U.S. Women's World Cup Player PoolPosted: Sunday February 23, 2003 4:34 PM
Updated: Wednesday February 26, 2003 10:48 AM
By Scott French, Soccer America
April Heinrichs has six months or so to determine which 20 players will accompany her to China for the fourth Women's World Cup. There are nearly three dozen players in the running for a roster spot:
LAKEYSIA BEENE. Superb inaugural WUSA season carried her to No. 1 job in 2001, but she struggled with the national team last year. Good shot-stopper must improve footwork and decision making.
JENNY BENSON. Prototypical left back, strong crosser was revelation with the Charge last year. Chances improve if Danielle Slaton isn't at full strength.
KYLIE BIVENS. Can play as a defensive midfielder or outside back. Yet to make an imprint internationally.
THORI BRYAN. Speedy, athletic outside back was on the '95 roster, returned to the pool with WUSA's birth. Tough to beat, but ball skills aren't a plus.
BRANDI CHASTAIN. Attack-happy defender, '99 heroine still is learning ins and outs of playing inside after years at left back. Forms with Joy Fawcett the world's best central tandem.
LORRIE FAIR. Versatility a plus for '99 veteran, who can play anywhere in midfield and as outside back.
JOY FAWCETT. Expert center back improves with each child, could play into her 40s. Experience is crucial to a solid if limited back line.
DANIELLE FOTOPOULOS. Big forward, '99 vet is strong finisher. Other parts of game have grown in WUSA.
JULIE FOUDY. U.S. captain is perfect deputy to Aly Wagner; she'll play behind or to the right of the playmaker. Prefers to be in the middle, where her creative gifts get best play.
MIA HAMM. The world's all-time scoring leader hit renaissance last year after several subpar, injury-hindered campaigns. Dynamic attacker, nearly impossible to stop one-on-one. Can play up front or in midfield.
DEVVYN HAWKINS. WUSA-bound defensive midfielder has a bright future with the national team, but must make an imprint quickly to have much of a present.
ANGELA HUCLES. Quick, skillful midfielder with strong attacking instincts offers different dimension on the right or at defensive midfielder.
JENA KLUEGEL. Winger of the future can run all day, play on either side. Also fits at either outside back slot.
KRISTINE LILLY. Left-sided midfielder's experience, tools are unequaled. A dynamic attacker who makes those around her better.
KELLY LINDSEY. Central defender has excelled in WUSA. Needs more international seasoning.
SHANNON MACMILLAN. Dynamic goalscorer with blistering shot is at her best when attacking from the wing. Superb passer can play on either side or up front.
TIFFENY MILBRETT. Americans' most slippery attacker is strong candidate for world's finest player. Low center of gravity, great instincts and skills, ability to get behind defenses destroys opponents.
HEATHER MITTS. WUSA's reigning sex symbol a solid right back who needs more experience.
SIRI MULLINIX. Starting goalkeeper in Sydney, where judgment errors cost the Yanks in final. Strong foot skills, coming off sensational WUSA campaign -- a solid candidate to be No. 1 in the nets.
HEATHER O'REILLY. The next Mia Hamm, just a high school senior, has unfathomable speed and the ability to use it to great effect. Standout with the U.S. U-19s offers attack additional dimensions.
JAIME PAGLIARULO. Solid if unspectacular goalkeeper has perfect mentality for the No. 3 job. Must return to form after poor finish to the 2002 WUSA season.
CINDY PARLOW. Tall, tough, tremendous in the air -- the likeliest starting "big" forward. Scores goals and creates for teammates. Capable of playing behind the front two.
CHRISTIE PEARCE. Injuries put '99 right back on the outs; could benefit from a return to form. Speed an asset outside, can also play in the middle.
NANDI PRYCE. Olympic alternate slowed by injury, returned to pool after fine summer with U-21s.
CATHERINE REDDICK. College star healing from foot injury that will sideline her until March. Can play anywhere on back line, delivers delicious balls from distance.
TIFFANY ROBERTS. Defensive midfielder and expert marker, a starter in mid-'90s, emerged as country's best pure defensive midfielder in two outstanding seasons at Carolina.
BRIANA SCURRY. Superb shot-stopper was the starting keeper in '95 and '99, but lost job after injury, fitness troubles before Sydney Games. Return to form in WUSA, strong national team performances could propel her into the starting XI.
DANIELLE SLATON. Speedy, attack-minded left back may be best in the world at her position. Can move into the center if needed. How well she returns from knee surgery will be critical.
KATE SOBRERO. Starting right back, switched after playing inside in '99, is better defensively than on attack. Offers strong support to right-sided midfielder.
HOPE SOLO. Keeper of the future, coming off knee injury, is expert with her feet but needs more seasoning. A year in the WUSA will help, but 2007 is likelier.
LINDSAY TARPLEY. U-19 captain is a long shot, but she won't be for long. Strong tactically, outstanding coordinator who can play up front but is best as attacking midfielder.
STACEY TULLOCK. Defensive midfielder can play on back line. Has been in U.S. camps, but no action yet.
ALY WAGNER. Expert playmaker possesses touch and vision, can spread the ball around the field like no one else, and she works hard defensively. Burgeoning superstar could make WWC her showcase.
ABBY WAMBACH. Big, skillful finisher emerged during superb rookie campaign in WUSA. Needs better consistency internationally. Best "big" forward option to Cindy Parlow.
KELLY WILSON. Speedy U-19 star, just off sophomore season in college, owns great attacking instincts, needs experience at top level.
Scott French is a senior editor at Soccer America magazine.