Long Islanders Crystal Dunn and Allie Long are among the 18 players heading to Brazil as part of the U.S. Women’s National Team, which will be defending their Gold Medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Dunn, of Rockville Centre, and Long, of Northport, were selected by head coach Jill Ellis on Wednesday. Both women will be making their first Olympic appearance for a team that has won four Gold Medals and one Silver Medal since women’s soccer officially became an Olympic sport in 1996. Both play professionally in the National Women’s Soccer League; Dunn with the Washington Spirit and Long for Portland Thorns FC.
On her Twitter account, Dunn wrote, “Wow what a journey! A Lot of tears, and pain, but all of the love and support placed me exactly where I wanted to be.”
Long, in a statement issued through U.S. Soccer, said, “As soon as Jill said congrats, I was so grateful and thankful. I tried not to cry, but when we hung up the phone I did; only happy tears. It was such a cool moment. People had told me this was impossible. The team had just won the World Cup, it was hard that they would change the team and I came in so late, but it happened. I think it’s one of the most humbling and special experiences.”
She continued, “This is my first big tournament, but I know what it means to represent your country. I watched the last Olympic Games and I know how cool it is and what it takes to win. You represent everyone in the U.S. and everyone is watching. It’s so special. I’m focusing on being my best, both physically and mentally. I think when I’m there it will hit me, but this is unbelievable and I’m so happy.”
For Dunn, making the Olympic team comes more than year after she was Ellis’ final cut for the 2015 team that would go on to win the Women’s World Cup in Canada. Dunn recently reflected on that experience in an article on The Player’s Tribune.
Megan Rapinoe, who suffered a serious ACL injury this past December, will also be heading to Rio. Many questioned if Rapinoe could recover and rehabilitate her knee in time for the build up to the Olympics. She returned to full play for the first time at the U.S. training camp outside of Chicago in early July.
The U.S. will open Group G play on August 3 — two days before the Olympic Opening Ceremony — against New Zealand (6 p.m. ET) at Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte. The USA will stay in Belo Horizonte – which is 270 miles north of Rio de Janeiro – to face France at Mineirão Stadium on August 6 ( 4 p.m. ET) and finish group play against Colombia on Aug. 9 (6 p.m. ET) at the Amazônia Stadium in Manaus, the same arena in which the U.S. Men’s National Team tied Portugal 2-2 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the furthest soccer venue from Rio (more than 1,700 miles).
2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (6): Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS (4): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)