WNT Jan 30, 2010
It's already been a long training camp for the U.S. WNT and there is still seven days left. U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage invited four goalkeepers to this training camp, which has certainly kept U.S. goalkeeper coach Paul Rogers busy. Or, is it Rogers that has kept the four GKs busy? We think the latter. Everyone knows that the GKs, if they don't work harder than everyone else, they certainly work different, and that a GK would be more likely to survive a field player session than vice-versa. The 'keepers often go early to training, sometimes stay late, have extra sessions and of course, face a barrage of speeding soccer balls from all different angles every day. The WNT Blog checked in with Rogers to find out how the goalkeeping sessions have been going.
Our prime time players (left to right above) are:
Alyssa Naeher -- Starting 'keeper for the 2008 U-20 Women's World Cup champs, and as top goalkeeper picked in the WPS Draft, will try to win the starting job in Boston
Nicole Barnhart -- A member of the 2007 WWC Team and 2008 Olympic Team and the starting 'keeper for FC Gold Pride
Paul Rogers -- U.S. goalkeeper coach
Jillian Loyden -- Up and coming WPS 'keeper who played last year for St. Louis and will try to win the starting job in 2010 in Chicago
Hope Solo -- The USA's #1 and 2008 Olympic hero as well as the starting 'keeper for the St. Louis Athletica
WNT Blog: Coming into the camp what were the themes you wanted to focus on these three weeks?
Rogers: "It was basically taking the technical work we've been doing for the past year and adding more pace to the movements and to the pace of the ball, as well as selecting the goalkeepers for the Algarve Cup."
WNT Blog: After two weeks of camp, what are you impressions of how the 'keepers have been doing?
Rogers: "We had a couple of days where the pace was intense and the handling really was excellent, but we need to improve their reading of the shots because their first movements have to be quicker. Going forward to the Algarve, obviously their distribution will be very important so we'll start to focus on that more during the last week of camp. As always, I've really liked their mentality towards training. We've asked a lot of them physically and time-wise and they risen to the task."
WNT Blog: What kind of a competitive atmosphere is created by having four top goalkeepers training together every day?
Rogers: "I think they just feed of each other's highs. When one makes a great save it inspires the rest of them. They each want to out-do each other in each exercise and prove that they deserve to be here. One thing I've enjoyed is that they all want to learn and they take creative criticism on the field and in the video sessions very well."
WNT Blog: What does a young goalkeeper need to do in the WPS to catch your fancy for a possible call-up?
Rogers: "The main thing we are looking for is consistency, which is very difficult for a young 'keeper. We want them to be able to deal with the simple things every time, and their ability to read and manage the game is very important, i.e., their distribution, connection to the back line and being able to solve problems within the defensive unit."
WNT Blog: We we're just wondering. What do you think is the most difficult aspect of goalkeeping?
Rogers: "The psychological aspects of the game. At times, goalkeepers are singled out as a individuals in a team game and you have to learn how to deal with that. The slighest mistake from a goalkeeper can result in a goal and the loss of a game. To live in that kind of an environment is a constant mental challenge. The psychological aspect of the position is huge and there are only a few that can truly deal with it at the top levels."