24 June 2008
United States Women's Soccer team head coach Pia Sundhage has named the18 players who will be going to Beijing for the upcoming OlympicGames. Chris Cox has the story.
The biggest surprise is thatlongtime goalkeeper Briana Scurry was not selected. Sundhage said the36-year-old Scurry acted very professional when she told her that thegoalies would be 25-year-old Hope Solo and 26-year-old Nicole Barnhart.
Scurryhas played more games and earned more victories than any U.S. soccergoalie in history, male or female. But she was at the center of acontroversy at last year's women's World Cup when former coach GregRyan put her in goal in the semifinal against Brazil, citing herexperience, even though goalie Hope Solo had recorded shutouts in theprevious two matches. The Americans were upset, 4-0, and Solo madesome remarks that were indirectly critical of Scurry.
Sundhage said last year's rift was not a factor in her decision to pick Solo and Barnhart.
"No,not at all. The reason why I have picked these two goalkeepers, theyhave just the game suited for international games, and especially theway we play," she said. "We want to keep the ball."
Coach Sundhage then pressed the issue on the style of play she wanted to go with and how the goalies fit into her game plan.
"Wetalk about keep possession and switch the point of attack and I wantthem to do that in the back four and even use the goalkeeper and bothHope and Nicole, they are very good with their feet and that isnecessary the way we're playing right now," she said.
Sundhage,who has been on the job for only seven months, talked about her team'sstrengths and seems very impressed by the way the players have adaptedto her new style.
"They are brave, and the fact that they canplay in different systems," she said. "We have different players andwe've talked about change since I've started and they've seemed toembrace that word and it has not been too much of a change I think, andnot too little either."
Coach Pia Sundhage and the U.S. Women'sSoccer Team will travel to Europe in July to take on Norway and Swedenbefore coming back to the states for two warm-up games against Brazil. The Americans will then head off to Beijing to try to defend their goldmedal in August.