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11 Questions with Lauren Cheney

Lauren Cheney finished her college career in 2009 as an All-America, UCLA’s all-time leading scorer and a two-time Hermann Trophy finalist. She’s come a long way, literally and figuratively, since she traveled from Indiana to attend college in Los Angeles. She was a top pick in the WPS draft and has worked her way into the forward rotation for the USA. sat her down for 11 questions and got her thoughts on the Algarve Cup, her cross-training activities and a possible goal scoring celebration. What are your thoughts on leadership on the WNT by the young players?

Lauren Cheney: “I think the young players have a huge role on this team. As far as leadership, to be a good leader you have to be a good follower. You need to listen to Abby, to Boxxy, to Cat, to these girls who have so much experience. We give them our feedback, but observe how they lead, and I think that’s really important. On that same note, they also listen to us. We are newer and have a different way of seeing things, which brings something new to the table for them and in the end it becomes a cycle of them learning from us and us learning from them. Being able to do that is true leadership.” You were recently drafted No. 2 overall in the WPS draft by the Boston Breakers. Your thoughts on entering the league just a few weeks before you start your first pro season?

LC: “Honestly, I haven’t been thinking too much about it. Everyone asks me where I’m living and when I’m getting there and I don’t have the answers right now. My focus is finishing up this last quarter of school and doing well at the Algarve Cup. As soon as this tournament is over, my focus will shift to Boston and I’m excited for a whole new soccer experience and to see what the East Coast has to offer.” Short version…what on-field qualities do you enjoy about the three other forwards on the roster: Abby Wambach, Amy Rodriguez and Casey Nogueira?

LC: “I love Casey’s creativity. I love A-Rod’s hips and the way she can swivel around people in tight space. I always tell her, ‘the hips don’t lie.’ Abby obviously has a lot of good qualities, but right now I am enjoying combining with her in and around the penalty area. I think we are getting a good chemistry.” Speaking of that chemistry, you assisted on Abby’s 100th goal in front of her hometown fans in Rochester, N.Y., back in July. What kind of experience was that?

LC: “I was just so excited for Abby. It was her first goal since she broke her leg and I was just so happy for her to get that off her back. I mean, could it have been a better place for her to score that goal? ALL of her family was there. It was just a fun moment to be a part of.” You’ve scored four goals for the full team in your career so far, but only your first came inside the United States. Your first-ever goal was against Mexico in Boston in 2007. You scored against Finland at the 2008 Algarve Cup. You got one against Jamaica in Olympic qualifying in Mexico. Your scored a header again Canada in Toronto last year. Which one has been your favorite?

LC: “My favorite was my first goal. I just remember being so excited. I remember distinctly Leslie Osborne coming to give me the biggest hug. It just made me really feel like a part of the team.” You play intramural basketball at UCLA for fun and also for some cross-training. We know you were recruited as a hoopster out of high school. What is your “go-to” move on the court?

LC: “I definitely just get to the basket. I like to drive and I’ll dish if I can’t get a shot. I’m more of a true point guard. If I had to pick one, I’d say a spin move in the paint. I definitely spin a lot.” Even though you are from Indiana, we know you’ve got some hip-hop moves. Any chance of seeing some moves after your score a goal?

LC: “There’s a possibility. If I was going to do it, Megan Rapinoe would have to do it with me. Knowing her, that just upped our chances. One day before practice we were watching the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on the University of Miami football team. Now those guys knew how to celebrate. I don’t think we could ever be that cocky, but the dance moves were great.” Finish this sentence: Getting tackled by Racher Buehler is like….

LC: “Your worst nightmare. You feel it for days.” What has been your favorite Winter Olympics event to watch so far?

LC: “Figure skating. I’m such a sucker for it. I did watch Lindsey Vonn win her gold medal in the downhill. I think she is a beast, I say that as the ultimate compliment.” Considering that here at the Algarve Cup you have to win the group to play for the championship, that every goal could make the difference between making the final and not, and that you play four games in eight days, what are some keys to winning this tournament?

LC: “Staying mentally and physically sharp as a team is a key because we will be fatigued. We might play some different formations, so if we do experiment we need to really focus on our individual responsibilities. We also need to keep having fun because you always play your best when you are having fun.” Who is your biggest fan?

LC: “My family, but we are talking multiple people in my family. In the little kid category, it’s Lily, the daughter of Jill Ellis, my coach at UCLA and with the national team. My brother and sister compete for my biggest fan and they both are in their own ways. Then my mom and dad too, but my grandparents are way up there. They knew more about my career than me and are so supportive.”