11 Questions with U.S. U-20 WNT Goalkeeper Casey Murphy

Casey Murphy is another in the long line of talented U.S. WNT players to come out of New Jersey. At 6-foot-1, she is also the tallest ‘keeper (along with current U-20 teammate and fellow GK Brooke Heinsohn) to represent the USA in a World Cup. As she and her teammates prepare to kick off the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in the exotic locale of Papua New Guinea, Murphy touches on her growth as a player, the honor of representing her country and being a role model for younger players.

ussoccer.com: The team trained for eight days in Cairns, Australia before heading to Papua New Guinea. How was that experience?
Casey Murphy: “It’s was just great to get back together as the World Cup Team. The time away was nice and refreshing mentally and physically, but once we got to Australia we hit the ground running and the week of training in Cairns was really focused, competitive and fun. It was seriously hot, but the fact that we got down here a few weeks in advance of our first game definitely helped us get used to the environment and climate we are going to be playing in.”

ussoccer.com: What have you found to be most important for your position as you compete on the highest level of the game for your age?
CM: “From club to college to the international level, the pace and the speed of play gets increasingly intense. Everything is a lot quicker and things just happen so much faster all around you. It requires a lot of patience with yourself. You can’t get frustrated. What I love about our goalkeeper sessions is coach Graeme (Abel) trains us at a pace and level that prepares us extremely well for the international game. The work we’ve all done outside of camp has also been critical to our preparation and I feel we are peaking heading into our first game.”

ussoccer.com: Less than 1% of the female population of the United States is over six-foot. Is it fun to be tall?
CM: “I was in the 98th percentile for height when I was a kid so I’ve been tall all my life. It’s funny because, I don’t come from an extremely tall family. My dad’s sisters are 5-foot and 5-foot-2, so the fact I’m 6-foot-1 is pretty awesome. Obviously, you have to work with what you have so I’ve used my size to advantage on the soccer field, even though I have to order extra, extra long jeans online.”

ussoccer.com: New Jersey has an excellent history of producing top female soccer players. How does it feel to be a part of that tradition?
CM: “I’m lucky that I live 20 minutes from what is in my opinion one of the best girls’ soccer clubs in the country in PDA. I was fortunate to be coached by an extremely hard-working, smart and passionate coach in Mike O’Neil in club, and now at the college level as well. One of my favorite memories is when he called me and said, “we’re going to get a shooting session in at PDA.” In my head, I was thinking he’d get some youth players to shoot, but it turned out to be Tobin Heath! And another time it was Heather O’Reilly shooting on me, so I’ve been really fortunate to be in that environment.”

Listed at 6'1, Murphy uses her height as an advantage on the field. When it comes to finding jeans that are the correct length? That's a different story.

ussoccer.com: What does it mean to you to get the opportunity to play in a World Cup, especially as you decided to forgo your college season at Rutgers?
CM: “I feel extremely thankful and this is once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s been an amazing journey over the past two years of this cycle and I wouldn’t want to be here with any other group of teammates, coaches and staff members. I feel like the work we’ve put in has prepared us to give it our all. I am also so thankful that I’ve had the support from my college coaches to not pass up the chance to go to a World Cup and I’ve been watching and cheering for them the entire season.”

ussoccer.com: What’s your philosophy on organizing and communicating with your defense?
CM: “Communication is so important from the goalkeeper position. We get to see the entire field and because of that, it’s essential that I give the proper information to not only our backs, but the midfield and forwards as well so we can execute the game plan to our highest potential. I enjoy being vocal and the process of all of us working together.”

ussoccer.com: You have a Pug named Miley. We hear your Pug is cuter than the average Pug?
CM: “At first, I wanted nothing to do with the Pug. I didn’t want to take care of a dog, but after a week or so the she grew on me tremendously and now I find myself with more than 500 photos of this dog on my phone. She’s become well-known on every team I’ve played for and has made multiple appearances as some of my home matches. She’s super out-going and just a friendly dog. Everyone loves Miley.”

ussoccer.com: Can you gauge the excitement for you and your teammates to get the World Cup underway?
CM: “You can just feel the excitement building. I’ve thought about the walk out into the stadium many times and I’m anxiously awaiting that moment. It’s hard to believe that the World Cup is here and that all the hard work we’ve put over our entire lives into this sport has gotten us to this stage. Now we’re ready to work hard and have fun.”

ussoccer.com: You’ve done some coaching. What do you like about working with young players?
CM: “I love to coach and I think it helps me as a player. Just talking about the game and thinking about technique and the nuances of the position is also a positive to growing your game. I recently worked Tim Howard’s camp and he’s so humble and such a world class guy. To have that opportunity to work with some of the best coaches and to be around a world class player like him while coaching the game, it was just a tremendous experience. Whenever I got back to my high school or my club to training on my own, I always try to say hello to young players and wish them luck on their weekend games, or just having a little conversation. I think it’s important to never forget where you came from and I’m thankful I was able to learn and grow as person and player in New Jersey and I will always give back.”

One Nation. One Team: U.S. MNT goalkeeper Tim Howard and U-20 WNT goalkeeper Casey Murphy.

ussoccer.com: Having goalkeepers who are extremely proficient with their feet has become increasingly important as the women’s game continues to evolve. What’s your philosophy on training that part of you game?
CM: “Since I was in club, my coach Mike O’Neil always encouraged us to play with our feet. He always helped build my confidence by encouraging the defenders to play back to us goalkeepers if needed and there’s been many times I’ve jumped into passing drills with field players. On my own, I often train my foot skills by hitting thousands of balls against a wall multiple times a week to this day and I encourage all young goalkeepers to work hard with the ball at their feet.”

ussoccer.com: You grew up with soccer fields behind your house in Bridgewater, N.J. Tell us some memories of those days?
CM: “My dad is not a soccer player, but I always would convince him to go out and play “PK Shootout” and a game where he would kick the ball as high in the air as he could and I would have to catch it. I have so many fond memories from those days and it’s on those fields where I really fell in love with the game. To this day, we talk about our memories from back behind our old house and where my love for soccer began.”