May 27, 2015
By Brian Trusdell
NO BETTER TIME
US WNT focused on snapping Women's World Cup drought
Soccer News Net Contributor
NEW YORK – Olympic titles aside, there's been a glaring emptiness for many on the U.S. national women's soccer team: the Women's World Cup title.
|"It's all that I'm thinking about, all that's on my mind," said Abby Wambach about winning next month's Women's World Cup.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
“Right now, you're damn right I need it,” said 35-year-old U.S. forward Abby Wambach, heading into her fourth World Cup next week in Canada. “It's all that I'm thinking about, all that's on my mind. It's the thing that I haven't been able to be a part of. It's the thing I haven't won yet.”
The United States has won four Olympic titles, including 2012. But it hasn't won the Women's World Cup since the much celebrated crown in 1999.
It has made it to the semifinals every time, but only once to the final since the turn of the century, coming agonizing close four years ago when it lost out to Japan on penalties.
Christie Rampone was a 24-year-old junior member of the 1999 team, the only one left still playing that can remember the euphoria of the Rose Bowl win over China.
The rest have recollections, if they were there, of getting unceremoniously beaten 3-0 by Germany in 2003 (in Portland, no less), toppled 4-0 by Brazil in 2007 and then Japan in 2011.
At a press availability Wednesday in New York, 12 days before their opening game against Australia, the U.S. women faced a wide variety of questions, ranging from the arrests of FIFA officials at their congress in Switzerland, to artificial turf to goalkeeper Hope Solo's off-the-field entanglements with law enforcement.
One theme, common with major women's events, are queries on impact and legacy. And getting a chance to be able to declare oneself a world champion has an impact beyond the immediate.
“We're at a point right now, where, if we win this thing, it could be huge,” said midfielder Carli Lloyd, set to appear in her third World Cup. “And there's no better time than with the coverage, with social media, and with the fact that we haven't won it in 16 years.
“It's a great time to win it. I think it's one of the best environments that we could be in, and we're ready to go after it.”
Second-year national team forward Christen Press admits she doesn't have the outlook of Wambach, Rampone or Lloyd. But she still acknowledges the infrequency of the World Cup and the imperative of capitalizing on moments.
“I don't have very many expectations on this tournament because I don't know what it's going to be like,” Press said. “If you've played in multiple World Cups, you have a completely different understanding of what the next months of our lives are going to be.
“But, on the other hand, it's a once in a four-year cycle, and you don't know where you're going to be health-wise, playing-wise, you don't know if the coach is going to like you. So being here in this moment is extraordinary, and it's really special and we know we have to take advantage of it.”
And while acknowledging gold medals are nice, U.S. coach Jill Ellis is quick to note that the Olympics are one of many titles won at a Summer Games, whereas a World Cup is strictly about soccer.
“The Olympic Games are fantastic, but the Women's World Cup is the premier event in our sport, so I think the players are excited about the opportunity,” she said. “They have confidence in what they are capable of doing and again like myself, see it as an opportunity to do something great for this game and our country.”