Forward Jessica Rostedt is the leading scorer for the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team in 2006, pounding in 15 goals so far this year. The blazing fast striker was a member of the U.S. team that played in the 2004 FIFA U-19 World Championship, where she scored three goals, including the game winner in a 1-0 victory against Spain during group play. She was the ACC Freshman of the Year for Virginia in 2005 and will likely be a national player of the year candidate heading into her sophomore season. Now a veteran on the U.S. team, she will help lead her teammates towards the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia. She took a few minutes on a rainy day in Teresopolis, Brazil, where the U-20s are currently competing in the Ricardo Teixeira Cup, to answer 11 questions for ussoccer.com.
ussoccer.com: The U-20s are getting ready to play Brazil. The team had a bit of a disappointing result against Canada in the first game of this tournament, allowing the tying goal with just 30 seconds left. What attitude are you and the team taking into this match against the Brazil U-20s?
Jessica Rostedt: “A positive one for sure. We know that we’ve definitely grown as a team since we’ve been playing together so much. We are really starting to figure out how we play off each other and I think that is giving us a lot of confidence.”
ussoccer.com: The last time the U.S. U-20s played against Brazil was at the 2004 U-19 FIFA World Championship in Thailand in the third place match, an impressive 3-0 U.S. win. You were on that team, but didn’t get into the game. Still, what were your impressions of the Brazilians?
JR: “They are just so skilled individually and such great dribblers, but I thought we were the better team. Brazil had Marta and Cristiane, and they seemed to be their main players as all the other players looked to them to do everything offensively. I felt like we relied on all 11 of our players and were able to play a better team game. That’s why I think we won.”
usocccer.com: What does the U.S. team need to do to get a positive result against Brazil?
JR: “I just think we need to relax. We know they are going to be very skilled, but we also have a lot of skilled players and can hold the ball and work it through the midfield. If we can possess the ball against them, which I think we can, then it’s just a matter of finding our forwards and finishing. I think the midfield is really starting to read (the forwards’) runs well. There have been times when we haven’t been on the same page, whether the forwards were making bad runs or the midfielders just weren’t finding us, but I really think we are starting to sort it out.”
ussoccer.com: The U-20s are obviously a group of young players who have really been together and playing matches for only about three and a half months. How do you feel the development of the team has been going?
JR: “I think we’ve definitely grown as a team so much since January. We are much closer as a team off the field, and on the field, we are just starting to click. With four months until the World Championship, I think that time will be very valuable for us to work out everything we need to work on.”
ussoccer.com: On the 2004 U-19 team in Thailand, you mostly came off the bench, but still scored three goals in the tournament, tying for the team lead. How do you feel you’ve grown as a player since then?
JR: “I think I’ve definitely grown a lot. I’ve matured in my game. I’m smarter with my runs, and my decision-making has gotten better. It’s not the best, and I still have a lot to work on, but I think I am making better decisions with the ball on the field. Also, just experience has helped a ton. Just playing more games at a high level, and more international games, you can’t help but improve.”
ussoccer.com: What do you feel you still need to improve to earn a starting spot in Russia?
JR: “My heading, definitely, but also I feel I could play quicker, play one-touch more. I need to get my runs down so I put myself in the most dangerous spots possible. Of course, all forwards need to work on their finishing. You never stop working and improving on that.”
ussoccer.com: You hail from Kent, Ohio. There have not been many players from Ohio to reach the full Women’s National Team. Do you feel like you are carrying the banner for the Buckeye state?
JR: “I like to represent. People make fun of Ohio, but it really is a great state. Yes, it’s cold and yes there’s not much to do, but the people are really nice and they love sports. I know that whenever the Women’s National Team plays in Columbus, they get good fan support.”
ussoccer.com: Your freshman college season ended in a bit of a scary way. You lacerated your liver in a collision against Cal-State Fullerton in a Sweet 16 game. You’re team still won, but you missed the quarterfinal loss to UCLA. How difficult was that experience?
JR: “It was very difficult. Even though I was injured, I wanted to go to the game, but I had to stay in the hospital. I watched it on GameTracker and it was so difficult to be so far away from your team when it was such a big game and you couldn’t do anything. I felt so helpless. The injury itself was very painful. It was just shooting pains right in my stomach area and my back. They shot me up with morphine for three days and I was on my back for four days. It was horrible.”
ussocer.com: You already have a youth world championship tournament under your belt. What advice are you giving your teammates who will be playing in their first?
JR: “I kind of feel like that they don’t know how big a deal it is. Until you’ve been there, you don’t realize how important it is, how great it is to be representing your country and how difficult every game is. It’s totally different from friendly matches you will have with other countries. The intensity is doubled. I just want to keep reminding them of this so they can be mentally prepared when we get to those games.”
ussoccer.com: The Final Draw for the World Championship is coming up later this week. Have you thought at all about the teams you might draw?
JR: “Not really. I know all the teams we will be playing will be good, and they will have as much pride in wearing their country’s jersey as we will, so every game will be a dog fight. With the success the U.S. women have had at all levels, we know every team will always give us their best game.”
ussoccer.com: You room with U-20 teammate Nikki Krzysik at the University of Virginia. What interesting facts can tell us about Nikki?
JR: “Well, to start, she uses a lot of hair products, but you can’t blame her because she somehow has to keep that mop under control. In reality, there is hair everywhere. She is also very proud of her Polish heritage. The kid speaks conversational Polish for gosh sakes! My grandma is from Poland so I feel we have that sisterhood going on. She also gets mad at me a lot because she always has to wake me up for class. I admit it, I am always sleeping in until 10 minutes before class, or sometimes 10 minutes after class has started. She is actually a great roommate for getting me up all the time. She also walks really fast, so we get places on campus faster. In all honesty, she’s an awesome roommate and keeps me in line. We take of each other. And Nikki, sorry for sleeping in so much, but I don’t think I’m going to change.”
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