U.S. Women’s National Team sharpens competitive edge for friendly with People’s Republic of China

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The day before facing the women from the People’s Republic of China at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, veteran defender Christie Rampone painted the competitive picture of the U.S. Women’s National Team.

“Some of the girls were playing four-square in the locker room before we came out today,” Rampone explained after training in the stadium. “It was fun. We were laughing. But still,” Rampone elaborated, “you walk away going ‘aww, I didn’t do as well as I wanted. I could have had that one. Maybe next time.’ That’s who we are.”

The U.S. team is 4-2-1 in 2014. The two losses came during the 2014 Algarve Cup, an uncharacteristic seventh-place finish for the Americans.

“We didn’t do as well as we wanted in Portugal,” Rampone said. “But it’s a process. You need to look at the big picture and develop what it’s going to take to get to the World Cup.”

Facing China PR so soon after the Algarve Cup looks like a sequel because the rosters for both teams include most of the players from the tournament. China finished fifth with low-scoring contests. They defeated Norway 1-0, but lost 1-0 to Germany and Iceland. At the end of regulation in the fifth-place consolation game, they were tied 1-1 with Denmark. But China prevailed in spot kicks, 5-4.

Rampone noted how the Americans are on track for the start of qualifiers in a few months because their competitiveness is infectious, ultimately leading to more understanding among teammates.

“Soccer is all about relationships on the field,” the 38-year-old defender said. “It’s about who’s in front of you, who’s beside you, how that connection works, and how you communicate. You learn that through drills with training partners. You learn their strengths and weaknesses, and it helps instill that competitive edge so you can figure out a way to win together in games.

“If you look at a 90-minute game,” Rampone continued, “you can get overwhelmed. But if there are two 10-minute segments that you can take away, you can say ‘this is how we want to play.’ Those 10-minute clips will ultimately lead to 45 minutes and 90 minutes on the way to the World Cup.”

With 291 caps, Rampone has taken many trips down the road of World Cup qualification. The competitive friendly with China PR at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is part of the long journey starting this year.