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U.S. Women's National Team vs. Japan Pre-Game Quote Sheet


U.S. WNT vs. Japan – Pre-Game Quote Sheet
2012 Olympics Games – Gold Medal match
Wembley Stadium; London, England
Aug. 8, 2012

U.S. Women’s National Team head coach PIA SUNDHAGE
On the journey to another final for the U.S. team:
“The journey has been exciting and unpredictable to some extent. This team and all the players have shown that they can respond and score goals. I’m very proud of everything they do on the field and off the field. These are good players. The team effort has been tremendous. I’m the lucky one.”

On getting another chance at Japan:

“It’s a game and it’s a final. It’s against an opponent that we’ve played a couple of times this year. I’m not looking back to 2011 when we played against Japan and tied the game but lost in penalty kicks. I look at it as: we’re playing against a technical team and we’re playing a team that struggled quite a bit against France in the last 20 minutes. I look at the way the coach took out (Mizuho) Sakaguchi. That’s interesting to me. That’s intriguing, and the name of the country doesn’t matter.”

On the differences in popularity for the team since the World Cup:
“A story Christie Rampone told me once was in 2000 when they played against Norway in the Olympic final. They lost the game and came back to the States and not many people cared. Now, coming back from the last World Cup she expected the same thing, but there were a bunch of people and Americans were proud of this team. How couldn’t you be? If you look at the way we played against Brazil (in the 2011 World Cup) and yesterday (against Canada), you have to be proud how the players turned around everything. When they sign autographs and see big crowds it feels like it’s a popular team. If you listen to Abby Wambach, every time she talks about the team and herself, she’s a role model. I’m very happy for the women’s game. People back in 1999 are reminded how it was and hopefully it will sustain and continue like this and get better and better.”

On the continued growth of women’s soccer:
“Women’s soccer in the United States is huge compared to the rest of the world. You have a lot of young girls playing and hopefully the way we’ve been playing last year and this year, we’ll attract more attention and bigger crowds to come watch the games. It’ll take a while. If you look back at other countries, it starts with that small attention and small crowds, and it’s growing and growing. We just need to be patient and continue to win.”

On training for penalty kicks:
“For a coach, there are so many things going on. There are a lot of decisions to make in very stressful situations and sometimes you over-coach, sometimes you under-coach. I don’t think I can do everything on my own and that’s why I have staff. I have delegated set pieces to Paul Rogers. He was on top of everything if we got to penalty kicks against Canada. I learned my lesson last year because when we had PKs against Brazil, we came from behind and scored a late goal and Paul did a great job with the team. I thought when we got to the Japan game we should stay with what was working. The difference was that they came from behind and had nothing to lose. I was prepared for Canada if that had gone to a penalty shootout. Paul had (selected) all the players, but I would go in and take the lead. I would give them a big smile and make sure they enjoy the moment. That’s what I’ll do if we go to PKs against Japan. Instead of just delegating everything and letting the players take the lead, I need to step in and show them that this is the moment.”

U.S. forward ALEX MORGAN
On playing Japan for a fourth time this year and what needs to be done to win:
Japan has proven themselves in the last year. We have faced them quite a few times and we know their strengths and weaknesses and vice versa, they know ours. I think that it’s just going to be a battle on the field tomorrow. We need to bring our best game like we have this tournament. It’s more about us than them. We’re going to worry about the strengths that we need to focus on and the tactics that we need to work on for our team rather than worrying about Japan too much.”

On what has changed in her role since the 2011 Women’s World Cup:

“I think I’ve changed a lot as a player on feeling more comfortable on the ball. I think coming off the bench last year, I had a specific role and that was to get in behind the back line and that was my only role. Now it’s opened up a little bit to stretching the back line, but switching up the roles with Abby (Wambach) a little bit and being a little more unpredictable.”

On remembering the 2011 Women’s World Cup final loss to Japan:
“I don’t have nightmares about last year. We’ve been wanting this match since last year. We’ve been looking forward to it. This tournament could’ve gone so many different ways.”

On how much interest the team has gained in the United States:
“I think interest has definitely been high in the last couple of days. I think everyone was watching the game (against Canada) and we turned peoples’ heads and we made people pay attention to us in a positive way. With the unfortunate folding of the (women’s professional) league, it kind of made people realize what had just happened in the last year with us getting the silver medal (at the World Cup) and now being in the gold medal match of the Olympics and not even having a league to support the U.S. players. There will hopefully be a change in the next couple months.”

U.S. defender CHRISTIE RAMPONE
On whether redemption is on the team’s mind facing Japan:
“Playing Japan so many times and falling short in the World Cup, it’s another game for us. It’s a gold medal match and we’re very excited. We’re going to put our best effort forward. I’m very excited that we’re playing Japan again in the final and getting another chance at it.”

On the difference between eras spanning the WNT from Mia Hamm to Abby Wambach:
“The sport is growing. Back in the day we had such amazing players, but you didn’t get the acknowledgement the players deserved. Now, there’s more media coverage and social media and you’re getting the superstars more coverage. It would be a tough team to make if you put everybody together. I think so many of these players have great quality and the level has risen. I think the players from the past training at this level under Pia could probably do the same stuff the players are doing now. If we put everyone at the same age that would be a great game to watch.”

On Japan’s size and technical ability:
“I think they’re just so precise and creative in their timing. Their ability on the ball at speed and their vision makes them a unit out there. I think you’re going to see a lot of creativity out there tomorrow.”

U.S. midfielder CARLI LLOYD
On the chance to play Japan in the Gold Medal match:
“It’s an opportunity to show the world that we’re the No. 1 team. This game is going to be different from the World Cup final. Every game is different. There are new challenges. We’re a different team, Japan is a different team. We’re ready to bring it.”

On the experience of playing in the UK and the expected Olympic-record crowd for the final:
“It’s been an honor to play in these historic stadiums. We’ve loved every minute of it. I think it says a lot for women’s soccer and we’ve come a long way. It’s another major turning point for us and we just have to keep the wave going. It’s going to be a spectacular atmosphere and we’re all looking forward to it.”

U.S. forward ABBY WAMBACH
On going up against her friend and former club teammate Homare Sawa against Japan:
“I think that Homare Sawa has proven herself to be one of the best players in the world. She led her team to a world championship. I have the greatest respect for her. She came to play in the United States a couple of times and took what she learned back to her country and they’ve done an extraordinary job over the last couple of years putting it together. I do think that we also have a great team. We’re at a place that I think is solid. I think the fact that we lost the World Cup and the way that we did gives us even more passion and desire to go out and perform tomorrow. We saw each other in the Village. We told each other that we’re both glad that the other had won because we believe that we’re the top two teams in the world and our fans deserve to see a great final. This gold medal match is going to be nothing short of that.”

On playing Japan for a fourth time this year and what needs to be done to win:
“We know each other very well. Both teams are comfortable and know what it’s like being at this level and playing in the biggest game of our lives. Last time in the World Cup, they got the better of us. I think this time we hope to change that and right that ship for ourselves. We have to be aware of the fact that they do like to possess the ball and stay patient in our defending. In the end, it’s all about who finishes more of their opportunities.”

U.S. midfielder MEGAN RAPINOE
On the feelings between Japan and the U.S. WNT:
“I think that both teams have the utmost respect for one another on a lot of different levels. We’ve played with quite a few of the players and we’ve played against them quite a few times. We definitely respect the way that they play and they respect the way that we play. We just know that it’s going to be a good game. There is no animosity. They snatched our dream last year and still we have that respect for them. There’s nothing off the field, there’s no antics. All that matters is that we play an entertaining style of game tomorrow.”


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