CHICAGO (July 12, 2016) – U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis has named the 18-player roster for the 2016 Olympic Games. Seven players make a return to the Olympics after helping the USA to the gold medal in 2012 in London while 14 players who were members of the USA’s 2015 Women’s World Cup championship team were named.
Midfielders Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath and goalkeeper Hope Solo were named to their third Olympic rosters. Solo was also an alternate in 2004 and will be attending her fourth Games. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe, forward Alex Morgan and defenders Kelley O’Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn will be playing in their second Olympic Games. The remaining 11 players made their first Olympic roster, although forward Christen Press and defender Meghan Klingenberg were alternates on the 2012 team. Having just turned 18 on April 29, forward Mallory Pugh becomes the USA’s second youngest women’s soccer Olympian.
Rapinoe’s selection caps a remarkable recovery from ACL surgery last December. She returned to full play for the first time at the USA’s training camp outside of Chicago last week.
The U.S. will open Group G play on Aug. 3 - two days before the Olympic Opening Ceremony - against New Zealand (7 p.m. local / 6 p.m. ET) at Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte. The USA will stay in Belo Horizonte - which is 270 miles north of Rio de Janeiro - to face France at Mineirão Stadium on Aug. 6 (5 p.m. local / 4 p.m. ET) and finish group play against Colombia on Aug. 9 (6 p.m. local / 6 p.m. ET) at the Amazônia Stadium in Manaus, the same arena in which the U.S. Men’s National Team tied Portugal 2-2 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the furthest soccer venue from Rio (more than 1,700 miles).
The U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team has advanced to the gold medal game of every Olympic women’s soccer tournament that has been contested. The USA won the inaugural gold medal in 1996 in Athens, Ga., won silver in 2000 in Sydney, Australia, and will be going for its fourth straight gold medal after standing atop the podium in Athens, Greece in 2004, in Beijing in 2008 and in London in 2012.
2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (6): Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS (4): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)
“The last few camps capped a nine-month evaluation process and the players certainly made it a real challenge to narrow the roster down to 18,” said U.S. head coach Jill Ellis. “We’ve got a great blend of players with experience at the Olympic Games and in major events along with the youthful energy of some players who did not play in the Women’s World Cup last summer. As a coach in the Olympic Games, you want to put together a group capable of reaching the top of the podium while also being mindful of getting players prepared for the next World Cup, and I think we’ve done that.”
Ellis also named four alternate replacement players that will travel to Brazil in midfielder Heather O’Reilly, who is a three-time gold medalist (2004, 2008 and 2012), goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, defender Emily Sonnett and midfielder Samantha Mewis. O’Reilly and Harris were part of the USA’s World Cup championship team last summer.
Ellis will bring the Olympic team plus the four alternates to Kansas City, Kansas, for a final Olympic send-off match on July 22 against Costa Rica at Children’s Mercy Park (8 p.m. CT on ESPN).
“We’ve got excellent balance in the squad, and with some injuries lately to some major players, it has allowed us to get experience for a few newer players which helped them in their cases to make the team,” said Ellis. “Now the task is getting our team 100% healthy and finalizing our preparations during the next camp.”
Tickets for the match in Kansas City are on sale through ussoccer.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000 and at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout the Kansas City area (including Hen House Markets). [Note: Tickets will not be sold at the Children’s Mercy Park ticket office except for the day of the event.] Purchases are limited to eight tickets per household.
All nominations to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team are pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee.
U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team Roster Notes:
- The roster is broken down into two goalkeepers, six defenders, six midfielders and four forwards, but numerous players on the roster can and have played multiple positions for the USA.
- Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo and Tobin Heath join a list of 12 other U.S. players to be named to three Olympic rosters. Christie Rampone is the only U.S. player to play in four Olympic Games.
- Solo and Lloyd are tied for the most Olympic appearances on the current roster with 12 each.
- Lloyd scored the winning goal in the gold medal game at each of the last two Olympics. In 2008, she scored the USA’s lone goal in a 1-0 overtime victory against Brazil, and in 2012 she scored both goals in the USA’s 2-1 victory against Japan. Lloyd is the team’s leading scorer heading into the Olympics with 87 career goals.
- Solo is on track to earn her 200th cap during the Olympics. She would be the 11th U.S. player to hit 200 caps and the first goalkeeper in international soccer history to do so.
- The 11 players making their first Olympic Team are: goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, defenders Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg, Julie Johnston and Ali Krieger, midfielders Allie Long, Lindsey Horan and Morgan Brian, and forwards Mallory Pugh, Crystal Dunn, and Christen Press.
- Krieger most likely would have made the 2012 team, but suffered an ACL tear during the qualifying tournament. Krieger, who will be 32 when the Olympics begin, becomes the oldest first-time U.S. Olympian for women’s soccer.
- Long, Horan, Dunn and Pugh are the only players on the 2016 Olympic Team who were not members of the 2015 Women’s World Cup team. At the 2012 Olympics in England, there was just one player on the roster who was not on the 2011 Women’s World Cup team: Sydney Leroux.
- Pugh is the second youngest women’s soccer Olympian in U.S. history as she will be about a month older than Cindy Parlow was at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Pugh will be 18 years, 3 months and 5 days old when the USA opens the Olympics on Aug. 3rd. Parlow was 18 years, 2 months and 13 days old when the USA opened the 1996 Olympics in Orlando, Fla.
- Should Pugh score in the Olympics, she would be the youngest U.S. player to score in the competition as Parlow did not find the net in 1996.
- Pugh leads the USA in assists this year with seven. She is also the only amateur player on the roster with the other 17 being professional players.
- Naeher is the least-capped player on the team with six international appearances, but Long makes the team with just nine caps. Pugh has earned her first 13 caps this year, playing in every game but one in 2016. Johnston was the least capped player on the 2015 WWC Team, also with nine.
- There are four players on the roster from California (Megan Rapinoe, Press, Engen and Alex Morgan) with two players each hailing from Georgia (Kelley O’Hara and Brian), New Jersey (Heath and Lloyd), New York (Long and Dunn) and Colorado (Horan and Pugh).
- Six players on the roster have been capped more than 100 times, led by Lloyd, who has played 223 times for the USA; Heath, Morgan, Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Solo are the other five.
- The average age of the U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team when the USA opens play on Aug. 3 will be 27.8 years old.
- The average number of caps on the roster heading into the final Olympic send-off match in Kansas City is 77.
- The U.S. roster has a combined 53 Olympic appearances and 12 goals, all scored by Lloyd (6), Morgan (4) and Rapinoe (2).
- Of the 16 field players on the roster, only Sauerbrunn has yet to score an international goal.
- Thirteen of the 18 players on the roster have played for the USA in a FIFA Women’s World Cup at the youth level.
- Of the 14 players who played in the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final, 11 were named to the Olympic roster.
- Heather O’Reilly, who was chosen as an alternate, scored the earliest goal in Olympic history when she tallied against New Zealand in 2008 just 42 seconds into the game.
- Morgan owns the latest goal in Olympic, FIFA and U.S. history, tallying after 122 minutes and 22 seconds against Canada to notch the game-winning goal in the semifinal of the 2012 Olympics.
- Nine of the 10 NWSL clubs are represented on the roster, with only the Western New York Flash without a player, although Samantha Mewis was chosen as an alternate.
- Portland Thorns FC lead the way with four players, followed by the Chicago Red Stars with three and Seattle Reign FC, the Houston Dash and the Washington Spirit with two each. Sky Blue FC, FC Kansas City, the Orlando Pride and the Boston Breakers have one each.
On Feb. 9, 2013, the U.S. Women’s National Team kicked off the new year with a 4-1 victory against Scotland in Jacksonville, Florida. Christen Press, then 24-years-old, was responsible for two goals that day, scoring in the 13th minute and adding another in the 32nd to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead at halftime.
The early goal was Press’ first for the USA, coming in a match that was also her first cap.
Becky Sauerbrunn hugs Christen Press in the aftermath of Press scoring on her WNT debut.
Earning that first cap is special for any player, but a debut and a goal in the same game? That’s a rare feat. In the 30+ year history of the U.S. WNT 21 players have scored in their first caps.
NOTHING TO LOSE
Press’ path to that first game three years ago was an interesting one. In early 2012, she made the decision to move to Sweden after U.S.-based Women’s Professional Soccer folded. Press thought leaving the country might negatively impact her hopeful National Team career, but little did she know, it was only just beginning.
“I think just because I always thought that the National Teams would be watching the American league, I thought that going abroad was kind of like saying goodbye to my dream of playing for the National Team,” recalled Press. “I left around this time, in February, and I thought I would not get a call, I sort of thought that I would fall out of U.S. Soccer’s radar.”
As it turns out, head coach Pia Sundhage kept tabs on players in Europe, especially in her native land of Sweden. Press got off to a hot start with her new club, and it wasn’t long before she was on her way back home.
Press returned to the U.S. and joined the WNT in Florida in April during the final stretch of what had been an intense fitness camp. She kept to herself and tried to quickly learn as much as possible despite only being there for five days.
“I had nothing to lose,” she said. “It was my first camp, it was warm and I was so happy. I don’t think I spoke to anybody. I was not nervous, I was just happy to be in Florida and my dream was coming true. I’m always quiet when I don’t know my surroundings, so I just kept to myself trying to learn the rules, how to behave; it was all so quick.”
That short stint turned out to be the only one for Press before she was named an Olympic alternate in 2012. The following February, Tom Sermanni took over as WNT head coach, and it was then Press learned she would start against Scotland. Her chance had arrived.
“I went on the field, the crowd was so much bigger than I’d ever played in front of, and for me it was so much bigger than life,” said Press. “But I kept telling myself, ‘I’m not nervous, I’m confident, I’m a good player and I believe in myself.’”
Years and multiple goals later, plus one Women’s World Cup title to her name, the dream is alive and well for Press.
Press celebrates scoring her first World Cup goal against Australia in the USA's opening match of the 2015 Women's World Cup