United States women's national team coach Pia Sundhage won an international title in her first year at the helm, guiding the USWNT to a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She's banking on that success carrying over to this summer's FIFA World Cup in Germany.
Twelve of the 21 players selected to represent the United States this summer have never participated in a World Cup before, but 14 were part of the 2008 world-championship team, and that experience will be counted on as the No. 1-ranked Americans seek their first World Cup crown since 1999.
"The only wrinkle I would say is that there's two years in between tournaments between the end of the Olympics and the beginning of the World Cup," veteran forward Abby Wambach said. "The time frame in preparation is a bit different. For me, everything else is the same, because it's a world championship. You want everything to be peaking at the right time."
Wambach is one of the few World Cup veterans to grace Sundhage's roster. Another is captain Christie Rampone, the last remaining holdover from that 1999 championship team.
Here is the 21-woman roster that's headed to Germany:
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM WORLD CUP ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS – Hope Solo (magicJack), Nicole Barnhart (Philadelphia Independence), Jill Loyden (magicJack).
DEFENDERS – Rachel Buehler (Boston Breakers), Stephanie Cox (Boston Breakers), Ali Krieger (out of contract), Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers), Heather Mitts (Atlanta Beat), Christie Rampone (magicJack), Becky Sauerbrunn (magicJack).
MIDFIELDERS – Shannon Boxx (magicJack), Tobin Heath (Sky Blue FC), Lori Lindsey (Philadelphia Independence), Carli Lloyd (Atlanta Beat), Heather O'Reilly (Sky Blue FC), Megan Rapinoe (Philadelphia Independence), Lindsay Tarpley (magicJack).
FORWARDS – Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Western New York Flash), Amy Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence), Abby Wambach (magicJack).
The USWNT will play in three friendlies before heading to pre-World Cup training camp in Austria. The Americans will face Japan, ranked fourth in the world, twice; First in Columbus, Ohio, on May 14 (FSC, 6:30 p.m.), and again in Cary, N.C., on May 19 (ESPN2, 7 p.m.).
They'll have a send-off friendly against Mexico at Red Bull Arena on June 5 (ESPN2, 2 p.m.) before heading to Austria to prepare for their World Cup opener against North Korea on June 28 in Dresden, Germany.
They'll face their other Group C opponents, Colombia and Sweden on July 2 and 6, respectively. The United States has never finished worse than third in a women's World Cup and is one of two countries to win multiple championships. Host Germany, the two-time defending cup holder, is the other.
What do you think about the USWNT's chances in Germany? Like the roster? Surprised that anybody was left off? Do you see the USWNT winning the World Cup for the third time?
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