June 05, 2019
Find out what the U.S. National Team is doing to prepare for the Women's World Cup.
Sweat, pain and tears are not foreign to the 23 soccer players chosen to represent the United States in the Women’s World Cup in France this year. There is a lot of pressure riding on this year’s National Team to repeat the victory of four years ago when the U.S. won the championship over Japan.
As the defending champs and top-ranked team, the U.S. is favored to win, but it won’t be easy. Find out how the 23 women chosen to represent the U.S. made the cut and what they’re doing to prepare for this high-pressure game.
Jill Ellis, the U.S. coach, believes experience will be the key to glory and picked her roster with this in mind. 12 of the 23 of women on the roster are returning players from the championship team that won four years ago. And seven other players on the roster have played in multiple World Cups. The team’s average age is 28 and the roster has a combined 94 World Cup caps – it is safe to say that these women know what it takes to make the cut.
Back on the roster is Carli Lloyd, whose hat trick brought the U.S. to a 5-2 win over Japan four years ago in Vancouver. Lloyd will be participating in her fourth World Cup – shockingly – as a reserve for the team. However, that hasn’t stopped her drive to win.
In her first start of 2019,at the Banc of California Stadium, Lloyd proved she could she could still deliver by scoring two goals in the opening minutes and finishing with a second-half assist.When Federal News Network asked how she stayed motivated she replied, “I know what I’m capable of, and it’s just about putting the work in day in and day out, being ready for the moment, seizing the opportunity and being ready.” It seems as though Ellis’ decision to give Lloyd less time on the field has only fueled her drive to win and to take advantage of every minute she gets to play.
Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, Ali Krieger, Tobin Heath, Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are also on the roster and are all going to the World Cup for the third time.
Morgan is perhaps the sport’s most marketable player. With millions of followers on Instagram and Twitter, she has one of the largest social-media imprints of any female athlete in the world. However, her game on the field hasn’t always been as strong. In the 2015 World Cup, she suffered multiple injuries that slowed her ascent to dominate as a player. This year will be her time to shine and make her mark in the world’s most elite tournament. What’s her motivation? A win on the field could mean a potential boost for public support in equal pay – an issue she has worked hard to address.
“If we do our job,” she says, “people will be captivated. This can be something greater and bigger than there’s ever been before.”
To perform at the highest level of competition everything must be harmonized – the fitness, the nutrition, and medicine. Dawn Scott, the national team’s strength and fitness coach monitors all 23 women individually to ensure everyone is able to perform at their best.Scott doesn’t believe in a “one-size-fits-all” fitness routine. Each player has a customized meal and exercise plan, which requires Scott to keep tabs on every detail of each player’s day.She knows what everyone is eating, how well hydrated they are and how much sleep they are getting – which requires an open line of communication between her and the team.
Part of the team’s routine is having the players undergo beep tests where they run a series of short sprints set to a timer. If a player misses the beep they are out; the last player standing is crowned the fittest. There are also hydration tests in the mornings, heart-rate monitors and GPS used to track a players’ mileage.
Nutrition plays a big part too. The U.S. team has their own chef on the road with them during the World Cup to meet every dietary restriction, blood type and personal preference. Rampone and Morgan are a perfect example of why no two players should eat the same. Rampone recently switched to a gluten-free diet to tailor to her blood type and Morgan switched to a vegan diet based on her personal views.
Scott’s secret is in “marginal gains.” The concept is based on the idea that the smallest changes could make the greatest impact, especially if micromanaged from player to player. So, if you can alleviate any areas on a player’s body that feel tight or are causing pain then it can help improve their overall performance on the field, which is huge in a game where every second matters.
The 2019 Women’s World Cup will premiere on TVon June 7 and the bar is set high for the U.S. team. Will the team bring the U.S. another victory? Tune in to FOX Sports on June 11to watch the U.S. team’s first match against Thailand and find out.