REIMS, France — When U.S. ladies’s nationwide workforce gamers took questions from the media on Sunday, it rapidly grew to become clear probably 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 strain, a reporter requested?
“I haven’t been on social media since we left New York, so I’m not likely certain what’s happening,” mentioned goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, shrugging.
“Identical,” mentioned midfielder Julie Ertz. “They’ve mainly 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 just a few ft from Ertz, Naeher was being requested about – you guessed it – Solo.
“Clearly she has an unbelievable legacy,” Naeher mentioned. “She was an incredible participant for this workforce and she or he was an incredible goalkeeper. She represented this workforce for a really very long time at a excessive degree and she or he was among the finest goalkeepers on the earth for a very long time. I’ve lots of respect for the profession that she had.”
With the People set to kick off their World Cup on Tuesday towards Thailand and looking out like locks to cruise via the group stage, the drama and intrigue surrounding the workforce has needed to come from elsewhere. Solo, because of her off-field bluntness and on-field success, provides 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 purpose 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 each time requested, Naeher’s teammates have been fast to defend the workforce’s new beginning goalkeeper towards the comparisons that principally really feel like criticisms.
In keeping with fellow goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, the gamers tune it out now.
“There are lots of nice goalkeepers previously who’ve pioneered the place, however we’re about transferring ahead and we’re about what’s happening now,” Harris instructed reporters final month. “We’re in a very good place. We now have excellent goalkeepers. Everybody will all the time 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 ft, 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 provides us confidence figuring out how prepared she is.”
Lately, when the touring press corps asks a query about an outdoor issue – and Solo could be very a lot on the skin since being kicked off the workforce in 2016 – the gamers discuss their “bubble.” That’s precisely what they did in 2015 when requested relentlessly concerning the USWNT’s poor type within the early rounds of the match.
Naeher says it’s not concerning 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 form of create that bubble, remove all the skin noise,” Naeher mentioned. “We now have all these expectations for ourselves. We don’t want any outdoors issues. We now have excessive requirements. We need to win.
“The extra that we are able to bond and are available collectively as a gaggle, you’ll have the ability to see that on the sector. I believe all that interprets into performances. You may see the groups which might be cohesive and you’ll see the groups that aren’t, and we need to be a type of cohesive groups.”
Caitlin Murray is a contributor to Yahoo Sports activities and her e book concerning the U.S. ladies’s nationwide workforce, The Nationwide Staff: The Inside Story of the Girls Who Modified Soccer, is out now. Comply with her on Twitter @caitlinmurr.
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