Action from the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualifier between the USA (white jersey) and host Mexico on November 5, 2011, at the Estadio Quintana Roo in Cancun. (Photo: Mexsport)
KANSAS CITY, Kansas -- She might not have been in charge of the team four years ago, but United States women's national team head coach Jill Ellis does not want to see history come close to repeating itself during the CONCACAF Women's Championship, the Confederation’s qualifying competition for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.
In 2010, the Americans suffered their only defeat in 23 all-time qualifying matches, a 1-0 loss to Mexico in the semifinals. They wound up in a two-legged playoff with Italy for a World Cup berth, securing a place behind a pair of 1-0 victories.
"I don't think it's something that these players have forgotten," Ellis said. "For the players involved in that it certainly was a wakeup call."
The team will be leaving little to chance this time.
Many of the big names are expected to lead the U.S. in its quest to reach a seventh World Cup in as many tries. The side boasts several players from the 2012 Olympic gold medal winner, including goalkeeper Hope Solo; central defender Christie Rampone, the world's active leader with 297 international appearances; midfielders Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe; and a strike force that boasts Abby Wambach, the all-time women's goal-scoring leader (170), Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux, who leads the team with eight goals this year.
Since roster sizes are limited to 20, Ellis felt it was important to incorporate players who could fill multiple roles.
“Most of our players, when I went through the list, versatility was one of the determining factors, especially when it came down to the last spots,” she said. “That’s going to be very important. I think we can have that flexibility.”
The USA starts its campaign against Group A opponents Trinidad & Tobago (October 15 in Kansas City, Kansas), Guatemala (October 17 in Bridgeview, Illinois) and Haiti (October 20 in Washington, D.C.). The semifinals are set for October 24, the final and third-place match October 26, all in Chester, Pennsylvania.
“There are a lot of moving parts of just how we have to move around the country in the short period,” added Ellis. “High focus will be on recovery. I’m definitely at a point with the players where I want to start to build continuity.”