| August 15, 2004
Post Brazil game quotes from U.S. National Team
U.S. National Team Head Coach April Heinrichs
The plan going forward was that Abby would play hard, and play with her physicality and mentality and not hold back and be concerned about getting a yellow card. As soon as you do that, you don't play like yourself and maybe you don't play with the personality that she brings. She brings such a great warrior mentality. Can you imagine asking someone with her physical presence to tone it down a notch and be delicate and tip-toe on eggshells for 90 minutes to survive for the third game? Wambach epitomizes the American spirit. She knows her good qualities and works on her areas of weakness. And she wants t o improve desperately. Abby had a lot of success in 2003, but she has been one of our hungriest players in 2004, aspiring to improve her game at every level technically and tactically. What you saw (in this game) was Abby dealing with the pressure and physical game and then showing some sophistication under great pressure (on her goal).
I wasn't overly concerned about it because I have a lot of confidence in our back line and Bri Scurry. We have played 100 games in which we have done exactly what Brazil did to us and we've hit posts, had a bunch of shots in the first half and haven't come away with a reward. I said to the team at halftime,we are in position now that we have weathered the storm, can we bring the game up a notch in the second half? If we can, I don't think Brazil can sustain it, because it's very hard to play as attacking oriented as they did without exposing yourself. We'll look at the first half as a lesson and we'll take whatever we can, the first one is probably that Brazil came with a gusto that we didn't have and then we responded collectively and individually. Every player was eager to get the ball at her feet and take the responsibility to help this team win.
I think it was a tale of two halves. Brazil had the run of play in the first half, we had it in the second half. I think our players kept their calm and the best part about it was that our players responded to the first half and did some self-evaluating. They said to themselves that we have to bring more mentality, more decisiveness and a little more bite to our tackles and ball winning so we don't spend so much time chasing. And give credit to all the players who stepped on the field for us in the second half, not only did they raise their personal level, but raised our team level and then we started to find space and when you can find space you could see we pushed the ball around more confidently in the second half.
Brazilian head coach Rene Simoes alleged that the U.S. team played too physical but it's not the case, and it's never been the case. I think we've been one of the cleanest teams in the world. If you look at our history of yellow card accumulations in world events, we are always one of the lowest teams. If you look at the foul distribution today, it was 2-1 on their part. If you look at which team was catching which team before the ball was arriving, there were a lot of occasions where just before the ball was arriving we were getting bumped heavily. It was a pretty violent game at times. There were a couple times when a player goes hard, and they are just a little late, and that happens. That is within the spirit of the rules.
Brazil played some spectacular soccer, and we put a lot of pressure on our goalkeeper to make some huge saves for us. I think we settled down in the second half and Bri (Scurry) and some of our players doubling back on defense helped us get into the second half (still at 0-0) when we were able to posses the ball better and create more chances. We have so much respect for Brazil. They are unbelievable on the ball, and they are some of the most exciting players in the world to watch and some of the most frustrating to play against, because they can make you look like you've never played soccer before.
They came out and played extremely well, and they excited this crowd for sure with their flair on the ball and the opportunities they created. They gave us a lot of trouble. Bri stepped up and made some huge saves for us, and kept us into the game going into the second half. We all knew that based on the way we played in the first half, how fortunate we were in the second half (to still be tied 0-0). I think what were excited about was our renewed commitment. Regardless of our performance in the first half, we didn't give up. We were showed what the Brazilians can do and the passion with which they play, but this team came out of that locker room in the second half knowing we had to changes things and we did. In the second half, we changed our shape a little bit and we are able to possess the ball, which we didn't do the first half. I think our mentality was better the second half, but that first half, there are things we can change, but you have to give credit to Brazil, they put on a clinic.
Abby Wambach, who will miss the Australia match (two yellow cards), is a tremendous player for us and she's shown that in the World Cup and in this tournament. She could have been rattled after that yellow card knowing that she would have to sit that third game, but what she decided was that she would give us everything she had out on the field. She had an opportunity to take the back that was marking her, beat her, their sweeper stepped up and she cut it inside. She could have hit near post or far post, but the 'keeper was looking far post and she just hit a low one near post and that's was a huge goal for us. But this team is about being a team, whoever they decide to start up there will come in and give us everything they have.
Lindsay Tarpley did a great job for us. The thing about Tarp is that she has great pace and instinctsTarp can penetrate off the dribble as she has played a lot up front. "
The Brazilians are forearming you and grabbing your head on every corner. They are doing the gamesmanships things that men playing in the Premiership do. They have been watching this game their whole lives, they know the little things that can get to a team, the little things that can get someone off their game or make someone miss-touch the ball. Brazil brings it
Getting that second yellow is a little heartbreaking and that's when I had to kick in my professionalism and say to myself that this is the last time I can play in the first round so I tried to play my heart out and help the team as much as I could without getting a red card and having us play a man down. I want to be able to help my team and wear that jersey every game. That's why I'm here, to help my team, and if I can't do that, I feel like I am letting my team and my country down. But I am confident in the players that will replace me and whatever Australia will throw at us we'll be able to deal with. I'll be in street clothes watching from the bench and cheering the team on, that's my personality. It's for seeding now -- we're through -- so it might even be the best. If I don't get the yellow card today, some freak thing could happen and I get the yellow in this next came and I'm out for the quarterfinals, so this may be the best thing for our team, but whose to say that? Who knows?
Having Hamm on your side and stepping up to take the PK is one of the best things I've been a part of. She's always a person to take responsibility. She's the boss in my opinion. You want to give her the ball in the penalty kick situation like that. She's going to put it in the back of the net for you and I'm happy for her.
First and foremost you have to give it up for Lindsay Tarpley, she made the whole play happen. She put her body on the line and stuck her head outshe got her head on the ball and made the play that got me in. I did the rest, made a great cut back and opened myself to a wide-open goal. I saw (the 'keeper) inching towards the far post, so I shot it near post and I think I had my hands up in celebration before it went in.
There was a ton of space, the sea parted. It remind me of the goal against Norway in the '96 Olympics (that Foudy set up with a pass to Shannon MacMillan) where you are just dribbling and instead of anyone stepping to you they are all going with runners. Then Abby was making that great run across. We had a lot space in the middle seam because once you broke their front pressure there was a big gap. We had a difficult time even getting the ball in the first half. It's good thing games are 90 minutes.
Briana Scurry's performance in the first half was awesome. I gave her a big hug and thanked her for giving us a chance to redeem ourselves in the second half.
U.S. Olympic Team arrives in Greece
The squad arrived today and will spend a few days at the Athlete's Village. The temperature there is normal for this time of the year, low humidity and in the mid nineties Fahrenheit.
Their team media has sent the following first impressions.
U.S. captain Julie Foudy at her third Olympics.
It's awesome. The USOC did a great job of putting together the ACG for our athletes, although I lost a game of UNO there this afternoon. The Athlete's Village is great. We went to the cafeteria and there are lots of desserts, tons of chopped fruit, and more desserts. They even have ice cream to-go and I think it's open 24 hours. What more could you want? You see people everywhere walking around in their national team gear. Some of the rookies had no idea it was this big. They asked me if the Olympic experience got old. I told them it never gets old, first time or third time around.
U.S. forward Abby Wambach at her first Olympics.
It's overwhelming. It feels good to finally be here and feel what it's like. We have had so many different things and visions in our minds, but nothing compares to the reality of being here. It is thrilling to see so many different athletes and feel how much hard work everyone has put in to get here.