U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Pia Sundhage has named a 21-player roster to face Japan on May 20 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas (7:30 p.m. CT) and on May 23 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah (4 p.m. MT).
The roster to face Japan is chock-full of veterans, including team captain Christie Rampone, co-captain Lori Chalupny, and outside back Heather Mitts, as well as midfielders Carli Lloyd, Shannon Boxx, Angela Hucles, Heather O’Reilly and Lindsay Tarpley. Thirteen of the players won the Olympic gold medal in Beijing last August, but Sundhage has also named several young players who have performed well in WPS action so far.
The matches will mark the return of striker Abby Wambach to international action for the first time since she suffered a broken leg against Brazil on July 16, 2008, in the USA’s final pre-Olympic match. Wambach is currently sitting on 99 career international goals and with one more would join four other U.S. players – Mia Hamm (158), Kristine Lilly (129), Michelle Akers (105) and Tiffeny Milbrett (100) – in the exclusive 100 goal club.
These will be the first-ever international games for the U.S. during the WPS season and the first domestic matches of 2009 for a U.S. team which is in very early preparations for qualifying for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. Seventeen of the 21 players on the roster are currently playing in WPS, and Sundhage also named four collegiate players.
“Now is the time to start investing in 2011,” Sundhage said. “We are bringing in an interesting mix of some newer players and players with experience, as well as some college players. The WPS has given us the chance to look at some new players, and it’s fantastic that Abby is back in business.”
Los Angeles Sol central defender Brittany Bock gets her second career call-up and will be looking for her first-ever cap while Boston Breakers center back Amy LePeilbet returns to the national team after earning 23 caps from 2004-2006. Red Stars outside back Marian Dalmy, who sat out most of 2008 with a knee injury, got the nod and will try to add to her 10 career caps that include a start in the third-place match at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Sundhage called up at least one player from each of the WPS clubs, including four from both the Breakers and Red Stars.
The four collegiate players named to the roster have just 17 caps between them, but 16 of those belong to Lauren Cheney, one of the top forwards in the country at UCLA and a member of the 2008 Olympic Team who replaced Wambach on the roster after her injury.
All four have represented the U.S. in a FIFA youth Women’s World Cup, including Christine Nairn, who was a member of the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup champions last fall in Chile. Nairn, a freshman at Penn State, has trained with the full national team during the last year and will be looking for her first career senior team cap.
Sundhage also called up forward Casey Nogueira, a member of the USA’s 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Team, who had a fantastic junior season at North Carolina last year, pounding in 25 goals with eight assists including both scores in the NCAA title game victory against Notre Dame. She picked up a slew of national player of the year awards after the season. Nogueira earned her lone cap at the 2007 Four Nations Tournament in China, playing the first half against England.
Goalkeeper Kelsey Davis from the University of Portland gets a call up, earning the opportunity to train alongside veterans Hope Solo and Nicole Barnhart. A long-time veteran of the USA’s youth national teams, Davis was the back-up goalkeeper at the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup in Thailand and the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Russia and was a member of the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team that won the 2007 Nordic Cup in Finland.
These will be the first meetings between the U.S. and Japan since the two countries clashed in the semifinal at the 2008 Olympics in China, a 4-2 U.S. victory that saw the Americans fall behind 1-0 before storming back to score four consecutive goals. Japan pulled one back in second-half stoppage time. The USA also edged Japan 1-0 in a must-win game during group play.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster vs. Japan
Frisco, Texas; May 20
Sandy, Utah; May 23
(A Detailed Roster is Available at ussoccer.com)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Nicole Barnhart (FC Gold Pride), Kelsey Davis (Portland), Hope Solo (St. Louis Athletica)
DEFENDERS (7): Brittany Bock (Los Angeles Sol), Rachel Buehler (FC Gold Pride), Lori Chalupny (St. Louis Athletica), Marian Dalmy (Chicago Red Stars), Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers), Heather Mitts (Boston Breakers), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Shannon Boxx (Los Angeles Sol), Angela Hucles (Boston Breakers), Carli Lloyd (Chicago Red Stars), Christine Nairn (Penn State), Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC), Megan Rapinoe (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsay Tarpley (Chicago Red Stars)
FORWARDS (4): Lauren Cheney (UCLA), Casey Nogueira (North Carolina), Amy Rodriguez (Boston Breakers), Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom)