U.S. WNT Speaks to Media About Final Showdown: Quote Sheet - July 3, 2015

The U.S. Women's National Team held a media event yesterday, July 3, in Vancouver to preview the Women's World Cup Final against Japan and recap the tournament. Below please find quotes from the event, including head coach Jill Ellis and players.
Jill Ellis
Jill Ellis

U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach JILL ELLIS

On the play of the backline:
“Our players have to be defenders first but I definitely want our outside backs to be able to get forward and want our centerbacks to be comfortable on the ball technically. A big part of it is mentality. You have to be a beast back there, sacrifice your body and do whatever it takes. And the relationship with our goalkeeper is critical.”

On Abby Wambach:
“Abby wants to win a World Cup and she’s committed to doing whatever it takes. She told me early on whatever role is needed she would deliver. She has amazing experience and ability in terms of being a prolific goalscorer. We’ve needed her on the field in big moments but also needed to allow other players the opportunity and time to continue to develop. Abby has been exemplary in terms of what she’s given this team and how she’s conducted herself. It’s still the same mindset for her: whatever we need, she’ll deliver.” 

On her coaching process during the tournament:
“As a coach you have to have resolve and you have to commit to what you believe in. This is a seven-game tournament and it was never going to be perfect. You just have to commit to what you believe in.” 

On defender Becky Sauerbrunn:
“Becky has stepped into a leadership role and she’s now our most veteran starter. Her mentoring of players has been fantastic. She has a great personality and keeps it upbeat and positive. In terms of performance, she’s been a major reason of why we’ve been so steady in the back and good at cutting things off and igniting our attack.” 

On young players:
“I said when I picked the roster that you need the balance of youth and energy with experience. [All the young players] have shown very clearly they belong. They’ve had big moments in big games and the future is very bright. There will be transition after this World Cup and moving forward younger players will start to break through even more.” 

U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder MEGAN RAPINOE

On the team growing throughout the tournament:
"In the first few games, everyone knew we weren't playing up to our potential. We were giving teams too much space and we were worrying too much about what we should be doing than acting instinctually. But, in the last three games and especially against Germany we've grown into ourselves in the tournament and have felt much more relaxed." 

On fan support:
"Even though we're in Canada, these matches have been feeling like we're at home. We have been selling out stadiums and they're packed with mostly U.S. Fans. I can't imagine it being too much different if we were actually in America. We're getting recognized all over Canada and I expect another great U.S. crowd on Sunday." 

On competition in the tournament:
"In the last four to five years, every major tournament has continued to get better on a competitive level. We saw it this year with teams like Colombia [beating France and making the second round] and England going to the semifinals. Five years ago I don't think you would have seen that. Teams are getting much better tactically and physically to be able to keep up with some of the teams that have been at the top." 

U.S. Women’s National Team defender/midfielder KELLEY O’HARA

On what has worked well for the backline so far this tournament:
“They have been able to build a relationship and that’s huge when you’re playing on the backline. It’s all about how you work with who is in front of you and who is next to you. This group works extremely well together. In general, when this team goes into big tournaments, the collective defending is always a big part of how we do. I think the team defending has been exceptional this World Cup and it starts from the forward line and works its way back. But as the backline they are the last line of defense. They’ve been great."

On her role for the U.S WNT over the last couple of years:
“I have learned many lessons through the past couple of years. My entire experience with the National Team has been about figuring out how to bring out that self-belief and keep the confidence. It’s really difficult to lose it because it’s such an intense environment. There is a lot of competition for starting spots and just minutes in general. I don’t think I used to be very good at it, the confidence, but the past two or three years I had to figure out a way to get through that and to keep the confidence up. I’m really thankful I’ve come to a place where I can do that because I think that it played a big part in this tournament for me personally.”

On the veterans potentially playing in their final World Cup:
“It could be the last World Cup for a couple players, but those are veteran players that have tremendous experience with this team. They know how to set good examples and they are incredible leaders. They steer the ship and keep us focused. Thinking about what it must be like for them realizing these may be their final games would just be really difficult. They’ve done an excellent job of keeping us focused at the task at hand and not just worrying about the other things that are going on.”

U.S. Women’s National Team forward ABBY WAMBACH

On the state of the team after beating Germany:
“I feel an air of confidence with this team right now. We don’t overlook Japan for one second because they are a very organized and good team. The best team will be left standing on Sunday night and of course we hope it’s us. We know it’s going to be a hard fought battle and we have to play well. We have to put together good combinations, good sequences to get goals. I am really proud of the way we have played and got better throughout this tournament. I think our last match against Germany was our best performance.”

On making the Women’s World Cup Final:
“I can’t be happier for this team to be in another final. It’s an achievement of itself but we still have to win. We haven’t won anything yet and we know what that feels like from four years ago. It’s not a good feeling.”

U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder CARLI LLOYD

On making the Women’s World Cup Final:
“I think we have really good momentum. I think we also have really good confidence within our group. But I also think we need to raise our game. This is a final. This is where you put everything on the line, there’s no holding back.”

U.S. Women’s National Team defender CHRISTIE RAMPONE

On facing Japan:
“We definitely have 2011 in the back of our minds. With that said, this is the third time we’ll meet Japan in a final, which is pretty amazing for both federations. They are very composed on the ball. They like to get into the offensive third and get into a good shape, knock the ball around and make the other team defend. They try to break the team down over a period of time. I don’t think they’re going to come out and pressure us like crazy and run around the field. I don’t think they’ll ever change their style. They play great soccer and you have to be patient when you play against them and take your opportunities when they come."


U.S. Women’s National Team defender ALI KRIEGER

On being coached:
"Just because I'm 30 years old and play on the National Team doesn't mean I don't need coaching. I think it's really great that she [Jill Ellis] steps up and says ‘look I expect this from you.’ I'm the type of player that you just have to tell me what you need and I'm going to apply it to the game." 

On playing different formations:
"Having a different formation helped us against Germany because of those wide spaces. I was able to get forward and into the attack a little bit more. My first focus was staying defensive because they were such a strong team but I think that it doesn't really matters what formation you play. It's just up to the personnel you have on the field to recognize the spaces they are going to give us. If Japan does clog the middle, then we need to go out wide, if they give us space in the middle then we have to take it. In the first few minutes we'll have to see what they give us. But the focus has to be on us and how we can break them down." 

On playing Japan:
"I think playing against one of the best teams in the world is fun. It's a challenge and it's why we're here. Four years ago we were in the final with them as well. It just goes to show you, we have two really strong programs. I'm just so confident in our team. It's just going to be so fun to battle against one of the best teams in the world. This is what it's all about. It just shows that both of our programs are really strong and really confident and that makes it more exciting. You train your entire life for this moment and it's finally here. Obviously, we've thought about these last four years, that last game. This is especially why it's exciting, to have an opportunity to be successful this time around."

U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder HEATHER O’REILLY

On everyone playing a role:
“Obviously this is a very deep team, a very talented team. The coaches did a good job at the beginning talking about how this is going to take 23 players and every one of us has the same goal. We all want to win this thing and everybody is doing everything that they can to make sure that the team does that. As a veteran player I try to give bits of advice to some of the younger players that maybe haven’t been here at this level. But mostly I just try to carry myself with a positive attitude for the team and I’m ready for any role.”

On the keys to facing Japan:
“I think bringing our best self. Playing our best soccer. This team is special. This team is very talented, aggressive, fantastic goal scorers. I think if we bring our best self, we’re going to have a lot of success.”

On comparing this team to past WWC teams she’s been on:
“I’ve been fortunate to have been part of some very talented teams in the past. It’s hard to compare. I will say I think this team is deeper than perhaps ever before. There is an incredible talent pool on this team and so many different skill sets and everybody is willing to do whatever role to help the team win.”

On the team's mindset heading into the Final:
“It’s important to stay present. We have a really important 48 hours ahead of us. We’ve all talked about staying present and not wasting any energy thinking about anything outside of this tournament. So all of my energy, all of my strength is going towards being the best for this game."