The first training camp conducted by recently hired U.S. women's national team camp Pia Sundhage will be brief, but it will be important. She has just eight months to repair the effects of a goalkeeping controversy and a humiliating 4-0 loss to Brazil in the Women's World Cup semifinals before the Americans defend their 2004 Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
Sundhage named a squad of 23 - including 16 players from the WWC roster - for five days of training at Home Depot Center starting this Saturday.
Captain Kristine Lilly is among the absentees; goalkeepers Briana Scurry and Hope Solo, who were swept up in a media firestorm when former coach Greg Ryan switched Solo for Scurry as the starter prior to the semifinal, have both been summoned.
Defender Heather Mitts, who suffered a knee injury May 12 that knocked her off the WWC roster, has been invited to the camp. Also selected were seven collegiate players, only two of whom - Casey Nogueira and Angie Woznuk - have been capped for the senior national team.
"It's a short camp, but it will be valuable time spent together as a team and a unique moment for me to have a chance to work with the best players in the United States for the first time," said Sundhage, a former Swedish international who was assistant coach of China at the Women's World Cup. "It will give us the chance to get to know them as players a little bit more, they'll get the chance to learn my style and I'll also get the chance to get to know them off the field. It will be a good start to something new."
Sundhage will scout players at the Women's College Cup in College Station, Texas, this week before conducting the initial session Saturday afternoon.
Yael Averbuch, Nikki Washington, Tobin Heath and Nogueira of UNC, and Michelle Enyeart and Woznuk (Portland) and Rachel Buehler (Stanford) are able to attend the camp because their teams were eliminated from the NCAA Women's Tournament.
After five days of training, the players will be released for the Christmas holidays. They regroup early in the New Year to train for a few days before heading to China for the Four Nations' Tournament, the details of which have yet to be finalized.
Also on the team's schedule is a trip in March to Portugal for the Algarve Cup. The CONCACAF women's Olympic qualifying tournament is set to be played April 2-13 in Mexico.
GOALKEEPERS: Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa.), Briana Scurry (Dayton, Minn.), Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.);
DEFENDERS: Rachel Buehler (Del Mar, Calif.), Marian Dalmy (Lakewood, Colo.), Kate Markgraf (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), Heather Mitts (Cincinnati, Ohio), Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.), Cat Whitehill (Birmingham, Ala.);
MIDFIELDERS: Yael Averbuch (Upper Montclair, N.J.), Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.), Tobin Heath (Basking Ridge, N.J.), Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.), Leslie Osborne (Brookfield, Wis.), Aly Wagner (San Jose, Calif.), Nikki Washington (Mesquite, Texas), Angie Woznuk (El Cajon, Calif.);
FORWARDS: Michelle Enyeart (Hemet, Calif.), Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii), Casey Nogueira (Raleigh, N.C.), Heather O'Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y.).