ussoccer.com: You came into the U-17 program a little bit later than most of the players who were selected to the CONCACAF qualifying team. Can you talk about that experience and how you made a quick impact on the coaching staff?
Midge Purce: “It was a new experience coming in with the group, but everyone was extremely welcoming and I adjusted quickly. Everyone here plays at such a high level and everyone brings something to the table that is so great, but a little different, so adjusting to that was an interesting process to say the least. You have to be faster and your play has to be a lot better. So after becoming more comfortable in the environment, I really started to become part of the team.”
ussoccer.com: How would you describe your style of play?
MP: “I like to go at players and I like to play fast and get in behind, but I also like to keep possession when necessary. (U.S. head coach) Albertin (Montoya) says one of my strengths is getting in behind the defense so I am going to keep trying to improve that. I am still a student of the game and of course we are all learning so much. Every time I come to camp the coaches really keep adding more and more and it’s been really great. Even though my strength is getting in behind, I can still enhance that ability with better timing and positioning.”
ussoccer.com: You and your teammates have finally made it to Guatemala for World Cup qualifying. Can you share your emotions with a few days left before the tournament starts?
MP: “I think I can describe it as ‘pumped!’ I am so excited that I just want to get out there and play. Ever since they started talking about the qualifying tournament, I’ve been super excited. I expect to play some very good soccer against some tough teams and that will be a challenge and fun.”
ussoccer.com: No one the U.S. team actually calls you Margaret. With the USA, you are Midge. How did you get that nickname?
MP: “When I was little, like around seven, I was really small, and a few girls on my team told me I was so small that I was a midget. I said, ‘Hey, I’m taller than a few girls on the team!’ so they said, ‘ok, you’re just Midge,’ and it stuck. I used to ask my dad if I was small, and he always said, ‘No! Play big and you are big,’ and size was never an excuse or a problem.”
ussoccer.com: You are coached on your club team, Freestate Soccer, by U.S. Women’s National Team legend and 1991 Women’s World Cup champion Shannon Cirovski (formerly Higgins). Did you know she was a U.S. Women’s National Team legend?
MP: “Well, I’m very good friends with her talented daughter Karli and before I moved to their team she was telling me about her mom, so I looked her up on the Internet and I said to myself, ‘Oh my goodness, this woman is amazing!’ I remember going to her house for a sleep-over with Karli and I saw all these pictures of her playing and it was phenomenal. And then I saw all these videos of her playing and she was just such a smooth, smart player. You can tell by the way she coaches that she truly understands the game. She breaks the game down so well that the team is able to hang on every word she says and then bring it with us onto the field. She’s an amazing coach.”
ussoccer.com: We must know: Team Peeta or Team Gale?
MP: “I just finished the third book, literally 30 minutes ago! I have to admit I’ve been flip-flopping. In the beginning, I was Team Peeta. Then I was Team Gale. Now, I think, I’m back to Peeta. Maybe I’ll just go with Team Finnick, even though he got torn apart by a bunch of mutations. So sad; I almost cried…but I didn’t.”
ussoccer.com: We know you love Shannon Cirovski, but who is your current favorite U.S. WNT player?
MP: “Well, it’s really hard to decide between Team O’Reilly or Team Morgan. And of course there is Team Abby. I’m sorry, I just can’t decide. I’m not good with making these kinds of decisions. I’m the girl who chose Finnick. I just love all the national team players.”
ussoccer.com: You say your brother JP Jr. (19 years old) and your dad, Jim Purce are great athletes and you compete against them in all kinds of things. Do you ever win?
MP: “No. They never let me win, even when I was little. They always make me earn it. My brother always wants to race and my dad is more of a distance runner, but he’s still fast, and I am still trying to catch up with the big guy. Give me a few more years and I might get him! My brother is great at racquetball, but I am working hard on my game and I dream of the day that I take him down. We also play football in the street and it’s supposed to be two-hand touch, but it seems whenever I get the ball my brother thinks it’s tackle. One day, JP, one day.”
ussoccer.com: You play forward for club and country. Can you tell us what it’s like to score a goal?
MP: “When you score a goal, you complete a chain of events that every single person on the field played a part in creating and you get the satisfaction of making all that hard work come through for your teammates. Yeah, it’s a lot responsibility, you should finish goals, especially because all of your teammates have worked so hard for you, but it’s a way of saying ‘thank you for working so hard. Now I am going to get us that goal.”
ussoccer.com: You are one of the few uncommitted players on the U.S. U-17 roster. Has the college selection process been stressful?
MP: “No, I think of it as a great opportunity and such a great experience that I can use a sport that I love to play, something I truly love to do, as a means to get into very good schools. The reason why I’ve taken my time is that I don’t look at it as a stressful time, I look at it as deciding what path I am going to take for the rest of my life and I want to make the correct decision with no regrets. It’s not a stressful process, it’s an important one.”
ussoccer.com: You’ve decided to go with the braids for the qualifying tournament. Do tell?
MP: “Well, when I was younger I always wore braids and I also always wear green pre-wrap in my hair. So, for a while, I stopped wearing braids and I really missed them. They are easy, they are manageable and they are just plain fun.”