Sydney Leroux (pictured) has scored 35 goals in 71 games for the USA. (Photo: Mexsport)
WINNIPEG, Canada -- Given that the United States women are considered one of the great CONCACAF and world powers, it may be hard to believe that the Americans have endured 16 years without winning the FIFA Women's World Cup.
After three disappointing finishes, the U.S. has plans on hoisting the championship trophy in Vancouver on July 5.
“We have good balance and experience and youth,” head coach Jill Ellis said. “We're fairly deep on our roster. To win requires a little bit of luck. All those things can give us a shot at winning the World Cup.”
The Americans first must get through Group D, which many observers consider the Group of Death. They open play against Australia Monday, followed by Sweden here June 12 and Nigeria in Vancouver June 16.
With an incredibly deep squad, Ellis will have plenty from which to choose, including 35-year-old striker Abby Wambach (world-record 182 international goals), Alex Morgan, whose status remains uncertain due to a knee injury, and Canadian-born Sydney Leroux.
Other key players include Hope Solo, considered by many to be the best goalkeeper in the world, midfielders Carli Lloyd, who scored the winning goal in the past two Olympic gold-medal matches, and Megan Rapinoe, who was outstanding in the 2012 London Olympics.
"We've created a competitive enough environment that our coaching staff can look down the bench and for every second half can fix any problem that is out there," Wambach said. "Do you know how amazing it is for a coach to be able to do that? Not many teams have the opportunity or chance that we do."
If there is a concern, it is the Americans' average age of 29.5, the highest of the 24 finalists. That includes nine players over 30, including 39-year-old center back Christie Rampone (306 international appearances) and reserve midfielder Shannon Boxx (37).
"It's a wonderful blend of veteran and young players," said 30-year-old midfielder Heather O'Reilly. "That experience does say a lot of for big tournaments like this. A lot of players have been there before in these high octane games"