The U.S. women's national team gathers in Carson this weekend to begin serious preparations for the Olympic qualifiers later this month, and coach Pia Sundhage is relying solely on SoCal attackers.
UCLA senior All-American Sydney Leroux, Diamond Bar's Alex Morgan and former USC standout Amy Rodriguez, from Lake Forest, are among five forwards on Sundhage's 29-woman roster for the Jan. 7-15 camp at Home Depot Center, which will be culled to 20 for the Jan. 20-29 CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Vancouver.
Leroux, who is from Vancouver and switched from Canada's youth national team to her father's native U.S. during her teens, scored 16 goals for the Bruins this year. Morgan (Diamond Bar HS) continued her explosive ascent in the U.S. squad, and Rodriguez (Santa Margarita Catholic HS) looks to regain her international form after falling behind former UCLA star Lauren Cheney on the depth chart.
Cheney, who is from Indianapolis, and Abby Wambach, who is from Rochester, N.Y., but maintains a home in Hermosa Beach, are the other two forwards on the roster.
Others with local ties invited into camp, all U.S. veterans, are defenders Whitney Engen (Rolling Hills Estates/Peninsula HS) and Stephanie Lopez (former L.A. Sol) and midfielder Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach/South Torrance HS).
The U.S. opens Group B play Jan. 20 against the Dominican Republic, then faces Guatemala on Jan. 22 and Mexico on Jan. 24. The Jan. 27 semifinals will determine the region's entrants to the women's soccer competition at next summer's London Games, with the winners meeting in the Jan. 29 final.
Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba and Haiti are in Group A.
Nine of the 12 slots in the Olympic women's soccer tournament have been filled, with host Great Britain joined by Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, France, Japan, North Korea, South Africa and Sweden. The Oceania entrant, almost certain to be New Zealand, will be determined this year; no schedule has been announced.
The full roster (with most recent club):
Nicole Barnhart (Philadelphia Independence)
Ashlyn Harris (Western New York Flash)
Jill Loyden (magicJack)
Hope Solo (magicJack)
Rachel Buehler (Boston Breakers)
Stephanie Cox (Boston Breakers)
Whitney Engen (Western New York Flash)
Meghan Klingenberg (Boston Breakers)
Ali Krieger (FFC Frankfurt/Germany)
Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers)
Heather Mitts (Atlanta Beat)
Christie Rampone (magicJack)
Becky Sauerbrunn (Sky Blue FC)
Shannon Boxx (magicJack)
Tobin Heath (Sky Blue FC)
Lori Lindsey (Philadelphia Independence)
Carli Lloyd (Atlanta Beat)
Kristie Mewis (Boston College)
Christine Nairn (Penn State)
Kelley O'Hara (Boston Breakers)
Heather O'Reilly (Boston Breakers)
Megan Rapinoe (magicJack)
Ingrid Wells (FC Göteborg/Sweden)
Keelin Winters (Boston Breakers)
Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers)
Sydney Leroux (UCLA)
Alex Morgan (Western New York Flash)
Amy Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence)
Abby Wambach (magicJack)