Abby Wambach joined head coach Pia Sundhage and teammates Christie Rampone, Hope Solo and Shannon Boxx to talk about the upcoming 2012 London Olympics. Photo Credit: ISIPhotos
Soccer News: U.S. Women's National Team Members Say They Are Ready for the 2012 London Olympics
U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage, Abby Wambach, Christie Rampone, Shannon Boxx, and Hope Solo Speak Out on USA's opening match of the 2012 Olympics against France on July 25 at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland.
After losing the World Cup is America an underdog team?
According to Abby Wambach, “There is no better motivation than losing in my opinion. We have something to prove.”
USA @ the Olympics Update: The USA arrived in England on July 11 and trained for a week on the grounds of Middlesbrough FC in Darlington in northeast England before traveling to Glasgow on July 17 to prepare for the first match.
Women’s soccer is getting better every day, and U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage believes the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is ready for the Olympics.
Only the women’s soccer team made it to the Olympics to represent the United States for 2012.
The U.S. U-23 Men's National Team lost the dream of going to the Olympics this summer in London under the leadership of head coach Caleb Porter who went on record saying, “It's a painful moment. The players are devastated.”
With all eyes on the women’s soccer team who want to lead our country to victory, the upbeat attitude of the players and the coach were inspiring. Sounding confidant and prepared, Sundhage says that her team is “Really ready for the Olympics.”
Discussing the unpredictability of the opponents and how to control the game, the head coach and players talked about tactics, strategy and the future of pro women’s soccer this morning on the media call.
A new American soccer style has emerged with Sundhage’s focus on possession-oriented soccer being combined with the traditional U.S. attitude of never quitting known as our wining mentality. Uniting the possession-style approach that Pia prefers with a deep passion for winning makes a deadly mixture.
How successful will this approach be? Days away from discovering how successful our U.S. team will be, the current attitude of the players and coach is positive and enthusiastic.
Are there major changes on the roster since the World Cup?
Probably the most significant change is that America’s soccer darling, Alex Morgan, was a sub last year sitting on the bench and now is a starter on the field who plays well with Abby Wambach on the top as a forward. There is a magic on the field with the combination of veteran Wambach and youthful Morgan, and going forward this is the combo looking to score goals going for the Gold Medal.
While going for the Gold of Olympic first place is the hope of our country, Sundhage said, “The goal is to win the game,” not to become distracted by the overall competition of the Olympics but focus on the immediate game that is on the field.
“I am not talking about the gold medal but the next game, and how different the teams play. I am excited about the different styles of soccer. Our goal? We really want to win the next game and go all the way to the final,” said Sundhage.
Always working to bring the best talents of her players to the pitch, Sundhage knows her team is aggressive and physical but says, “The best defending is to keep the ball. We have the personalities on the field and we are very confident going into this tournament and determined to bring out the best performance.”
Sundhage is very confident going into the Olympics and said, “having a great roster makes coaching fun. It was a privilege to be around very good players in 2008 but even [more of a privilege now with] better players in 2012.
When asked how Hope Solo has improved from last Olympic games in 2008, Sundhage says, “Hope Solo is more fierce than four years ago and really appreciates the game on the field.”
When asked how Alex Morgan helps Abby’s game on the soccer field, Wambach replied, “Alex brings a different skill set than I do. She is a very speedy, fast forward. I am more of a target forward; players get the ball to me so we can move up the field. When Alex has the ball and has a chance to score it takes a lot to knock her off the ball. I remember playing with Mia Hamm and Alex Morgan is the total package like Mia and I hope she continues to score goals.”
When asked how Alex Morgan has improved since the World Cup, Wambach said, "Morgan has had the most improvement in her confidence.”
Now the leading goal scorer on the U.S. Women’s National Team, Alex Morgan’s confidence this year has vastly soared.
“Alex Morgan is giving our team a better chance of winning games, and making a name for herself,” said Wambach.
A balance between veteran players and younger players is critical to the success of a team. The Abby-Alex combo is a powerful blend and one that all the team hopes breeds continued success.
|U.S. Women's National Team members are confident they will be sporting Olympic Gold Medals in London.
Photo Credit: Stephen Brashears
After losing the World Cup, is America an underdog team?
According to Abby Wambach, “There is no better motivation than losing in my opinion. This team has something to prove, we want to win. Because we got so close and lost in such a dramatic way, it adds even more fuel to that fire.”
“We are a very different team than the ones before us who have won the gold medals,” said Abby Wambach who hopes her team can continue the tradition.
“In the end, tactics, and techniques and execution and coaching are important but I am clear that it is about who wants it more. Everyone has done the work to win the gold medal; for me it is about who wants it more,” said Wambach.
Feeling strong and healthy, Wambach is in more of a pain-free place than where she was a year ago and is ready to win.
What is needed to win besides the burning desire to be triumphant?
Captain Christine Rampone: “Part of my job is making sure spacing between players is correct, and this is ongoing throughout the game. Defensively we are trying to put the other team under as much pressure as possible.
Asked about Megan Rapinoe’s improvement this year, Wambach said, “Megan Rapinoe is one of the players on our team who has the ability to change our game. Her biggest challenge is herself, and has worked hard to fight her own demons and get back in the starting lineup. The game against Canada she served me some balls that I should have finished. She has the chance to be a big star.”
A steady under current from all the veteran players is the concern over the lack of an official “PRO” women’s league. Having a pro league in our back yard is important and will obviously be a focus in the near future.
Since the WPS folded earlier this year, there has not been a professional league in the U.S. and to keep our top female soccer players in this country a pro league is needed, otherwise our soccer talent will be forced to seek playing opportunities overseas in Japan, Sweden, Germany and other countries. “We want to solidify a league in the U.S. It is very important to us to play games. Unfortunately if there isn’t a league next year we are going to have to outsource,” said wambach.
Hope Solo, the U.S. Goalkeeper who has appeared on the cover of magazines and stared on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars also reinforeced how important a pro league was for our country and around the world. “Build the sport and have more leagues flourish,” said Solo.
Given the chance of playing outside of the U.S. National Team, Solo loves playing for her hometown of Seattle and building the game of women’s soccer in America. “Seattle Sounders is a great team to play for with high quality soccer,” says Hope.
Hope, who has lived the Hollywood lifestyle of being on TV and magazine covers, was happy to get back to her team. Passionate about soccer, Hope feels the positive energy and “lives for playing the game.” And the sentiment of playing the game, the joy and importance of being on the field together was echoed by all the players.
As Rampone says, “Playing games is crucial, even more for the non-starting 11; it is important to get 90-minute games in. Our goal coming to the fall is that we try to have a league going and not have college system be the only feeder system.”
Rampone says, “There is no league in place today but hopefully decisions on where players will play will not be made until January. Hopefully the league can come back. If it does not, you will have players going overseas. We would like to stay in the states and make a league work, but at some point we are going to have to make a decision for what is best for the individual players.”
Hope Solo also spoke of her commitment to her team and deep desire to excel saying she is never happy at the end of the game if she feels she didn’t do her best. “I take doing my job personally.”