Becky Sauerbrunn

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U.S. women name Olympic soccer roster, eye 4th straight gold

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The U.S. women’s soccer squad wants to become the first nation to win the Olympic gold medal a year after capturing the Women’s World Cup. Head coach Jill Ellis announced Tuesday the 18 women who will be tasked with accomplishing that unprecedented feat.

The Americans have won the past three Olympic gold medals, to go with silver in 2000 and another gold in 1996.

The squad in Rio will be led by midfielder Carli Lloyd, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year and the team’s all-time leading scorer with 87 career goals. She netted the lone goal in the Americans’ 1-0 overtime victory against Brazil in the 2008 Olympic gold-medal game, and she scored both goals four years ago in London in the team’s 2-1 win over Japan.

She’ll make her third Olympic appearance, as will goalie Hope Solo and midfielder Tobin Heath. Solo is set to earn her 200th cap during the Rio Games, making her the first goalie in international soccer history to do so.

Midfielder Megan Rapinoe, forward Alex Morgan and defenders Kelley O’Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn are set for their second Olympic appearances. Rapinoe’s inclusion was in doubt after she underwent ACL surgery in December, but she proved her fitness at training camp last week.

The youngest on the squad will be forward Mallory Pugh, an 18-year-old who will be the second-youngest American to play Olympic soccer since 1904, according to sports-reference.com. She’ll be 18 years, 3 months and 5 days old when the Games start; Cindy Parlow was 18 years, 2 months and 13 days old to start the 1996 Olympics. Parlow, however, didn’t score, meaning Pugh could be come the youngest U.S. player with a goal in the Olympics.

Here’s a look at the full Rio roster by position:

Goalies: Alyssa Naeher, Hope Solo

Defenders: Whitney Engen, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn

Midfielders: Morgan Brian, Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Carli Lloyd, Allie Long, Megan Rapinoe

Forwards: Crystal Dunn, Alex Morgan, Christen Press, Mallory Pugh

Of the 18 going to Rio, 14 were members of the 2015 World Cup championship squad.

“We’ve got excellent balance in the squad, and with some injuries lately to some major players, it has allowed us to get experience for a few newer players which helped them in their cases to make the team,” Ellis said in a release. “Now the task is getting our team 100 percent healthy and finalizing our preparations during the next camp.”

Christie Rampone, 41, was bidding for a fifth Olympics and to become the oldest Olympic soccer player ever, according to sports-reference.com, but December knee surgery dashed her hopes.

Heather O’Reilly was looking to compete on her fourth Olympic team, but she was named only as an alternate, along with goalie Ashlyn Harris, defender Emily Sonnett and midfielder Samantha Mewis.

The U.S. women will be among the teams to open the Rio Games on Aug. 3, two days before the Opening Ceremony, when they take on New Zealand in Belo Horizonte.

MORE: U.S. women learn Olympic soccer group opponents

Becky Sauerbrunn agrees strike ‘off the table’ after judge ruling

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NEW YORK — U.S. women’s national team co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn said she and teammates will not try to fight a federal judge’s ruling last week that said they do not currently have a right to strike for the Olympics.

“I don’t think it is possible to fight it,” Sauerbrunn said Thursday while at an event for one of her sponsors, Budweiser, with other Rio Olympic hopefuls. “We kind of knew it could go either way, and it just didn’t go our way. We’re putting everything into the [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] complaint, and we’re hoping that it’ll put enough pressure on U.S. Soccer to get us equal pay.”

In April, Sauerbrunn said that an Olympic boycott “would still be on the table” in July if nothing had changed regarding a wage-discrimination complaint filed against U.S. Soccer in March.

The 18-woman Olympic team is expected to be named by early next month. Sauerbrunn expects full participation.

“It’s definitely a personal decision if you want to come or not, but from what I’ve heard from everyone on my team is that if they’re on the 18 [player] roster, they’re going [to Rio],” Sauerbrunn said Thursday.

The team will gather for camp starting July 1. Two midfield stars — Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd — are still on the comeback from knee injuries.

“It’ll be close for Pinoe,” Sauerbrunn said of her readiness for July 1. “I think Carli feels pretty good she’ll be back in the next few weeks.”

Sauerbrunn, a 31-year-old eyeing her second Olympics, said she hopes to follow Lloyd’s path and hang up her national-team jersey after the 2020 Tokyo Games.

“But I don’t want to be just holding on for dear life,” she said. “I still want to be feeling like I’m making an impact on the team and that my body’s holding up, that the coaches still rely on me and that the team still relies on me. I might need somebody on the outside to be like, all right, it’s time to hang it up, but for right now, I’m looking towards another cycle.”

MORE: Lloyd ranks Olympic final-winning goals, World Cup hat trick

U.S. women’s soccer Olympic boycott ‘on the table,’ Becky Sauerbrunn says

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U.S. women’s soccer team co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn said players could decide in July to boycott August’s Olympics if nothing has changed regarding a wage-discrimination complaint filed against U.S. Soccer two weeks ago.

“It [an Olympic boycott] would still be on the table,” Sauerbrunn said in an ESPNW interview published Sunday. “We are reserving every right to do so. We’re leaving every avenue open. If nothing has changed, we don’t feel real progress has been made, then it’s a conversation we’re going to have.”

Sauerbrunn’s comments were firmer than Alex Morgan‘s response on March 31 to Matt Lauer‘s question if players would boycott matches or strike.

“I think that’s why we’re here taking this action and filing this complaint,” Morgan said then.

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