In addition to the U.S. women’s team, the participants are Canada, Costa Rica, Guyana, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad & Tobago. The top two finishers will earn invitations to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Here are five oddities, curiosities or (possibly) interesting facts about the qualifying tournament and its participants:
• 7:30 p.m. Wednesday (Costa Rica)
• 3 p.m. Saturday (Mexico)
• 7:30 p.m. next Monday (Puerto Rico)
In 10 previous meetings, the United States has never lost to Costa Rica. Against Mexico, the Americans are 31-1-1. The U.S. women have never played Puerto Rico, which is in the Olympic qualifier for the first time.
Heath, Lloyd and Solo also played in the 2008 qualifier.
At 17, Mallory Pugh is the youngest American ever selected for an Olympic qualifying roster. Pugh, who will be a freshman at UCLA in the fall, made her debut with the U.S. team — and scored her first international goal — in a 5-0 rout of Ireland on Jan. 23.
Pugh is one of eight players on the U.S. roster with eight or fewer caps. The others are Ashlyn Harris, Jaelene Hinkle, Lindsey Horan, Stephanie McCaffrey, Samantha Mewis, Alyssa Naeher, and Emily Sonnett.
Harris and Naeher aren’t new to the team; they’re the backup goalkeepers. Hope Solo is consistently among the team leaders in minutes played, and she rarely comes off the field in major tournaments. That doesn’t leave much playing time for her backups.
• Abby Wambach, Lauren Holiday, Shannon Boxx, and Lori Chalupny retired.
• Megan Rapinoe and Christie Rampone are recovering from knee injuries.
• Sydney Leroux and Amy Rodriguez are pregnant and will skip the Rio Games.
• Heather O’Reilly and Whitney Engen didn’t make the cut when U.S. coach Jill Ellis assembled the current roster.
Together, those 10 players have 100 years of experience with the national team.
One hundred years.
As in, a century.