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The Week In Women’s Football: USA names Rio Olympics squad along with New Zealand, France

This week we present a few more final rosters for the Rio Olympics including the U.S., New Zealand and France.


U.S. finalizes 18-woman roster

On July 12, 2016 U.S. national team head coach Jill Ellis announced her final 18 woman roster for the Olympics Games in Rio next month, as well as four alternatives.

Midfielders Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath and goalkeeper Hope Solo were named to their third Olympic team rosters. In addition, Solo was an alternate at the 2004 Athens Olympics and will be attending her fourth Games. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe, forward Alex Morgan and defenders Kelley O'Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn will be playing in their second Olympic Games.

The remaining 11 players made their first Olympic roster, although forward Christen Press and defender Meghan Klingenberg were alternates in London in 2012. Ellis also named four alternate replacement players that will travel to Brazil: midfielder Heather O'Reilly (FC Kansas City)--who is a three-time gold medalist (2004, 2008 and 2012)--goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), defender Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns) and midfielder Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash). O'Reilly and Harris were part of the USA's World Cup championship team last summer.

Ellis explained her view of the side ahead of the Rio Olympics: “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. Now the task is getting our team 100% healthy and finalizing our preparations during the next camp."

There are four players who have earned spots from their play after last summer's World Cup triumph: Allie Long, Lindsey Horan, Crystal Dunn and Mallory Pugh. Pugh is the second youngest women's soccer Olympian in U.S. history as she will be only a few weeks older than Cindy Parlow was at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Pugh will be 18 years, 3 months and 5 days old when the USA opens the Olympics on Aug. 3rd. Parlow was 18 years, 2 months and 13 days old when the USA opened the 1996 Olympics in Orlando, Fla. Parlow-Cone later led the Portland Thorns to the inaugural NWSL championship in 2013.

Midfielder Allie Long, one of Parlow-Cone's players on the 2013 Thorns championship side, is an example of a player who never gave up in her quest to make the national team. She has a total of 9 caps, of which 5 have come since April 2016, when she scored twice in a friendly against Colombia. Ellis explained her decision to add her for Rio, after not using her since her first four games in charge in 2014: “I had Allie initially when I took over the team. Many players, they come in and it's not immediate success, and they go and they recommit themselves and I think Allie did that. I think she worked very, very hard in terms of her fitness base, in terms of her game, in terms of reading what we're asking our six to do at the time. And when I brought her back in, she seemed to play with a lot of confidence." Since 2014, the USA has gone with a third central midfielder, which opened up another spot on the depth chart. In five national team appearances this season, Long has 2 goals and 1 assist while for Portland she has 1 assist in 10 games (all starts).

Long has been mentioned as a player who has done very well in NWSL and, some followers of the league felt, should have been given more of a chance at the full national team level in the past. Long (28) said: “I remember looking back and having days when I would just be thinking, 'Is this ever going to happen? I was working so hard and I was frustrated. There were a lot of ups and downs, but I remained faithful to what I was doing and believed I was going to get called. I don't know why but I just knew it was going to happen."

Aside from her off-season training after the 2015 season, Long attributes a great deal of her success story to playing in the NWSL: “I think that I've needed the Thorns more than they've needed me. Just the fact that there is a league that allows the coaches to see you and where you can play with the best in the world is so great. I think the reason that I got called in is largely because of the league. You train every day, you have games every weekend, and you're getting better every single day. It's been huge and I'm so grateful."

Long played two seasons in WPS with the Washington Freedom and then one season with Sky Blue FC. After the league folded, she played for half a season with Paris St. Germain in France.

Of the 18 woman roster, 17 came from NWSL, with Mallory Pugh still an amateur and bound for UCLA in the fall. Portland Thorns FC has four players, followed by the Chicago Red Stars with three and Seattle Reign FC, the Houston Dash and the Washington Spirit with two each. Sky Blue FC, FC Kansas City, the Orlando Pride and the Boston Breakers had one woman selected. The only team without a selection was the Western New York Flash (presently in third place in the league but only one point behind joint leaders Portland Thorns and Washington Spirit) but their midfielder Samantha Mewis was selected as an alternate.

The average age of the U.S. Olympic Women's Soccer Team, when the USA opens play on Aug. 3, will be 27.8 years old.


2016 U.S. Olympic Women's Soccer Team Roster by Position


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)


New Zealand names roster for Rio

New Zealand women's national team head coach Tony Readings (a native of England who played with AFC Wimbledon in 2002-2003--the fan owned side that replaced Wimbledon F.C) has finalized his roster for next month's Olympic Games. Most of the squad is based abroad in Germany (3), Sweden (3), the United States (3), Switzerland (2), England (1) and Japan (1). Five of the squad play in New Zealand as well as the four alternatives. Two of the squad currently are in NWSL, with three time Olympian Abby Erceg of Western New York Flash joining rookie Katie Bowen of FC Kansas City, while Hannah Wilkinson is still in college at the University of Tennessee. Goalkeeper Erin Naylor was on Sky Blue FC's roster earlier this season but recently released after not playing at all, quickly falling out of favor with the coaching staff.

One of the three players in Germany--Betsy Hassett--is transferring to the Netherlands. Hassett, who played in college at the University of California and at Manchester City in 2012, is transferring from Werder Bremen in Germany to AFC Ajax of the Netherlands. Hassett said: “It has come along at the right time and I've got heritage in Holland so it's going to be awesome to have family around me there….I've got a cousin who lives in Amsterdam and my older brother has just moved there too. So it will be great to have some friends there." Ajax narrowly was piped to the 2015-16 title by FC Twente; Ajax had the same number of points (56) on a 17-5-2 mark but trailed in goal difference (+58 to +35). Hassett will join goalkeeper Elixabete Sarasola of Spain as the only imports at Ajax this point, with the season set to start in September.

Rosie White has 2 goals in 9 league games with Liverpool, who are mid-table in the Super League. White previously played at UCLA where she was on a College Cup winning side.

Seven players in the squad – captain Abby Erceg, Anna Green, Amber Hearn, Ria Percival, Kirsty Yallop, Katie Duncan and Ali Riley – travel to Brazil for their third Olympic Games as does Coach Redding. Five of the squad have played 100 games or more for New Zealand – Erceg (126), Duncan (nee Hoyle) (115), Hearn (112), Percival (116) and Riley (101) – while Yallop, if selected will play her 100th game for the team in the opener of the Olympics against the USA. New Zealand then plays Colombia and France in the group stage.

Coach Tony Readings talked about meeting the reigning World Cup and Olympic champions U.S. to begin group play: “We are not the sort of team who just wants to get out [of] the group, we want to get through to right to the end of the tournament. You will likely have to play the USA at some stage in the tournament and you need to beat them. For us to play them first up is a great opportunity." Readings is looking for this squad to set a benchmark and build off of their quarterfinal appearance four years ago in London: “We want to make a big statement as a team in this Olympics and we know that we can. In 20 years' time hopefully we can look back with pride on the legacy we left in women's football in New Zealand. To see the girls work so hard to achieve something like that has been incredible to be a part of."


NZ Football Women's Olympic Squad
(Club – NZ unless noted, Caps and Goals for New Zealand)

Katie Bowen (FC Kansas City, USA, 37, 1)

Katie Duncan (vc) (FC Zurich, Switzerland, 115, 1)

Abby Erceg (c) (Western New York Flash USA, 126, 6)

Anna Green (Malbackens IF Sweden, 60, 7)

Sarah Gregorius (Speranza FC Osaka-Takatsuki, Japan, 78, 24)

Betsy Hassett (Werder Bremen, Germany, 91, 8)

Amber Hearn (USV Jena, Germany, 112, 50)

Annalie Longo (Cashmere Technical, 91, 8)

Meikayla Moore (Norwest United, 14, 0)

Erin Nayler (Norwest United, 40, 0)

Ria Percival (FC Basel, Switzerland, 116, 11)

Jasmine Pereira (Three Kings United, 18, 0)

Ali Riley (FC Rosengard, Sweden, 101, 1)

Rebecca Rolls (Three Kings Utd, 22, 0)

Rebekah Stott (SC Sand, Germany, 49, 4)

Rosie White (Liverpool FC, England, 81, 14)

Hannah Wilkinson (University of Tennessee, USA, 74, 23)

Kirsty Yallop (Malbackens IF, Sweden, 99, 12)

(Travelling Reserves)

Catherine (CJ) Bott (Forrest Hill Milford United AFC, 3, 0)
, Daisy Cleverley (Eastern Suburbs AFC, 3, 2)
, Victoria Esson (Ferrymead Bays, 0, 0)
, Paige Satchell (Three Kings United, 1, 0)


France announce their Rio squad

France, who finished fourth at the 2012 Olympics, named an experienced squad for Rio de Janeiro. All of the players are home based except Elise Bussaglia, who is with Wolfsburg, and Amadine Henry, who recently left Lyon for Portland Thorns. Lyon has nine players represented while Paris St. Germain has four.


GOALKEEPERS

Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon)
Meline Gerard (Lyon)


DEFENDERS

Sabrina Delannoy (Paris SG)
Jessica D'Houara (Paris SG)
Laura Georges (Paris SG)
Amel Majri (Lyon)
Griedge Mbock Bathy (Lyon)
Wendie Renard (Lyon)


MIDFIELDERS

Camille Abily (Lyon)
Elise Bussaglia (Wolfsburg/GER)
Kheira Hamraoui (Paris SG)
Amandine Henry (Portland Thorns/USA)
Louisa Necib (Lyon)
Elodie Thomis (Lyon)


FORWARDS

Marie-Laure Delie (Paris SG)
Kadidiatou Diani (Juvisy)
Claire Lavogez (Lyon)
Eugenie Le Sommer (Lyon)




Tim Grainey
is a contributor to Tribalfootball. His latest book is Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey

Tim Grainey
About the author

Tim Grainey

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