Leslie Osborne, In Her Own Words
After not seeing action in the USA’s first match of the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Leslie Osborne has figured prominently in the next three, all wins, and sat down with ussoccer.com to discuss the USA’s quarterfinal win over England, the role of the young players during this tournament and the reprise of a great rivalry in the semifinal clash with Brazil.
Sep. 25, 2007
“I think the England game is the best game we’ve put together as a team so far in this tournament. The second half was probably the best that we’ve felt, and I think it’s a good indication of the way we can play. We want to play like that for a solid 90 minutes and that’s why the performance against England came at a great time for us. It was really exciting to get the job done defensively and to put balls in the back of the net.
I had to look after Kelly Smith, but I didn’t feel the pressure of marking a great player, although she is a great player, because I know how good our team defense is. I honestly didn’t know that my tournament would unfold like this, how much I would play or if I would even play at all, so I’m just really happy to be able to contribute so far.
The most nervous part of the game for me is before the kickoff, but once the game starts, the nerves go away. We have young players playing in our first World Cup so the nerves are always going to be there, it’s just a matter of how you deal with them.
Once the game starts, it’s just a soccer game, but until the game starts there’s so much nervousness and anticipation. Honestly, once I start running around out there, that’s where the game just makes sense and I feel comfortable out there.
In our group play, we focused a lot on how good those teams were and how tough those games were going to be, but once we got through with that, we had more confidence to focus on ourselves. We’ve got four great games under our belt, and some may look at that as fatiguing, but we look at it as four great challenges and that will help us in the next game. We’ve been in all kinds of situations, up a goal, down a goal, tied, and that will help us heading into a game against a team like Brazil.
I think the mood of the team right now is just of excitement, pretty much the same as how we felt before the last game. Getting out of that tough group and playing a good game against England just gave us more confidence going forward.
Brazil is going to be a great game, no doubt. They will come out racing as individuals and as a team. They will give everything and we will have to play well for 90 minutes, but we can’t wait to get on the field, the anticipation is tremendous. We’ve talked about this game, that our training has prepared us for this and that our ultimate goal is getting closer and closer. Still, you have to stay in the moment, and know that this is what we’ve been working and training for, this is what we come to do, to play in this semifinal and get the job done.
I am very proud of the how the young players have performed. We’ve been stepping up with this team over the past two years and now some of us are getting the chance to play, to contribute and to help the team win. I had confidence that the young players could do it, but you never know until you get here and actually do it. Although we may lack some Women’s World Cup experience, the young players have experience of the last two years with the National Team, college championships and youth World Cups. It makes us feel great to have the older players look at us and say ‘We can’t do this without you guys.’”