U.S. women's national soccer team looking to generate chemistry

Posted: October 06, 2010

The U.S. women's national soccer team has played this year in Portugal, California, Utah, Ohio, Nebraska, Connecticut, and Georgia. On Wednesday night, it will add the Philadelphia area to that list as it concludes its exhibition schedule against China at PPL Park in Chester.

The Americans (9-0-1) defeated China, 2-1, on Saturday in Kennesaw, Ga. They will head to Mexico later this month for the start of the CONCACAF women's World Cup qualifying tournament, leading up to the 2011 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

On Tuesday, U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said she would try to get her starters as much playing time as possible, while also monitoring her options coming off the bench. Before the qualifiers begin, she will trim the roster from 24 players to 20 or 21.

Twenty-two of the American players compete in Women's Professional Soccer. Forward Alex Morgan is a student at Cal Berkley and midfielder Ali Krieger plays for FFC Frankfurt in Germany.

Three on the U.S. team (Heather Mitts, Amy Rodriguez, and Lori Lindsey) play for the Independence; five are New Jersey natives; and one (goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart) was born in Pottstown.

Players shuffled in and out of the WPS to fulfill their national-team duties. Now, with the league's season over, the emphasis is on continuity.

"I think the only thing we need to work on is the chemistry," said Rodriguez, a forward. "I think talent-wise, and fitness-wise, we're fine. We just need to work on playing together, because that's what we've missed the past seven months."

Mitts said the players have been able to push through the fatigue.

"It's been a long year, but it's also a breath of fresh air," said Mitts, whose Independence lost to FC Gold Pride in the WPS title match. "I think the environment definitely rejuvenates anybody who's had any doubts or downfalls leading up to now. It's exciting to be here."

On Tuesday, the team practiced for an hour and had a 20-minute intrasquad scrimmage at PPL Park.

Sundhage said the United States will focus on its midfielders, Delran's Carli Lloyd (returning from a broken ankle) and Shannon Boxx.

"Bottom line is, we need them to get involved as much as possible," said Sundhage, "because they dictate the tempo for us."

Boxx plays for FC Gold Pride, which has four players on the team.

The United States will practice in Philadelphia through Saturday before the players return home for a week of rest. Then, they will head to Mexico on Oct. 19.

Contact staff writer Mario Aguirre at 215-854-4550 or maguirre@phillynews.com.

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