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USWNT Oct 25, 2014

Christie Rampone celebrates 300 caps in style as USWNT qualifies for World Cup

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CHESTER, Pa. — It was a night of celebration at PPL Park for a number of reasons in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, as the United States Women’s National Team celebrated another qualification for the World Cup, and their captain Christie Rampone earned her 300th cap for the senior side.

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It is a career that began in 1997 for the Sky Blue FC defender, and has seen her play in four World Cups and four Olympic Games, taking the top prize in the 1999 World Cup as well as the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Even after all this time at the top of international soccer, she still has a great deal of hunger to succeed and continue winning with the national side.

“I’ve been playing this game for so long, and to have another shot at [the World Cup] with this team, I think we’ve been excelling and we’ve had to have the right mindset and the right focus on this journey, because there’s going to be a lot of preparation and we’re going to have some ups and downs through the process,” Rampone told reporters after the game.

“It’s just about staying on top of it and staying confident and going and peaking at the right time is essential for this team. The team has a lot of depth, we’re a great team, it’s just about making sure we’re in the right rhythm, the right focus at the right time.”

She will get her chance in a fifth World Cup after the USA eased past Mexico 3-0 thanks to a brace from Carli Lloyd and another from Christen Press. Rampone made her debut with the team in 1997 against Australia, and has seen a tremendous evolution in the women’s game both on and off the field. Now, she feels that it is stronger than ever in terms of the standard of play.

“It’s an honor to be able to play for this team 300 times, especially a game like today that was more meaningful that is not just about the 300 but is about advancing to the World Cup,” she said. “It’s been a journey. I went from the shy quiet girl forward, to being converted to a defender, to coming into a leadership role, to having that confidence excelling at outside back.

“The game has evolved so much, from the fitness levels, the speed, the vision, the skill, the technical ability on the ball. I’m just really excited to be a part of the growth of women’s soccer and will hopefully continue on.”

Rampone trails only Kristine Lilly in the all-time appearances record books for the USWNT, who made 352 appearances between 1987 and 2010. The current captain was given a diamond necklace by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) as a reward for her years of service, but still feels she is learning even at the age of 39.

Under head coach Jill Ellis, the USWNT have played with a different formation and experimented with different personnel, and that is something that Rampone has relished even in the autumn of her playing career.

“When you reminisce with the girls, you bring up old memories and they start coming back,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of amazing players and tremendous coaches that have paved the way for me and brought me to where I am today.

“Continuing to learn is the best thing about this sport, knowing I’m almost turning 40 and still learning the game, a whole new formation shape. It’s exciting, it’s exciting to have a refresher with Jill coming in and changing the formation and demanding more from me. You’re never complacent on this team, and that’s what I love about it.”

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