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July 13, 2011
Rampone: U.S. needs to set the tempo of the game early vs. France

MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany -- The United States can't afford to take its time in establishing itself against France in the Women's World Cup semifinal, says team captain Christie Rampone.

The U.S. must determine the tempo of the match on Wednesday (ESPN, noon ET).

“We need to set the tone right from the start," she said. "Right from the very beginning I thought we came out great against Brazil and scored that early goal. This is the same thing. We have to go after France. They're a great team. We respect them tremendously and we know some of their players that play in the WPS. We have to go after this game and finish this whole tournament off.”

The winner will play the victor of Wednesday's Sweden-Japan match in Sunday's final.

As energizing and encouraging the game was the Americans must turn the page of Sunday's great comeback against Brazil, in which they equalized at death's door on Abby Wambach's header deep into added time before prevailing in a penalty-kick shootout.

“It's unbelievable and I'm speechless about how that game went," Rampone said. "It was amazing and the best game I've ever been a part of. But we had a team meeting last night, told all our great stories, and now it's on to France."

U.S. midfielder Lauren Cheney agreed, but stressed the American women have to worry about the present and not celebrate the past.

“That was the craziest game I think any of us have ever been a part of," she said. "Emotionally we have to be proud of what we did, but then put that behind us for the France game and try to not get too high or too low. We'll go into France prepared physically and mentally.”

The U.S. had only three days between games, so the players had to make the most of their time in recovery and preparation.

“We do have one less day than we've had between the past few games in this tournament," forward Alex Morgan said. "It's important to stay relaxed and get our recovery strategies down. We need to get the ice baths in and do whatever we need to do. Today it's all about preparing for France. We want to keep the confidence we had in the last game but kind of move forward and start thinking about just France now.”

Rampone, the only player remaining from the 1999 championship team, will play a key role in

“Experience is always pretty good," she said. "You let everybody know to enjoy that victory, feel that emotion and you have to make sure you're prepared for the next game. It's on to France now and it's focusing remembering those little moments but not letting it take over. We need to get our legs back, get that emotion and have fresh legs to go after France. What I bring to the team is that sense of calmness, composure and making sure the emotions stay in check. We need the momentum in this next game.”

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