U.S. women headed to Juarez

[WOMEN'S OLYMPIC QUALIFYNG] U.S. women's national team head coach Pia Sundhage named her 20-player roster for 2008 Concacaf Olympic women's qualifying tournament that begins Wednesday in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

The U.S. roster includes 15 holdovers from the U.S. that finished third at the 2007 Women's World Cup.

The five newcomers are Rachel Buehler, Tobin Heath, Kacey White, Lauren Cheney and Amy Rodriguez. Reflecting Sundhage's youth movement, all but White spent last fall playing in the U.S. college ranks.

The only player who wasn't a part of the 2008 Algarve Cup championship team was White, who replaces Angie Woznuk. Sundhage knows White for the two seasons the former North Carolina star spent playing in Sweden. She was set to play for Balinge when she was called into camp.

The USA is in Group A and will face Jamaica April 4 and host Mexico April 6 at the Estadio Olimpico Benito Juarez. The USA has only faced Jamaica once previously, earning a 10-0 victory 14 years ago in a Women's World Cup qualifying match in Montreal. It has dominated the rivalry with Mexico, winning the first 21 meetings before Mexico earned a 1-1 tie on Oct. 20, 2007.

The top two teams from Group A will advance to the semifinals, where they will cross over to face the top two teams from Group B, which consists of Canada, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago.

If form holds, the USA will face Costa Rica or Trinidad & Tobago in the April 9 semifinals. The winners of the semifinals will qualify for the 2008 Olympic finals.

Eight teams have qualified thus far for the 12-team women's Tournament: Japan, North Korea and China from Asia, Argentina from South America, Nigeria from Africa and Germany, Norway and Sweden from Europe. In addition to the two teams from CONCACAF, one team from Oceania has yet to qualify.

Brazil, the 2007 Women's World Cup runner-up had finished second behind Argentina in the South American Women's World Cup qualifying tournament that doubled as qualifying for the Olympics, will face African runner-up Ghana in a one-game playoff for the final Olympic berth on April 19 in Beijing, one day prior to the draw.

U.S. ROSTER:
GOALKEEPERS: Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa.), Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.);
DEFENDERS: Rachel Buehler (Del Mar, Calif.), Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.), Stephanie Cox (Elk Grove, Calif.), Kate Markgraf (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.), Cat Whitehill (Birmingham, Ala.);
MIDFIELDERS: Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Tobin Heath (Basking Ridge, N.J.), Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va.), Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.), Leslie Osborne (Brookfield, Wis.), Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Kacey White (Arlington, Texas);
FORWARDS: Lauren Cheney (Indianapolis, Ind.), Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii), Heather O'Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest, Calif.), Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y.).

SCHEDULE:
Group A
April 2 Mexico vs. Jamaica 7:30 p.m. PT
April 4 USA vs. Jamaica 7:30 p.m. PT
April 6 Mexico vs. USA 1:30 p.m. PT
Group B
April 2 Trinidad & Tobago vs. Canada 5 p.m. PT
April 4 Costa Rica vs. Trinidad & Tobago 5 p.m. PT
April 6 Canada vs. Costa Rica 11 a.m. PT
Semifinals
April 9 Winner Group A vs. Runner-up Group B 5 p.m. PT
April 9 Winner Group B vs. Runner-up Group A 7:30 p.m. PT
Finals
April 12 Third-place Game 5 p.m. PT
April 12 Championship 7:30 p.m. PT

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