July 11, 2016
Breakers' Engen named to U.S. Olympic team
Boston Breakers captain Whitney Engen has been named to the U.S. women’s team Olympic Games roster, announced by coach Jill Ellis Tuesday. Western New York Flash midfielder Samantha Mewis of Hanson, Mass., was chosen as an alternate.
Former Breakers selected include defenders Meghan Klingenberg and Kelly O'Hara and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, plus alternate Heather O’Reilly.
Seven of the 18-player roster return from the 2012 gold medalist team and 14 were members of the 2015 Women’s World Cup champions.
Midfielders Tobin Heath and Carli Lloyd, plus goalkeeper Hope Solo, were named to their third Olympic rosters. Solo was an alternate in 2004 and will be attending her fourth Games. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe, forward Alex Morgan and defenders O’Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn will be playing in their second Olympics. Forward Christen Press and Klingenberg were alternates on the 2012 team.
Forward Mallory Pugh, 18, becomes the USA’s second youngest women’s soccer Olympian, a month older than Cindy Parlow in 2004. Pugh, who leads the team with seven assists this season, is the only amateur on the roster and will be 18 years, 3 months and 5 days old on Aug. 3. Parlow was 18 years, 2 months and 13 days old when the USA opened the 1996 Olympics.
Rapinoe has made a rapid recovery from December ACL surgery, returning to training camp last week.
The U.S. will open Group G play against New Zealand at Estadio Minerão in Belo Horizonte at 6 p.m. ET Aug. 3, two days before the Opening Ceremony. The USA will then face France at Mineirão at 4 p.m. ET Aug. 6 and finish group play against Colombia at 6 p.m. ET Aug. 9 at Amazônia Stadium in Manaus, where the U.S. men’s team tied Portugal, 2-2, during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The U.S. has advanced to the gold medal game of every Olympic tournament since the sport was introduced for women in 1996. The USA won the inaugural gold medal in 1996 in Athens, Ga., was second in 2000 in Sydney and won in Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.
“The last few camps capped a nine-month evaluation process and the players certainly made it a real challenge to narrow the roster down to 18,” Ellis said. “We’ve got a great blend of players with experience at the Olympic Games and in major events along with the youthful energy of some players who did not play in the Women’s World Cup last summer. As a coach in the Olympic Games, you want to put together a group capable of reaching the top of the podium while also being mindful of getting players prepared for the next World Cup, and I think we’ve done that.”
Ellis named four alternate replacement players: goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris; midfielders Samantha Mewis and O’Reilly, a three-time gold medalist (2004, 2008 and 2012); and defender Emily Sonnett. All will travel with the team.
The U.S. will meet Costa Rica in a send-off match at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan., at 8 p.m. CT July 22 (ESPN).
“We’ve got excellent balance in the squad, and with some injuries lately to some major players, it has allowed us to get experience for a few newer players which helped them in their cases to make the team,” Ellis said. “Now the task is getting our team 100% healthy and finalizing our preparations during the next camp.”
Heath, Lloyd and Solo join 12 other U.S. players to be named to three Olympic rosters. Christie Rampone is the only U.S. player to play in four Olympics. Lloyd and Solo are tied for the most Olympic appearances on the current roster with 12.
Lloyd, the team’s leading scorer with 87 career goals, scored the winning goal in the gold medal game at each of the last two Olympics. In 2008, she scored in a 1-0 overtime victory against Brazil, and in 2012 she scored both goals in a 2-1 victory against Japan.
Solo is on track to earn her 200th cap, becoming the 11th U.S. player to hit 200 and the first goalkeeper in international soccer history.
Making their first Olympic Team are: goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher; defenders Engen, Klingenberg, Julie Johnston and Ali Krieger; midfielders Morgan Brian, Lindsey Horan and Allie Long; and forwards Press, Pugh and Crystal Dunn.
Krieger, 32, who becomes the team’s oldest first-time Olympian, might have made the 2012 team, but sustained an ACL tear during the qualifying tournament.
Dunn, Horan, Long and Pugh are the only players on the team who were not members of the 2015 WWC team. At the 2012 Olympics in England, only Sydney Leroux was not on the 2011 WWC team.
Naeher is the least-capped player with six international appearances. Long has nine caps. Johnston was the least capped player on the 2015 WWC team with nine.
Lloyd has a team-best 223 caps and Heath, Morgan, Rapinoe, Sauerbrunn and Solo have more than 100 international apperances.
The average age of the team will be 27.8 years on Aug. 3. The average number of caps is 77. The U.S. roster has a combined 53 Olympic appearances and 12 goals, scored by Lloyd (6), Morgan (4) and Rapinoe (2).
O’Reilly scored the earliest goal in Olympic history when she tallied 42 seconds into the game against New Zealand in 2008.
Morgan notched the game-winner after 122 minutes and 22 seconds against Canada in the 2012 semifinals, the latest goal in Olympic, FIFA and U.S. history.
From the NWSL, the Portland Thorns had four players named; the Chicago Red Stars three; the Seattle Reign FC, Houston Dash and Washington Spirit two; and the Breakers, FC Kansas City and Sky Blue FC one.
2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Roster
• GOALKEEPERS (2): Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
• DEFENDERS (6): 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 (6): 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 (4): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)