Sunday, May 9

‘So competitive it’s ridiculous’: will the American influx benefit the women of England? | England women’s soccer team


When the Lionesses step onto the pitch at St George’s Park for a friendly with Northern Ireland on Tuesday, it will be almost a year since they last played.

In late February 2020, Phil Neville was preparing his then England team to face the United States, in the SheBelieves Cup, for the first time since their defeat in the World Cup semi-finals against the all-conquering team.

They lost 2-0 and would finish last in the mini-tournament having scored just one goal: a late goal from Ellen White that secured a win against Japan sandwiched by the loss of the United States and a 1-0 loss to Spain.

The decision of six US World Cup champions to swap the NWSL for the Women’s Super League has strengthened the league and given a large number of England players the opportunity to play alongside players they have only defeated once (at the 2017 SheBelieves Cup).

For Manchester City left-back Alex Greenwood and forward White, the arrival of Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle in the summer and Abby Dahlkemper last month has helped lift the air of invincibility around the USWNT and given them little insight. common “serial winners” mentality. Which are favorites for Olympic gold in the summer.

“Even in training they have high standards, high demands not just on the team but on themselves, which is brilliant,” says Greenwood. “It’s good for the young ladies on our team to see what it takes to be as successful as they are. They have been brilliant and fantastic people first and foremost, but just serial winners and incredible mindsets. “

White, who scored the late winning goal against the USA in 2017 and England’s goal in the 2-1 semi-final loss in France, adds: “They are so competitive it’s ridiculous. There’s not a time in training where they don’t keep score, which can be very frustrating if you’re not on the winning team.

Ellen White is fouled by Becky Sauerbrunn in the 2019 World Cup semi-final. Abby Dahlkemper (right) is now a teammate at Manchester City.
Ellen White is fouled by Becky Sauerbrunn in the 2019 World Cup semi-final. Abby Dahlkemper (right) is now a teammate at Manchester City. Photograph: Richard Sellers / PA

“Their winning mentality, their competitiveness, their drive every day, they want to develop, those are the main things I get out of them.

“I feel very fortunate to be part of a squad where they are my teammates at the moment and not have to face them, only in training. They are pushing me to be better and hopefully we are pushing them to be better, it’s a mutual thing. “

Greenwood, however, urges caution regarding the idea that playing with the American trio could help uncover the secret to their international success. “When you go with your national team, a lot of things change,” he says. “You play with a different formation, you have different ambitions, I guess. Then maybe we will understand them a little more [from] playing against them, playing with them, their mentality, their way of thinking at certain moments of the game. But when it’s England vs America, honestly speaking, I think all of that goes out the window. To be honest, I can’t wait to play them again. “

Making the Team GB cut for the Olympics and having a chance to challenge the United States will not be easy. With a team of just 18 traveling to Tokyo and players from other home nations in dispute, versatility will be a selling point and Greenwood has benefited from injuries and experimentation at City, having spent part of the season as a central defender. .

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“I think it helps,” she says. “It is not something I have come in and said. The positions just fell on me when I signed for City. [The manager Gareth Taylor] He has been brilliant with me, he has set out his expectations of me as a center back, as a left back, and I think it’s quite easy for our team to adapt to both positions.

Greenwood, whose World Cup call-up was criticized because he played in the Championship with Manchester United and who suffered a lack of regular playing time in Lyon last season, is thriving. He can’t wait to play for England again.

“It’s been too long,” she says. “Maybe sometimes I take it for granted that I wear an England jersey. It is something we should never do. Going 12 months without a competitive game has been tough as a team ”.


www.theguardian.com

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