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Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Rampone opts to delay retirement

By Ramona Shelburne

DENVER -- Christie Rampone isn't going anywhere just yet.

The 37-year-old captain of the United States women's national soccer team said Tuesday that she has decided to play at least one more season, ending speculation that she would retire after the U.S. won a gold medal at this summer's London Olympics.

It would've been a golden finish to a superlative career. But after taking a few weeks to think about it, Rampone realized she just wasn't finished.

"After the Olympics, I thought I'd be like, 'This is it, this is awesome. Let's ride off on a high note,' " Rampone told espnW after the U.S. training session here in Denver before a match against Australia on Wednesday.

"But then I was like, 'I don't need to end off on a high note. I just want to continue playing and doing something I love.' "

Rampone, a mother of two who also has coaching aspirations, said that she's committing to at least one more year with the national team, if the team will still have her. Wednesday's game will be head coach Pia Sundhage's final game on the U.S. sideline.

"I still have to get called in," Rampone said. "They may want to wipe out the older players, but you never know. So I'm just going to keep an open mind to it, give a good year commitment to it, see if I like the coaching staff, how I fit in, how much travel it is and take it from there."

U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said on a conference call on Monday that it should take 30-45 days to hire Sundhage's successor. A search committee of Gulati, U.S. Soccer secretary general Dan Flynn, U.S. Soccer managing director Tom King and former national team players Mia Hamm and Danielle Slaton had its first meeting on Sunday in Los Angeles.

If no new coach is named within that timeframe, Gulati said one of the current assistants would likely guide the squad in the last two months of its 10-game victory tour in October and November.

Because of her standing on the team and within the soccer community, Rampone had been mentioned as a possible successor to Sundhage. But she laughed off that suggestion Tuesday.

"As rumor has it I was up for this job and it's hilarious," Rampone said. "I can see that in the future. But you can't just step into a job like this. You have to go through the process of coaching at the lower levels and working yourself up.

"I don't think I'd want to coach the players I've played with. I'd really like to observe the game overseas and see it at every level so I could be the best coach I could be.

While Rampone would only commit to playing for one year, she's not ruling out a longer stay on the team she's been with since 1997. Rampone is the only current member of the team to have won a World Cup, way back in 1999, although she played in just one game during that tournament. If she were to stay on with the team through the 2015 World Cup in Canada, she'd be 40 years old, one year older than former teammate Kristine Lilly who retired from the national team at the age of 39.