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Quote Sheet: U.S. Women Preview Olympic Opener vs. Norway

U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage
On which opponent is the strongest in Group G:
”I look at the three teams and I don’t say who is strongest. I say they are all different. Norway plays much different than Japan, and Japan plays different from New Zealand. It’s not about who is stronger or weaker. We are playing three good teams and we will play differently against each. That is a privilege for us to play against different teams and cultures.”

On the strengths of Norway:
"We played Norway a couple of weeks ago, and I am very familiar with their style being in Sweden for so long. It’s a good team, it’s a team that is well organized and the set pieces are pretty good as well. One thing for sure we have to deal with well are their counter-attacks. For our attack, we have to mix it up a little bit. We will face an organized team and that is challenging.”

On how players are feeling on the with the hours counting down to the start of the Olympics:
"It’s a combination of everything. You are a little bit nervous and you are relaxed and focused. You go from being very serious to having a laugh and having a good time. You mix these feelings going into the game. The key is knowing that you have teammates around you, and that we create our own environment.”

On now being a part of the USA-Norway rivalry:
"Before I was sitting in the stands and watching the games. Right now, I am in it. I am in a team that wants to beat Norway, and I am so privileged to be a part of this history. If you look back, the U.S. has a lot of gold medals, silver medals and bronze medals. So to be a part of this game is a huge thing for me, and I enjoy every minute of it.”

On looking back at her seven months on the job:
”We spent a lot of time on the field. That has been a key factor. We’ve played some good games against good opponents as well. But we started off talking about the word change, and I think we have embraced the change. It’s not easy, but they have done a fanstatic job of that.”

”We started off and tweaked the defending a bit, then moved over to attacking and built up to be a possession-oriented team. It started with the back four, and if you look at the back four with our captain Christie Rampone, I think they are much more comfortable with the ball right now. It’s all about expectations. We found a great midfield as well. Looking forward, we have a little bit to go in the attacking third, especially with the final pass. If we had some more time, I’d say we’d be even better off, but at the same time, it’s good to see how well we’ve been working and the atmosphere is fantastic.”

On China’s chances in the Olympic tournament:
”Whoever is playing China will face an excellent technical team and 12th player, and that is the crowd. In 2007, the crowd was fantastic. If China is playing well, they will have 12 players and that is something that all of us will have to deal with.”

U.S. defender Christie Rampone
On the pressure of being a favorite in the Olympics:
“I don’t think there is any added pressure. We are prepared. We’ve been training for seven months now. The energy on the team is very good and we are looking forward to the first game.”

On facing Norway:
”We have a lot of respect for Norway and their style. What is most important going into this game is playing our game, playing the U.S. style and being a team. It’s going to take a full team effort to beat Norway.”

”They are competitors and we have so much respect for them. I know a couple of the girls on the team and it’s going to be an awesome game. We always love playing them.”

”They have a lot of great players and their counter-attack is really good. They come at you with numbers. They key is to stay connected, stay organized and play as one unit instead of individuals. We are at the top of the game when we are all playing together.”

On taking it one game at a time:
”For every athlete and every team in this Olympics, a gold medal should be their goal. That’s our outlook on it and I am sure for Norway as well, but you have to take it step by step. If you can play good soccer, you can advance.”

On playing without Abby Wambach:
”Abby is a big loss for us, but we’ve also lost two other players with a lot of experience. We’ve been able to bounce back and work on new things. We’ve been changing our system and style all throughout the year in case something like this happened. We’ve very disappointed we lost her, but at the same time, we have to move on. We have Abby’s support. She’s still part of our family, but there are 11 players out there and everyone has to step up and play their role.”

U.S. defender Heather Mitts
On her thoughts heading into the first game:
”Anticipation first, followed by excitement. We’ve been here for almost two weeks, it’s just time for us to get this thing underway. At the same time, it’s the very first game of the Olympics and I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

On the team’s readiness:
”I’m really excited to see what this team capable of as far as overcoming obstacles, and showing the rest of the world how far we’ve come in a year.”

U.S. midfielder Shannon Boxx:
On comparing 2008 to 2004:
”You remember all the good things, but this is just another experience. I’m excited to have this experience with my teammates now. I’ll never forget the last Olympics, and I hope I gained experience being in the last Olympics, but I’m excited to see how this one goes and to enjoy every minute of this one.”

On facing Norway in the first game:
”It’s going to be a good first game. Every team in this tournament is good. No one is going to have an easy game. We just have to come out strong. We’ve been here, we’ve trained really well, and we’re all really ready to play. I know both teams will be shooting out of the gates so I hope it will be an exciting game for the fans and that we play well.”

On playing without Abby Wambach:
”No one can replace Abby, on and off the field, I think we miss her in both ways. She brings such a fun atmosphere off the field as well. But we have great players and this team it is about the entire team, not just one player. We are going to miss her presence but we also have great people who can fill in and do a great job. We’ve been very positive being here and training and we have great confidence in ourselves.”

On losing Wambach, Leslie Osborne and Cat Whitehill:
”We’ve lost three very important people this year. We’ve dealt with it as a team and stayed very confident and pushed through. For players to go down in an Olympic year is heartbreaking for them and us, but you have to move on. They are just so positive for us and know we can still do this and that’s great to have behind you.”