U.S. national Coach Jill Ellis finalized her roster for June’s World Cup and the team she picked will be one of the oldest ever to play in a major international tournament.
Cut from the team Tuesday were defenders Crystal Dunn, a 22-year-old with just 13 international caps, and Rachel Van Hollebeke, who played in the 2011 World Cup.
If the U.S. makes it to the July 5 final, 10 of the 23 women in uniform for that game will be 30 years of age or older. And that could be a problem since this tournament will be the most physically demanding in women’s World Cup history.
With the field expanding to 24 times for the first time, the two finalists will play a World Cup-record seven games, all on artificial turf.
“Fitness is something that is a huge strength for us,” Ellis said. “Our mental toughness and our physical capacity. I would put us up with any team. And our ability to sustain is exceptional.
“We have to have depth to be successful.”
Hope Solo, who was suspended for a month earlier this season, will start for the U.S. in goal for the third consecutive World Cup. The back line will be anchored by Christie Rampone, who has played more international games all-time than all but one U.S. player. Rampone will celebrate her 40th birthday during the World Cup.
Carli Lloyd, who scored the game-winning goal in the last two Olympic finals, will be in the midfield along with Megan Rapinoe while Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux and Abby Wambach will play up front.
In addition to being one of the most experienced teams U.S. teams ever – eight players on the roster have made at least 120 international appearances -- the roster Ellis chose Tuesday is also one of the most explosive, featuring five players with more than 30 international goals. Wambach’s 178 goals are the most by any player, male of female, in soccer history.
“We have world-class goal scorers that can change the game at any point, any moment,” said Wambach, whom Ellis has frequently used off the bench this year. “And that’s something Jill and our coaching staff is going to use to our advantage.”
Goalkeepers (3): Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher, Hope Solo
Defenders (8): Lori Chalupny, Whitney Engen, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, Kelley O’Hara, Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn
Midfielders (8): Shannon Boxx, Morgan Brian, Tobin Heath, Lauren Holiday, Carli Lloyd, Heather O’Reilly, Christen Press, Megan Rapinoe
Forwards (4): Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Amy Rodriguez, Abby Wambach