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Pre-Match Quote Sheet: U.S. WNT vs. Dominican Republic

The U.S. WNT opens 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying on Jan. 20 vs. the Dominican Republic. The top two finishers in the tournament advance to the Olympics. Here is a selection of quotes from several U.S. players in advance of the start of the tournament.

© Thomas Eisenhuth/isiphotos.com

Alex Morgan Lauren Cheney

IN THE IMAGE: The U.S. WNT is ready to kick off Olympic Qualifying in Canada, seeking a place at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.


On playing a tournament like this in her hometown where she grew up before she left for America at the age of 15:

“It’s pretty amazing. I hope I get a chance to play in front of my friends and family again, which hasn’t happened in a long time. I’m very excited, very happy.”

On leaving home at 15:
“It was very difficult. It wasn’t easy by any means. I lived at a bunch of different houses trying to find the right fit. I went to a bunch of different schools, but I guess it was all worth it. I ended up going to an amazing college and getting a good degree, and now I’m here.”

On the hardest part of finding a place to fit:
“Being by myself – not having my friends, not having any of my friends who really knew me. I was like the new kid, and I think that’s difficult being in high school and not really having a place and feeling out of place. That was definitely the hardest part of it.”

On her decision to play for the U.S. over Canada:
“I always knew that I wanted to play in the U.S. because I had dual citizenship, and I knew that I was going to live my life in the States and that I was going to college and that I was going to pursue a career there and eventually build a family there. It just made sense that I would play there as well.”

On being raised by her mom, Sandi:
“My mom got some (negative feedback when I went to America). Her friends would say that she was doing the wrong thing about sending me [to the U.S.]. Really, me and my mom are all we have, so for me to leave her and for her not to have me at home was really hard. That was very difficult for me, just not having my mom. My mom is like my backbone, and she’s my everything, and she pushes me. If it wasn’t for my mom to push me toward my dreams and what I wanted to do, I definitely wouldn’t be here. I definitely owe everything to her.”

On which country her family and friends will root for:
“Well, as of right now, we’re not playing Canada, so I don’t think it’s necessarily going to be about cheering for a country but rather just supporting me.”

On what it’s like to be back in Canada:
“It’s different because I feel like I should be home, like I’m so close to home. It’s a little ironic, but I always considered Vancouver home to me, and I always will no matter where I go.”

On what makes her a good player:
“I don’t know! I guess I’m fast. I mean, my teammates would say that I’m fast. My teammates would say that I’m feisty, I guess. I like to think that I work really hard, and that’s kind of my thing. I enjoy working hard for my teammates. I enjoy contributing.”

On if the best is still to come:
“I think I’m still young, and I still have so much to learn, and it’s awesome being in this environment because I learn something new every day, and I feel like I’m playing against some of the best players in the world who are on my team. It’s definitely a blessing.”

On being used to the snow and cold:
“I like the cold. I’d much rather play in cold than really, really hot, which it is in L.A. I like it – I like coming back home to snow.”

On her experience with the U.S. Under-20 WNT:
“It helped with the World Cups, and my confidence really grew at the U-20 level. It’s very different. The game’s a lot faster here, but I learned so much. I learned so much coming off 2008 and getting the Golden Boot and Golden Ball in Chile, and then kind of sending us home in the 2010 World Cup when I missed my penalty kick. I think I learned more from 2010 and what happened there and the fact that we didn’t win the gold like we did in 2008. It just makes me want to get better and continue on my path.”

U.S. forward ALEX MORGAN
On playing on turf:
“It’s definitely different. [Head coach] Pia [Sundhage] tries to make us play on grass as much as possible. We never really have played on turf with this team, so we tried leading up to the tournament to play on turf a little bit more, get used to the surface. But BC Place is a great stadium. I’ve played and been inside of it, and the turf I think is one of the best turf fields I’ve played on yet.”

On the team’s confidence:
“We’ve had a lot of time to prepare since the World Cup last year, and I think we’re ready. I think we’re excited to get this tournament started. It’s only one of our first days in Vancouver, and we’re excited to be here. It’s a lot different than World Cup qualifiers, so we’re ready to show the world our talent.”

On adjusting their style of play for the turf field:
“It’s definitely an adjustment to change from grass to turf, but that’s why we started playing on [turf] a little bit more leading up to this tournament in the last month. But I think that if it’s going to affect us, it’s going to affect the other teams as well.”

On playing in the Olympics one year after the World Cup:
“It’s definitely great having the World Cup and Olympics back-to-back because women’s soccer only gets big around big events, so it’s nice to see women’s soccer gain popularity in those two years. It’s definitely a chance for the number one team to show the world they’re the best. It’s a chance for other teams as well, like South Africa and Cameroon who qualified. It’s nice to see that other teams are evolving in other countries.“

On when the focus shifts from the World Cup toward the Olympics:
“We had a few days of media after the World Cup, but I think directly after that, it shifted toward the Olympics. The past is in the past after, and we needed to move on. We got a break from the National Team, and we needed that emotionally and physically. Right when we came back with the team I believe in November, we looked on toward the Olympics.”

On the World Cup affecting the Olympics:
“Going into this qualifying tournament, we’re definitely focusing a lot more on taking every game one at a time. For the last World Cup it wasn’t the smoothest World Cup Qualifying tournament, and we ended up getting the last berth into the World Cup. That was a lot more difficult, so we’re hoping that this Olympic Qualifying tournament is a little bit smoother than the last time.”

On the other teams in the tournament:
“There’s a lot of teams that we haven’t played in a long time or a lot of teams that we haven’t been grouped with for many years. We know that Canada and Mexico are two teams that we play against quite frequently and are our biggest rivalries, so those are always going to make us play our best soccer and them as well. Looking into group play, we hope to get through that and then look ahead to the semis.”

On the teams in Group B:
“We haven’t done much work on Dominican Republic or Guatemala yet. We expect to in the next couple days, first with Dominican Republic since that’s our first game. I don’t have much experience watching Dominican Republic and Guatemala, but hopefully Pia will prepare us for those games.”

U.S. goalkeeper HOPE SOLO
On growing the game toward the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada:
“As an athlete – as a soccer player – you kind of live in cycles. You live in the Olympic year and the World Cup year, and then you have two down years after that. For us, it’s great to piggyback the World Cup with the Olympics because hopefully we can go full steam ahead with the inspiration that we gave as a team for our country.”

On her notoriety following the World Cup:
“Admittedly, the schedule can be hard to adjust to. The great thing is that I’m an athlete first, and I always have been, and that’s my focus, that’s my expertise. I get the attention because I am good at what I do. That’s always going to be the focus, and I have no problem with that. I am the best goalkeeper that I can be.”

On her teammates’ reactions when they see each other after time apart:
“I think everybody knows that there’s a bigger idea involved in growing the game. It’s our responsibility to do that, and I had all their support. Granted, I didn’t have as many sore muscles as they did throughout the last four months, but I can assure you right now my muscles are much more sore.”

On potentially meeting Canada during the tournament:
“Canada is a physical, brutal team to play. I think they have a lot to prove. I think had high hopes to have gone further in the World Cup this last summer. I think they’re a great team who should have gone further, so I think the Olympics could be a huge turning point for them. They’re not easy to play. They have the fight, they have the passion. Of course they have the skill. It’s going to be a bloodbath, and it always usually is when you play a team like Canada.”

On playing on turf:
“We were out there today on the game field, and the turf was fine. It was great – it’s not too hard, it’s not too frozen. Being a goalkeeper, you can kind of hesitate throwing your body on that kind of field, but it felt great. It felt fine.”

On friends and family coming to watch her:
“I have a good group of about 30 people coming up from Seattle, including my University of Washington coaches, my 85-year-old grandmother. I have a lot of people coming. It’s quite exciting.”

On if she has ever traveled to Vancouver for non-soccer reasons:
“They have some of the best mountains. I’ve been to Whistler quite a bit. I’ve visited Vancouver quite a bit. I still go to Whistler pretty much every year.”

U.S. midfielder MEGAN RAPINOE
On the importance of the World Cup versus the Olympics:
“It’s different. It’s hard to say which one means more. I think as a soccer player, obviously the World Cup is the grandest stage. But I think as an American, growing up the Olympics is such a big thing. For women’s soccer, it’s great to have the best teams together in back to back years – it’s pretty cool. They’re both big.”

On no team winning ever winning back-to-back World Cups and Olympics:
“It’s hard. We didn’t win [the 2011 Women’s World Cup], and it’s just such an emotional experience. I think no matter how far you go in the tournament, it’s an incredible high coming in off the World Cup, then going through a lull. It’s hard to back that up. We have a little fire under us now, so we want to get that world championship again.”

On how quickly she got over the World Cup loss:
“I think it depends on the person, but relatively quickly. Give yourself time to just feel the emotions that you’re feeling. Obviously it’s devastating and disappointing not to walk away from Germany with what we wanted, but that’s football, and that’s part of why we love the sport so much. It also can be a heartbreaker, but it’s nice to back it up quickly with the Olympics and looking to regain that number one spot for us.”

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