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No surprises among the 18 players Heinrichs picks for Summer Olympics.

(Thursday, August 10, 2000) -- There were no real surprises today when United States women’s coach April Heinrichs selected her 18-player roster for next month’s Summer Olympics in Australia.

Danielle Slaton
Danielle Slaton
Fifteen members of the 1999 Women’s World Cup champion were joined by three players facing their first world championship. -- goalkeeper Siri Mullinix, 22, midfielder Nikki Serlenga, 22, and defender Danielle Slaton, 20, the youngest player on a squad that averages 25.1 years of age,

Of the 15 Women's World Cup veterans, 11 were on the team that won the first Olympic gold medal in 1996 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., with a 2-1 victory over China. Ten players that started that match will go to Australia.

The U.S. women have compiled a record of 20-4-5 in 2000 with 42 players participating in full international matches.

"Given the busy schedule this year and the opportunities we've had to train and play together, we were able to open the door of opportunity to many players," Heinrichs said. "What we found, and to no one's surprise, is that the cream rises to the top. I have the greatest confidence that these 18 players will compete with urgency necessary to meet our goals and expectations."

The U.S. enters the Olympics with the most experienced team in the eight-nation field. Eleven players will have played more than 100 times for their country and that experience will be important in the extremely difficult preliminary group which includes China, Norway and Nigeria.

"I feel that all the matches we've played this year have prepared us for the difficult challenge in Australia," Heinrichs said. "We very much respect Norway, China and Nigeria, and understand that this is game full of adversity, but I'm confident that we have the team that can handle any challenge to again become the best team in the world."

At least two members of the roster will retire after the Olympics: midfielder Michelle Akers and defender Carla Overbeck. Overbeck, who captained the Americans to the 1996 Olympic gold medal and the 1999 Women's World Cup title, was also a starter on the 1991 world championship team. She fought hard to come back from knee surgery to make the Olympic team and has 162 caps.

Akers, battled major shoulder surgery to make the team. The top scorer at the 1991 Women's World Cup, she is one of just four women to score 100 career international goals.

The U.S. plays its first three Olympic matches at the 90,000-seat Melbourne Cricket Ground, facing Norway on September 14, China on September 17 and Nigeria on September 20. The winner of the group will play its semifinal in Canberra. The second-place finisher will play its semifinal in Sydney.

The gold medal game will be played at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Heinrichs also named four alternates in goalkeeper Jenni Branam, midfielder Michelle French, forward Christie Welsh and defender Nandi Pryce. Branam and French will travel to Australia and be on call if needed while Welsh (Penn State) and Pryce (UCLA) will stay with their college teams.

The roster:

Goalkeepers: Siri Mullinix, age: 22 (hometown: Greensboro, N.C., 19 international appearances), Briana Scurry, 28 (Dayton, Minn., 100).

Defenders: Brandi Chastain, 32 (San Jose, Calif., 129), Jot Fawcett, 32 (Huntington Beach, Calif., 174), Carla Overbeck, 32 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 162), Christie Pearce, 25 (Point Pleasant, N.J., 76), Danielle, Slaton, 20 (San Jose, Calif., 21), Kate Sobrero, 23 (Bloomfield Hills, Mich., 51).

Midfielders: Michelle Akers, 34 (Orlando, Fla., 150), Lorrie Fair, 22 (Los Altos, Calif., 73), Julie Foudy, 29 (Mission Viejo, Calif., 187), Kristine Lilly, 29 (Wilton, Conn., 213), Shannon MacMillan, 25 (Escondido, Calif., 112), Nikki Serlenga, 22 (San Diego, 19), Sara Whalen, 24 (Greenlawn, N.J., 61).

Forwards: Mia Hamm, 28 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 204), Cindy Parlow, 22 (Memphis, Tenn., 87), Tiffeny Milbrett, 27 (Portland, Ore., 152).

Alternates: Jenni Branam, goalkeeper; Nandi Pryce, defender; Michelle French, midfielder; Christie Welsh, forward.

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