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Post-Match Quotes: WNT 1, Italy 0

U.S. Women's National Team vs. Italy Women
2011 FIFA Women's World Cup Qualification Playoff
Toyota Park; Bridgeview, Ill.
Nov. 27, 2010

U.S. Head Coach Pia Sundhage
On the second half:
“Well, first of all I want to apologize for the first 20 minutes, it was crap and I felt it was very important for us to change the game plan. The real reason is that the back four struggled to start up the attack and the midfield wasn’t on top of their game. I said you have to trust the coaches and we thought that instead of playing our old style of keeping possession, we needed to find space where we were successful in the first half and that was behind the backline. I think in the second half we did a better job and I’m very happy with the way we played…eventually.”

On the reason for the poor first 20 minutes:
“I would say two things: their expectations were very high of the way we would play and then they got nervous, so we made some bad decisions and some technical errors that I hadn’t seen before from experienced players. But the beauty of all that is that we won 1-0 and picked it up again that’s what a winner does. I’m very proud of the team.”

On if the women’s game is getting better globally:
“Well, I’ll tell you this…the women’s game is developing so fast. Since FIFA put in the U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cup so many things have happened in different countries. Going back to the qualification in Mexico, were playing against Costa Rica, Guatemala and they’re technical. That’s the important thing about the future of the women’s game, it’s technical and that’s something this country needs, technical players They need to touch the ball quit a bit when they’re young, very young, and spend time with the ball. I would say the world’s catching up and on top of rank number one, it’s hard to stay there, but were doing what we can.”

On will to win:
“Well we tried to combined (being technical and athletic) and in 2008 we talked about rhythm and being more technical than relying on the American attitude. Going forward to Germany, we need to continue to work tactically and keep the American attitude and that’s a balance. Back in the day (the old U.S. teams) played 4-3-3 and they played straight, they put pressure on teams and now we want to be able to do both. We want to play both kinds of games and you can see some of it today when we really needed it, but we need to do better than that. We need to better.”

On attitude in locker after the loss to Mexico at CONCACAF qualifying:
“Well, you can imagine in the locker room after we’ve won so many games, they were sad and angry. I don’t want to say it was a wake-up call because I don’t want to sound arrogant, but international games are very tight. I think there’s small things we didn’t do well and that’s a reminder of how important it is to enjoy every single day and not take anything fore granted. The locker room was disappointed and sad but it didn’t take long to be like ‘Ok, we need to take a different road to the World Cup’ and look at it in a positive way. The last thing I said in pregame today was the glass is half full and it’s been a bumpy road and we need to enjoy and it will take us all the way to Germany.”

On younger players getting into the squad:
“It is a balance because right now we have some young players and we have veterans like Christie Rampone and Abby… but look at Alex Morgan, she did fantastic in the last game, she played 10 minutes, she plays her role, got in and went straight to goal. It takes more experience to play for five minutes because you need to read the game and choose when to go and when not to. But I think we have a good mix of vets and young players, we just have to stay together, put it together a little bit better. The odds are there are six or seven teams that can win it and that’s unique. We haven’t had that since this tournament started way back in 1991. The World Cup in Germany will be very competitive.”

U.S. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe
On the match:
“It was good to get the win and for us to get the goal before the break. That was big for us. We have a lot to work on going into the World Cup but at this point were ecstatic to qualify and we’ll do all we can next year to get ourselves in a good position to win.”

On lessons learned:
“I think that we didn’t take any game lightly, but the world is much more even in terms of soccer.  I think that’s just a lesson that we need to step our game up even more.”

On what qualifying for the Women’s World Cup means:
“I think it’s huge. Some people take it fore granted because we have been so successful in past, but it’s huge for us. Women’s soccer as a whole and with the new league, I think everybody’s looking forward to it a lot.”

On the first 20 minutes of the game:
I think it took us a bit to find the rhythm. I think, honestly for me, it took a while to warm up. I’m not use to playing in this kind of weather. Once we settled win we found a few open spaces and we could have had two or three goals in the first half.”

On how the cold weather impacted the game:
“The ball was heavy and it felt like kicking a rock. You get used to it after a while and they were playing with the same ball, but my feet are like cinderblocks.”

U.S. Forward Amy Rodriguez
On scoring opportunities in the match:
"We didn't necessarily execute on the chances that we had, definitely in the first 20 minutes. I know me personnally, I had a few chances at goal and then I wish I could have put them away. It's so much better when you can put a team away early. Mentally, it really hurts their motivation. So for us, it was really important that we did get that goal."

On what was said at halftime:
"Pia's a good coach and we respect what she says. When she says it's not good enough, we know we have to step it up. That's exactly what we did."

On preparing for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup:
"I'm thankful that we have a good six, seven months ahead of us before the World Cup because we do need that time to train and to get prepared. It's going to be one of the most competitive World Cups. I know the other teams are training hard and we're going to do the exact same thing so we're ready."

On her goal:
"It was a jumble in front of the net. The ball was loose and I just saw it escape from the goalie and tried to just dive in there and put it on frame. And luckily it hit the back of the net."

U.S. Forward Abby Wambach
On the long road to Germany:
"When you look at this, we've been going for 11 straight months, a lot of us. It hasn't been easy. It's been your [club] team and the responsibility of winning games is on your shoulders throughout the entire WPS season and then obviously things didn't happen like we wanted it to in Cancun. I think when we get a little bit of rest, everybody can get their wits about them, come back to the drawing board and perform the way we know we are capable of."

On the U.S. WNT's high expectations:
"Obviously when you're not performing at the level in which you know you can perform, there will be those frustrating moments. But this is what it's about -- managing yourself, managing this team and making sure that we're going to be peaking come Germany next June."

"We're honest with ourselves. We know the way we normally play. I think we can get better sophistication-wise, we can get better tactically, technically. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter. It's about who wants to win more. And you'll see that in Germany. You'll see that in the next six, seven months leading up to it."

On this road being a learning experience:
"I think that the best thing about not qualifying [in Cancun] is we get to really examine the things we can improve on because [when you are] winning, you can overlook so many things. And I think Pia calls this a wake-up call for our team. Does this mean our youth programs aren't getting the proper training? I think that's a bit of stretch. At the end of the day, it's about this team performing. I personally feel any day we match up against anybody we have a really good shot of winning that game."