After a heartbreaking loss to Japan in the final of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the U.S. Women’s National Team will look return to the top of of the podium at the 2012 Olympic Games. The USA, the No. 1-ranked team in the world, has won Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008, in addition to earning the first-ever gold medal for women’s soccer in 1996 and a silver medal in 2000.
Before the USA can go for the gold in London, however, the team must qualify through the CONCACAF region, which has proven to be more and more difficult each year. Canada, the region’s current champion, and Mexico, which famously defeated the U.S. during world cup qualifying, will likely be the biggest challengers for the USA as eight teams compete for only two berths to London. That tournament is set for Jan. 19-29, 2012, in Vancouver, B.C.
As women’s soccer continues to grow around the world, the competition in London will likely be even greater than seen in Germany this summer as only 12 teams will make it to the Olympics (as compared to 16 berths for the world cup).
Should the U.S. qualify, the stars from the USA’s run in Germany will likely lead the team in London. The current crop of stars include forward Abby Wambach, whose scoring prowess continued on the world stage this summer; defender and team captain Christie Rampone, who is closing in on nearly 250 international appearances in her career; and goalkeeper Hope Solo, who proved this summer that she is the best at her position in the world.
Rampone is one of five players, along with Shannon Boxx, Heather Mitts, Heather O’Reilly and Wambach, from the 2011 World Cup roster who will be vying for their third Olympic gold medal in London.
That group will be mixed with players who are only beginning to make their mark at the international level. Forwards Lauren Cheney and Alex Morgan, and defenders Becky Sauerbrunn and Ali Krieger have shown that they more than capable of contributing to the top team in the world at the world cup, while other players like Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg, Kristie Mewis and Sydney Leroux will be looking to make their way into the team during the next year.
After the team’s memorable run in Germany, there will not be much rest for the weary as the group will be back together again in late 2011 in preparation for another big year. The next few months will see the U.S. WNT players return to their professional teams before a series of friendly matches in the fall.
- The U.S. Women’s National Team just completed a remarkable run at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, capturing the nation’s attention while advancing to the final, only to lose out to a determined Japanese team in a penalty shootout. It was the first appearance for the U.S. in a world-cup final since 1999.
- Two-time defending Olympic gold medalists, the U.S. will be looking for a third in London 2012. The No. 1-ranked team in the world will be out to win the world championship that the team narrowly lost out on in Germany.
- Head coach Pia Sundhage is in her fourth year at the helm of the U.S. Women’s National Team, and will be looking for her second gold medal. She led the team to the top of the podium in 2008 with just nine months of preparation.
- Christie Rampone: defender and captain
- Abby Wambach: forward
- Hope Solo: goalkeeper
- Heather O’Reilly: midfielder
- Alex Morgan: forward
The U.S. will need to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games by reaching the final of the CONCACAF Women’s Qualifying Tournament, which is set for Jan. 19-29 in Vancouver. The eight teams in the tournament, which already include the USA, Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba, will be split into two groups of four. The top two teams in each group will meet in the crossover semifinal games that will send the winners to London.
- Jan. 19-29, 2012: Olympic qualifying tournament - Vancouver, B.C.
Athlete Social Media
- Hope Solo - @hopesolo
- Amy Rodriguez - @amyrodriguez8
- Alex Morgan - @alexmorgan13
- Megan Rapinoe - @mPinoe
- Christie Rampone - @christierampone
- Lauren Cheney - @laurencheney8
- Tobin Heath - @tobinheath
- Ali Krieger - @AlexBKrieger
- Carli Lloyd - @carlilloyd
- Abby Wambach - @AbbyWamba – ch
- Heather O’Reilly - @Heather_SBFC
- Lindsay Tarpley - @lindsaytarpley
- Nicole Barnhart - @nbarnhart
- Jill Loyden - @jloyden
- Becky Sauerbrunn - @beckysauerbrunn
- Kelley O’Hara - @kohara19
- Lori Lindsey - @LoriLindsey6