On Tuesday, United States Women’s National Team manager Jill Ellis announced the 20 players that will have the responsibility of attempting to qualify for the nation's their sixth consecutive Summer Olympic Games.
Ellis has brought regulars like captain Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Hope Solo. However, the big surprise on this roster is 17-year-old striker Mallory Pugh. She is the youngest player in the squad, and is still the only one still in high school.
Pugh earned her first cap and scored a goal against the Republic of Ireland on Saturday. It appears the work she has done in her first camp has caught the attention of Ellis.
No Leroux, no surprise
Although this was no shock, it bears repeating that FC Kansas City forward Sydney Leroux-Dwyer will not be participating in the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifications Championship, nor will she be participating in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio this August. Confirmation of this came on Monday when she and her husband, Sporting Kansas City striker Dom Dwyer, announced that they will be having a baby.
The loss of speedy Leroux-Dwyer will hurt the Yanks, but the United States has more than enough firepower to survive and qualify for Rio.
What is needed to qualify for Rio?
The USWNT will begin the journey to defending their Gold Medal on February 10th against Costa Rica at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Then they will face the other two nations from their group, in Mexico (on February 13th) and Puerto Rico (on February 15th). The five time Olympic goal medalists will play all of their first round games at Toyota Stadium.
For the United States to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, they need to finish in the top two of their group. Then, it all comes down to the semifinal match on February 19th at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas. If the Yanks manage to defeat either the first or second place nation of group B, then their trip to Rio is guaranteed.
The final of the tournament will be on February 21st at BBVA Compass Stadium as well, and the USWNT will be aiming to win the tournament once again. Since CONCACAF started this Olympic qualification tournament format for women in 2004, the U.S. has always won the championship. Now, they can go for their fourth straight title and prove themselves as the powerhouse of CONCACAF once more.
The following is the full 20-woman roster for the USWNT.
Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars) and Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride)
Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), 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) and Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash) and Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash)
Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Stephanie McCaffrey (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars) and Mallory Pugh (Mountain Vista High School, Colorado)