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On the phone with Hope, Abby, Pia...

I was on a conference call today with Pia Sundhage, Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Ali Krieger and Rachel Buehler. They spoke to reporters for more than an hour. How refreshing to talk to such thoughtful, bright, spunky, and patriotic athletes. No egos. No attitudes. It's no wonder the nation has fallen for them. This team has forged its own identity and broken free of the large shadow of the 1999 team.

By the way, there were 90 reporters on the call. Big difference from the early 1990s, when the US women had to fax the game results to their families because there was no print or TV coverage (not to mention Twitter, Facebook, etc..)

Look to Sunday's Miami Herald (and website) for lots of pre-game coverage. In the meantime, a few nuggets from the conference call...

Hope Solo on comparisons with the '99 team: "Our team is so incredibly different from that team, the game's come so far since then, but we have nothing but respect for them. They paved the path for us.''

Pia Sundhage on the team spirit: "We have an incredible atmosphere in the locker room. It's a little bit crazy, to be honest. There is a lot of singing. We win with great heart, and together we will make this dream come true.''

Abby Wambach on the response from fans back home: "Technology has allowed us the opportunity to see the response with our own eyes. We can see people jumping out of their seats during the Brazil game, people tweeting, texting, posting on Facebook, every mode of technology. We feel that energy, the energy of millions of people supporting us back home, and that's an amazing thing. It might propel us to victory. We hope they all watch. No matter what the result is, we're gonna make America proud.''

Rachel Buehler on Japan's team: "They are incredibly technical, great passing game, crafty. They're not sending in air balls. They rely on their skill on the ball and we have to be ready.''