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“This group will probably never be together again”: Mixed Zone Quotes From USWNT 1-1 South Korea

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USWNT players share their thoughts on the end of an era

Shaina Benhiyoun Photography

As we wrote in our report from Jill Ellis’ last press conference as head coach of the United States Women’s National Team, there was a definite air of melancholy hanging over everybody.

The big story was, of course, Ellis. But a number of USWNT players will likely hang it up after this year as well. With a new coach coming in, the squad they take to Japan for the 2020 Summer Olympics will likely look very different from what we saw this past summer.

That was the main theme from most players I talked to today after the game— this group was special, and they’re never going to all be together again.

Here are some quotes from the mixed zone.

Julie Ertz’s perspective on the game

“I think it was a little disappointing, in the sense that, obviously we want to win and send off Jill [Ellis] on a high note. I think the second half was a little better, we came out a little slow in the beginning, but, you know, it’s been a long, long year for us. So with the second half, I’m really proud of the girls who came in, I think we had a lot of game-changers that came in. We definitely had an opportunity to win the game and couldn’t put it away. So unfortunately we couldn’t get Jill a win, and that was really important for us today. A lot of tears shed, but also a lot of excitement, and just a good day to celebrate.”

Carli Lloyd, on what qualities made Ellis such an exceptional coach

“I think she’s put us in a position to be dominant. Whatever personnel we’ve had out there, she’s kind of pushed that envelope and pushed players to get better. She’s brought in a lot of younger players to get that experience. You know, we’ve won a ton with her, and that’s a good thing. It rubs off on people.”

Ertz, on what messages her and the other players shared with Ellis

“Honestly, the biggest thing is just: thank you. I think the hardest thing is, she’s done so much, not just for us, but for women’s soccer, we know that. Again, I think it’s just like, thank you, because of all that she’s had to do, she’s been here for a really really long time and has invested so much in us and the growth of this team. It’s a weird time now. We know that she’s going to do great things, but it honestly hasn’t settled in yet, and [won’t] until a new coach comes in. Right now it’s just time to celebrate with her and have her be here. But it’ll definitely be different.”

Tierna Davidson, on Ertz’ contributions to both club and country

“I think she’s been incredible to both teams and an incredible teammate, and that’s why she plays so many minutes. She’s always been there when you need her, defensively and offensively, she’s incredibly sharp and really good at pushing the team to raise our level. I think her energy on the field is something that’s noticeable when she’s there.”

Lloyd, on whether the team was running on fumes

“I think everybody is kind of at different stages. [Some players were] battling injuries. It’s tough, there’s a lot of things going on, people are busy, so I think it’s a lot of different things. Now the Victory Tour’s done, we’ll see what that next chapter brings with the new coach, and go from there.”

Ertz, on the team’s emotional state

“It’s just kind of part of the team. We always have something else, another game, another tournament that comes along. So it’s not so much closing and switching, I think right now it’s finding that mental side to be able to relax and get a break and kind of reset, because I think that’s really important. I think the Victory Tour is amazing, to be able to celebrate together. But I think now it’s just, mentally, that is going to be a big thing. I think now is just about getting your body and your mind right, because [2019] was such a whirlwind. What we learned in 2015 is: you need a break.”

Megan Rapinoe, on the ‘Equal Pay’ chants during the game

“I mean, [it’s] really cool. Kind of a late-notice marketing campaign. It is really amazing. We’ve had the ‘Equal Pay’ chants, obviously, from the World Cup final, it’s happening every game, it’s happening in all our markets. It’s more than just equal pay, it’s more than just the basics of economics. People want a better, fairer, more equitable society in general. We’re sort of the vehicle to talk about it right now, which, obviously, you get further away from the World Cup you get a bit more perspective. That’s one of the amazing things about the World Cup, because now we get to use this incredible tournament and something that we love so much to talk about something that’s so much bigger and affects so many more people. It’s pretty amazing to be able to do that and to know that we’re part of that, to see that, to realize that, yes, we’re fighting for it, but everyone else is as well.”

Casey Short, on what today meant for everybody

“This group will probably never be together again. So it means a lot. It’s pretty special to have one last game together and one last goodbye.”

Davidson, on balancing her obligations to the USWNT and the Chicago Red Stars

“I think this has been a long journey for everybody. Everyone’s feeling knocks here and there, and everyone’s just trying to manage it. Some people’s seasons are ending, some people’s seasons are continuing in the playoffs. I really think it’s just about managing everybody’s minutes and trying to get the most out of people without pushing it too far. I think we’re lucky to walk off the field healthy and be able to go back to our clubs.”

Lloyd, on resetting

“Like I said, I think everyone’s on different pages, some are in playoffs, some are not in playoffs. So I think it’s going to be one of those things where, now we can kind of hit the reset button. A coach will be announced at some point, then it’s just kind of getting back into that re-focus mode. I’m looking forward to one more game with Sky Blue [FC] and then starting the rebuilding phase.”

Davidson, on managing her workload

“I would say it’s just about taking it one game, one camp at a time. Looking too far into the future, it becomes a little bit daunting. Our coach Rory [Dames] at Chicago really does a good job about making sure we’re managing our bodies and what we need to get done with the national team and then also Chicago, and then really combining what we need to work on with ourselves and what the team needs to work on to try to get the most out of one more practice.”

Rapinoe, on how the USWNT got such a bigger platform to promote causes

“2015-2019 certainly made our voices bigger. I think that we would, just in general. I think the history of this team kind of proves that. They’ve always been fighting for their fair place, fighting for more, trying to grow the sport. Just doing everything that the team can, to not only bring more attention to the sport, but just, in general, women’s sports and women’s equity. Obviously I think ‘15-’19 gave us turbo boosters for it, and I’m grateful for that, but I think we’d probably be doing that anyway.”

Short, on playing in front of the hometown crowd

“Unbelievable. There’s no words to describe it. 36 hours ago I didn’t think I’d be here. So to be here and play, it’s pretty special to be able to play in front of my friends and family half a mile from my house. It’s kind of crazy.”

Lloyd, on the upcoming offseason

“I think for me the offseason is very, very important, where I rebuild myself. Continue to push on, get better. All good things. And we’ll see what happens with the new coach.”

Rapinoe, on what she will miss about this year, World Cup cycle, and group

“A lot, I think. You go through something like this, it’s such an intimate environment in so many ways. You’re with these people more than you’re with anyone else, and you’re also with them in a very vulnerable way. Everyone’s just doing it to reach this one goal, and everything else just gets stripped away. There’s really no room for ego, or personal achievements, or whatever it is. It’s like, everyone has to be on board to actually achieve what you’re doing. We have a really incredible, special group to do that. So just, having all of that, knowing you’re a part of that, the players and staff get to be a part of that, it’s tough to lose it.”