[U.S. WOMEN] U.S. women's national team coach Pia Sundhage has named the 20 players who will represent the USA at the 2012 Concacaf Olympic women's qualifying tournament that begins Thursday at Vancouver's BC Place. UCLA's Sydney Leroux, recently selected by the Atlanta Beat as the No. 1 pick in the 2012 WPS draft, is the lone player who wasn't on the 2011 U.S. Women's World Cup team. Only goalie Jill Loyden and defender Stephanie Cox from the team that went to Germany last summer were not retained.
"The players made it hard for us to choose the 20 for Canada," said Sundhage. "We had a great camp in December and this past week in Los Angeles. I'm excited that we have a new player in the mix who wasn't in the World Cup and that will change the environment a bit in a positive way. As always, we are excited to play the next game and we will be prepared."
Germany-based Ali Krieger is the only foreign-based player called up. Indiciative of the upheaval in WPS, 10 of the 18 players who in the women's pro league in 2011 are listed as "out of contract."
The U.S. players arrived in Canada on Monday and will train for three days before opening its competition against the Dominican Republic on Friday (TV: Universal Sports, 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT).
The USA continues first-round action against Guatemala on Sunday and finishes group play against Mexico on Tuesday.
The group winners and runners-up will play in the all-important semifinals on Jan. 27 with the winners of those games qualifying for the Olympics. The championship game will be played on Jan. 29.
GOALKEEPERS: Nicole Barnhart (out of contract), Hope Solo (out of contract)
DEFENDERS: Rachel Buehler (Atlanta Beat), Ali Krieger (FFC Frankfurt/GER), Amy LePeilbet (Atlanta Beat), Heather Mitts (out of contract), Kelley O'Hara (Atlanta Beat), Christie Rampone (out of contract), Becky Sauerbrunn (Sky Blue FC)
MIDFIELDERS: Shannon Boxx (out of contract), Tobin Heath (out of contract), Lori Lindsey (Western New York Flash), Carli Lloyd (Atlanta Beat), Heather O'Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (out of contract), Amy Rodriguez (out of contract)
FORWARDS: Lauren Cheney (out of contract), Sydney Leroux (Atlanta Beat), Alex Morgan (Western New York Flash), Abby Wambach (out of contract)