The U.S. Women’s National Team was featured on ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday morning along with Grammy nominated artist, Ed Sheeran.The team traveled by ferry to New York City’s Central Park before getting to meet the British pop star and chat with GMA hosts, Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Lara Spencer, Ginger Zee and Amy Robach.
U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis
On the U.S. team’s form heading into Women’s World Cup:
“The team is in great spirits, very focused, [we’re] fine tuning, and you know, really excited to get going out there in Canada.”
On the difficulty of the tournament:
“If you just look at some of the Ballon d’Or ballots and nominees you can tell that the rest of the world has some tremendous players. I think that for the general public, they’re going to see an amazing level of athleticism."
"I think defending is going to be a very, very big part of this World Cup. Teams’ ability to make space and limit it is going to be a big part of this tournament. But if I’m a fan, or if I’m my ten year-old daughter, I want to see goals, I want to see fun, I want to see high-fives and goal celebrations. Those are the things I think the general public can see from this (World Cup).”
On facing Sweden and former USWNT manager Pia Sundhage in the second game of the group stage:
“All opponents I view with respect. Obviously I know Pia as a personal friend. So I know her very well and have the utmost respect for her as a person and as a coach. In terms of our personnel, I think it’s very different than when Pia was in charge. We’ve got different players involved and we play slightly differently, so I bet she’s probably got her scouts involved scouting us. But I think it’s great, I have no problem playing against my friends. I welcome the competition. Pia is a tremendous lady who’s done a lot for our sport and for our Federation here, and I’ll be excited to see her up there in Canada.”
U.S. forward Abby Wambach
On opportunities presented in this year’s World Cup:
“Well obviously winning is one of the biggest catalysts for positive growth of anything. Here in this country we haven’t experienced winning a World Cup, so we all want to see what kind of growth could take place after doing so. I’m just excited about having another opportunity to move the game forward.”
U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd
On growing fan interest in the sport:
“I was thinking about this over the last year or so leading up (to this year’s World Cup). The last World Cup was great, and I think that Brazil game really enabled a lot of people to jump on board and follow us more. But I think we’re at a point now where, if we win this thing, I mean, this could be huge. And there’s no better time to win it, with the coverage, with social media, and with the fact that we haven’t won it in 16 years. So it’s a great time to win it, I think it’s one of the best environments we could be in, and we’re ready to go after it.”
On head coach Jill Ellis:
“I’ve known Jill for a really long time. We go back from the U.S. Under-21 days, and it’s pretty cool to kind of see everything come full-circle. I want to win a World Cup for her, I want to win it for myself and my teammates. But she’s done a great job of kind of steering the ship and getting us to believe in the philosophy and how we want to play, and I think things are really coming together.”
U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe
On the growth in popularity of the team:
“We know that we are part of this crazy growth stage (in the sport’s popularity). Four years ago, before the last World Cup, we were not doing this (Media Day), and I think we had like five or six thousand fans at our Send-Off game. We’re really proud of where we are now, and hopefully that just keeps growing.”
U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo
On excitement ahead of the World Cup:
“We all should be really excited. I’m really excited. We’re in New York City for a couple more days, but I think all of us are ready to just fly to Canada, close the doors behind us, and just really start to prepare our final days into the first game.”
On the competition within the team and depth of the squad:
“Competition is what makes us all better. That’s not cliché, that’s how our team operates. But it’s a competition that’s healthy. We know that to win the World Cup it’s going to take all 23 players. And I think this is the first tournament that I’ve been a part of where we have the opportunity to rest players throughout the tournament, to get a number of players’ minutes, and you’re not going to see a drop off in the level of play. I think that’s incredible and it’s the first time that we’ve had so much depth on a U.S. team.”
U.S. defender Christie Rampone
On the difference between this World Cup and the others she’s experienced:
“It’s been amazing to see the build up to each and every World Cup, obviously this being my fifth. The coverage has been really amazing, which then sparks interest from everybody at home.”
On the World Cup being so close to home:
“Being close to Canada, I think it’s going to be even better, because game times will be live and in prime time, and people will be able to watch it instead of getting up at the crack of dawn and seeing a game. So I think the timing of this event is definitely going to be a big factor for us.”
U.S. forward Alex Morgan
On the experience of this World Cup versus the last one:
“Going into the last World Cup, I just remember we weren’t getting as many fans as we’re getting now. We didn’t have as much coverage, and it was harder to get on TV. I feel like everything is lined up for us, and all we have to do now is win it.”
“Well I was definitely learning during that 2011 World Cup. Christie, Carli, and a couple other players – Abby – were helping me along the way. It was my first major tournament, and I didn’t really know what to expect going into it. I hadn’t played in front of a crowd larger than five or ten thousand, so it was very new to me. I think going into this World Cup I just feel like I can expect a little bit more, and I know what I needed preparing for this World Cup. I feel, mentally, a little more at ease, just with the experience. There’s some things you just can’t learn without experience, and I think having a World Cup under me – and going through that emotional rollercoaster, from group play all the way until the end of the final – I think definitely helped me to be mentally stronger today.”
Growing up in rural Palo Cedro, near Redding, California, Megan Rapinoe was one of six kids. “My family is really important to me,” says the outgoing U.S. winger many have come to know as simply, Pinoe. “There’s a ton of us - so many different personalities – everyone has their own thing going on, so much of it going on.”
Megan and her twin sister Rachael were the youngest, and they had a Tom Sawyer-like childhood. They roamed the land, climbing the giant oak tree, fishing for crawfish in the creek, playing one-on-one basketball or baseball or soccer on the neighboring fields, playing house in the chicken coop. “It’s like a little penned-in area, with a little house. It was disgusting –it was a chicken coop – but you could kind of get in there and we loved it.”
Denise, Rapinoe’s mom, relied on her “wicker whistle” to call the sisters home. “Whenever she wanted us to come inside, she’d put her pinkies in her mouth – it was so loud, you could just hear it forever. That was our call home.” That whistle still comes in handy today. At Megan’s games with big crowds, Denise will whip out the pinkies, and Megan follows the sound to find her family in the stands.
Rapinoe brings to the game a creative, free-flowing, improvised quality – a quality that may have grown out of the childhood where she was given a lot of freedom to roam.
Her country upbringing also shaped her playing experiences. After one year playing State ODP, the family scrapped it, as it was just too far away. Even club practices were a three-hour trek, which often meant the two sisters just stayed at home and played themselves. When they were playing with their club team, Elk Grove United, creativity was the emphasis, “My coach never told us what to do. He always gave us a lot of freedom and wanted us to try things.”
FROM CHICKEN COOPS TO GLOBE TROTTINGThe kid who grew up playing in the chicken coop has now lived in cities all over the world, from Lyon, France to Portland, Oregon. In Lyon, playing for Olympique Lyonnais, she visited museums and opera houses, walked cobblestone streets, raced her Smart Car against the men’s teams Ferarris and Maserrattis. In Seattle, she lived on Capitol Hill, which she describes as “gay-friendly, straight-friendly, trans-friendly, everything friendly,” a place “where you never had to think about [sexuality] ever, which is really important to me.” Pinoe says, “I’ve loved living in different places. I like having that experience.” Yet the continent-hopping lifestyle of a National Team soccer player means she also gravitates toward having a place to call home. Now playing for the Seattle Reign, she lives a little south of the city– close enough to enjoy the perks, but far enough away to have a little of the space she enjoyed so much as a kid.
U.S. National Team: One of the USA’s most skillful attackers and goal scorers, she (and her hair) gained instant fame for sending in the cross that Abby Wambach headed home in the dying seconds of extra time against Brazil in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinal … Her two-goal performance in the epic semifinal match of the 2012 Olympics further cemented her star status.
2015: Named to the 2015 U.S. FIFA Women's World Cup roster, her second World Cup selection... Has played in six games so far for the U.S. Women this year and started four... Capatained the USA during its 3-0 victory over Ireland on May 10 in San Jose, California... Earned her 100th cap with the WNT on April 4, when she started against New Zealand in the USA's 4-0 win in St. Louis, becoming the 31st woman in WNT history to achieve the century mark... Provided the assist on Lori Chalupny's goal during the win against New Zealand, the 30th assist of her career... Made her first start of the year at the Algarve Cup and played in two more games during the tournament after missing the opening matches against France on Feb. 8 and England on Feb. 13 with a knee injury suffered during January camp... Came in as a second-half sub during the U.S.'s 2-0 victory over France on March 11 to earn her 99th cap and help the WNT's to its 10th Algarve Cup title ... 2014: Played in 21 games for the USA, starting 16 and logging in 1,253 minutes … Scored six goals and had seven assists … Scored against Switzerland, Mexico, China and Denmark in the Algarve Cup; against Guatemala in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, and against Brazil in the Brasilia International Tournament to close out the year … Helped the U.S. win the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship and book its ticket to the 2015 FIFA World Cup … Was one of four players to play and start all five matches of the tournament… 2013: Played 614 minutes in just seven games, mostly due to club commitments in France, but still scored four goals with three assists … Scored against Scotland, China, Germany and New Zealand … Assisted, off a corner kick, on Abby Wambach’s 159th career goal that broke Mia Hamm’s world all-time international scoring record on June 20 against Korea Republic at Red Bull Arena … In 2013 she became the 34th player in U.S. WNT history to play 75 or more matches … 2012:Had her best year to date for the U.S. WNT, playing 1,649 minutes in 29 games while starting 20, the highest yearly totals of her career … Scored eight goals with 12 assists, also career highs … Her 12 assists were third highest on the team … Started all six games of the 2012 Olympics, her first Olympic tournament, while scoring three goals with four assists … Her four assists at the Olympics were tied for tops on the team … One of her assists came on Carli Lloyd’s game-winning goal in the 2-1 Olympic gold medal game victory against Japan … Scored the game-winning goal against Colombia in group play and also scored two spectacular goals against Canada in the Olympic semifinal, twice drawing the USA even in a match it would win 4-3 in the final minute of extra time of overtime … Her first goal against Canada came directly off a corner kick and the second was a brilliant strike from outside the penalty area … Played in four games at CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying, starting one and had one goal and one assist … Was on the short list for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year and finished 10th in the final voting … 2011: Played in 18 games, starting 13, and scored three goals with five assists over her 1,085 minutes … Was a starter for most of the year, but became a reserve just before the Women’s World Cup, where she played her role extremely well coming off the bench, getting one goal with three assists … Played in all six games in the World Cup, starting the group match against Sweden and the World Cup Final … Her three assists came in the final three games of the World Cup, crossing the ball that was famously headed home by Abby in the quarterfinal against Brazil, setting up Alex Morgan’s game-clinching goal in the semifinal victory against France and Morgan’s score in the World Cup Final against Japan … Also scored against England and Japan during the year … 2010: Recovered from illness to work her way back into the U.S. lineup, starting eight of the 10 games she played … Scored four goals with two assists, one of which came in the second leg of the Women’s World Cup playoff series against Italy that set up Amy Rodriguez’s game-winning goal … Started both games in the playoff series … Scored against Sweden and China, and twice against Guatemala at the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying tournament, in which she played three games … 2009: Made a big impact in her return to the WNT for the first time in two years, playing in seven games and starting six while scoring two goals with one assist … Scored against Norway in the Algarve Cup in a 1-0 victory and also added a goal against Canada in Toronto … 2007-08: Did not play for the USA as she recovered from two ACL injuries … 2006: Trained with team at 2006 Residency Training Camp in Carson, Calif. … Came into training with the USA early in 2006 and played in four matches, scoring her first two career goals against Chinese Taipei on Oct. 1, but returned to her college team and suffered an ACL injury just four days later … Youth National Teams: Was one of the standout players on the U.S. team that finished third at the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in Thailand … She had an excellent tournament, scoring three goals, tied for the team lead, including one in the third-place match victory against Brazil … Ended her U-19 international career with 21 caps and nine goals … First camp with the U-19 WNT was in January of 2003 in Chula Vista, Calif. … Played in three matches at the 2004 CONCACAF U-19 Qualifying tournament, scoring three goals … Scored her first goal with the U-19s against Mexico on March 1, 2003 … Scored against Canada in 6-1 victory on May 27, 2003 … Traveled with U-19s on European tour to Netherlands and Germany in July of 2003 … Played in USYSA International Tournament in Houston in May of 2003 … Played with the U-16 GNT in 2002 and traveled with the U-16s to France and Houston … First Appearance: July 23, 2006, vs. Ireland ... First Goal: Oct. 1, 2006, vs. Chinese Taipei (two goals).
Professional / Club – 2014: Despite only playing nine games for the Reign, she scored four goals and recorded one assist as Seattle went on to win the NWSL regular season title with a 16-2-6 overall record … Scored the sole goal for the Reign in the 86th minute of the 2-1 loss to FC Kansas City in the NSWL Championship Game … 2013: Signed with two-time European Champions League winners Lyon for the second half of the French league season and played in six games while scoring twice … Played in five UEFA Champions League matches for Lyon, scoring two goals, against Rosengård and Juvisy … Helped Lyon reach the 2013 UEFA Women’s Champions League Final where she started and played 46 minutes as her team fell 2-1 to German club Wolfsburg … Allocated to the Seattle Reign for the inaugural NWSL season but did not join the team until late June after the end of her French season with Lyon … Ended up playing 1,023 minutes in 12 games, starting 11 and scored five goals with one assist … Her impact on the Reign was such that despite playing only half the season, she was named to the NWSL Second XI … Finished second in the NWSL in shots with 65 and shots on goal (27) despite playing at least six games less than the other leaders ... 2011: Signed with the Philadelphia Independence for the 2011 WPS season after the Chicago Red Stars ceased operations but was traded to magicJack in exchange for cash considerations on June 22 during the Women’s World Cup … Ended up playing 10 WPS matches, starting six, with two goals and two assists over 641 minutes … Played all 90 minutes of magicJack’s two playoff matches, scoring in the quarterfinal victory against Boston … 2010: Struggled with illness and fitness, but played in 20 games, starting 19 and scoring one goal on the last touch of the last game of the season … 2009: Taken second overall in the first round of the 2009 WPS College Draft by the Chicago Red Stars … Started 17 of the 18 games she played for the Red Stars, scoring two goals with three assists … Was named as a WPS First-Team All-Star … Youth club: She played with the Mavericks from U-12 to U-14, then played with Elk Grove United until she went to college … Won State and Regional Champions with Elk Grove United in 2003 … National runner-up in 2003.