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Scurry left off Olympic roster

June 24, 2008|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

Briana Scurry has played more games, earned more victories, recorded more shutouts and won more medals than any U.S. soccer goalkeeper in history -- male or female -- but on Monday she was not included on the 18-player roster that will travel to China in August to compete in the Beijing Olympics.

It was a decision made for tactical reasons, not to avoid controversy, according to U.S. women's national soccer Coach Pia Sundhage.

Scurry, 36, has been one of the American team's stalwarts for the last 14 years, winning Olympic gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2004 Athens Games, as well as a world championship in 1999 with her memorable penalty kick save against China in the dramatic final at the Rose Bowl.

But on Monday, when Sundhage named her team, Scurry was listed as only an alternate, with Hope Solo, 25, and Nicole Barnhart, 26, selected as the starter and backup, respectively.

Was it because of the spat between Solo and Scurry at the 2007 Women's World Cup in China?

"No, not at all," Sundhage said Monday by conference call from her native Sweden.

"The reason why I have picked these two goalkeepers is [because] of the way we play. We want to keep the ball. We want to keep possession and switch the point of attack.

"I want them to do that in the back four, and even use the goalkeeper. Both Hope and Nicole, they are very good with their feet and that is necessary the way we're playing right now, so that is why they are in the 18."

During last year's Women's World Cup, Solo reacted furiously when she was benched by then-coach Greg Ryan for the semifinal against Brazil. This happened even though she had not given up a goal in two straight games. Scurry was given the start and, after the U.S. was beaten, 4-1, Solo lashed out at Ryan and, indirectly, at Scurry.

The incident contributed to Ryan's being fired after the tournament and Sundhage's taking his place, but Solo's relationship with the rest of the team later was patched up and the players put the issue behind them.

"You don't have to love each other, but you do have to respect each other," Sundhage said. "In this team, I have not seen anything of that [discord]. I think they know we need to be a unit in order to win."

Asked whether Scurry had played her final game for the U.S., Sundhage said she did not know.

"If her international career is over or not, you shouldn't ask me," she said. "Because I would say if she continues and plays in the [new women's] league next year she has a chance to come back, of course.

"Her reaction? She reacted very professional. Now she is the third goalkeeper and she will be fit and ready to go if something happens to the other two goalkeepers."

The Beijing Olympics will mark the first time in a major tournament that the U.S. team has not included at least one of its original 1991 world champions.

The team does, however, include nine of the gold-medal winners from the Athens Olympics. But not Scurry.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Women's soccer

THE U.S. OLYMPIC ROSTER

Goalkeepers: Hope Solo, Nicole Barnhart.

Defenders: Rachel Buehler, Lori Chalupny, Stephanie Cox, Kate Markgraf, Heather Mitts, Christie Rampone.

Midfielders: Shannon Boxx, Tobin Heath, Angela Hucles, Carli Lloyd, Heather O'Reilly, Lindsay Tarpley, Aly Wagner.

Forwards: Natasha Kai, Amy Rodriguez, Abby Wambach.

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