May 27, 2012, 3:12 PM EDT
Pia Sundhage announced the USWNT’s 18-player roster for the 2012 Summer Olympics. What better way to kick off today’s pre-match festivities?
First off, the names:
Goalkeepers: Nicole Barnhart, Hope Solo
Defenders: Rachel Buehler, Amy LePeilbet, Heather Mitts, Kelley O’Hara, Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn
Midfielders: Shannon Boxx, Lauren Cheney, Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, Heather O’Reilly, Megan Rapinoe
Forwards: Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Amy Rodriguez, Abby Wambach
And the alternates:
Lori Lindsey (M), Jill Loyden (GK), Meghan Klingenberg (M), Christen Press (F)
So, any surprises? None that would quite move the needle on the Richter scale, but additions and omissions always provide a few talking points.
– For one, no Ali Krieger. The right back had an outstanding World Cup last summer, but sustained a serious knee injury thanks to a horrific tackle in Olympic qualifying earlier this year (a replay if you can bear it). This video highlighted the steady progress she’s been making in rehab. It wasn’t enough, however. Something that’s really jarring? Krieger will be 31 the next time a major international tournament rolls around.
– Lori Lindsey also missed out on a berth on the first-team squad. The central midfielder holds 30 senior caps and made one World Cup start last summer. Erstwhile striker Lauren Cheney has essentially made her home in an already congested midfield, which may have pushed other candidates out. It will be interesting to see what kind of Plan B Sundhage hopes to adopt in midfield if the tried-and-tested formula fails to come off in the U.K.
– No sign of Stephanie Cox – not even as an alternate. The 26 year-old defender might not be first-choice, but has proven to be a handy player to keep on call. Cox has won 82 caps with the senior team, the last four coming in 2012. She got a run-out in two World Cup matches last summer and tallied an assist. Cox made two most recent World Cup rosters as well as the 2008 Olympics squad which makes her absence particularly conspicuous.
– Sydney Leroux made the final cut and could inherit Alex Morgan’s super sub role. Listed forward Amy Rodriguez has been pushed back to the wing in recent games, giving Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan an opportunity to further develop a strike partnership. At age 22, Leroux is the youngest player in the squad. Her international career has gotten off to a hot start. The Canadian-born striker has scored seven goals in her first nine appearances with the senior team.
– This squad has experience to boot. Only six players are making their Olympic team debuts. Eleven won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The average age of the 18-player roster comes in under 28 and the average number of caps on the roster is 91. Christie Rampone’s extraordinary cap total likely has an inflationary effect on the numbers, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
– The team first faces France in Glasgow on July 25, Colombia in Glasgow on July 28, and North Korea in Manchester on July 31.
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