The 2016 United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) Olympic roster was announced on Tuesday, July 12, and Sky Blue FC defender Kelley O’Hara was named to the 18-player squad.
O’Hara will help the USWNT try to capture their fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal while also becoming the first national team to ever win consecutive World Cup titles and Olympic gold.
Having played every minute of the nine games she has been available for this season, O’Hara is just as integral of a player for Sky Blue FC as she has become for the USWNT.
O'Hara was first capped with the USWNT back in 2010 and most recently was a member of the 2015 Women’s World Cup champion team. It was during the World Cup semifinal match against Germany that O’Hara scored her first international goal, a 84th-minute volley off of a Carli Lloyd cross to secure the USWNT’s spot in the final.
After only playing 105 minutes over three games during the World Cup, O’Hara was considered by some to be a bubble player at the start of 2016. However, as the year progressed, she began seeing more time and more starts at the right back position. She currently has played in each of the USWNT’s last 11 matches, having started nine of them.
With those numbers, it was not long before it became not only evident that O’Hara was a lock for one of the three outside back spots on the Rio roster, but that she had won the starting right back spot from Ali Krieger.
The Rio Summer Games will be O’Hara’s second Olympic tournament as she was also a member of the 2012 squad that won gold in London. She played every minute of that Olympic tournament, one of only three players (Hope Solo and Christie Rampone were the other two) to do so.
O’Hara’s time on the field for the USWNT during that tournament was somewhat surprising considering that she was playing a relatively new position. O’Hara, an award-winning forward at Stanford, originally played in the midfield for the national team.
However, after starting outside back Ali Krieger tore her medial collateral (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) during the Olympic qualifying tournament, O’Hara was called upon to move back into Krieger’s spot on the back line. She was shifted back and forth between right and left back throughout the rest of qualifiers before settling at left back for the Olympics. She has played as outside back or on the flank for the national team ever since.
O’Hara’s top asset is her versatility, as proven by her ability to change positions as needed for both the USWNT and Sky Blue FC. In college, she won the Missouri Athletic Hermann Trophy award for best collegiate player (2009) as a forward before helping FC Gold Pride win the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) championship in the same position (2010). She won an Olympic gold as a defender (2012) and a Women’s World Cup as a midfielder (2015).
Before departing for Rio, Kelley O’Hara and the rest of the USWNT will play Costa Rica on July 22 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas in the team's final Olympic send-off match. Kickoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. EST.
The USWNT will open their Olympic tournament against Group G opponent New Zealand on August 3, two days before the Opening Ceremonies. They will then take on France on August 6 before closing out group play against Colombia on August 9.