USWNT names roster that will go for 4th straight gold at 2016 Olympics
The United States has their team for the 2016 Olympics. Jill Ellis named her 18-woman roster for the upcoming tournament on Tuesday, giving her the squad that she hopes will win an unprecedented fourth consecutive gold medal. To no surprise, it is led by stalwarts Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and Hope Solo.
The most notable inclusion on the team is Megan Rapinoe, who hasn't played a match since 2015, when she tore her ACL. The midfielder was one of the Americans' best players when they won the World Cup a year ago and Ellis said that she's seen enough from Rapinoe to believe she will be ready to play come the Olympics.
On the flip side, Heather O'Reilly missed out on the squad, instead being named an alternate. This will be the first major tournament that the U.S. plays without O'Reilly since the 2004 Olympics.
Two spots that were considered most up for debate were backup goalkeeper and third centerback. Odds are that the backup goalkeeper won't be necessary, with Solo arguably the best in the world at her position, but Ellis still needs someone behind her and she chose Alyssa Naeher over Ashlyn Harris. For her third centerback, Ellis tabbed Whitney Engen, who will deputize Becky Sauerbrunn and Julie Johnston.
There are several changes from the American team that won the World Cup. Part of that was forced upon Ellis because the Olympics uses 18-player rosters, not the 23 that go to the World Cup. There were also the retirements of Abby Wambach, Lauren Holiday, Lori Chalupny and Shannon Boxx, which took them out of the running. Sydney Leroux and Amy Rodriguez are also unavailable because they are pregnant.
Ellis also chose to bring some youth into the squad, led by Mallory Pugh. The 18-year-old hasn't even started college yet and just got her first cap in January, but her terrific play in friendlies since then made her a lock for the team. 22-year-old Lindsay Horan will also get her first chance at a major tournament after playing well for the national team over the last year.
The U.S. are the favorites to take home Olympic gold after winning the World Cup a year ago and generally playing well since. They will be challenged by Germany, although they've had their fair share of turnover, while France is also a threat and have been drawn into the Americans' group. The U.S. will begin their Olympics campaign on August 3 against New Zealand.
U.S. Olympics Roster
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)
Alternates: Heather O'Reilly, Ashlyn Harris, Emily Sonnett, Samantha Mewis
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