In the first United States women’s national team games of 2013, four players got their first caps, during which time we also celebrated Abby Wambach’s 200th. Jane Campbell, 17, got her first call-up and trained alongside Christie Rampone, 37, who has been a part of the team since Campbell was a toddler. Sydney Leroux and Whitney Engen got their first starts, and Christen Press scored three goals in her first two national team appearances.
As I waited at the midfield stripe to be subbed into the team’s first friendly of 2013, against Scotland, I felt as if in some ways I was making a return. In other ways, it was a fresh start. It was my first cap since January 2011, and I couldn’t have been prouder to be wearing the red, white and blue uniform. It was a wonderful moment in my journey, and arguably equally as meaningful to me as the first time I stepped onto the field to represent my country.
Now that Tom Sermanni has taken over as coach of the team, we are all trying to figure out how to navigate our personal journeys under a new regime. There’s usually a split-second pause after Sermanni speaks while the team seems to processes exactly what he’s said and whether or not it was a joke. But this statement was more than clear, even through his Scottish accent:
The only aim is to win the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
This is the beginning of a journey with a clear destination. There is a lot that will go into the process over the next couple of years to help insure that the U.S. team has the best possible chance for success in the next World Cup. And there is a lot that we will all do as individuals to attempt to insure our inclusion in that final roster.
The national team is dealing with a unique and special paradox. The team has the history, the talent and is currently the No. 1 team in the world. Yet there is still room for improvement. While Sermanni joked more than once that “a short meeting is a good meeting,” his brief words were well-taken. He talked about winning in the present, while simultaneously keeping an eye on what will prepare for victory in the future. He discussed maintaining the teams’ successful habits and traits, while introducing news ones and tweaking the current system to make improvements. And he promised to manage player personalities by being honest, but warned us that we must embrace the inherent unfairness of this sport at the highest level.
I am excited for the opportunity to prove my worth on the field. I look forward to learning from a new coach and some new players, while at the same time continuing to follow the lead of the veterans who have been so consistently successful over the years.
After being home for a day to unpack and repack, I’m heading off to Los Angeles to meet up with my Swedish club, Kopparbergs/Goteborg, for a couple of weeks of preseason training. I am excited to get back into a regular playing schedule and my team’s training environment. There I will continue to hone my trade until my next opportunity to fight for a spot to represent my country.