July 24, 2012
By Charles Cuttone
GOLD IS THE GOAL
U.S. women have something to prove
It’s pretty clear the U.S. Women’s National Team has an objective at the London Olympics---bring back a third straight Gold Medal. After last year’s heartbreaking loss to Japan in the World Cup final, anything less will probably be considered a failure, by the team, and by American fans.
|“I believe this team has something to prove,” said Women’s National Team forward Abby Wambach about the upcoming Olympic tournament.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
While the goal is pretty clear, that’s not necessarily how coach Pia Sundhage is looking at it.
“I would say we always look at the next game and want to play well,” she said. “And if we always win the next game we’re going to win the gold medal, but I’m not talking about the gold medal that much, I’m talking about the next game.”
For veteran forward Abby Wambach, there is no question the goal is gold, especially with the sting of last year’s loss fresh on the team’s mind.
“Well there is no better motivation than losing in my opinion,” Wambach said. “We did a lot of really cool things last summer in Germany and we got a lot of people excited about the women’s game again and truthfully throughout my career I wasn’t sure it was going to happen.
“I believe this team has something to prove. I know that a lot of us are competitors through and through. I mean we’re competing when we’re playing ping-pong on our team floor. Whatever it is, we want to win and because we got so close and lost in the most dramatic way you can lose a soccer game, a soccer tournament, not to mention the World Cup, adds even more fuel to that fire.”
Of course, Wambach was talking about the team’s run to the World Cup final, where after squeaking through the group round, the team seemed to improve from game to game, finding dramatic ways to win, first making an epic comeback, despite playing with only ten men for nearly an hour to tie Brazil on Wambach’s 122nd minute goal and win in penalty kicks, to again coming back a few days later to beat France 3-1 in the semis, all the while mesmerizing the United States and pulling in record TV numbers.
The fairy tale ended in the final, when after a 2-2 draw, the U.S. missed three penalty kicks and fell to Japan.
“We had a short time from the World Cup to prepare, and I think that it’s important that the freshness of that loss is stuck in our minds and honestly in our hearts, because what’s in the past is in the past but this team still has something to prove,” said Wambach. “This team is different than the teams that have won gold medals and we hope to continue on the tradition that they set for us.”
While the medal podium in London is what everyone on the team is aiming for, no one is looking past Wednesday’s opponent, France, at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland, two days before the official opening of the games in London.
“I’ll be honest with you, my focus and I would say that the team’s focus is really just on France,” said defender and team captain Christie Rampone. “But we also do have in mind that next game is going to come quick and then two days recovery we’re on to Colombia. “
Sundhage says the challenge and the fun of the group stage is the different styles of the teams the U.S. plays. “I think that it’s exciting, because if you look at our group we have France first and they play very different than Colombia, and Colombia plays very different than North Korea. So I’m excited about different styles of soccer and we will make sure that we prepare for the next game and we really want to win the next game and go all the way to the final.”
That’s the goal—Gold.