July 12, 2016
Jill Ellis, U.S. Women’s National Team head coach, announced her 18 player 2016 Olympics roster that will be heading to Rio vying for their fourth consecutive Olympic gold. Heading up the roster are Olympics veterans Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Hope Solo, Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Kelley O’Hara. Some doubted the recovering Rapinoe would be game ready by the games but Ellis is confident.
According to a release by U.S. Soccer, Jill Ellis had evaluated the team over the past nine months. “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.”
Eleven of the 18 players are debuting on their first Olympic roster. Ali Krieger will become the oldest USWNT player to make her first Olympic roster after tearing her ACL prior to the prior Olympics. Other players making the roster for the first time are Alyssa Naeher, Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg, Julie Johnston, Morgan Brian, and Christen Press.
With several players either retiring or on leave for other reasons, it freed space on the roster for younger players to get their chance at the roster including 18-year-old Mallory Pugh, who has burst onto the scene in 2016. Other newcomers since last year’s Women’s World Cup championship team include Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan and Allie Long. Four alternates named will also travel to Rio: Heather O’Reilly, goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, defender Emily Sonnett and midfielder Samantha Mewis.
As for the NWSL breakdown, Portland Thorns FC will be missing the most players during the Olympics 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. However, the league has a break for the Olympics from August 1-25. The tournament itself goes from the 3rd through the 19th.
Official USWNT Olympic Team:
Goalkeepers: Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
Defenders: 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: 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: Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)
The USWNT plays its final send-off match in Kansas City on Friday, July 22 at 9 p.m. eastern time against Costa Rica. The team’s Olympics group play is as follows (all times eastern):
Wednesday, August 3rd at 6 p.m. vs New Zealand
Saturday, August 6 at 4 p.m. vs France
Tuesday, August 9 at 6 p.m. vs Colombia
Taking on a young New Zealand and tough France should get them out of their group on top, as the women look to be the first-ever team to win the Women’s World Cup and the Olympics back-to-back. Read the full release from U.S. Soccer about the roster announcement.