July 25, 2012
Boca Raton, FL - This could be another gold-medal summer for the United States women's soccer team in the 2012 London Olympics. On the eve of the start for this international event, FAUSports.com caught up with Florida Atlantic University Head Women's Soccer Coach Brian Dooley and Assistant Coach Staci Wilson on their thoughts on this year's Olympic women's soccer tournament.
Dooley has been leading the Owls since 1999 and been a fixture coaching soccer in the South Florida area for the last 20 years. He is very familiar with many players on this year's U.S. Olympic team after helping the magicJack Women's Professional Soccer Team play games last summer at the FAU Soccer Stadium. Florida Atlantic also has hosted several past U.S. national and Major League Soccer men's soccer teams' exhibition matches and practices.
Meanwhile, Wilson earned a gold medal as a defender for the U.S. Olympic team in the 1996 Olympics, the first to include women's soccer as a sport. She won two professional championships and three NCAA Division I national championships while playing at the University of North Carolina. Wilson has brought those experiences and coaching talents to the FAU women's soccer team for the 2012 season.
The coaches provide insight on a variety of topics by addressing the following questions:
Q: What are your expectations for the United States' team in this year's Olympics?
Dooley and Wilson: "As always expectations are pretty high for the United States team, but this year we expect a higher quality performance in terms of tactics than in previous years. The U.S. has been criticized in the past for using athleticism over technical skill and the loss to Japan in last year's World Cup illustrated their point. We think that the U.S. has made those adjustments to their formation and style to address these criticisms. Fans will see more technical and tactical techniques than usual on offense. The team, however, is suspect on defense."
Dooley and Wilson: "Japan as the reigning world champion must be respected and most importantly not to be underestimated. They are not "the" team to beat but still a good team to beat."
Q: What are some other countries that could contender for a podium finish this summer?
Dooley and Wilson: "Other than USA and Japan, teams such as France and Brazil are teams to watch out for in the tournament. France played outstanding possession soccer with flair in last year's World Cup and has a nice chance. Brazil is always full of talent as shown by the team earning so many second and third place finishes in world competition. They seem hungry for the title plus the fact that the team has been working on its defense, a weakness of the team, in preparation for this Olympics makes them a contender. Another strong contender would have been Germany, but they did not qualify for the Olympics because they were knocked out early in last year's World Cup by Japan."
Q: Are there any countries that are rising on the international women's soccer scene and might have a surprising performance this year?
Dooley and Wilson: "No, except for Canada. They haven't won any major championships but are rising and appear to be in a good place as a team."
Q: What players for the U.S. women's soccer team could become household names in the sport by the end of this summer's Olympic Games?
Dooley and Wilson: "Alex Morgan seems to be most positioned to walk away a bigger star."
Q: What makes Olympic soccer so special and winning a gold medal such a wonderful experience?
Dooley and Wilson: "If you are in the Olympics you know that you did something right. We all like validation of our efforts and winning the gold medal is the ultimate reward/feeling/validation of the passion and hard work you put into preparing for the competition. The world stage and the support from people across the world make for it where there is not much that can compare in the sports world."
Q: Assess the status of the U.S. women's soccer team on the world stage?
Dooley and Wilson: "They are still one of the best. They have to work harder to maintain that status now. Many other countries have developed since the first World Cup in 1991 and the first Olympics in 1996. The next year will be telling for the USA as there will be retirements of veterans and a changing of the guard so to speak. It will be interesting to see who takes over."
FAU players will report to begin practice for the fall season later this month. The 2012 schedule begins with a match against in-state foe Jacksonville University on August 17, at 7 p.m., at the FAU Soccer Stadium, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton campus.