US SoccerUS Soccer

U.S. WNT vs. Japan Pre-Game Quotes

U.S. Head Coach Pia Sundhage
On the team’s play up to this point:
“We’ve played four great games against four different opponents with four different styles, and they’ve been tight games. The more minutes this team has together, the better (our play) is. What is significant for the team is we’ve created a lot of chances and I think we’ve played some nice soccer. We’re looking forward to playing against Japan in the semifinal.”

On Japan:
“Japan is a very technical team and I’m impressed with the way they try to penetrate in the attacking third. They knock it around and keep possession so we have to stay sharp in defending. On the other hand, we have a chance to attack. It will be about the speed of play and we need to be patient to go into the attacking third.”

On how Japan has improved over the years:
“I remember playing them in 1995 and it is a huge difference to today. The team we’re facing in the semifinals is a very good team. In many aspects they’ve always been tactical and technical, and they play to their strengths. The movement of the ball is good, and they are good at knocking it around just outside the box and being patient in the attacking third.”

On playing without Abby Wambach:
“Abby is still with us because it’s about the journey and she was a big part of that journey. She broke her leg and we have adjusted our attacking style a little bit. I’m so happy how Angela Hucles has stepped up as she plays a big part of our attacking right now.”

On filling the scoring void left by Wambach:
“My glass is half full. As long as we create chances, I’m happy. Going into the next game, we know for fact that we have many goal scorers out there. Anyone could score a goal. The way we play and keep possession, we need to get clear chances.”

On the U.S.’s chances to win the gold medal:
“We take one game at a time. We have to prepare for Japan, and that’s all we talk about. This is a good team and anything can happen. There are four teams that could win the gold medal and the U.S. is one of them.”

On the play of Amy Rodriguez:
“She is a young player and inexperienced, but we gave her a small role and asked her to do certain things, and she’s done those certain things very well. I have so much respect for fast players. It’s good to have her there because if you want to get behind the back line she gives us that opportunity.”

U.S. Defender Kate Markgraf
On Japan:
“I think Japan is probably one of the most unpredictable teams in the tournament. They’re attacking style is lots of numbers, very quick movement of the ball and all 11 players involved in moving the ball forward, so it’s very tough to defend them. I think what it proves to us is they are very strong under pressure. They were in a must win by many goals, and did it. They were in a must win against China with the whole entire country cheering for China, and they did it. We’re going to have a really tough battle on our hands tomorrow.”

On if this is the best Japan team she’s faced during her career:
“It’s definitely an amazing Japan team. Japan just moves the ball so unpredictably with one and two touch, and they have so many numbers going forward that you don’t really know where they’re going. I think that’s what impressed me most about them in our group play. I thought they were actually a better attacking team than Norway.”

On the pressure of a semifinal compared to a final:
“That’s what gets you into a final. I think if you don’t get fired to play in a knockout round game, than something is completely wrong with you and you don’t belong in the Olympics. I think the semifinal and the final are probably equally as important.”

U.S. Midfielder Heather O’Reilly
On playing Japan:
“Just like any team, this is a new year, a new team for us and a new Japanese team. We don’t look back on years past, but we’ll look back at the last group game which we were fortunate to win, 1-0. That’s what we’ll keep in our back pocket and learn from.”

On if the team got lucky not having to face Germany or Brazil:
“I read a pretty good quote about luck in this book that I just read, The Last Lecture. It said that luck was when preparation and opportunity meet. I think that’s exactly what happened to us in this tournament. The opportunity kind of opened, but we did our part and took care of business on our side. That’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes, and it crumbled our way.”

On if this is the best Japan team she’s faced in her career:
“I think they’ve always been somewhat underappreciated. They’ve always been very skillful, and Sawa is a great personality for them and she’s been around the team for years and has done some great things. I think this is an opportunity for them to get some recognition that has gone underappreciated in years past.”

On how defeating Canada in a tough quarterfinal match helps them:
“Some people might think that since the game took four hours to complete and we had to go into overtime, it was a negative, but I think those are the things that bring a team together and make them even stronger. We’ll take that experience and carry it through to the semifinals. I think scoring overtime showed we have a lot of strength and a lot of courage, so we’re moving forward with a lot of positive things.”

U.S. Forward Amy Rodriguez
On missing Abby Wambach:
“Being a forward I definitely miss her up on the front line. It was a big event for me because as a forward and playing Abby’s position, I’ve gotten a lot more minutes this Olympics without having her there. I definitely miss her and she was a big part of this team, so as of right now we’re just moving on and just trying to come together as a team.”

On if the team is getting better as they go through the tournament:
“The team has definitely progressed throughout the Olympics and with each game we’re gaining confidence. We need that for each and every game as we move forward to two games that are even more meaningful. As we head into the semifinals where it’s a must-win situation, I think we’re feeling confident going into the match.”

U.S. Defender and Captain Christie Rampone
On if the semifinal in some ways is bigger than the final:
“Absolutely. I think for us in this tournament we’ve had our backs against the wall from the second game on, so it’s good for the younger players got that experience of having pressure and dealing with must-wins. This game is huge for us because this will bring us to the gold medal game, and that is what everyone has been fighting for and that’s been our goal all year.”

On not giving up many chances on goal during the Olympics:
“Defensively, I feel like we’ve been very solid. There’s a lot of communication going on, a lot of organization and I feel like we’re very committed. Offensively, I think we’re doing really well keeping it; we just have to finish and put that last pass into the back of the net. It’s coming. We have a lot of great opportunities against Canada, and seeing us being a little bit more confident on offense and going at them, hopefully it will come in the next game.”

On if they can play better:
“I don’t think we’ve played our best soccer yet. There’s been bit and pieces, moments from each game that we can take away. It’s also exciting to know how long we kept the ball in the last game, but unfortunately we didn’t finish as many times as we would have liked. Hopefully, that will come in the next game.”

On playing without Abby Wambach:
“I think it was definitely a big loss to lose Abby, but the team has adjusted really well. We’re playing more together as a team. After the first game (of the Olympics) we realized how important it was for each person on this team to step up and play a bigger role because we didn’t have Abby’s presence on the field. We’ve been doing an excellent job of that, and I think every minute the team is getting better and gelling every minute.”