REIMS, France — When U.S. ladies’s nationwide workforce gamers took questions from the media on Sunday, it rapidly turned clear essentially the most topical determine was somebody not even on it.
Have the gamers seen Hope Solo’s feedback criticizing coach Jill Ellis as a poor chief who cracks beneath stress, a reporter requested?
“I haven’t been on social media since we left New York, so I’m not likely certain what’s occurring,” mentioned goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, shrugging.
“Similar,” mentioned midfielder Julie Ertz. “They’ve principally created a bubble for us.”
Does it annoy them that Naeher can’t escape questions on Solo’s legacy and filling her sneakers, one other journalist requested?
“Yeah,” Ertz mentioned, matter-of-factly. “Nobody’s simply given her time but. We all know who she is. We prepare along with her each single day. We all know how good she is.”
At one other desk a number of toes from Ertz, Naeher was being requested about – you guessed it – Solo.
“Clearly she has an unimaginable legacy,” Naeher mentioned. “She was a terrific participant for this workforce and he or she was a terrific goalkeeper. She represented this workforce for a really very long time at a excessive stage and he or she was the most effective goalkeepers on this planet for a very long time. I’ve a whole lot of respect for the profession that she had.”
With the Individuals set to kick off their World Cup Tuesday in opposition to Thailand and looking out like locks to cruise by way of the group stage, the drama and intrigue surrounding the workforce has needed to come from some place else. Solo, due to her off-field bluntness and on-field success, affords loads of storylines.
Whereas Solo’s feedback about Ellis on BBC’s World Cup podcast Friday unfold like wildfire, it’s not as if Solo has been out of everybody’s minds.
There’s a cause for that. As Yahoo Sports activities identified final month, Solo was a superior shot-stopper, saving a better proportion of photographs than Naeher has and stacking extra clear sheets alongside the way in which. Briana Scurry, the goalkeeping legend earlier than Solo, hasn’t been quiet both, expressing concern about whether or not Naeher has the psychological toughness that she and Solo had.
However every time requested, Naeher’s teammates have been fast to defend the workforce’s new beginning goalkeeper in opposition to the comparisons that principally really feel like criticisms.
Based on fellow goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, the gamers tune it out now.
“There are a whole lot of nice goalkeepers prior to now who’ve pioneered the place, however we’re about transferring ahead and we’re about what’s occurring now,” Harris informed reporters final month. “We’re in a very good place. We’ve got excellent goalkeepers. Everybody will at all times have one thing to say, and that’s OK. We’re used to it.”
Added Ertz on Sunday: “(Naeher’s) actually good — nice along with her toes, nice shot-stopper. She is aware of what she’s good at. She’s been incredible in coaching and I see how a lot she has put into it and the way ready she is. That offers us confidence figuring out how prepared she is.”
Today, when the touring press corps asks a query about an out of doors issue – and Solo may be very a lot on the surface since being kicked off the workforce in 2016 – the gamers speak about their “bubble.” That’s precisely what they did in 2015 when requested relentlessly in regards to the USWNT’s poor kind within the early rounds of the match.
Naeher says it’s not in regards to the workforce being unable to deal with the criticism, however ensuring the workforce is as shut and cohesive as potential all through the match.
“One of the best ways to come back collectively as a gaggle is to type of create that bubble, get rid of all the surface noise,” Naeher mentioned. “We’ve got all these expectations for ourselves. We don’t want any exterior issues. We’ve got excessive requirements. We wish to win.
“The extra that we will bond and are available collectively as a gaggle, you’ll have the ability to see that on the sector. I feel all that interprets into performances. You possibly can see the groups which are cohesive and you may see the groups that aren’t, and we wish to be a type of cohesive groups.”
Caitlin Murray is a contributor to Yahoo Sports activities and her ebook in regards to the U.S. ladies’s nationwide workforce, The Nationwide Group: The Inside Story of the Girls Who Modified Soccer, is out now. Observe her on Twitter @caitlinmurr.
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