A pair of Nittany Lions are joining Team USA.
The U.S. women’s soccoer team has set its roster for the Women's World Cup, and defender Ali Krieger and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher are on the list to represent Penn State.
Coach Jill Ellis on Tuesday announced her 23 picks for the tournament in Canada. Seeking their third title and first since 1999, the Americans open against Australia on June 8.
Naeher will be making her first appearance with Team USA. She played at Penn State from 2006-09 and now plays with the Boston Breakers.
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“I am incredibly excited about being named to the roster and going to my first World Cup this summer,” Naeher told ussoccer.com. “This is such an amazing opportunity and something I have been working toward for a long time. It is always an honor to represent the U.S., and to be able to do that with my teammates at a World Cup is a blessing and an experience I will never forget. It has been quite a journey already, and I am looking forward to the next chapter.”
Krieger will be making her second World Cup appearance, starting at right back during the team’s run to the finals before falling to Japan in 2011. The native of Dumfries, Va., plays for the Washington Spirit of the NWSL and was with the Nittany Lions from 2003-06.
“Having thought about our 2011 World Cup Final against Japan for the past four years, it has driven me to continue to get better every day to make sure we get back to the Final again this summer,” Krieger told ussoccer.com. “This is something we have been working our entire lives for and therefore I feel very fortunate to be able to play on one of football’s biggest stages.”
Defender Christine Rampone, who sat out a recent 4-0 exhibition victory over New Zealand, will turn 40 during the World Cup and is the oldest member of the team as she makes her fifth World Cup appearance. Only four women have played in five World Cups: fellow American Kristine Lilly, Brazil's Formiga, Germany's Birgit Prinz and Japan's Homare Sawa.
Goalkeeper Hope Solo was suspended for 30 days in January after her husband was arrested for driving under the influence while in a U.S. Soccer Federation van during a team training camp. Solo also was in the van.
During her suspension, Solo missed a 2-0 loss to France and a 1-0 win over England but she returned to the team and started in all four games for the U.S. team's title run in the Algarve Cup last month.
Solo, considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world, has said she has been in therapy and has an improved frame of mind.
Morgan Brian, the youngest player on the roster at 22, played for Virginia in the women's College Cup final in early December before accompanying the U.S. team to Brazil for a tournament.
She kicked off this year by winning her second straight Hermann Trophy as the top women's college soccer player and was the first overall pick in the National Women's Soccer League draft by the Houston Dash.
She joins seven other players making their World Cup roster debuts, including goalkeepers Ashlyn Harris and Naeher; defenders Whitney Engen, Julie Johnston and Meghan Klingenberg; and forwards Sydney Leroux and Christen Press.
They'll join forwards Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan and Alex Rodriguez; midfielders Lauren Holiday, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Shannon Boxx, Tobin Heath and Heather O'Reilly; and defenders Krieger, Lori Chalupny, Kelley O'Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn.
The roster must be submitted to FIFA by May 25.
In an interview with The Associated Press before the announcement, Wambach said she felt the team was coming together at the perfect time. Ellis, she said, was thoughtful in looking at lineups and strategy.
"I do think things are falling into place right now. I think that's something — that's what makes the difference between a team winning and a team not winning: It's those things that you can't really explain," Wambach said. "It's that ball bouncing in the right place. It's the inexplicables of a championship moment. It's those intangibles. And I think those things will continue to evolve and grow, even throughout the tournament."
Wambach, who will be playing in her fourth World Cup, has a record 178 international goals.
Featuring an expanded field of 24 teams, this year's World Cup will be played in six Canadian cities from June 6 through July 5. The top two nations in each of six groups advance to the round of 16 along with the top four third-place teams.
The United States is part of challenging Group D that includes Australia, perennial African champion Nigeria, and Sweden, led by former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage. The Americans' opener against Australia is set for June 8 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The U.S. women are making their seventh World Cup appearance. The team won the inaugural tournament in 1991 and added its second title in 1999 but has struggled since with a pair of third-place finishes and a loss to Japan on penalty kicks in the 2011 final.