Charge’s Mitts gets call to join U.S. national team camp

She is vying to make the squad for Sunday’s game with Norway, but will miss a WUSA showdown.
By Marc Narducci
Inquirer Staff Writer
Heather Mitts, whose strong play at outside defender has helped the Charge compile the best goals-against average in the Women’s United Soccer Association, has been called up to the U.S. national team. She will begin workouts today.

The squad is preparing for a game Sunday against Norway in Blaine, Minn. Twenty-three players have been invited to the team’s camp; coach April Heinrichs will pick 18 for the match against Norway.

Mitts, who was informed of the call-up yesterday, replaces Carolina Courage defender Danielle Slaton, who is sidelined with inflammation in her right knee.

The national-team call-up means Mitts will miss the Charge’s showdown with Carolina at Villanova Stadium on Saturday.

The Courage (10-2-3, 33 points) are in first place, two points ahead of the second-place Charge (9-1-4, 31), but Carolina has played one more game.

“I am so excited,” Mitts said. “When I heard the news, I was jumping up and down.

“But at the same time, I was down about missing a big game on Saturday. It’s a mixed feeling, but my dream is to play with the national team.”

Mitts, 24, will be one of eight defenders in the national-team camp and one of three Charge players. She will be joined by teammates Lorrie Fair (midfield) and Jenny Benson (defender).

The three are roommates in suburban Philadelphia.

“This makes it even more special that all three of us are going since we live together,” Fair said.

This is Mitts’ third stint with the national team. She is enjoying an all-star-caliber season with the Charge, both offensively and defensively. The Charge have surrendered just 12 goals all season.

“We’re thrilled for her,” Charge coach Mark Krikorian said.

“She has worked really hard. We are so pleased with the way Heather has been playing.”

Krikorian said he was considering several candidates as replacements for Mitts.

Mitts and Benson have displayed the ability to bring the ball from the back line to help start the offense.

Earlier this season, Mitts tied a WUSA record by earning assists in four consecutive games.

“One of the things that I’ve worked on in my game is making runs to help the offense,” Mitts said. “I love getting in there and trying to help the team score.”

The other defenders vying for national-team spots are Kylie Bivens, Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, Jena Kluegel, Cat Reddick and Kate Sobrero.