By Anne M. Peterson
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Goalkeeper Hope Solo and veterans Christine Rampone and Abby Wambach are among the players on the U.S. national team’s roster for the upcoming CONCACAF championship, which serves as qualifying for the World Cup next year in Canada.
The championships for soccer’s North and Central American and Caribbean region, an eight-team, round-robin tournament that will be played in four U.S. cities, opens Oct. 15 in Kansas City, Kansas. The championship will be played Oct. 26 in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Solo was included on the roster as she faces misdemeanour domestic violence charges in Washington state following a physical altercation with her sister and nephew during a June party. She has pleaded not guilty, and her trial is set for Nov. 4.
Some have called for U.S. Soccer to suspend Solo until she goes to trial, but on Monday coach Jill Ellis reiterated the national team’s decision to keep her in goal.
“I’ve had a lot of thought and discussion within U.S. Soccer and certainly we acknowledge these are very serious issues,” Ellis said. “But after careful thought and consideration, we determined to stand by our decision to let the legal process play out and have Hope remain with the team.”
The two finalists and the winner of the third-place match will qualify for the World Cup.
It is the first international tournament for Ellis, who took over on an interim basis when Tom Sermanni was fired in April and then got the job in May. The U.S. women are 10-2-3 so far in 2014 and coming off of two straight exhibition wins against Mexico.
The roster formally announced on Monday also includes goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris; defenders Crystal Dunn, Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, Kelley O’Hara, and Becky Sauerbrunn; midfielders Morgan Brian, Tobin Heath, Lauren Holiday, Carli Lloyd, Heather O’Reilly and Megan Rapinoe; and forwards Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Christen Press and Amy Rodriguez.
Fourteen of the players on this roster participated in the qualifying tournament for the 2012 Olympics, where the women claimed the gold medal. Eleven players have prior World Cup qualifying experience.
CONCACAF is expected to announce the rosters of the competing teams later on Monday.
The U.S. women landed in Group A with Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala and Haiti. Group B includes Costa Rica, Mexico, Jamaica, and Martinique.
The fourth-place finisher will face a South American team in a playoff later this year. As the host, Canada has already secured a World Cup spot.
The United States lost to Mexico in the semifinal during qualifying for the 2011 World Cup. It forced the U.S. team into the third-place match and then a two-game playoff against Italy for a spot in the premier tournament.
At the 2011 World Cup in Germany, the Americans advanced to the final, where they lost to Japan on penalty kicks. The U.S. team, ranked No. 1 in the world for the past five years, last won a World Cup in 1999.