United States Women's Soccer team head coach Pia Sundhage has named the
18 players who will be going to Beijing for the upcoming Olympic
Games. Chris Cox has the story.
The biggest surprise is that longtime goalkeeper Briana Scurry was not selected. Sundhage said the 36-year-old Scurry acted very professional when she told her that the goalies would be 25-year-old Hope Solo and 26-year-old Nicole Barnhart.
Scurry has played more games and earned more victories than any U.S. soccer goalie in history, male or female. But she was at the center of a controversy at last year's women's World Cup when former coach Greg Ryan put her in goal in the semifinal against Brazil, citing her experience, even though goalie Hope Solo had recorded shutouts in the previous two matches. The Americans were upset, 4-0, and Solo made some 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, they have just the game suited for international games, and especially the way 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.
"We talk about keep possession and switch the point of attack and I want them to do that in the back four and even use the goalkeeper and both Hope and Nicole, they are very good with their feet and that is necessary the way we're playing right now," she said.
Sundhage, who has been on the job for only seven months, talked about her team's strengths and seems very impressed by the way the players have adapted to her new style.
"They are brave, and the fact that they can play in different systems," she said. "We have different players and we've talked about change since I've started and they've seemed to embrace that word and it has not been too much of a change I think, and not too little either."
Coach Pia Sundhage and the U.S. Women's Soccer Team will travel to Europe in July to take on Norway and Sweden before 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 gold medal in August.