WPS brings familiar feel to France-U.S. game
MONCHENGLADBACH, Germany -- When the United States faces France in the semifinals, it will be meeting up with a couple of old friends in French defender Sonia Bompastor and midfielder Camille Abily. Both played in the Women's Professional Soccer league in 2009 and 2010.
Bompastor, who played alongside Abby Wambach for the Washington Freedom, and Abily, a member of FC Gold Pride and the Los Angeles Sol, are two of France's most dangerous attacking options. They were also huge fan favorites during their time in the WPS. In 2010, Bompastor trailed only Wambach and Marta in overall all-star game votes.
Bompastor will be playing her customary left fullback spot for France on Wednesday, attacking out of the back and sending crosses into the box.
"[Bompastor's] got one of the best left-footed serves I've ever seen," U.S. defender Becky Sauerbrunn, another of Bompastor's WPS teammates, said Tuesday after the team's practice. "Having played with her for the Freedom for a couple of years, I know that about her. She's a smart player. [She] does well under pressure."
Sauerbrunn could get her first minutes of the tournament, and just her 12th international appearance, starting in place of Rachel Buehler, who was red carded in the quarterfinal and therefore suspended for the next match.
Abily, France's No. 10 and midfield engine, won the 2010 WPS title with FC Gold Pride with Buehler as the team's captain. She was named FIFA Player of the Match in France's penalty kick win over England for her work controlling the French possession. While Buehler will miss the match, she knows how dangerous Abily is.
"Camille's so technical. [She is] composed on the ball, very creative, has a great shot from outside," Buehler said. "We're just going to have to be aware of her."
Sauerbrunn, who played every minute of every WPS game until making the U.S. World Cup roster, says being able to play in WPS against some of the world's top international players like Bompastor, Abily and Marta, has helped her and the U.S. team.
"Some of the mystique is taken away of these players," she said. "You get to learn Marta's tendencies or Sonia's tendencies. You feel kind of like you're playing your teammate. You kind of understand what they're trying to do, what they're thinking about. I would say that other teams would say the same about us."
In fact, it might even help the international teams more. While the U.S. saw just two French players week in and week out, those two players can share what they know about the U.S. team. The last international meeting between the two squads was in 2006. There's little that's the same about either side, and Wednesday's game has an unknown quality to it.
Sauerbrunn is not troubled by that fact, though.
"I think this team, the U.S. team, if we have anything -- we're quick to adapt to players and their playing styles, so we'll be OK," she said.