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Quote Sheet: U.S. WNT Head Coach Greg Ryan Discusses the First 18 Players Named to the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup Roster

U.S. Women's National Team head coach Greg Ryan named the first 18 players to the 2007 U.S. Women's World Cup squad. Ryan discussed his the roster in a conference call with U.S. media.

U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Greg Ryan

On naming the first 18 players now:
GR: “We named the 18 now because these players have been training and playing together for the last two years and there’s always stress associated with whether they are going to make the team or not and, based on the amount of time we had together, it was very clear that 18 of these players were very deserving of being on this World Cup team. The process has been very easy. We’ve spent so much time together and we know each other so well, the goal was just to say, ‘Hey, you’re on the team. Let’s get rid of the stress about making the team. Let’s just focus on preparing for the World Cup.’”

On Lori Chalupny’s strengths and versatility:
GR: “I think Lori could play just about anywhere but goalkeeper, and we might try that at some point. She did very well in the back for us at a time when we really needed some help at the left back position, but we knew that Lori was a great midfielder and we wanted to give her a shot to play in there. The development of some of our younger, wing defenders has provided us the opportunity to move Lori into the midfield. She started playing there in January and she just did a fantastic job. Her work rate and energy level in the midfield, her ability to be a two-way player, to go forward and create goals and get back to defend really makes her such a strong player for us in the middle of the park.”

On whether playing on defense has helped Chalupny as a midfielder:
GR: “It has helped her on the defensive side of the ball in midfield. She was always a tenacious defender but she just knows how to defend a lot better now because she had so many training sessions on how to defend with Coach (Bret) Hall.”

On how much the three remaining selections will be based on roster depth and what players are doing in residency camp:
GR: “It’s both but for the most part the last three spots we are looking at filling out depth in different field player positions, so at the back, in the midfield and up front. It all comes down to players’ performance and achieving the goals that we’ve set for them, from a fitness standard to the way that we expect for them to be able to play. As you know, we have a lot of young players and they’re all still growing, working hard, and we think we’ll have this figured out pretty soon.”

On Kate Markgraf’s comeback from pregnancy and on Lindsay Tarpley’s development:
GR: “Both of them are doing great. Kate has had some challenges in coming back from her pregnancy and our trainers are doing a fantastic job with her. She’s now playing 90 minutes a game again and she’s been doing that for the past few games so we’re really happy because she’s a critical element in the middle of our defense. And she’s performing much like we saw her in the (2004) Olympics where she was certainly one of our top defenders. Linsday Tarpley is a young player who is mature beyond her years. She combines and plays very well alongside Abby (Wambach) and (Kristine) Lilly and is one of these dedicated kids that gives everything to the team every day. So we’re very proud of Tarp and happy for her in that she’s made this roster.”

On whether the U.S. WNT is the favorite heading into the World Cup:
GR: “I think we’re one of the favorites. I think there are several teams capable of winning this World Cup. There’s greater parity than there’s ever been before in any past World Cup. I think, based on our performance over the past two years, we’re definitely one of the favorites.”

On Aly Wagner:
GR: “Aly is doing very well, the key thing with Aly is getting her healthy, and she is tremendously talented, she can be a big part of our run in the World Cup, but the key is getting her healthy and keeping her healthy, which has always been a challenge, so no question, she has made this roster, she has earned her spot, and she has done very well for this team. Now we just need to get her healthy and get her training with us again so she gets back in sync with the rest of the team.”

On other possible favorite teams at the Women's World Cup, including Germany and China:
GR: “I think there’s a lot more than that who will have a shot of winning this thing. In our group alone, we know that Sweden’s a very good team. They’re ranked third in the world, they have both their top strikers back, and it would be a handful for any team. North Korea is the unknown team. I just got back from Australia where I watched them play an Olympic Qualifier and beat Australia, 2-0, and they were a very, very talented team. They’re ranked fifth in the world and I think that’s a very fair ranking for them, they may be better than that, and they’re going to be a very strong first-game opponent for us. I think Brazil in the 2004 Olympics was just playing great soccer. They haven’t trained or played much but I think they can put it all together, and just in terms of sheer talent have to be one of the top few teams in the world. China, with the young team that they have, with the pressure that’s on them, may be able to deal with it, but this could be a very tough World Cup for them, but we’ll just have to wait and see on that one. Germany’s going to be strong, they’re always strong. They didn’t look good in the Algarve Cup, but they will have it back together by the time the World Cup comes and will be very strong. We know their players very well, they know us. But there are other ones, I think England is an up-and-coming team that is going to cause some problems. The ‘black and blue division’ with Norway, Canada and Australia, the toughest will survive in that group, and they’re going to be a handful for anybody down the road.”

On Marci Jobson:
GR: “Marci has been a fantastic member of the team in so many different ways, first of all, her performance on the field. She’s a very strong defensive midfielder, great in the air, a true battler. She was in our starting lineup in the Gold Cup final against Canada. She’s great playing against strong, physically aggressive teams that are good in the air. She has really contributed on the field. Off the field, Marci is just such a great team member who focuses on whatever is best for the team. She has been a real help to a lot of the younger players and she’s one of these players that really just bridges the gap between the veteran players and the younger players. Young players go through a lot of ups and downs, and sometimes there are more downs than ups when you’re growing into a player that can play at the international level. Marci has been one of those players that goes to them, finds out how they’re doing, helps them get through it. She’s been through hard times, too. She sat the bench in the WUSA, she didn’t get everything her way, she still doesn’t, and she’s great at helping these young players over the bumps. That’s critical because if they don’t have any bumps, they won’t ever make it. I think the bumps that Lori Chalupny, Carli Lloyd and others have had are making them better and better players. And Marci has been a big part of helping them through this.”