Eight women who represented the second-placed Team USA in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 are also playing in the Olympics: Amy LePeilbet, Alex Morgan, Nicole Barnhart, Rachel Buehler, Kelley O’Hara, Lauren Cheney, Amy Rodriguez and Hope Solo. Sydney LeRoux will be joining them.
A former Washington Husky, Solo has been a fixture in American sports and even pop culture after having been the U.S. goalkeeper for almost six years and a semifinalist on "Dancing With The Stars" in 2011. Solo was the keeper in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup – giving up two goals in four games including straight shutouts of Sweden, Nigeria and England – up until the semifinal match when she was benched by head coach Greg Ryan in favor of veteran Briana Scurry. The U.S. lost 4-0 to Brazil. A year later Solo was the starting keeper for the U.S. team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when U.S. earned gold by shutting out Brazil 1-0 in extra time. Three years later at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Solo and her teammates ran to a 2-2 draw against Japan forcing penalty kicks in which Japan eventually won. Solo earned the "Golden Glove" award for best goalkeeper and the "Bronze Ball" award for her overall performance.
As Cal’s third all-time scorer with 45 goals, 23-year-old Alex Morgan was the youngest player on USA’s roster at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, so it was especially exciting when she scored her first FIFA goal in the 82nd minute of the semifinal match-up against France, giving the U.S. a 3-1 lead and ultimately the win. In the final against Japan, she netted her first FIFA World Cup Final goal in the 69th minute of play after coming on as a substitute at the half. She also assisted Abby Wambach’s header at 104 for an extra-time goal. Morgan was the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2011 WPS Draft by the Western New York Flash, being the first Golden Bear women’s soccer player to be drafted in the first round of WPS. Morgan is currently a member of the Seattle Sounders Women. In 2012 she was nominated as Breakthrough Athlete of the Year at the ESPY’s. Morgan is on a record pace as a striker, needing only 42 appearances with the national team to rack up 27 goals.
LePeilbet was born in Spokane and was the 4th original pick in the inaugural WPS Draft. LePeilbet's roots from Arizona stem from college, where she attended Arizona State from 2000 to 2003 and made All Pac-10 his final three seasons. LePeilbet has appeared 70 times on the US National team since 2004, but this is her first Olympics, as she missed the 2008 team after suffering a knee injury.
Sydney Leroux goes to school at UCLA and is one of the youngest members of the current US team, also playing mostly as a striker, usually coming off the bench.
Amy Rodriguez hails from Beverly Hills, went to school at USC, and has played for the United States since 2005. Rodriguez figures to do a lot of the striking along with Morgan.
U.S. captain Christine Rampone talked about O’Hara’s role during a conference call on Friday:
"Some of the great defenders on this team have started as forwards early in their careers and made their way to the back. So, I think a left back position for Kelley is a great spot for her and she goes forward very well and she gives our offensive attack a lot more flare.
"She’s really coming into her own defensively, on one-to-one defending she’s doing real well and I think she’s learning her role of connecting with the back line. So I’m really confident in the way Kelley’s playing and looking forward to seeing how well she does here in the Olympics."
Versatility is valued by U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, who has moved Cheney from forward to winger to attacking central midfielder.
The Ben Davis High School graduate played left midfielder at the Women's World Cup off little preparation. She "can read the game well and play in different positions," Sundhage said in a recent news conference. Cheney conceded it can be challenging to figure it all out.
"How I can still focus on left mid? Still focus on center mid, forward, and use my strengths in those positions?" she said. "It's not easy. The nuances of the game are so different playing wide than centrally."
Also representing the Pac-12 in women’s soccer is Colombia’s Anna Maria Montoya, New Zealand’s Betsy Hassett, Ali Riley (Stanford) and Rosie White, USA’s Christen Press (alternate from Stanford) and Canada’s Chelsea Stewart.