Back for a second season in the Rose City, goalkeeper Michelle Betos is among a core of returning players for Thorns FC in 2015. She talked about her offseason in Denmark, how she developed a love of the game, her soccer-playing father and the excitement of the upcoming season with the Women's World Cup on the horizon in a preseason Q&A.
How was your offseason?
I got a really great opportunity to go play in Denmark. I played for Fortuna Hjørring, we played in the Danish league and Champions League. We had some great competition in Champions League, so those games were awesome for me. I can't say enough good things about that club. I got to do individuals every morning, the coaches were really dedicated to developing us; it was just a welcoming team. I had a lot of fun over there.
You've played professionally in a few different countries. How have those experience helped shape you as a person and as a professional?
They've helped shape me a lot. Everywhere you go, coaches have different styles, philosophies, and I've taken something from everywhere I've gone. The team I was just at in Denmark, they were very, very tactically aware. We did a lot of video sessions, and, for me, that was great. They also relied on their 'keeper to play with their feet, so that was good for me to be in that environment, especially because that is something that Paul [Riley] really values. I've taken something from everywhere I've been, and it's been really beneficial.
What is your soccer story? When did you first get started playing the game? When did playing professionally become a goal of yours?
My start to soccer... one of my friends was playing in school. My Dad actually played professionally, but I didn't realize that until I was much older; they never pushed me to play. But, I actually ended up playing with boys. One day they asked who wanted to be goalkeeper. I asked if you had to run, they said, 'no.' [And] I've really never left.
I actually grew up dreaming of playing in the WNBA. I really wanted to play basketball in college and after. Then I got to high school and met Paul; kind of just showed up as a basketball player at my club. Then I just fell in love with [soccer] and ever since, it's all I've wanted to do.
Where did your Dad play?
He played in Greece. I won't even pretend to pronounce it, because I can't. He was a goalkeeper, too. He never told me that. A little bit when I was younger, he would offer me advice, but I ignored it. My goalkeeper coach would end up telling me the same thing, and he would just shake his head. He's always been supportive.
There is a lot of excitement around the 2015 season, especially with it being a World Cup year. What's the vibe in camp like about the upcoming campaign?
I think there is so much excitement. The core group returning, we're just so happy to be here. The girls who have been in the league, we know we have a great opportunity ahead of us and we're all so excited to be back. This is the best place to play in the world, so we are all so lucky in that sense. But there is also so much excitement in camp, there are so many girls trying out. It's kind of cool to be on the other side, to be here for a few years, to be in the league for a few years and know what they are going through, how nervous and excited they are. It's a really cool environment right now.
You are among the core of returning players this season. How important is having that continuity heading into the season?
I think the relationships among the core we have back, and also the new girls already, I think that's what going to be key. Paul said in our first meeting that we have good people here. If nothing else, we have good people here and we all genuinely care about each other. It seems like all the girls, even the ones trying out, respect what we are about here, they are really invested and they really want to be here. Everyone is really getting along in a tough environment. I think that's going to be really big. When our backs are against the wall, we'll push for each other.