Not a surprise but when U.S. Women's National Team head coach Jill Ellis named the 18-player roster for the 2016 Olympic Games, captain Becky Sauerbrunn on the roster and is headed to Rio. Becky's FC Kansas City team mate Heather O'Reilly is an alternate and can be added to the 18 player roster in case of injury.
"The last few camps capped a nine-month evaluation process and the players certainly made it a real challenge to narrow the roster down to 18," said U.S. head coach Jill Ellis in the press release. "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. 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."
2016 U.S. Olympic Women's Soccer Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (2): Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (6): Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS (4): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)
Alternates: Midfielders Heather O'Reilly and Samantha Mewis, Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, Defender Emily Sonnett
Despite some high profile retirements after the World Cup, the U.S. player pool is still deep and trimming down to just 18 versus the World Cup roster of 23 is difficult. In O'Reilly's case, she is an experienced three-time Olympic Gold medal winning World Cup winner that is one of the fittest players in the world and is an alternate. Part of that is playing style, a more technical style has been slowly emerging and part of it is the focus on the future.
One of the big questions coming in was if Megan Rapinoe would make the roster. With her coming off of an ACL injury and not having played a competitive game this year, it was key that she be healthy enough to start full practice. Rapinoe returned to full practice last week when U.S. camp convened. That practice included contact so Ellis felt good that she would be able to contribute as the tournament goes on.
"We've got excellent balance in the squad, and with some injuries lately to some major players, it has allowed us to get experience for a few newer players which helped them in their cases to make the team," said Ellis. "Now the task is getting our team 100% healthy and finalizing our preparations during the next camp."