April 20, 2010
By Charles Cuttone
FOR CLUB AND COUNTRY
Playing in league brings new twists for O’Reilly
Players in the fledging Women’s Professional Soccer are experiencing something new, but not unique in the world of soccer. Playing for both a club and their national team.
|Since the advent of the WPS, Heather O’Reilly and her Women’s National Team teammates have had to adjust to changing gears between club and international play, where this week’s teammate can be next week’s opponent.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
There were a few national team games last season, the league’s first, especially for European players who had the 2009 European Championships to deal with. For European players, however, the situation was not so unique. For Americans, many of whom had been under full time contracts to U.S. Soccer, it was.
“It is an interesting feeling kind of going back and forth now,” said U.S. National Team veteran Heather O’Reilly, who plays for New Jersey based Sky Blue FC. “ It’s kind of hard to explain because people do feel very proud of their club and you kind of get in the groove of your club and then you’re called to national team duty.”
O’Reilly says getting the call is always exciting and something she never takes for granted. But it creates a new and interesting dynamic where opponents are now teammates and it creates a new challenge of bouncing back and forth between teams.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to exchange stories. It’s interesting because you don’t want to give away too many of your team issues or team strengths, so its kind of a funny dynamic on the national team. You don’t want to talk too much, but at the same time its fun to kind of bounce things off of each other and talk about what works and what doesn’t.”
The first test for WPS players to go to play for the U.S. National team during this year’s league season will come on May 22, when the U.S. faces rival and world power Germany at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
After 8 years of playing with the National Team, O’Reilly says it’s an interesting and challenging dynamic to now play against her U.S. teammates.
“It’s pretty neat and it’s pretty cool to see each other in that way because now we get kind of a taste for what other countries feel like,” she said. “To play against Abby Wambach, to play against Shannon Box. Not have to go into tackles with Rachel Buehler and now I am on that side of it.
“I guess you learn to appreciate your U.S. team that much more having to go against them.”