Soccer star Meghan Klingenberg is a step away from her Olympic dream.
The 2007 graduate is in very elite company.
Of the 18 players who made the team, 11 are returning from the U.S. team that won the gold medal in 2008 in Beijing, China.
U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Pia Sundhage named Klingenberg and three others as alternates.
The U.S. Women’s National Team has advanced to the gold medal game of every Olympic women’s soccer tournament that has been contested, according to ussoccer.com.
"The USA won the inaugural gold medal in 1996 in Athens, Ga., won silver in 2000 in Sydney, Australia, and will be going for its third straight gold medal after standing atop the podium in Athens, Greece, in 2004 and Beijing in 2008," the soccer website states.
"Ultimately, I want to be on that team," said Klingenberg. "My ultimate goal is to be on the roster of 18."
Being chosen an alternate is "awesome," she said, adding that she was excited to be considered for the team.
Seeing all the veterans on the U.S. Women’s National Team can be intimidating, the 23-year-old said.
"They've been there; they've done that," Klingenberg said.
But she sees it as an opportunity too as she learns from them and gets to pick their brains about soccer.
"I get to grow as a player and as a person," she said.
Klingenberg said she does not know yet if the alternates will travel to London with the team.
"It will be an incredible opportunity and I would love to cheer my friends on from the stands," she said.
The only way she will play in Olympic competition is if one of the 18 team members gets hurt.
"That's a double-edged sword. You stay ready and prepared, but you'd never wish an injury on someone," she said.
Klingenberg will travel to Sweden with the team for a two-week training camp that features matches against Sweden on June 16 and against Japan on June 18 as three of the world’s top women’s soccer nations continue their Olympic preparations, according to ussoccer.com.
The U.S. team will play its Olympic send-off match on June 30 against Canada at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The match will be broadcast live on NBC; kickoff is set for 2 p.m. ET.
Fans will also be able to follow the match on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and via Twitter @ussoccer_wnt.
Currently, Klingenberg lives in Buffalo, NY, where she plays professionally with the Western New York Flash of the Women’s Professional Soccer League Elite.
Klingenberg was drafted in the first round of the Women's Professional Soccer league's 2011 Draft by magicJack. She was traded during the season to the Boston Breakers, for which she played until the Women's Professional League folded.
She is making a living—"a small living," she calls it—playing pro soccer and has traveled extensively to places like Princeton, Philadelphia, Texas, Japan and Portugal.
Klingenberg graduated in December from the University of North Carolina with a degree in business administration.
"I wanted to go to the University of North Carolina since I was 9 years old. It was a pretty incredible experience for me," she said of the university known as a women's soccer powerhouse. "I was able to do something I wanted to do since I was little."
Her playing record at UNC was incredible too.
A four-year starter at North Carolina, she played in 94 games and scored 18 career goals with 24 assists, according to ussoccer.com.
Klingenberg was named an All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of Americaduring her college and high school years. She also received first-team All-ACC honors while at UNC.
At Pine-Richland High School, she was the captain of her team and led the Rams to the 2005 Pennsylvania state high school championship.
She also was named a Parade high school All-American.
"It's kinda cool because I get to call this my job. It's something I love," Klingenberg said. "It's been an incredible ride so far. I'm going to play soccer until I can't."
Meghan Klingenberg is holding a soccer camp for girls, ages 11-18, from July 6 to 8 at the Dick's Sportsplex at Graham Park in Cranberry Township. Check back with Patch on Friday for a story about the camp.