Sydney Leroux has put together two superb camps in the past month and a half with the U.S. women's national team, and her work was rewarded Monday when she was included on the roster for the 2012 Olympic qualifiers that begin Thursday.
This is the first competition roster for the three-time UCLA All-American, who is heading home to Vancouver, British Columbia, for the CONCACAF tournament.
Leroux, 21, has made just one full international appearance for the U.S. following a storied under-20 career with her native Canada and with the U.S., for which she was eligible through her father. The athletic forward, selected by the Atlanta Beat with the first pick in Friday's Women's Professional Soccer draft, joins former UCLA teammate Lauren Cheney among the Americans' quartet of strikers.
Leroux is the only player on the roster who was not part of the U.S. team at last summer's Women's World Cup.
“The players made it hard for us to choose the 20 for Canada,” head coach Pia Sundhage said in a statement. “We had a great camp in December and this past week in Los Angeles. I'm excited that we have a new player in the mix who wasn't in the World Cup, and that will change the environment a bit in a positive way.”
The U.S. is slated to fly Monday to Vancouver, and it opens Group B play Friday against the Dominican Republic, followed by games Sunday against Guatemala and Jan. 24 against Mexico. The winners of the Jan. 27 semifinals advance to the London Games; the final is Jan. 29.
The other U.S. forwards are Diamond Bar's Alex Morgan (Diamond Bar HS), who capped an ascendant year with a strong showing at the WWC, and veteran Abby Wambach, who has a home in Hermosa Beach.
Other local players are midfielders Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach/South Torrance HS) and Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest/Santa Margarita Catholic HS and USC). A-Rod, normally a forward, plays in one of the midfield slots when the U.S. is in Sundhage's new 4-2-3-1 alignment.
Nine players in the Home Depot Center camp that ended Sunday were cut from the roster, including defenders Whitney Engen (Rolling Hills Estates/Peninsula HS) and Stephanie Cox, a former L.A. Sol left back who represented the U.S. at the 2008 Olympics and the last two World Cups. Cox and goalkeeper Jill Loyden are the only WWC players not on this roster.
The full roster:
Nicole Barnhart (out of contract)
Hope Solo (out of contract)
Rachel Buehler (Atlanta Beat)
Ali Krieger (FFC Frankfurt/Germany)
Amy LePeilbet (Atlanta Beat)
Heather Mitts (out of contract)
Kelley O'Hara (Atlanta Beat)
Christie Rampone (out of contract)
Becky Sauerbrunn (Sky Blue FC)
Shannon Boxx (out of contract)
Tobin Heath (out of contract)
Lori Lindsey (Western New York Flash)
Carli Lloyd (Atlanta Beat)
Heather O'Reilly (Boston Breakers)
Megan Rapinoe (out of contract)
Amy Rodriguez (out of contract)
Lauren Cheney (out of contract)
Sydney Leroux (Atlanta Beat)
Alex Morgan (Western New York Flash)
Abby Wambach (out of contract)