Following a highly successful run at the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Vancouver, Canada, at which the U.S. Women’s National Team earned its berth to London, U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage has named 28 players for a training camp prior to the team’s first domestic match of the year against New Zealand on Feb. 11 at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
After a week of training, Sundhage will name 18 players to suit up for the game that will pit two participants from the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and should New Zealand earn Oceania’s lone berth to London, two of the 12 teams that will be at the this summer’s Olympics, as well. The match will kick off at 3 p.m. CT.
“It is always good to play a World Cup team,” said Sundhage. “There were many positives to take out of Olympic Qualifying in Canada and one of those was the depth of the team. We have many talented players and the challenge for the coaching staff will be figuring out the best combination of players as we continue to prepare for the Olympics. A good week of training in Texas, followed by match against a quality opponent like New Zealand, certainly helps in that process.”
Nineteen of the 20 players on the roster from Olympic qualifying will be in Texas, with the notable exception of defender Ali Krieger, who suffered tears to the MCL and ACL in her right knee in the first game of the tournament. Krieger will undergo surgery this week and begin her rehabilitation.
Eleven different players scored for the USA in Vancouver, led by Abby Wambach, Amy Rodriguez and Carli Lloyd, who all had six goals apiece. Lloyd scored in each of the five games. Lauren Cheney led the USA in assists, picking up seven to go with her two goals, while the speedy Alex Morgan had six assists to go with four goals, two of which were scored in clinical fashion on breakaways in the 4-0 championship game victory over host Canada.
From players not on the qualifying roster, Sundhage has called back into camp goalkeepers Jill Loyden and Ashlyn Harris, defenders Stephanie Cox and Whitney Engen, and midfielders Yael Averbuch, Meghan Klingenberg, Kristie Mewis and Christine Nairn.
The match will mark the USA’s first game in Texas since May of 2007, when the Americans hammered Canada 6-2 in Frisco in the first-ever appearance for the U.S. women at the home of Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas. This will be the USA’s eighth overall match in Texas, which has long been a state known for producing top female players. The USA is undefeated in Texas, having won all seven previous matches.
The week-long camp in Frisco and the match will serve as a warm-up for the annual Algarve Cup in Portugal, which this year will be held from Feb. 29-March 7. The USA will leave for Europe about 10 days after facing New Zealand.
New Zealand is a virtual lock to earn Oceania’s lone berth to the 2012 Olympics once qualifying commences in the smallest of FIFA’s six Confederations.
The match will be the ninth meeting between the countries, with the U.S. holding a 7-1-0 series edge. After a loss to New Zealand in Taiwan in 1987, the U.S. has won the next seven games in matchups that featured an average of five goals per game. The last meeting came at the 2008 Olympic Games, with Heather O’Reilly, Lloyd, Lindsay Tarpley and Angela Hucles scoring in a 4-0 win in the final group match of that tournament.
O’Reilly’s goal in that Olympic match came 40 seconds into the game and was the quickest in U.S. history before Wambach scored 35 seconds into the USA’s first match at 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying against the Dominican Republic.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (4): Nicole Barnhart, Ashlyn Harris, Jill Loyden, Hope Solo
DEFENDERS (8): Rachel Buehler, Stephanie Cox, Whitney Engen, Amy LePeilbet, Heather Mitts, Kelley O’Hara, Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn
MIDFIELDERS (12): Yael Averbuch, Shannon Boxx, Tobin Heath, Meghan Klingenberg, Lori Lindsey, Carli Lloyd, Kristie Mewis, Christine Nairn, Heather O’Reilly, Megan Rapinoe, Amy Rodriguez, Keelin Winters
FORWARDS (4): Lauren Cheney, Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach