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Q & A with U.S. WNT Head Coach Tom Sermanni

On getting an extended period of time to bring the National Team together:
Tom Sermanni: “Due to the NWSL, the time together for the National Team has been a bit inconsistent so it’s extremely valuable to get some quality time together with the bulk of the squad. We’ll still be in a situation where we are juggling some players in and out of camp, but it’s good to get some cohesion heading into these games, as outside of the matches against Sweden and Germany last spring, these will be our sternest tests of the year.”

On facing Australia, whom he coached from 1994-96 and 2005-12, as well as New Zealand, a team the Matildas faced many times during his tenure:
TS: “The Australia and New Zealand teams by their nature are very competitive. New Zealand has been playing a significant number of internationals on the road, so they are match-hardened and Australia is reaching the peak of their pre-season before beginning their W-League.”

On playing three full international matches in 10 days:
TS: “Aside from our European-based players, most of our players are coming off a break and playing three games in 10 days will be difficult, but there is also real value time for us as it’s almost like replicating group play at a major tournament.”

On calling up North Carolina’s Crystal Dunn and Virginia’s Morgan Brian during their college seasons:
TS: “I’m grateful that we were able to work with Anson Dorrance at UNC and Steve Swanson at Virginia to enable Crystal and Morgan to come in for the match. They are both talented young players and these kind of opportunities are extremely valuable for them. I know the colleges have a big game against each other and I really appreciate Anson and Steve’s continuing support of the U.S. National Team programs.”

On some players coming into camp straight out of European seasons and some coming off a break, and how he approaches training with players coming from these different environments:
TS: “You make a judgment call at the time. You take the first day or so to assess where players are at. For players coming off an offseason, you have to gauge the level football training fitness and work your program according to that. For players coming from Europe, obviously they are coming in with a high level of match fitness, but the balance is dealing with their rest and recovery from travel. These are just day-to-day training management issues and this is where it’s valuable to have expert staff around like our fitness coach Dawn Scott whose experience and expertise in these areas are invaluable in helping structure the physical part of our training.”

On how the process is coming along toward increasing competition for roster spots and starting spots:
TS: “I think it’s come along very well. You look at the strengths of the squad, and I can’t judge the strength before I came in, but if you look across the board now, there are at least two players in every position that are viable starters. From a National Team standpoint, or for any squad, that’s quite remarkable. It has helped that during this year, some players have excelled in the opportunities they’ve had to come into the team and start and make an impact.”