July 1, 2004
CHICAGO - U.S. Women's National Team head coach April Heinrichs today named the 18 players that will represent the USA at the 2004 Olympics in Greece. Officially, U.S. Soccer has nominated these 18 players to the U.S. Olympic Team pending certification by the USOC.
Heinrichs named two goalkeepers, six defenders, six midfielders and four forwards to the roster, with numerous players able to play multiple positions. The Olympic roster features two less players than the 20-player Women's World Cup squad.
San Jose native Aly Wagner will make her Olympic debut in August. The midfielder is described as bringing special playmaking talents that can slice an open opposing defense. She also has 14 goals in 62 caps, showing she can find the net as well. Able to pass and shoot equally with both feet, Wagner presents a clear and present danger to any defense, as she is constantly probing for openings to send the dangerous U.S. strikers into the penalty area, as well as working hard for space to fire long range shots on goal, like she did at the 2003 Algarve Cup, where she scored two big goals from distance to help the USA to the championship.
Brandi Chastain, also from San Jose, will be making her third Olympic appearance. Chastain has played extensively in the middle of the U.S. defense, but in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, played left back, which was also her position in the 1999 Women's World Cup. She gives the USA tremendous experience, depth, savvy and composure on the ball no matter where she plays, and also adds versatility to potential U.S. lineups. One of the best attacking defenders and most skillful players in the world, she brings some unique attributes to the position and is one of the best on the team in the air. Chastain's goal celebration after her penalty kick won the 1999 Women's World Cup was captured on the covers of Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated and will forever be one of the most famous images in women's sports history. Chastain scored her only Olympic goal on a wonderful volley against Nigeria in 2000 during the USA's 3-1 victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
"This was the most difficult roster selection that I've ever been a part of," said Heinrichs. "Largely because the parity in the pool of players is greater than it's ever been. With six months of preparations, everybody ended this last training block playing their best soccer of the year, but the final team is a great blend of players in terms of talent, personality, versatility and winning mentality."
Fourteen of the 18 players named to the roster were on the USA's 2003 Women's World Cup Team, but only half the team (nine players) have participated in an Olympics in either 1996, 2000, or both.
Seven of the players earned a spot on their third Olympic Team: goalkeeper Briana Scurry, defenders Joy Fawcett and Chastain, midfielders Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly and forwards Mia Hamm and Cindy Parlow. All played a part in the USA's 1996 gold medal victory in Athens, Ga., at the first Olympic women's soccer competition, and will be shooting for a similar result in another Athens, this time Greece, where the 2004 gold medal match will be held.
The U.S. team is currently in Nashville, Tenn., in preparation for a match against Canada on Saturday at The Coliseum. The match will kickoff at 5 p.m. Pacific and will be broadcast live on ESPN as fans across the U.S. gets their first look at the 2004 Olympic Team.
The U.S. team will finish its pre-Olympic schedule with two matches, the first coming on July 21 vs. Australia in Blaine, Minn. (4 p.m. PT on ESPN2), with an Olympic send-off match on Aug. 1 in Hartford, Conn. against China (noon PT on ESPN2). Ticket information for all matches on the team's pre-Olympic schedule is available at ussoccer.com.
The USA's Olympic draw has the team opening the tournament on Aug. 11 against Greece in Heraklio, followed by an Aug. 14 match against Brazil and an Aug. 17 match against Australia to finish group play, both in Thessaloniki.
The complete release can be found on ussoccer.com.