Rampone, O'Hara and Loyden Named from U.S. National Team
Sky Blue FC has officially added the first seven players of its 2013 roster following the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) player allocation on Friday. Among the seven players that the team received were two New Jersey natives in U.S. National Team captain Christie Rampone and goalkeeper Jillian Loyden, as well as hard-nosed defender/midfielder Kelley O’Hara.
“Being allocated seven players from three national teams truly establishes the foundation of our roster,” Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra stated. “A lot of anxiousness has surrounded the process as we waited to see which players we would receive, and this is officially the starting point for building our team. Next steps for us are the College Draft and free agency, but we now have some clarity on which moves to make in building a competitive team.”
Rampone returns to Sky Blue FC after spending the first two years with the organization when it played in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), including her spearheading of a run to the inaugural WPS Championship in 2009. The Point Pleasant, New Jersey resident has been the captain of the U.S. National Team since 2008 and has accumulated over 275 caps wearing the colors of her country. She has played in four FIFA World Cups, hoisting the championship trophy in 1999, and the Monmouth University graduate has also won the Gold Medal in three of the four Olympic Games in which she has participated.
“It goes without saying that Christie is one of the best leaders and defensive organizers in the game,” Gabarra said of Rampone. “It is great to have her back in a Sky Blue FC jersey.”
Vineland, New Jersey native Loyden originally played for Jersey Sky Blue of the USL W-League before the club became professional, and she first earned her way into the U.S. National Team picture in 2010. The former Villanova University netminder became the starting goalkeeper for the Chicago Red Stars in 2010 after suiting up for a season alongside Hope Solo with St. Louis Athletica, and she played all three seasons that WPS was in operation.
“Jill is a top goalkeeper in this allocation and will give us a solid starter for the season, Gabarra remarked. “Her game has matured and developed to the point where she is ready to be the number one in the NWSL.”
O’Hara had long been on the U.S. National Team radar before making her way onto the senior club in 2010, first making an impression on the U-17, U-20 and U-23 sides before the call-up. The former Georgia high school standout played her collegiate soccer at Stanford University, reaching the NCAA College Cup following her junior and senior campaigns. After leading the Cardinal to the national championship in 2008, she capped off her college career with 26 goals and 13 assists her senior year to win the 2009 Hermann Trophy. Professionally, O’Hara was the third overall selection in the 2010 WPS Draft and helped FC Gold Pride to the league title that season. She then played for the Boston Breakers the following year, totaling 10 goals in the two seasons. The Georgia native was just one of three players (Rampone, Solo) to play every minute of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, leaving London with a Gold Medal around her neck.
“Kelly is a versatile dynamic soccer player,” Gabarra commented. “She will provide us an excellent attacking player that can play on the flank as well as at left back.”
In addition to the Americans, two Mexican and two Canadian internationals join the squad:
Forward Mónica Ocampo (full name Mónica Ocampo Medina) was born in January 1987 in Jojutla, Mexico. She has over 40 national team caps for Mexico, including scoring the goal in a 1-1 draw in the opening game against England in the 2011 Women’s World Cup, and has played in the U.S. for FC Indiana (from 2006-09) and signed with the Atlanta Beat of WPS in 2010.
Midfielder Nayeli Rangel was born in Febraury 1992 in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. In addition to her caps with the senior women’s Mexican National Team, including in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, she started three games at the 2011 Women’s World Cup. She played for Mexico in the U-20 Women’s World Cup in its editions in 2008, 2010, 2012.
Defender Melanie Booth made her Olympic Games debut in 2012 and captured bronze with the women’s national team in London. The defender joined the senior national team in 2002 at the age of 17. Booth won a silver medal with Canada at the 2002 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Edmonton, where she played every minute of Canada’s six matches. Booth also had an outstanding NCAA collegiate career playing for the University of Florida. Booth’s professional career has had stops in the Women’s Premier League with Tampa Bay and in the USL W-League with the Boston Renegades, and with her latest team, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Midfielder Sophie Schmidt is a 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist and has been a member of the senior national team of Canada since 2007. She appeared in all three matches for Canada at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup (scoring a goal), started all four matches at the 2008 Olympic Games, and won a 2011 Pan American Games gold medal. She captained the Canadian Under-20 team at the 2006 FIFA World Championships in Russia.
"Part of the allocation process that cannot be overlooked or undervalued is the partnership provided by the Canadian and Mexican Federations,” Gabarra confirmed. “The Canadian players will add an experienced and competitive element that is needed in every team. The Mexican players will bring creativity and hard work that is also necessary in putting a good product on the field for Sky Blue FC and the NWSL."