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June 28, 2010
Cox, LePeilbet, Lilly, Cheney selected

CHICAGO---The Boston Breakers’ Stephan Cox, Amy LePeilbet, Kristine Lilly and Lauren Cheney are among the 24 players selected for the U.S. National Team’s two matches against Sweden on July 13 on Omaha, Neb and on July 17 in East Hartford, Conn.

These will mark the second and third international matches during the current Women’s Professional Soccer season after the USA defeated Germany 4-0 in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 22. Sundhage will choose 18 players to suit up for each match.

Twenty-two of the 24 players called up come from WPS; the exceptions being forward Alex Morgan, a rising senior at California, and FFC Frankfurt defender Ali Krieger, the only foreign-based player currently in the U.S. WNT player pool. Against Germany in May, Krieger played her first match for the USA since January of 2008.

The USA will get back several players who missed the Germany game due to injuries. Midfielder Carli Lloyd has recovered from a broken ankle suffered while playing with her WPS club Sky Blue FC. FC Gold Pride attacker Kelley O’Hara, who has overcome some foot issues, returns to the roster and is perhaps the league’s top rookie so far this season. Outside back Meghan Schnur also returns after recovering from a knee injury and Cheney also gets a call-up after missing the Germany game due to a personal commitment.

The Sweden games could also mark the return to the field in a national team jersey for U.S. captain Christie Rampone, who has not played for the USA since May 25, 2009, against Canada as she took the rest of the year off to have her second child, who was born in early March of this year. Rampone has been playing for Sky Blue and should be available for selection by Sundhage.

Rampone is joined in a group of veteran backs by Kate Markgraf, who gets her second call up after the birth of twins in July of 2009. Markgraf needs just one more cap to reach the 200 mark, a number reached by six other players in U.S. history. The USA’s deep group of defenders is bolstered by LePeilbet, Cox, Rachel Buehler, and Heather Mitts. All of them except LePeilbet have appeared for the USA in world championships. The only relatively inexperienced defenders are Schnur (5 caps) and Krieger (3 caps).

The U.S. midfield is also a mixture of vast and limited experience and is led by Shannon Boxx, Heather O’Reilly, Lloyd and Lilly, who increased her world record for international caps to 345 against the Germans in Cleveland. Lloyd has 91 caps and could be the next U.S. player to hit 100. The less experienced midfielders are Lori Lindsey (8 caps), Megan Rapinoe (12 caps) and the 26-year-old Sarah Huffman, a member of the USA’s 2002 U-19 Women’s World Cup Team that won the first FIFA world title for youth women. This is just her second call up to the full national team. Sundhage also gives a first-ever call up to Washington Freedom midfielder Allie Long, who was a member of the U.S. team that finished fourth at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Russia.

The USA’s potent quintet of forwards are of course led by Abby Wambach, who scored her 106th and 107th career goals against Germany to move past Michelle Akers into sole possession of third-place on the USA’s all-time scoring list. Amy Rodriguez has scored six goals for the Independence thus far to tie for the league lead. They are joined by O’Hara, Cheney and Morgan, who looked as if she had scored her first full international goal against Germany in the waning moments of that match only to have it disallowed for offside.

Sundhage and her staff seemed to have settled on the solid trio of goalkeepers as once again Nicole Barnhart and Jill Loyden join first-choice Hope Solo on the roster.

The matches will mark the 27th and 28th meetings between the USA and Sweden with the Americans having won 17, lost three and tied six.

Sweden is widely regarded as one of the top women’s national teams in the world and one of several favorites to lift the trophy at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Swedes, who are fourth in the last FIFA Women’s World Rankings, have all but sealed first place in their qualifying group with two matches left to play. That first place finish will earn Sweden a place in a two-leg playoff that will produce one of the four European qualifiers for the Women’s World Cup.

Many of the Swedish players will not have to travel far for the matches as four are currently playing in WPS: midfielder Caroline Seger and defender Sara Larsson of the Philadelphia Independence, midfielder Kosovare Asllani of the Chicago Red Stars and forward Jessica Landström of Sky Blue FC.

USA vs. Sweden
July 13 – Omaha, Neb.
July 17 – East Hartford, Conn.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Nicole Barnhart (FC Gold Pride), Jill Loyden (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Atlanta Beat)
DEFENDERS (8): Rachel Buehler (FC Gold Pride), Stephanie Cox (Boston Breakers), Ali Krieger (FFC Frankfurt), Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers), Kate Markgraf (Chicago Red Stars), Heather Mitts (Philadelphia Independence), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Meghan Schnur (Sky Blue FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Shannon Boxx (FC Gold Pride), Sarah Huffman (Washington Freedom), Kristine Lilly (Boston Breakers), Lori Lindsey (Philadelphia Independence), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Allie Long (Washington Freedom), Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC), Megan Rapinoe (Chicago Red Stars)
FORWARDS (5): Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (California), Kelley O’Hara (FC Gold Pride), Amy Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence), Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom)

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