field," said French. "I really don't see myself as replacing her, because you can't replace one of best players ever. You never want anyone to get hurt, so I feel extremely fortunate to be getting this opportunity. I never stopped working hard just in case a miracle happened and I was selected, so I feel I'm ready to contribute and play any role that April asks of me. Really, I'm still numb. It's still hasn't sunk in. I didn't dream in a million years that I would be going to the Olympics."