Women’s World Cup- Introducing Team USA
With their final warm up match behind them, the US Women’s national soccer team gets ready for the World Cup 2011 taking place in Germany. With a hefty collection of awards already earned in recent years, including 3 gold medals at the Olympics, 6 time CONCACAF Gold Cup champions, and two time World Cup winners, the USWNT look to only further their prestigious record. Led by Swedish head coach, Pia Sundhage, Team USA bring back several familiar faces from their gold medal run at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing as well many other new additions to the roster. Here are some of the key players to keep an eye out for throughout this year’s World cup.
Current Club: Washington Freedom
Wambach’s rise to become one of the best players in the game seemed nearly effortless considering her quick rise to success. Leaving a year early from the University of Florida, where she became the all-time leading scorer, to join the professional league. Wambach was the second overall pick, taken by the Washington Freedom. It didn’t take long for her to prove herself after winning the Women’s United Soccer championship match and becoming the MVP. She has played with the women’s national team since the 2003 World Cup and was part of the gold medal winning team in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. The four-time US Soccer Athlete of the year is the third highest scorer for the US team all time and has one of the best goals to game ratios out there. You can expect to see Wambach dominate inside the box as she takes control of the air with her height and headers.
Club: Atlanta Beat
The New Jersey native and Rutgers University graduate is making her second World Cup appearance with the USWNT. She is currently signed with Sky Blue FC based in Piscataway, New Jersey after making her way through various New Jersey clubs and the Chicago Red Stars. With the USWNT, she has 108 caps and 27 goals and was instrumental in their gold medal victory in Beijing, scoring the game winning goal against Brazil in the final. After missing a much of the 2010 season due to an injury, Lloyd returns with the USWNT to take home their next trophy.
Club: Sky Blue FC
Already a two-time gold medalist with the national team, O’Reilly experienced professional level soccer before she even left high school. She was recruited by the USWNT when she was 17 and was the youngest player, at 19, for her team when they competed and took home gold in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. The midfielder from New Jersey is already one of the more experienced members of the team, competing in the 2007 World Cup where she saved the team from early elimination with a late goal and also took home gold at Beijing. As co-captain of her club, Sky Blue FC, O’Reilly led her team to win the championship in the2009 women’s professional soccer playoffs where she scored the winning goal. O’Reilly will put her already impressive history to test in Germany where she will be found in the midfield.
Current Club: Atlanta Beat
Another two-time gold medalist to add on to the well experienced US team, Heather Mitts joins the team again for Germany as a defender. A graduate of the University of Florida playing with the Gators, Mitts holds the record for most appearances and helped them win their first national championship. She has played for multiple professional teams in the Women’s United Soccer Association league including Philadelphia Charge, Boston Breakers, and now currently with Philadelphia Independence. Although there are several concerns about her physical conditions after dealing with injuries throughout the year, we can expect to see her part of Sundhage’s 11 on the field throughout the World Cup.
Current Club: Washington Freedom
The 2011 World Cup will be the fourth for veteran Christie Rampone and yet another notch on her long list of experience. Currently the most capped active player, Rampone represented USA in the past three world cups, three Summer Olympics and nearly all of USA’s CONCACAF Championships. The all round natural athlete was the scoring leader in her conference three different sports during high school, basketball, soccer, and field hockey, and played soccer, basketball, and lacrosse at Monmouth university. Rampone finally stuck to soccer when she chose to join the US women’s national soccer team during her senior year. With plenty of awards, years of experience, and two children under her belt, Rampone leads Team USA as captain to hopefully another World Cup victory.
Current Club: magicjack
Returning from a major shoulder surgery back in September, Solo represents the USA as their main goalkeeper in her first major international tournament back. After a drama filled 2007 World Cup where a controversial call by then coach Greg Ryan to bench Solo resulted in a 4-0 loss to Brazil, the ties between the goalkeeper and the rest of Team USA became frayed. Solo spoke out against Ryan and the team for their call which resulted in her ban from any post World Cup activities with the team. Once Sundhage took over, however, Solo was invited back to the team and was given the chance to prove herself in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Playing against the Brazil in the final, Solo made save after save in a match that resulted in a 1-0 win for the USA, giving them the gold medal. As one of the most capped USA goalkeepers, Solo will look to prove that she’s back in top form at this year’s World Cup.