Megan Rapinoe, who is coming off December knee surgery, has been named to the national team roster for the Rio Games along with Carli Lloyd, who has scored in the gold-medal winning final for the United States in the last two Olympics.
Lloyd, who also scored three goals in 16 minutes to lead the United States to victory over Japan in the final at last summer’s Women’s World Cup, joins fellow three-time Olympians midfielder Tobin Heath and goalkeeper Hope Solo on the roster announced Tuesday. Solo was also an alternate in 2004.
The United States has won the last three Olympic gold medals. The team opens the tournament in Brazil against New Zealand on Aug. 3 at Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte.
“There is nothing I want more than to win again,” Lloyd told The Associated Press about the prospect of a fourth straight U.S. gold. “I’m going to do whatever it takes to win. I know there are loads of people out there saying that no team that has won a World Cup has gone on to win in the Olympics. I would love nothing more than to prove them wrong. It would be another dream come true.”
Rapinoe injured her knee during practice when the team was in Hawaii for a World Cup victory tour match, which was later called off because of the poor condition of the turf at Aloha Stadium.
It had been uncertain whether she’d be available to play in the Olympics. Coach Jill Ellis had just 18 roster spots, down from the 23 she had for the World Cup.
“It’s very surreal, mostly because I have a lot of work to do now, and where I am at now is not where I am going to be in a few weeks,” Rapinoe said in a statement. “Going to the Olympics and representing your country is incredible, but this one is that much better. After everything I went through and the uncertainty, this one is very special.”
Rapinoe, forward Alex Morgan and defenders Kelley O’Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn will make their second Olympic appearance.
Players who make their debut in Brazil include goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, defenders Whitney Engen, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg and Ali Krieger, midfielders Morgan Brian, Lindsey Horan and Allie Long, and forwards Crystal Dunn, Christen Press and Mallory Pugh.
Pugh, at 18, is the youngest player on the roster. She will be a freshman at UCLA after the Rio Games.
“We’ve got a great blend of players with experience at the Olympic Games and in major events along with the youthful energy of some players who did not play in the Women’s World Cup last summer,” Ellis said in a statement. “As a coach in the Olympic Games, you want to put together a group capable of reaching the top of the podium while also being mindful of getting players prepared for the next World Cup, and I think we’ve done that.”
Lloyd returned to action this past weekend after she sprained her knee in late April during a match for her club team, the Houston Dash. She came in a substitute in a 1-0 victory over South Africa on Sunday at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
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