A fresh start
After our disappointing seventh-place finish at the Algarve Cup in March, we all wanted to start with a clean slate and build from that point forward. We knew the results in Portugal were not up to our standards, and getting to play against China in two friendly games in April was a great chance to move ahead.
Our first stop was Denver, where I found out the sun could be shining one minute and then snow would be falling the next! When it snowed we had to move our training location to a place near the mountains and it was the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever had while training. We all took advantage of the views to take photos and post on all our social-media websites.
We beat China 2-0 on April 6, and as you may know, shortly after the game Sunil Gulati, president of U.S. Soccer, and Dan Flynn, the organization’s CEO, informed us they were letting our coach, Tom Sermanni, go. They felt we needed to go in a different direction.
I was shocked, and had no idea that it was going to happen. It was a sad time. Tom is such a classy guy, and I felt like he valued my effort on and off the field, and always complimented me on my professionalism as a player. He believed in me and it was sad to see him go.
Tom proved again how classy he is when he entered the room full of players and coaches after he had been let go and thanked us for the opportunity and wished us the best of luck in the future.
Our next game against China was in San Diego, and once again we couldn’t wait to start fresh! Jill Ellis was the interim coach for this game and it is always an easy transition with her. I played with her on the Under-21 national team, so I’ve known her for a long time. She’d stepped in as interim coach when our last coach, Pia Sundhage, left in 2012, before Tom was hired.
Jill is respected by the team and quickly had us all hanging out, making s’mores the night before the game at our hotel. It had been a rough couple of days -- and mentally draining -- so it was nice to step away from the shock and have some fun together.
Tactically, she drew up a simple plan for us and we went out and executed it without missing a beat. We won the second game against China comfortably, 3-0, and it was a great feeling walking off the field knowing we continued to play good soccer and win. We came together and played with confidence and enjoyed it.
Personally I scored my 50th goal for the national team. It always feels good to score goals for your country but it’s not something I think of before or during the game. I just go out and try to do my best to help my team win. Personal records and achievements don’t mean anything on this team. Our goal is to win the World Cup, and that is all we are thinking about. When I retire I’m sure I will look back at what I achieved personally, but at this stage all I’m worried about is having success with my team.
After the emotion-filled time with the USWNT, it was time to head back to our National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) teams. Abby Wambach and I boarded our flight and met up with our Western NY Flash teammates in D.C. As we traveled we laughed at how we were both nursing black eyes and how heads turned while we were in the airport -- people probably thinking we were MMA fighters!
In San Diego, we had both gone up for headers and both came down wounded. My injury is just a bad bruise but Abby’s is more serious: She fractured a bone so she was unavailable for our first game against the Washington Spirit on Sunday and is expected to be taking it day by day.
Missing Abby on Sunday was a big loss and we didn’t know how the team would perform. We have a lot of new faces, and it was great to see one of our new players, Vicky Losada (whom we got from Barcelona), have two goals and an assist. She did really well in her debut and will be a great asset for us this year. Our coach, Aaran Lines, has done a really good job over the years of putting together quality teams and he has done it again this year. I’m looking forward to another successful season!
Now, I can’t wait to be playing week in and week out with the WNY Flash. We play again on Saturday against the Red Stars in Chicago. Exciting times ahead!