CHICAGO (Sept. 7, 2010) – U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Pia Sundhage has named 30 players to a preliminary roster for two matches against China, taking place on Oct. 2 at the Kennesaw State University Soccer Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga. (6 p.m. ET), and on Oct. 6 at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. (7 p.m. ET on ESPN2).
Sundhage will open a training camp in Kennesaw, outside of Atlanta, on Sept. 20 that consists mostly of players from Women’s Professional Soccer clubs who did not make the playoffs. As teams are eliminated from the playoffs, and after the WPS Championship on Sept. 26, additional players will join the national team camp at various times leading into the USA’s first match against China.
Sundhage will name 18 players to suit up for each of the China matches, which will be the final international games before a 20-player roster is chosen for the 2010 CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying tournament, taking place from Oct. 28-Nov. 9 in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
“This is a very important camp as the team will get some quality time together to work on some tactical elements as we prepare for World Cup qualifying,” said Sundhage. “It’s also a great opportunity for our players to have two tough games before the important qualifying matches, as well as for the coaches, as we will have to make some important final decisions on our roster that goes to Mexico. We will also get to have a look at some of the less experienced players who have played well in WPS this season and some of the youngest players in our pool, so I am excited to get a lot of good work done and to find out some valuable information during the three weeks.”
Of the 30 players on the roster, 27 play for WPS clubs while Sundhage has also named two collegians in strikers Alex Morgan (a senior at California) and Sydney Leroux (a junior at UCLA), who teamed up to lead the USA to the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup title. Morgan has been called up to all three domestic events this year, but this is the first full national team call-up for Leroux, who scored five goals at the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, increasing her career total in FIFA youth World Cups to 10, a record for an American player.
The only other player who does not compete in WPS is defender Ali Krieger of Germany’s FFC Frankfurt. She has earned three caps this year after not appearing for the USA since 2008.
The training camp marks the return of Tobin Heath to the U.S. roster. The 22-year-old midfielder is coming off a major ankle injury that required surgery and caused her to miss almost the entire WPS season. She has not appeared in a match for the USA this year and has earned just two caps since the end of the 2008 Olympics, where she was the youngest player on the U.S. roster.
Midfielder Carli Lloyd also returns to active training with the U.S. team after missing almost all of Sky Blue FC’s season with a broken ankle. Lloyd came in with the U.S. team during its Sweden matches in July but was not available to play as she continued the rehabilitation process. She has recently returned to game action, coming off the bench to play 15 minutes for Sky Blue against FC Gold Pride on Sept. 1 and 15 minutes against Atlanta on Sept. 5.
Also returning to the national team fold for the first time since tearing her ACL a little more than a year ago is Lindsay Tarpley. The veteran of the past four world championship teams for the USA has had a solid season for the Boston Breakers since joining the club after the folding of St. Louis Athletica. Tarpley’s call-up adds 119 caps of experience to the U.S. roster along with 30 goals, which tied for 12th all-time in U.S. history.
The U.S. will be bolstered by the excellent club seasons from two young forwards with Amy Rodriguez as the second leading scorer in the league with 12 goals and forward Lauren Cheney having been nominated for Rookie of the Year honors after scoring five times so far.
Several players without much national team experience have played their way into call-ups with solid WPS campaigns. Those include Chicago Red Stars center-back Whitney Engen, who will be in her second WNT training camp; Philadelphia Independence midfielder Joanna Lohman, who has nine caps, but none since January of 2007; Washington Freedom midfielder Sarah Huffman, who will be in her third full team camp; and Sky Blue defender Brittany Taylor, who earned her first and thus far only cap against Mexico back in March.
Boston Breakers goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who back-stopped the USA to the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup title while allowing just one goal during her five starts, gets the nod and will train alongside Hope Solo, Nicole Barnhart and Jill Loyden, who are all up for WPS Goalkeeper of the Year honors.
Forward Abby Wambach comes into the China games as the leading scorer for the USA in 2010, having scored eight goals in nine matches to increase her career total to 109. Wambach leads a group of U.S. veterans that includes defenders Christie Rampone, Stephanie Cox and Heather Mitts and midfielders Shannon Boxx, Kristine Lilly and Heather O’Reilly. Young veterans Rachel Buehler and Amy LePeilbet have helped organize two of the best defenses in WPS, playing central defense for top two squads in the league in FC Gold Pride and the Boston Breakers, respectively.
Lilly, who turned 39 this summer, continues her quest to make her fifth World Cup qualifying squad. The USA did not have to qualify for the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which it hosted. Rampone, who is still in the process of returning to full fitness after the birth of her second child last spring, will be looking for her first start since the 2009 Algarve Cup in Portugal. She played 20 minutes off the bench in the 3-0 win over Sweden on July 17 in her first national team action since March of 2009.
UNITED STATES WOMEN’S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION
USA vs. China
Oct. 2 – Kennesaw, Ga.
Oct. 6 – Chester, Pa.
GOALKEEPERS (4): Nicole Barnhart (FC Gold Pride), Jill Loyden (Chicago Red Stars), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), Hope Solo (Atlanta Beat)
DEFENDERS (9): Rachel Buehler (FC Gold Pride), Stephanie Cox (Boston Breakers), Whitney Engen (Chicago Red Stars), Ali Krieger (FFC Frankfurt), Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers), Heather Mitts (Philadelphia Independence), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Meghan Schnur (Sky Blue FC), Brittany Taylor (Sky Blue FC)
MIDFIELDERS (12): Yael Averbuch (Sky Blue FC), Shannon Boxx (FC Gold Pride), Tobin Heath (Atlanta Beat), Sarah Huffman (Washington Freedom), Kristine Lilly (Boston Breakers), Lori Lindsey (Philadelphia Independence), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Joanna Lohman (Philadelphia Independence), Kelley O’Hara (FC Gold Pride), Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC), Megan Rapinoe (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsay Tarpley (Boston Breakers)
FORWARDS (5): Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers), Sydney Leroux (UCLA), Alex Morgan (California), Amy Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence), Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom)
General Manager: Cheryl Bailey (Manhattan Beach, Calif.)
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage (Charlotte, N.C.)
Asst. Coach: Hege Riise (Charlotte, N.C.)
Goalkeeper Coach: Paul Rogers (St. Louis, Mo.)
Fitness Coach: Dawn Scott (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Athletic Trainer: Greg Banks (Charleston, S.C.)
Athletic Trainer: Joan Reed (Atlanta, Ga.)
Athletic Trainer: Cody Malley (Apex, N.C.)
Massage Therapist: Mark Higgins (Chicago, Ill.)
Massage Therapist: Raul Aparicio (Houston, Texas)
Massage Therapist: Erika Winston (Santa Barbara, Calif.)
Equipment Manager: Andrew Dessert (Long Beach, Calif.)
Press Officer: Aaron Heifetz (Cypress, Calif.)
Videographer: Libby Wells (San Diego, Calif.)