The roster announced for the United States Women’s National Team for the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany this summer included an all-time high in alumni for the W-League with 15 former players on the squad named by Pia Sundhage. The World Cup team, the fourth since the founding of the league in 1995, features players representing 18 current and former W-League franchises.
The 15 W-League alumni for the upcoming tournament eclipse the 13 that were on the last roster in 2007. There were eight W-League alumni in 2003 and a dozen on the first 1999 squad.
W-League alumni returning from the 2007 roster are Abby Wambach, Lindsay Tarpley, Heather O’Reilly, Carli Lloyd, Shannon Boxx and Christie Rampone. It is the third tournament for Wambach and the fourth consecutive for Rampone, the lone remaining member of the 1999 Women’s World Cup Champions. Wambach played for the Rochester Ravens as a teenager in 1998 and Rampone was a member of the New Jersey Lady Stallions the same year.
The Pali Blues saw three players, Lauren Cheney, Amy LePeilbet and Tobin Heath, from its W-League championship teams ( 2008 & 2009) named to the squad along with 2010 Blues striker Alex Morgan. LePeilbet and Heath are both long-time W-League players. Current Pali Blues Vice President and USL Pro Los Angeles Blues coach Charlie Naimo has ties to the most players having coached eight players either with the Blues or previously managing Jersey Sky Blue (2007), New Jersey Wildcats (2004-06), New Brunswick Power (2000) and Central Jersey Splash (1998-99) prior to his last three years in LA.
Former Northern Virginia Majestic Ali Krieger was named to the World Cup roster for the first time. She was also one of three players that played for the W-League Washington Freedom. She is joined by Lori Lindsey and Becky Sauerbrunn, who was a member of the USL Pro Richmond’s former sister side Kickers Destiny prior to the Freedom. Another WPS-related W-League side, Jersey Sky Blue, was represented by Heath and first-timer Jill Loyden.
Over the years W-League alumni have had an impact on the tournament beyond just the US Women’s roster. In 2007 a total of 54 W-League alumni represented nine nations, an increase from the total of 42 representing seven nations in 2003.
The 2011 US Women’s World Cup Team will play a two-game series against fellow Women’s World Cup qualifier Japan taking place on May 14 at Columbus Crew Stadium (6:30 p.m. ET on FOX Soccer and FOX Deportes) and May 18 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. (7 p.m. ET on ESPN2). The USA will play its Women’s World Cup Send-Off Match on June 5 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. (2 p.m. ET on ESPN2) before the players go on a break. The U.S. team will leave for Austria in mid-June for a pre-Women’s World Cup training camp.
The USA, which has been drawn into Group C with Korea DPR, Colombia and Sweden, opens its tournament on June 28 in Dresden against the Koreans in a match that will be broadcast live on ESPN at 11:45 a.m. ET.
2011 US World Cup Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Nicole Barnhart… Jill Loyden – Jersey Sky Blue 2007-08… Hope Solo… DEFENDERS (7): Rachel Buehler… Stephanie Cox… Ali Krieger – Washington Freedom 2007, Northern Virginia Majestics 2005… Amy LePeilbet – Pali Blues 2008, Arizona Heatwave 2003, 05, Chicago Cobras 2000-03… Heather Mitts – Central Florida Krush 2005, Tampa Bay Extreme 2000… Christie Rampone – New Jersey Stallions 1998, Central Jersey Splash 1997… Becky Sauerbrunn – Washington Freedom 2008, Richmond Kickers Destiny 2006-07, Boston Renegades 2005… MIDFIELDERS (7): Shannon Boxx – Boston Renegades 1999… Tobin Heath – Pali Blues 2009, Jersey Sky Blue 2007, New Jersey Wildcats 2004-05… Lori Lindsey – Washington Freedom 2007-08, Indiana Blaze 1997-00… Carli Lloyd – New Jersey Wildcats 2004, South Jersey… Banshees 2001, New Brunswick Power 2000… Heather O’Reilly – New Jersey Wildcats 2004-05, New Brunswick Power 2000… Megan Rapinoe… Lindsay Tarpley – New Jersey Wildcats 2005, Kalamazoo Quest 1998-99… FORWARDS (4): Lauren Cheney – Pali Blues 2009… Alex Morgan – Pali Blues 2010… Amy Rodriguez.. Abby Wambach – Rochester Ravens 1998
Previous W-League Alumni on US World Cup Rosters*
Briana Scurry - Delaware Genies 1998… Christie Rampone - New Jersey Lady Stallions 1998, Central Jersey Splash 1997… Cat Whitehill - New Jersey Wildcats 2005… Lindsay Tarpley - New Jersey Wildcats 2005, Kalamazoo Quest 1998-99… Shannon Boxx - Boston Renegades 1999… Tina Ellertson - Seattle Sounders 2003-05… Heather O'Reilly - New Jersey Wildcats 2004-05… Carli Lloyd - New Jersey Wildcats 2004, South Jersey Banshees 2001, New Brunswick Power 2000… Leslie Osborne - Chicago Cobras 2001… Kristine Lilly - Delaware Genies 1998… Angela Hucles - Boston Renegades 2005, Hampton Roads Piranhas 2000… Marci Jobson - Atlanta Silverbacks 2005, Charlotte Lady Eagles 2004, Chicago Cobras 1997-2000… Abby Wambach - Rochester Ravens 1998
Brandi Chastain - Sacramento Storm 1997… Julie Foudy - Sacramento Storm 1997… Angela Hucles - Hampton Roads Piranhas 2000… Kristine Lilly - Delaware Genies 1998… Siri Mullinix - Raleigh Wings 1999, Charlotte Speed 1998… Christie Rampone - New Jersey Lady Stallions 1998, Central Jersey Splash 1997… Briana Scurry - Delaware Genies 1998… Abby Wambach - Rochester Ravens 1998
Briana Scurry - Delaware Genies 1998… Lorrie Fair - Silicon Valley Red Devils 1997… Christie Rampone - New Jersey Lady Stallions 1998, Central Jersey Splash 1997… Carla Overbeck - Raleigh Wings 1998… Brandi Chastain - Sacramento Storm 1997… Sara Whalen - Long Island Lady Riders 1997-98… Michelle Akers - Tampa Bay Extreme 1998… Julie Foudy - Sacramento Storm 1997… Kristine Lilly - Delaware Genies 1998… Tisha Venturini - Delaware Genies 1998… Danielle Fotopoulos - Tampa Bay Extreme 1998… Tracy Ducar - Raleigh Wings 1998
*Players listed with W-League experience prior to applicable World Cup (some players may have played in the W-League after World Cup)
Looking Back: 2007
Another World Cup, another top three finish for the United States, who have won two titles and finished third three times. While the US remains a perennial contender, former W-League players helped guide Australia, England and Brazil to new levels of success in one of the most exciting editions of the tournament, which was at times overshadowed by off the field matters such as spying accusations, coaching decisions and weather.
Former Brazilian W-Leaguers Formiga and Daniela finished second. Four years prior, it was a Canadian squad loaded with W-League stars that were the surprise of the tournament, reaching the semifinals before finishing fourth. In 2007, the darlings of the tournament were the Matildas of Australia. The Australian squad registered their first-ever victory in the World Cup and went on to advance from their group.
Australia opened with a stunning 4-1 win over Ghana in which 10 former W-League players highlighted the two squads, including captains Cheryl Salisbury (Australia) and Adjoa Bayor (Ghana). In the 15th minute former Boston Renegade Caitlin Munoz set up Sarah Walsh for the opening score and the Matildas cruised to their historic win and the Group C lead as Canada fell 2-1 to Norway. Australia then played 1995 tournament champion Norway to a 1-1 draw in the second game when Munoz came off the bench to record her second assist of the tournament by setting up the Lisa De Vanna equalizer in the 83rd minute. Canada, comprised entirely of current and former W-League players, defeated Ghana 4-0 to climb back into the mix to advance.
The final day of group play had plenty of drama as Australia needed just a draw to move on in their showdown with Canada while the Canadians needed a lot of help. Atlanta Silverback Melissa Tancredi put Canada on the board first with the second fastest goal in tournament history with a 18-yard strike 32 seconds in. Australia would tie it up in the 53rd and with Norway pulling away on the scoreboard against Ghana, Canada needed to post a win. They looked to pulled off the stunner in the 85th when a Rhian Wilkinson (Ottawa Fury) corner kick found Atlanta’s Candace-Marie Chapman, who re-directed her header back to the corner’s near post to an awaiting Christine Sinclair (Vancouver Whitecaps) for what appeared to be the winner. Well into stoppage time, the Australians got the break they needed when the ball was delivered to center of the box to a wide open Salisbury (Memphis Mercury), who put it away from just off the spot for the draw to send Australia and Norway through.
Australia had the unfortunate luck of drawing red hot Brazil in the Quarterfinals. Led by former W-League players Formiga and Daniela, the South Americans dominated their group 10-0 on aggregate in their sweep, including a 4-0 win over host China. Daniela (Hampton Roads Piranhas) scored Brazil’s first of the tournament 10 minutes into their 5-0 win over New Zealand with a 30-yard blast just under the bar.
The Quarterfinal showdown was an unexpected thriller with Formiga (Jersey Sky Blue) helping give Brazil a 2-0 lead with the opening goal on a fantastic strike four minutes into the game. Down two and without Salisbury due to injury, the Matildas did not give up and behind the leadership of Joanne Peters (Charlotte Lady Eagles) and Thea Slatyer (Washington Freedom) they pulled level with goals in the 36th and 68th minutes. Their hearts would be broken seven minutes later, however, when Christiane buried a shot from the edge of the box for the winner.
Brazil’s win set them up for a Semifinal affair with the US that began two days early with the coaching switch of goalkeepers Briana Scurry (Delaware Genies) for Hope Solo, a controversial move that became a heated topic following the worst loss, 4-0, in United States Women’s National Team World Cup history. A well driven low corner to the six from Formiga forced an own goal early and a quick shot from Marta, the tournament’s leading scorer, put the US in a 2-0 hole that was further complicated by a controversial second yellow to Shannon Boxx just before the half. Christiane and Marta put the game away in the second half as Brazil controlled the match.
The United States had advanced to the Semifinals with a surprisingly easy 3-0 win over England, who were soaring after their successful run through group play.
England had a tough task being in the same group as the defending champion Germany and 10th ranked Japan, but they started out hot in a 2-2 thriller against the Japanese. Japan, led by midfielder Homare Sawa (Denver Diamonds), stunned the Brits on free kicks at the beginning and end of the game for the lead and equalizer, but in between it all was former New Jersey Wildcat Kelly Smith, who struck with goals in the 81st and 83rd.
England then posted what may be the best result for any team in the tournament with a 0-0 draw against Germany, who would go on to defend their title. It was the only game in which Germany did not score at least two goals as they went on to finish with 21 in their four other games. The England defense was led by captain Faye White, who had just returned from a stint with the Ottawa Fury. England would wrap up their spot in the Quarterfinals with a 6-1 win over Argentina in which Smith added two more goals.
In the Quarterfinal against the US, it was the American half of the New Jersey Wildcat contingency that came out on top. The 2005 W-League champions were represented by England’s Rachel Yankey and Rachel Unitt as well as Heather O’Reilly, Lindsay Tarpley and Cat Whitehill of the US. Carli Lloyd (US) and Smith (England) had also played for the club in the past. The US shut down Smith as former W-Leaguers Abby Wambach (Rochester Ravens), Boxx (Boston Renegades) and Kristine Lilly (Delaware Genies) did all the scoring.
Despite the Semifinal loss to Brazil, the Americans finished well with Wambach scoring twice and O’Reilly once in the 4-1 win over Norway. The entertaining run of the spectacular Brazilian side ended in bittersweet fashion as they fell 2-0 to Germany despite several dangerous scoring opportunities in the game from Formiga, Daniela and the young standout Marta. Germany became the first team to defend their title, finishing the tournament without conceding a single goal.
Facts and Figures: 54 W-League alumni represented nine nations in the Women’s World Cup (Canada 21, USA 13, Australia 6, England 4, Ghana 4, Brazil 2, New Zealand 2, Japan 1, Norway 1) - Full List… 17 current W-League teams were represented at the World Cup… 16 players had won a W-League championship… 15 W-League players scored a goal in the World Cup, accounting for 25 goals (23% of the 108 scored)… 12 players recorded an assist, accounting for 18 assists (31% of the 57 total)… 45 players saw action in the tournament for a total of 10,945 minutes (17.3% of the 63,274 minutes played) and 149 matches played (17.2% of the 865 games played total)… US striker Abby Wambach (Rochester) finished tied for second in goals with six… Kristine Lilly (US, Delaware), Formiga (Brazil, Jersey) and Kara Lang (Canada, Vancouver) finished tied with the tournament lead in assists with three… 3 coaches had W-League ties – US HC Greg Ryan (Charlotte), US AC Bret Hall (Chicago, USL Hall of Fame) and Canada AC Bob Birarda (Vancouver)… 9 W-League players played every minute for their team (Canada – Christine Sinclair, Martina Franko, Sophie Schmidt, Randee Hermus, Tanya Dennis; Japan – Homare Sawa; Ghana – Mavis Danso; England – Faye White; US – Cate Whitehill)… 1 W-League player played the maximum 540 minutes possible (Cat Whitehill).
Looking Back: 2003
The US Women’s National Team did not see the tournament success they envisioned in the 2003 Women’s World Cup, but their opponent in the Third Place match was a surprise to many.
The Canadian Women’s National Team, winless in two previous tournament appearances, took a giant leap forward that fall with its stunning run in the tournament. Leading the way were 16 players with W-League experience on the roster of 20, including 11 who played with the three Canadian franchises in 2003.
Swiatek was the breakout player in Canada’s 2003 run to fourth. The most surprising story of the team’s run was that of Ottawa Fury goalkeeper Taryn Swiatek. After a breakout season in the W-League, where she finished second in goals against average at 0.41, she came into the tournament as the third-string netminder. Following a 4-1 loss to eventual champion Germany in their opener, Swiatek would make her debut in goal against Argentina and posted a shutout in a 3-0 win, the team’s first ever in the Women’s World Cup.
A 3-1 victory over Japan in their third match advanced the team out of group play and into a showdown with defending champion China in the quarterfinals. In a close-fought match, the Canadians registered the historic win to move onto the semis, where Sweden would rally with two unanswered goals in the final 11 minutes for a 2-1 win.
Swiatek finished with a 1.20 GAA for the tournament while three of the four goal scorers on the team were W-League alumni. USL Hall of Famer Charmaine Hooper tallied twice despite playing in her new role as defender. Vancouver Whitecaps 16-year old phenom Kara Lang also found the back of the net twice and former Whitecap Christine Sinclair finished tied with Christine Latham for the team lead with three strikes for the tournament.
Of the 42 then current and former W-League players on 2003 Women’s World Cup rosters, 35 saw action during group play in the first two weeks. Only three of the current 17 W-League players in the tournament did not see action in the group stage.
Five W-Leaguers were honored with Players of the Match honors, selected by the FIFA Technical Study Group, during the course of the tournament.
Charmaine Hooper was honored for leading the Canadians to a surprising Quarterfinal win over China with a stellar performance in her new role as defender. She still found the net, however, scoring the game’s lone tally on a header in the seventh minute. Former Delaware Genie Kristine Lilly scored the first goal of the United States’ campaign and the 92nd of her international career in her 256th international appearance - a 3-1 win over Sweden. Northern Virginia Majestics player Elizabeth Baidu was honored for her outstanding defensive play for Ghana in shutting down China, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup runners-up, in a narrow 1-0 loss. She was one of three players in the tournament to be honored from a team in a loss. Former Memphis Mercury player Cheryl Salisbury was honored for her fantastic defensive play in Australia’s 1-1 draw against China. She made a save in the 42nd minute, clearing the ball off the line to preserve a 1-0 lead heading to halftime. Despite two goals by teammate Alberta Sackey, Northern Virginia Majestic Adjoa Bayor was honored for her remarkable play in midfield that created numerous scoring chances for Ghana in their surprising 2-1 victory over Australia.
In the four years since the 1999 Women’s World Cup, the number of international players from abroad has increased in the W-League, pushing the talent level in the league to new heights and improving the level of the women’s game in North America and abroad. After fine-tuning their talents in the W-League, players like Australia’s Kelly Golebiowski, Mexico’s Maribel Dominguez and Japan’s Homare Sawa, among many others, raised the level of play of their nations.
Leading the list of W-League alumni was Canadian Charmaine Hooper, who was the first woman inducted into the USL Hall of Fame as a member of the inaugural class. Hooper was a three-time scoring champion and the 1998 W-1 Most Valuable Player as a member of the Chicago Cobras. She was the first-ever W-League Scoring Champion while with the Rockford Dactyls in 1995 with 31 points.
The Nigerian duo of Mercy Akide and Florence Omagbemi led the Hampton Roads Piranhas to an undefeated 14-0-0 season in 2003 and the club’s first league title in nine seasons of play. Akide finished 10th in the league in scoring with seven goals and five assists for 19 points, but scored her most important goal of the year in overtime of the championship. In a scoreless match in which Akide and Omagbemi controlled the play and had several dangerous chances, Akide’s 96th minute strike earned her the W-League Championship Most Valuable Player honor.
The Nigerian duo were the latest installment of successful alumni from the Virginia Beach, Virginia-based club. The club had six alumni in the tournament, including 2000 W-1 Assist Leader Angela Hucles of the US and 2001 W-1 Rookie of the Year Kelly Golebiowski of Australia.
Golebiowski was one of three former W-League Rookies of the Year in the tournament, joining 2002 honoree Elizabeth Baidu of the Northern Virginia Majestics and Ghana and 2000 W-2 honoree Nkiru Okosieme of the Charlotte Lady Eagles and Nigeria.
The Piranhas’ six alumni in the tournament ranked second to the Vancouver Whitecaps, who saw eight players, six of them current, take to the field in the World Cup. The list included veteran international player Andrea Neil, who ranked second to Hooper in all-time caps for Canada at the time. Up and coming youngster Kara Lang is another current member of the Whitecaps squad that will represent Canada. Former Whitecaps forward Christine Sinclair is also a member of the Canadian National Team.
US internationals such as Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly were among the players in the early years of the W-League that were also among the seven alumni on the US squad. Chastain and Foudy played for the Sacramento Storm and Lilly was a member of the Delaware Genies. US goalkeeper Siri Mullinix helped lead the Raleigh Wings to their second straight W-1 Championship in 1999 when she stopped the 16-0 Chicago Cobras’ Courtney Linex in the sixth round of the tiebreaker shootout in the final.
Additional W-League Alumni in World Cups
Australia: Emma Wirkus – Asheville Splash… Cheryl Salisbury – Memphis Mercury… Thea Slatyer – Washington Freedom… Joey Peters – Charlotte Lady Eagles… Danielle Small – Jackson Calypso… Caitlin Munoz – Boston Renegades… Brazil: Daniela – Hampton Roads Piranhas… Formiga – Jersey Sky Blue, New Jersey Wildcats… Canada: Amy Walsh – Laval Comets, Montreal Xtreme… Andrea Neil – Vancouver Whitecaps… Melanie Booth – Toronto Lady Lynx, Toronto Inferno… Brittany Timko – Vancouver Whitecaps… Candace Chapman – Atlanta Silverbacks, Toronto Inferno… Christine Sinclair – Vancouver Whitecaps… Diana Matheson – Ottawa Fury, Toronto Inferno… Erin McLeod – Vancouver Whitecaps… Jodi-Ann Robinson – Vancouver Whitecaps… Kara Lang – Vancouver Whitecaps… Karina Leblanc – New Jersey Wildcats, Montreal Xtreme… Katie Thorlakson – Vancouver Whitecaps… Kristina Kiss – Ottawa Fury… Martina Franko – Vancouver Whitecaps… Melissa Tancredi – Atlanta Silverbacks, Detroit Jaguars… Randee Hermus – Vancouver Whitecaps… Rhian Wilkinson – Ottawa Fury… Robyn Gayle – Ottawa Fury, Toronto Inferno… Sophie Schmidt – Vancouver Whitecaps… Tanya Dennis – Toronto Lady Lynx… Taryn Swiatek – Ottawa Fury… England: Faye White – Ottawa Fury… Rachel Unitt – New Jersey Wildcats… Kelly Smith – New Jersey Wildcats, New Jersey Lady Stallions… Rachel Yankey – New Jersey Wildcats, Laval Dynamite… Ghana: Mavis Danso – Rochester Rhinos… Patricia Ofori – Rochester Rhinos… Adjoa Bayor – Northern Virginia Majestics… Belinda Kanda – Rochester Rhinos… Japan: Homare Sawa – Denver Diamonds… New Zealand: Priscilla Duncan – West Michigan Firewomen… Emma Humphries – Cocoa Expos… Norway: Siri Nordby – Tampa Bay Extreme
Australia: Kelly Golebiowski - Hampton Roads Piranhas… Cassandra Kell - Hampton Roads Piranhas… April Mann - Greensboro Twisters… Joey Peters - Charlotte Lady Eagles… Cheryl Salisbury - Memphis Mercury… Danielle Small - Toronto Inferno… Amy Wilson - Greensboro Twisters… Canada: Sasha Andrews - Vancouver Whitecaps… Silvana Burtini - Raleigh Wings... Randee Hermus - Vancouver Whitecaps… Charmaine Hooper - Chicago Cobras… Kristinia Kiss - Ottawa Fury… Kara Lang - Vancouver Whitecaps… Diana Matheson - Toronto Inferno… Erin McLeod - Vancouver Whitecaps… Isabelle Morneau - Ottawa Fury… Carmelina Moscato - Vancouver Whitecaps… Andrea Neil - Vancouver Whitecaps… Christine Sinclair - Vancouver Whitecaps… Taryn Swiatek - Ottawa Fury… Brittany Timko - Vancouver Whitecaps… Rhian Wilkinson - Ottawa Fury… Ghana: Basilea Amoo-Telleh - Northern Virginia Majestics… Elizabeth Baidu - Northern Virginia Majestics… Adjoa Bayor - Northern Virginia Majestics… Alberta Sackey - Northern Virginia Majestics… Abiba Sulemana - New York Magic… Japan: Homare Sawa - Denver Diamonds… Nigeria: Mercy Akide - Hampton Roads Piranhas… Patience Avre - Charlotte Lady Eagles, Hampton Roads Piranhas… Nkiru Okosieme - Charlotte Lady Eagles… Florence Omagbemi - Hampton Roads Piranhas… Norway: Kristine Edner - Tampa Bay Extreme