Pre-Game Presser USWNT

By Sean McCaffery, February 23, 2021

They have been doing a great many Zoom based media opportunities, around the SheBelieves Cup, most with well under 24 hours notice, making it difficult to schedule them in. Not only was I able to be in on this one, I was lucky enough to be called upon, quite the rarity. Many questions were put out about the kneeling of the team, in as much as I am against it, I will not touch on it, it was brought up that the team is now moving from the protest stage to the work stage. If they are serious, work should have been getting done all along, both in the NWSL & WNT there are some who see what others, myself included, have been doing for years, why wait until things are made out to be worse to get involved? But back to the media event itself.

They start with the coach, Vlatko, these games are actually being broadcast back to his country of Macedonia, that is great for exposure at all levels. He as are most coaches vague as to style of play, who will play, anticipated changes so when asked about that changes in personnel for this last game facing Argentina Wed. he was not exact at all informing on who will get minutes. Again, though funny when asked about how many spots may be open for the Olympic Roster, it is smaller at 18, he informed 18. It is far too early to know, injuries, those still recovering from injury, getting back to form and it is months away with a pair of windows for more games between for any bubble players. When asked what to expect of Argentina, given both games have shown things of the US team, he was more forthcoming. He stated their center forward and wing players are good as is the right forward, all at times playing brilliantly. He feels they will deny his team from playing down the middle and force them out to the wing. This was a very successful tactic employed by Canada in holding them even for almost 80 minutes in the opening game. The question of how Press did with Manny U and her role and the same of Morgan from Spurs was asked of him. Press, he informed is helped by her play there and is in match shape due to it, she created a great goal and was great on defense as well, getting into her own penalty area helping out on defense for a few crosses. Morgan he said was good for 60' after 18 months away it was great to see how she was on the ball, impressed by her ability at being better daily. He found both to be good for their playing in England. When asked how proud he was as most had little playing time coming into these games . He is very happy with the team and their performance, in training all have been doing a great job, the players are all in with a 100% focus for the work. It has been god opportunity and exposure to adjust in games and training sessions. With Naeher being on a tear 10 shutouts in a row, 911 or so minutes scoreless, will she get in between the pipes v Argentina to get to 1,000?, was asked of coach. He will do what is best for the team, she is about the team not the record he made it known, what is best to prep for the Olympics.  Asking of newly named captain Sauerbrunn and how she may have changed was poised to him, he retorted that she has always been a leader that there has no change, she is  now the captain has always been there for the team and the coaches alike. When asked about Tierna and her injury, he informed that he is happy with her progress, that injuries are part of the game  and it is now past her and not coming to mind.

Tierna Davidson was next up to the mic. One who spoke with her prior to camp on the possibility of the Olympics was told that all is so far so good that the perception she had then is the same now as to the final 18 for Tokyo. She has been ready coming off injury, energetic  and it is tough to do this and be hopeful and not let herself get caught up in the roster. She was also asked about Becky and her leadership qualities. Like coach, she told of her being very helpful before as well, a great role model she has been a great captain, with or without the title. She has always been approachable as a teammate offering advice on things both on and off he field. In being aware of her being on a teleconference on Diversity & Inclusion, I asked how much of an honor was it in being both a younger in age member of her National team as well as a less veteran member of it to be on such a panel. I was glad this elicited a smile on her face, as she told It with Delloite, a sponsor of the SBC, that it was an honor as she  had never been on a panel with others outside of sport. It was good to learn of their overcoming struggles and help the younger women coming up behind them.

To closes it out was the newly married Casey Kruegerof the Red Stars, a teammate of Tierna, likewise coming back from injury and hat was the first question asked of her, her recovery from that. Casey was very honest is stating that she did not expect to be back she needed the time off, to get well and rest to feel better. She was not sure if she may have been done at the national team or not, now she feel better than in years having gotten rest after some years. Again asked about the Olympics and the tight 18 player roster what her thoughts are on making it. Casey informed that she will do her best but it is not in her control. A great question related to her and the NT was asked of her and who she may have spoken to about that. She told that before the series in Oct./Nov. something was not quite right, called into the Oct. camp, she declined and that as she was not 100% that was best or was it a mistake. Others were very supportive relative to the rest, get healthy  and see if she would be called into camp again. Her husband who posted to social media when she was headed into the game, an image of her on the sideline waiting to go in is a medical professional at an ER, and that was brought up. You could tell how proud yet concerned she is and was during the roughest of times with that, they faced quarantine apart and that it was mentally tough as well as exhausting. She stated there are things in the works relative to social justice and she is excited for them to come out.