January 20, 2011

USWNT Set To Open Against Sweden at Four Nations Tournament

The USWNT will open its 2011 schedule on Friday against Sweden at the Four Nations Tournament to be played in China. Also participating in the tournament will be the host nation China and Canada who will play each other in the second match of the day.

The US enters the tournament without their big scorer, Abby Wambach, who is suffering from a heel injury, and their number one keeper Hope Solo, who is recovering from shoulder surgery. That means the US forward contingent will be made of four young front line players in Amy Rodriguez, Lauren Cheney, Alex Morgan, and Sydney Leroux.

Rodriguez and Cheney are WPS veterans that have been regulars on the US roster for some time. Rodriguez earned a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics. Morgan made her mark in 2010, scoring four goals, including the game winner in the playoff for a World Cup berth against Italy. Leroux, still in college at UCLA, has been a major scoring threat on the US Junior teams for years. Leroux and Morgan started together on the U-20 World Cup champions in 2008.

Sweden will be without several of their top players, including top scorer Lotta Schelin, Jessica Landström, Nilla Fischer, and WPS star Caroline Seger. Sweden has announced that their starting lineup for the opener will be Hedvig Lindahl in goal, Lina Nilsson, Stina Segerström, Charlotte Rohlin, and Annica Svensson on defense, with Kosovare Asllani, Lisa Dahlkvist, Therese Sjögran, Antonia Göransson, Linda Forsberg, and Josefine Öqvist rounding out the eleven.

These two teams met three times in 2010. The US defeated Sweden 2-0 at the Algarve Cup in March. The two teams played a pair of friendlies in July with the first ending in a 1-1 draw and the US taking the final match 3-0. Schelin did not participate in either of the two friendlies. They will also face each other in the upcoming 2011 World Cup as both are in Group C.

The US squad will be looking to build on their two 1-0 victories over Italy in November, after a disastrous upset at the hands of Mexico in CONCACAF qualifying. Several young players will have chances to impress US coach Pia Sundhage. In addition to Morgan and Leroux, recently drafted Meghan Klingenberg is one of the midfielders on the roster. They join several players from the 2010 WPS draft class, including Kelley O'Hara, Brittany Taylor, Ashlyn Harris, Tobin Heath, and Cheney.

The game will be played at 2:30 AM eastern time, with the Canada/China match to follow. On Sunday, the US will finally face Canada, a team that they lost the opportunity to play at the CONCACAF finals due to their upset defeat by Mexico. The US will face the host Chinese side on Tuesday. The US, Sweden, and Canada all qualified for the World Cup, but China did not.

United States:
GK-Nicole Barnhart, Ashlyn Harris
D-Rachel Buehler, Stephanie Cox, Amy LePeilbet, Heather Mitts, Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn, Brittany Taylor
MF-Yael Averbuch, Shannon Boxx, Tobin Heath, Meghan Klingenberg, Lori Lindsey, Carli Lloyd, Kelley O'Hara, Heather O'Reilly, Megan Rapinoe, Lindsay Tarpley
F-Lauren Cheney, Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Amy Rodriguez

GK-Hedvig Lindahl, Kristin Hammarström
D-Johanna Frisk, Sara Larsson, Lina Nilsson, Charlotte Rohlin, Stina Segerström, Linda Sembrandt, Annica Svensson
MF-Johanna Almgren, Kosovare Asllani (MF/F), Lisa Dahlkvist, Louise Fors, Antonia Göransson, Marie Hammarström (MF/D), Therese Sjögran
F-Madelaine Edlund, Linda Forsberg, Linnea Liljegård, Josefine Öqvist

GK-Stephanie Labbé, Karina LeBlanc, Erin McLeod
D-Melanie Booth, Candace Chapman, Christine Exeter, Robyn Gayle, Marie-Eve Nault, Sophie Schmidt, Brittany Timko, Rhian Wilkinson, Emily Zurrer
MF-Laura Chénard, Kaylyn Kyle, Diana Matheson, Carmelina Moscato
F-Josée Bélanger, Jonelle Foligno, Christina Julien, Taylor Patterson, Jodi-Ann Robinson, Desiree Scott, Christine Sinclair, Melissa Tancredi