U.S. Women's National Team (U.S. WNT) head coach Pia Sundhage has officially released the roster of players to represent six-time champion USA at the Algarve Cup in Portugal later this month. Nineteen were chosen after a twenty-day training camp in Carson, CA.
Among those is Chicago Red Stars rookie Casey Nogueira, who is looking to get her second international cap. During her college career with UNC, she was a three-time NCAA champion and won Most Outstanding Offensive Player honors twice at the College Cup. Nogueira's late goal at last year's semi-final brought the Tar Heels to another final, and her assist to Jessica McDonald's game-winning goal gave the team their 20th NCAA championship win.
More recently, in a U.S. WNT scrimmage against the Korea Republic Women’s National Team, Nogueira scored three of the Americans' four goals.
Another new addition to the Red Stars roster who will be heading to Portugal is goalkeeper Jillian Loyden. During her time with Saint Louis Athletica the past season, she was coached by U.S. WNT goalkeeper coach Paul Rogers and was backup to the U.S. WNT's starting goalkeeper Hope Solo. When Solo was away for national team duty, Loyden stepped up to the plate for Athletica and her standout performance earned her a WPS Player of the Week title.
"I learned so much my first year [in the league] trying to adjust to the pace and having Hope, who's one of the best goalkeepers in the world, just be there everyday to learn from, and Paul, who's one of the best coaches I've ever been coached by. It was just amazing," Loyden recently told Bleacher Report in Philadelphia after her trade to the Red Stars was announced. Loyden was also named the W-League Goalkeeper of the Year in Australia last fall.
Making her first trip to the Algarve Cup is Sky Blue FC's Yael Averbuch. Just like fellow Tar Heel Nogueira, Averbuch has earned an international cap before. Her most recent one was in Germany back in October where she earned a starting spot in just her third cap. Averbuch helped set up the lone goal in the game, which earned the Americans a victory over the highly-favored Germans.
"I’m excited to go to Portugal. Not only is it some place I’ve never been, but I’m enjoying being part of this group. I’ve always loved the fútbol, but getting to know the players and staff on the national team is valuable too. And maybe I’ll even pick up cap No. 4!" Averbuch wrote on the New York Times ' soccer blog Goal .
Also included in the roster are the first and second picks in the 2010 WPS Draft—Tobin Heath of the Atlanta Beat and Lauren Cheney of the Boston Breakers. The two were the youngest players in the gold medal-winning 2008 Olympic squad and have been regular fixtures with the national team. Together with Philadelphia Independence's Amy Rodriguez, these youngsters were considered as the U.S. WNT's "New Kids" at the Olympics.
At the PUMA event last month, when asked about the new players getting called up to camp, Rodriguez replied, "We're excited for the real new kids right now to join us and enjoy this experience."
With younger players in the roster, Sundhage continues to shape the squad that will represent the United States at the Women's World Cup in Germany next year. National team veterans provide familiar faces in this year's Algarve Cup Roster, which includes Saint Louis Athletica's Solo and Shannon Boxx, Philadelphia Independence's Heather Mitts, Sky Blue FC's Heather O'Reilly and Carli Lloyd, and Washington Freedom's Cat Whitehill and Abby Wambach, who missed out last year.
Absent from the roster are captain Christie Rampone, due to pregnancy, and co-captain Lori Chalupny, who will be taking some time off due to concussion related issues.
“I need to go through this process now to insure my health for the future. I certainly don’t like the idea of missing a tournament like the Algarve Cup, or missing any time with Athletica. I just need to get some rest and take care of these issues” said Chalupny in Saint Louis Athletica's press release.
The Algarve Cup, one of the U.S. WNT's favorite tournaments, will take place from February 24 to March 3, 2010 in Portugal. The United States will fall under a competitive Group B with Iceland, long-time rival Norway, and last year's champion Sweden. The players will be back in U.S. soil in time for their WPS clubs' preseason training camps in Florida.
The complete roster from U.S. Soccer :
GOALKEEPERS (3): Nicole Barnhart (FC Gold Pride), Jill Loyden (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (St. Louis Athletica)
DEFENDERS (6): Rachel Buehler (FC Gold Pride), Stephanie Cox (Boston Breakers), Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers), Heather Mitts (Philadelphia Independence), Meghan Schnur (Sky Blue FC), Cat Whitehill (Washington Freedom)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Yael Averbuch (Sky Blue FC), Shannon Boxx (St. Louis Athletica), Tobin Heath (Atlanta Beat), Lori Lindsey (Philadelphia Independence), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC)
FORWARDS (4): Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers), Casey Nogueira (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence), Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom)