CHICAGO (Jan. 22, 2013) - Six current and former University of North Carolina women's soccer players are amongst the 29 players that U.S. Women's National Team head coach Tom Sermanni has named for a training camp leading into the USA's first two matches of 2013.
Those matches are slated for Feb. 9 in Jacksonville, Fla., and Feb. 13 in Nashville, Tenn. The USA will face Sermanni's native country of Scotland in both games.
Crystal Dunn, a junior midfielder for the Tar Heels, is one of new current collegians who will attend the training camp. Dunn has been invited to the training camp as a defender, a position she played for the U.S. U20 World Champions in 2012. Former Tar Heels who have been invited to the camp for the debut of Sermanni's tenure as the U.S. head coach include midfielders Heather O'Reilly ('06), Tobin Heath ('09) and Yael Averbuch ('08) as well as defender Whitney Engen ('09) and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris ('09).
Sermanni, who was appointed the new head coach of the USA at the end of October, will be coaching in his first event with the U.S. team. He named 17 of the 18 players who helped the USA to the Olympic gold medal in London last summer, as well as numerous players with previous National Team experience and a handful of young talented players.
"I'm excited to get out on the field and work with the team for the first time," said Sermanni. "For this particular part of the cycle, it's important to look at the established players in the squad but also the up-and-coming players and the ones who we think have the potential to really fight for positions on the team. For me, this period is really about observation and evaluation of some players who I know very well, some I've seen play only a bit and some who I will be seeing in a competitive environment for the first time."
Forwards Abby Wambach, the 2012 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year, and Alex Morgan, the 2012 U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year, are coming off a stellar year in which they combined for 55 goals, tying a 21-year-old U.S. record for most goals by two players in a calendar year.
The training camp also marks the return of defender Ali Krieger to the U.S. team for the first time since she suffered a serious knee injury during the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Canada just over a year ago. Krieger, one of the heroes of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup Team, played the past five years in Germany and has returned to the USA to play in the NWSL for the Washington Spirit.
Several players who have been battling to make WNT rosters over the past few years and who have recently been playing in Europe were called up for the start of 2013: midfielder Yael Averbuch, who is playing for FC Göteborg in Sweden; defender Whitney Engen, who signed with Liverpool FC in England; goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, who was playing for FCR Duisburg in Germany and has been allocated to the Washington Spirit; midfielder Keelin Winters who was playing for FCC Turbine Potsdam in Germany and has been allocated to the Chicago Red Stars; and forward Christen Press, the 2010 MAC Hermann Trophy winner at Stanford, who was second in scoring in Sweden's First Division last season, scoring 17 league goals and 25 in all 2012 competitions for FC Göteborg. She recently transferred to Tyresö FF.
Looking to the next generation, Sermanni named two of the stars of the U.S. team that won the 2012 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup in Japan last summer. Sermanni has given first full National Team call-ups to University of North Carolina defender Crystal Dunn, who played a dominating tournament at right back and assisted on the winning goal in the 1-0 World Cup Final victory against Germany, and to Santa Clara University defender Julie Johnston, the U.S. captain and winner of the Bronze Ball as the third-best player in the tournament, a rare achievement for a defender. Dunn recently won the MAC Hermann Trophy as the best player in college soccer. Dunn and Johnston are both 20 years old and have one year of college eligibility remaining.
The training camp will also take on added significance as U.S. head coach Tom Sermanni will be evaluating players to choose his roster for the 2013 Algarve Cup in Portugal that will run from March 6-13.
Six players on the roster are uncapped: GK Jane Campbell, D Crystal Dunn, GK Ashlyn Harris, M Kristie Mewis, F Christen Press and M Keelin Winters.
U.S. Women's National Team Training Camp Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (5): Nicole Barnhart (FC Kansas City), Jane Campbell (Concorde Fire South), Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit), Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (9): Rachel Buehler (Portland Thorns FC), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina), Whitney Engen (Liverpool FC), Julie Johnston (Santa Clara), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Heather Mitts (Boston Breakers), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Yael Averbuch (Göteborg FC), Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), Lauren Cheney (FC Kansas City), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lori Lindsey (Washington Spirit), Carli Lloyd (Western NY Flash), Kristie Mewis (FC Kansas City), Heather O'Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC), Keelin Winters (Chicago Red Stars)
FORWARDS (5): Sydney Leroux (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Tyresö FF), Amy Rodriguez (Seattle Reign FC), Abby Wambach (Western NY Flash)