Coach Pia Sundhage has begun the youth movement needed to rebuild the U.S. Women’s National Team, dumping veteran goalkeeper Brianna Scurry for next month’s Algarve Cup in Portugal and bringing in Nicole Barnhart (four caps).
Although 15 of the 20-player roster were on last year’s World Cup squad, including Torrance’s Shannon Boxx, Sundhage has also brought in the likes of UCLA’s Lauren Cheney and USC striker Amy Rodriguez. Uncapped defender Rachel Buehler gets her first tournament call-up, while at age 19 defender Tobin Heath is the youngest player on the roster.
From the U.S. Soccer press release:
The U.S. opens play March 5 against China, faces Norway on March 7 and finishes the first round against Italy on March 10.
The U.S. will use this tournament as final preparation for 2008 CONCACAF Womens Olympic Qualifying, which will be held April 2-13 in Mexico.
The Algarve Cup is a very important tournament for several reasons, said Sundhage. First, it is excellent preparation for the Olympic qualification, especially playing four difficult matches in eight days. That is a test of our fitness, our mental toughness and also our depth. But also, like we faced in the Four Nations Tournament in China, it gives the team a chance to play against three very good teams in the group who all play different styles, and that is fantastic for the development of our team rhythm, as well as for our young players getting experience at a big tournament.
The roster, with caps/goals: Goalkeepers Nicole Barnhart (4), Hope Solo (54); defenders Rachel Buehler (0/0), Stephanie Cox (33/0), Tobin Heath (2/0), Kate Markgraf (168/0), Christie Rampone (179/4), Cat Whitehill (123/11); midfielders Shannon Boxx (80/18), Lori Chalupny (56/6), Angela Hucles (72/5), Carli Lloyd (47/10), Leslie Osborne (55/2), Lindsay Tarpley (82/21), Angie Woznuk (3/1), Lauren Cheney (4/2), Natasha Kai (35/8), Heather OReilly (75/15), Amy Rodriguez (8/2), Abby Wambach (108/86).
Preps news from the Daily Breeze is here and here.
The Long Beach Press-Telegram has this report on girls soccer.
Finally, thanks to those who voted in Tuesday’s poll that asked whether the EPL should play games overseas. Interesting to see how divided fans are on this one. (And yes, you can still vote).