January 26, 2016
McCaffrey, Mewis on qualifying roster
Boston Breakers forward Stephanie McCaffrey and Whitman’s Samantha Mewis were among 20 players named Tuesday to the U.S. team for the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship Feb. 10-21 in Frisco and Houston, Texas.
Coach Jill Ellis Tuesday selected 20 players for the event.
The USA opens the tournament against Costa Rica at 7:30 p.m. CT Wednesday, Feb. 10, then meets Mexico Saturday, Feb. 13 and finishes group play against Puerto Rico Monday, Feb. 15. Broadcast information has not been announced.
Venues for the competition are BBVA Compass Stadium, home to the Houston Dash of the NWSL and the Houston Dynamo of MLS, and Toyota Stadium, located in the Dallas suburb of Frisco and home to FC Dallas of MLS.
The round-robin stage of the tournament will be conducted with three doubleheaders in each group. Group A will play doubleheaders at Toyota Stadium on Feb. 10, 13 and 15 and Group B - which features Canada, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana - will play doubleheaders at BBVA Compass Stadium on Feb. 11, 14 and 16. The all-important semifinal matches will be held on Feb. 19 in Houston, with the winners qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. The championship game on Feb. 21 will also be in Houston.
All 20 players selected were a part of the USA's 26-player roster for January training camp that ended with a 5-0 victory against Ireland on Jan. 23 in San Diego. The roster features three goalkeepers (a requirement by tournament regulations) and 17 field players: seven defenders, five midfielders and five forwards, although many players on the roster can play more than one position.
Thirteen of the 20 players were on the USA's 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup championship team and seven were on the USA's roster for 2012 Olympic qualifying: goalkeeper Hope Solo, defenders Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O'Hara and Ali Krieger, midfielders Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath and forward Alex Morgan. Solo, Heath and Lloyd are the only players on the roster who also participated in qualifying for the 2008 Olympics.
"This was an exceptionally challenging roster to select," Ellis said. "The players all worked and competed very hard in the January camp and that made the final decisions extremely difficult. With only 17 field players allowed on the roster, and minimal time in between matches, I think we have one of the most versatile rosters ever for a qualifying tournament. Most of the field players are capable of playing at least two positions and as CONCACAF competitions generally present teams that will sit low and get numbers behind the ball, it is important to have players that can individually and collectively break teams down to create chances."
The U.S. will attempt to qualify for a sixth consecutive Olympic Games and win the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying event for the fourth consecutive time. In 2012, the USA won the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Vancouver, B.C. (at the same stadium where it would win the Women's World Cup three years later) and then went on to win the gold medal in London.
In 2008, the USA won the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Mexico and went on to win gold in Beijing. In 2004, the U.S. won the tournament in Costa Rica and went on to win gold in Athens, Greece. The U.S. qualified for the 1996 Atlanta Games as host and for the 2000 Sydney Games as a top-seven finisher at the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Seven teams have qualified for the 12-team Olympic Football Tournament: Brazil and Colombia from South America, France and Germany from Europe by virtue of their finish at the 2015 Women's World Cup, New Zealand from Oceania due to Papua New Guinea pulling out of the second leg of qualifying, and South Africa and Zimbabwe from Africa. Two teams will qualify from CONCACAF, Africa and Asia and one more will qualify from Europe after a mini-tournament in March featuring Sweden, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.
U.S. Women's National Team Olympic Qualifying Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (7): 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), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash)
FORWARDS (5): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Stephanie McCaffrey (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)