Chalupny Getting The Job Done All Over The Field
THE ALGARVE, Portugal (March 1, 2008) - Please excuse Lori Chalupny if she’s got a touch of positional schizophrenia.
As a youth player for famed St. Louis club JB Marine, she played a lot of forward, as do many of the top youth players. In college at the University of North Carolina, she played either attacking midfielder or outside left midfielder in a 3-4-3 formation.
For the U.S. U-19 Women’s National Team, which won the world championship in 2002, she was more of a defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3.
When she broke into the full Women’s National Team, it was at left back.
In 2007, and at the Women’s World Cup in China, she played in a three-woman center midfield as more of a linking player, logging one of the best and most consistent performances of any U.S. player during the tournament.
Now, under head coach Pia Sundhage, she’s back to playing flank defender.
What’s next, goalkeeper?
“Probably not, because I’m five-foot-four,” said Chalupny, who says she actually did put in some time in the nets as an under-10 player. “But anywhere else on the field is fine with me.”
A player like Chalupny is a valuable commodity to any coach, giving them multiple options to change tactics and formations, sometimes mid-game, knowing that she can produce from a number of positions.
“She is a player with a tremendous work rate,” said Sundhage. “She is good defending one-v-one and she can go for 90 minutes. If we want to play with fullbacks going forward, she is a player that can deal with one-on-one situations, but also attack from either the left or right, and that’s a big advantage.”
Chalupny’s versatility has certainly helped her develop into an impact player at the highest levels of women’s soccer.
“I think playing a bunch of different positions has helped my overall game,” she said. “You get to know everyone’s responsibilities on the field and the unique challenges of each position. It’s fun, it’s something new everyday.”
Chalupny does have a tint of longing in her voice for her former all-out attacking roles, but knows that she’ll be able to satisfy that part of her soccer personality even at outside back.
“Attacking is one of the things I enjoy most about the game,” said Chalupny. “Last year, I had the opportunity to go forward and score a few goals. But the position I’m playing now allows me to attack a lot. It’s just that I have to run further to get back in position.”
Wherever she plays, she brings excellent technique on the ball combined with powerful running and scrappy tackling, meaning opponents will have to be aware of her no matter what position she is playing, something that seems to matter little to Chalupny.
“I think outside left back is a perfect position for me,” she said. “I have the freedom to attack as much as my legs will carry me. If I’m needed in the midfield, then I’ll play there, but I think any soccer player who is part of such a good team would tell you that they just want to be on the field and contribute.”
And that’s a good position to be in.