Trio of Americans round out World Cup roster
CHICAGO -- Angela Hucles, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Natasha Kai and Marian Dalmy were the final three players selected for the U.S. women's roster for this year's World Cup.
Coach Greg Ryan filled out his 21-player roster Monday with midfielder Hucles, forward Kai and defender Dalmy. The team, which plays Saturday against Japan in San Jose, Calif., opens the World Cup on Sept. 11 against North Korea.
The 29-year-old Hucles, the career scoring leader at the University of Virginia where she played forward, was chosen for her second World Cup roster. She was on the 2003 squad, but did not play in that tournament due to injury.
She has played 66 times for the United States, scoring five goals.
"Angela has played very well for us in the recent matches against Brazil and Norway," said Ryan. "Her skill, composure and vision allow us to maintain possession against teams that play a high pressure style of defense. She is also training as a forward so that we have additional depth on the front line."
Kai becomes the first Hawaiian on a Women's World Cup team; fellow islander Brian Ching has played for the men. The 24-year-old striker has scored seven times in 26 international games, including goals in her first two U.S. matches.
Kai gives the U.S. squad five forwards: captain Kristine Lilly, Abby Wambach, Lindsay Tarpley, Heather O'Reilly and Kai.
"Natasha is a dynamic, fast and dangerous forward," said Ryan. "She has grown tremendously in her understanding of how to play alongside our veteran forwards and has shown the commitment to get herself fitter than ever. Those qualities earned her the last forward spot on our team."
Dalmy, 22, is by far the least-capped field player, with just two internationals, against Mexico and Canada earlier this year. The agile outside back made the team in part because of knee injuries to Amy LePeilbet and Heather Mitts.
"Marian joined us very late in the selection process, but she has been impressive and consistent in her play as a wing defender," said Ryan. "Her skill and composure make her a very good attacking flank defender. She is developing her defending skills rapidly and looks to have a great future with this team."
Twelve of the 21 players on the U.S. team will be making World Cup debuts. The veterans are Lilly; Wambach; defenders Cristie Rampone, Cat Whitehill and Kate Markgraf; keeper Briana Scurry; and midfielders Hucles, Shannon Boxx and Aly Wagner.
Goalkeepers: Nicole Barnhart, Briana Scurry, Hope Solo.
Defenders: Marian Dalmy, Tina Ellertson, Stephanie Lopez, Kate Markgraf, Christie Rampone, Cat Whitehill.
Midfielders: Shannon Boxx, Lori Chalupny, Angela Hucles, Marci Jobson, Carli Lloyd, Leslie Osborne, Aly Wagner.
Forwards: Natasha Kai, Kristine Lilly, Heather O'Reilly, Lindsay Tarpley, Abby Wambach.