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U.S. Women Speak after Penalty Shootout Loss to Japan in Women's World Cup Final

U.S. WNT head coach PIA SUNDHAGE
On the positives to be taken from the match:
“I think we gave the crowd a good game today. It has to be a final to remember. Credit to our team and credit to the Japan team. I’m very happy with the way we played in the first half, which was a change if you compare it to the semifinal. We won a silver medal and I hope I can feel that after a couple weeks. As everybody knows, at the highest level with penalty kicks it is a small difference between success and not success.”

On giving up the two goals:
“It started with our attack. We were giving the ball away way too easily. I think we have to remember that playing in a final is the highest level and you have to take chances. We weren’t sharp enough on the two goals and that’s why we didn’t win the game.

On not being successful in the penalty shootout:
“You saw the penalties, and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I think when you look back at everything we’ve gone through with the penalty kicks we had against Brazil we had a good feeling. Then again it just proves what little difference there is between a good penalty kick and a not-so-good one.”

On what it means to women’s soccer:
“It has been a bumpy road and it’s been absolutely wonderful. All credit to the players. In this World Cup the first game against North Korea, I think at times we played very well. We changed the starting lineup a little bit, with people coming in off the bench. There were great crowds, phenomenal atmosphere. If you just give the players and coaches a little time then we can enjoy the silver medal. The reason for that is that we’ve done many good things both behind the scenes and having players stepping up. I would like to take the opportunity to credit Germany with putting on a wonderful tournament. I think in the women’s game now we have different standards moving forward. This has been phenomenal, even though we didn’t win.”

On Alex Morgan:
“It’s a great experience for her going forward. She’s done good things coming off the bench. I’d like to stress that the starting lineup gives the bench players the opportunity to be successful. It’s not just Alex Morgan, it’s 21 players. The way she came off the bench in the second half, and in previous games, she’s done well. I think we’ve seen the beginning of her career. She has a lot of goals in her and a lot of games.”

On the Japanese team:
“As I said, the way we played the first half against such a position-oriented team we were more dangerous than they were and we created chances. There is something to be said about the way Japan plays. They are comfortable with the ball and that’s good for women’s football going forward. Even though you take the first 45 minutes, they kept up their confidence, they kept their style. They believed in their technique. That’s good for women’s football in the future.”

On how she felt going into halftime scoreless despite so many chances:
“This might sound funny but if I compare the feeling I had against Brazil and France, I had a much better feeling today because we were playing better football. I’d rather create a lot of chances playing good soccer than just fighting. It felt good at halftime and the way we played I thought we’d create more chances. We did, but we didn’t score enough goals.”

On losing in penalties:
“We had a couple of mistakes, but still we did pretty good out there. We had pretty good possession in the first half and played some good soccer. For the crowd I thought it was very exciting. It’s hard to lose in PKs.”

On the game:
“First of all, I give credit to the players for playing good soccer. They kept possession better than in the other games we played. But we couldn’t put away our chances. We created a lot of good chances in the first half. It’s a final. There is a small difference between winning and losing.”

On the disappointment:
“It’s obviously heartbreaking. Japan played well and never gave up. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t pull it out. It’s tough to do two rounds of penalties because the ‘keeper knows where we’re going and she made some great saves. We had so many great chances throughout the game and we didn’t put them away.”

On dealing with this loss:
“Evidently it wasn’t meant to be. We worked so hard. We believed in each other through everything. The Olympics are right around the corner and we’re excited about that opportunity. Hopefully we can qualify and get to London. This is going to hurt for a while and I’m proud of our team. We never gave up. Congratulations to the Japan team. I think their country is very, very proud of them.”

On the small mistakes that the U.S. made tonight:
“I’m not sure. I think the magnitude of all this can get the best of you. Japan just kept coming and they never gave up, and in the end they’re the world champs.”

U.S. WNT goalkeeper HOPE SOLO
On the disappointment of the result:
“We lost to a great team, we really did. Japan is a team that I’ve always had a lot of respect for, and I truly believe that something bigger was pulling for this team. As much as I’ve always wanted this, if there was any other team I could give this to it would have to be Japan. I’m happy for them and they do deserve it.”

On missing out on a World Cup title:
“This is something everybody’s wanted their entire lives. I’m realistic. It doesn’t always go your way. I felt like it was going to go our way this entire time and I felt like this was our tournament to win. I think we played great soccer tonight. I think the fans were incredibly entertained. We were attacking, we had chances on goal. It was fun to watch. It was a fun game. What can I say? Let’s just hope I can stick around for another four years so I can go after the gold.”

On the feeling from tonight:
“It was weird form tonight. I definitely thought this tournament was ours and even at the end I thought we were going to close it. But things were strange tonight, you know. I don’t really know how to explain it. I go down with a little knee injury, there was a weird feeling about that time and then I get back up and it’s right off the corner, they score. Part of me wishes I never went down just to keep our team confident. Maybe I should have defensively brought the team back in and made sure we were marked tight on the next play. I felt bad that I went down. I think maybe we lost focus for just a second and that’s all it takes.”

On the post-game ceremony:
“We were out there when all the confetti was coming down. I truly believed that this was our tournament to win and I felt that the entire time. It’s heartbreaking, but at the same time I think there was something bigger pulling for Japan. They were the team of the tournament and if there’s any team we’re going to lose to, I tip my hat off to them because they have so much class and play with so much passion and they fought and they fought and I really do have so much respect for the team.” 

On being minutes from winning, twice, and whether the team allowed itself to think it was going to win:
“I don’t think our team has ever allowed ourselves to think we were going to win. I truly don’t. That’s not our mindset. That’s not our spirit. We’re fighters. I don’t think we have to prove that to anyone with my words here. If you look at our players, we are a fighting team. We weren’t celebrating too early thinking that we had the win in the bag. I just truly think that Japan was pushing and fighting and they got the better of us.”

On how tough penalties are, psychologically, for everyone involved:
“Going to penalties, two games in a major tournament, I think that’s really tough to do. We were money, our penalty kick takers the last game were just superb and I think that’s very hard to come back and do again. Their goalkeeper, obviously, made some key saves and they came out on top.” 

U.S. Midfielder CARLI LLOYD
On twice taking the lead:
“Going up a goal in the regular time I remember looking at the clock saying we have 10 minutes left and then they equalize and then scoring in the overtime I remember looking at the clock, five minutes left, and I’m like ‘oh, we can do this’ and then they equalize again. It’s just a tough loss. We’ve had a fabulous run and I’m really just proud of everyone. We win together we lose together. Now we just have to gear up for the Olympics, hopefully qualify for that, and continue the journey.”

On losing in penalties:
“You look at the PK shootout. I mean, it’s hard to base anyone’s game based on a PK shootout. We did have the chances to put them away. We had finished two great goals by Abby and Alex and it’s just unfortunate. It’s just a bummer. But, there’s another World Cup in four years and we’ll qualify and then hopefully be standing up there with the cup in our hands.”

On if she thought the Wambach header won the World Cup for the U.S.:
“I had no doubt. The way this tournament has been going – the Brazil game, even the France game – I just had no doubt in my mind that we were going to finish this off. It’s just a sad day, really.”

On the result:
“We don’t feel like we got beat out there. It’s just that we got a little unlucky and Japan fought hard. It’s something that we have to digest and remember the feeling and work on stuff going into the Olympics.”

On losing in PKs:
“It’s a tough way (to lose), but it’s the game of soccer. I thought that you saw a great overtime with both teams getting a goal and it turns to PKs and at that point you look at your teammates and say ‘No matter what happens we love each other. Let’s go after it. Find your spot and hit it and come back here and you know we have your backs.’”

On if the team can work on penalty taking:
“We definitely work on that and train on that, but it’s still a pressure situation. It’s the moment. It’s how you are feeling, the timing and obviously going up against Brazil and having a PK challenge and then coming to try to win it in the final is tough to win them back to back.”

U.S. Midfielder Lauren Cheney
On being on the Golden Ball short list:
“This is my first World Cup and to be honored with something like that is phenomenal , but it’s about our team and you guys can’t see that it has been about our team the whole time.”

On the game:
“It was a crazy game. I think that we played well and we fought and we had heart. That’s what matters. Hats off to Japan. They just made their country extremely happy and brought joy to somewhere that was needed and that’s the bigger picture.”