First Cap: USA vs. Venezuela
A good place to start is my first camp and cap with the National Team when Bruce Arena invited me to be a guest player with the final 23-man roster for the 2006 FIFA World Cup camp. The opportunity to be in that camp before the World Cup was incredible and totally unexpected. I had gone to Holland in January of 2006, started playing more with the reserve team and at the end of the season got a good run of games. I can remember sitting on the bus coming back from one of the last games and hearing I was going to have the opportunity to go into camp before the World Cup. It felt surreal.
I got to Cary and there were Bruce, “Mooch” Myernick and Pierre [Barrieu] and so many guys that I’d watched on TV for such a long time. We worked incredibly hard. Pierre had us running quite a bit – it was hot, it was humid, but for me it was incredible to be a part of it.
We were there for two weeks and at the end, I just assumed they’d go to play the Send Off games and I’d head home for a little bit of summer vacation before going back to Holland for preseason. One day after lunch, Bruce pulled me aside and said in a casual way that he thought I’d done well and he wanted to bring me along for the three Send Off games. Again, it was totally unexpected, but as an 18-year-old at that time, I certainly wasn’t turning down the opportunity. The first game was in Nashville against Morocco and just to be on the bench for that, to feel the atmosphere and be a part of it was special. The second game was in Cleveland against Venezuela and towards the end of the game, Mooch came down and told me to get ready.
“There might be a chance to get you on for a few minutes,” he told me.
It’s hard to tell if any young player will grow up to be elite. Beyond skill level, so many factors play in to the equation: size, fitness, physicality, athleticism and mentality all seem to matter. Yet one very underrated quality is the soccer brain – the understanding of the game and what it means to be successful in it.
Building off a quick start and a first half hat trick from midfielder Carli Lloyd, the WNT beat Japan last night at BC Place in Vancouver, winning the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup and earning the title of World Champions. The USA is now the only country to win three Women's World Cups and is the country to score the most goals (five) in a WWC final -- no other team has scored more than two. The WNT will return to the USA for a pair of friendly matches against Costa Rica on Aug. 16 and Aug. 19 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Chattanooga, Tennessee, respectively, before embarking on their nationwide celebration tour (details to be announced).