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July 24, 2012
Hundreds of miles away, USA women slowly getting into Olympic spirit

By Michael Lewis Editor

Lauren Cheney: "We have the feel. We're just not completely there yet. But that's a goal of ours. We want to go to London and be a part of that."
Lauren Cheney: "We have the feel. We're just not completely there yet. But that's a goal of ours. We want to go to London and be a part of that."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
GLASGOW -- Some 340 miles away from the glitz and glitter of London, the U.S. women's national team kicks off its Olympics on Wednesday, two days before the opening ceremonies.

The USA-France confrontation will be one of six women's soccer games that will be played.

The Americans are slowly getting into the Olympic spirit, but it will take a while it they are at 100 percent. If all goes according to plan, the U.S. side won't get to London until the Aug. 9 gold-medal match.

"It's going to take a little bit of time," U.S. midfielder Lauren Cheney said on Tuesday. "We're all excited going to the stadium and seeing the Olympic rings. It makes us feel part of it. As you can see our credentials, I think that makes us feel part of it. All of that, the security and everything. We have the feel. We're just not completely there yet. But that's a goal of ours. We want to got to London and be a part of that."

Midfielder Megan Rapinoe admitted she looked at the bright side.

"It's kind of nice not to have all distractions," she said. "You want to take part in every Olympic experience that you can. It's to really just focus. I get distracted easily, so itís nice to kind of lock in. It's cool for us. We will play in absolutely historic parks."

That includes the team's first two games at Hampden Park here and another game at Old Trafford, Manchester United's home ground.

"All the guys are pretty thrilled about that," Rapinoe said.

The U.S. team will miss out on Friday's opening ceremonies because they have to prepare for Saturday's game against Colombia here in Glasgow.

Defender Amy LePeilbet said she has always watched and enjoyed the Olympic opening ceremonies.

"It really gets everyone into the spirit," she said. "It's a little bit of a bummer to miss that. It's nice to be together as a unit and to be focused on us and to be able to prepare for the game."

There is a difference in accommodations between the Women's World Cup and the Olympics. For the WWC, each team gets an opportunity to set up a training camp anywhere it wants. In the Olympics, teams must stay at an official hotel. All four women's teams competing in Group G are staying at the same hotel.

"It's fun to see each other," LePeilbet said. "There's a pool table. The other night, a few of the France players, U.S. and even the Colombians were there, playing ping pong. It's just a nice environment for everyone."

And how about the reclusive North Koreans?

"Yeah, they're at a pool table," she said. "Everyone is. It's really cool to see."

The U.S. begins with its most difficult challenge in Group G -- vs. France at Hampden Park on Wednesday (NBC Olympic Sports Network, noon ET). The Americans needed late goals by Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach to overcome the French in the Women's World Cup semifinals, 3-1, in Germany last year.

"I like starting off with a tough opponent," Cheney said. "Last year the France team, someone argued they played a little bit better than us in that game. I would say they are a great team. Their attack, their style of play is awesome. I think that coming into the tournament, playing a team of their caliber sets the tone for us. I think if we go out and we're able to compete with them, that's not only a confidence builder but if maybe we have a rough start, then we'll be able to see where we go from here. Starting off with a team like France is perfect for us."

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