Tobin Heath, USWNT, 6.25.15
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World Cup Dispatch with Tobin Heath | On advancing to the quarterfinals and that dramatic Michelle Betos goal

The U.S. Women's National Team continued their run through the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup with a win Monday over Colombia 2-0 in the Round of 16. Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath made her second straight start in the tournament and put in an energetic full 90 minutes in the win. The U.S. next face China today (4:30pm PT, FOX).

Earlier this week, Heath chatted with PortlandThornsFC.com about the win, gave her thoughts on preparing for China and also talked about watching the Thorns 1-1 draw against FC Kansas City a week ago and seeing the dramatic stoppage time goal from Portland goalkeeper Michelle Betos. Suffice to say, the goal was noticed by many at the tournament in Canada.

Brian Costello:
Fresh off the big win, which we’ll talk about in a second, you’re now in Ottawa. You and the team are travelling so much across a very big country, how do you stay focused on the task at hand when you’re moving around so quickly and so frequently?

Tobin Heath: 
“First off, Ottawa is a very cool city. I didn’t know much about it so it’s been kind of fun exploring and seeing what the city has to offer, so in that way it’s very cool. But this is probably one our quickest turnarounds between games with travel. So in that way we’re trying to just sort of rest as quickly as we can because our opponent, China, had two extra recovery days than us, so we have to make sure that that’s our priority at this point.”

BC:
Personally, how do you stay centered?

TH:
“They keep us on a pretty tight schedule here. We have a few hours sometimes to go out with our families which is really nice, but for the most part we’re just getting in our recovery strategies and putting our feet up as much as possible and I think thinking about what we want to do moving forward.”

BC:
Let’s talk about Colombia. Big game, obviously. Some ups and downs. But the important part is you won. You got the win. You moved on. What were your thoughts on the game?

TH:
“I think that is the important part, is that we won and we’re moving on. I think Colombia presented a number of different things. There wasn’t much fluidity to [the game], for various reasons, but I think at the end of the day we were happy to be moving on but we still are searching for a better performance.”

BC:
How important and clutch was Alex Morgan’s goal? Not just the fact that it was a goal, but coming kind of on the heels of the PK miss and then she comes out and gets that goal.

TH:
“Alex’s goal was huge, and I’m really excited for her that she got that goal. I feel like it kind of takes a weight off her shoulders and it just helps her gain more confidence now going into these next few games hopefully. So in that way we’re really excited. And she’s always bringing those or giving us those clutch goals that allow us and put us into a better position. So that was obviously a really important goal for us.”

BC:
You’ve got your next game now against China which is a rematch of the ’99 Women’s World Cup final from long ago. What kind of challenge do you think that team presents?

TH:
“I think China is an interesting team. They obviously deserve to be this far in the tournament. I think they’re a very organized team, that we haven’t really played a team like them yet in this World Cup. And I think having obviously Megan [Rapinoe] and Lauren [Holiday] unable to play because of the yellow cards presents us with another challenge. But I think overall everybody’s looking forward to the match and looking forward to kind of continue this journey and see what more we can bring to the table.”

BC:
You mentioned Megan and Lauren, and that was actually going to be my next question. Obviously they’re out, but I know Jill Ellis has talked about it, and many of the players have talked about the depth of your team. How do you think that will come into play, and what kind of advantage do you think that gives you in a situation like this?

TH:
“We’re so fortunate because, like you said, our depth and our experience are huge factors. And it just shows how important they are in a tournament like this because of certain situations that can happen. And so as unfortunate as it is that [Megan and Lauren] are unable to play, we also know and we have full confidence in our bench and the players that maybe haven’t played that much in the tournament so far because we’re pretty deep, which is amazing, and it might be good to get some fresh legs out there as well.”

BC: 
“Do you think having the fact that so many of those players play in the NWSL that it contributes to that ability to have that depth and talent?

TH: 
“I think so, and I think just the familiarity that we have with each other and the confidence we have in each other. I mean, if you look at our bench, our bench alone could field an amazing team that probably could take on our starters which is incredible, and could be their own national team. So in that way we’re super fortunate. And everybody knows what these players are capable of because they get to see it in the NWSL day in and day out. So in that way, I think the familiarity helps but I also think the experience and just the talent that we have is something that no other team has.”

BC:
Let’s talk a little bit more about the NWSL. Obviously, it sounds like you saw, the dramatic goal last week from Michelle Betos. You tweeted about it. Many teammates tweeted about it. Abby Wambach tweeted about it. Were you all watching the game?
 

TH: 
“I think everybody was following the game in some way, and I think there was kind of like an uproar, and it’s kind of those things that once one person saw it or was talking about it everybody else was talking about it. I think it was awesome, and I just love Michelle. So it was really cool to see her do something special that you don’t see too much in the game.”

BC: 
How did you first find out about it?

TH: 
“I don’t know if it was somebody had told me or I had just been reading about it, I don’t even know. But I found out about it shortly after it had happened. I think there was like a massive explosion on social media or something about it. It was pretty cool.”

BC:
Had you seen anything like that ever before?

TH: 
“To be honest, I don’t think I had seen anything like that, which makes it really special. I mean, I’m sure it’s happened before, but to not only see something unique in the game happen but to see it come out of the Portland Thorns was really neat.”

BC: 
Is it kind of fun also have, as much as you’re in the zone there, to still be… I know we talked about this last week, but to still be able to follow soccer just on an everywhere level? Whether it’s men’s, women’s, your teammates there, here, it sounds like that’s something you guys still are very much a part of.

TH: 
"Definitely. Whenever I’m not in Portland I’m always following the Thorns and cheering for the Thorns, and I still feel connected to them when I’m not there. And I’m a huge fan in general. Not just am I a player of the Thorns, I’m a huge fan of them too.”

BC: 
Did you get a chance to talk to Michelle?

TH: 
No, I haven’t spoken with her. Have you talked to her?

BC: 
Michelle spoke in the postgame press conference. But I think one of my favorite quotes actually came from Allie Long. She said, “I was talking to Michelle and she said in the moment she just had to keep reminding herself, ‘Don’t use your hands, don’t use your hands!’”

TH: 
[laughing] “That’s funny.”

BC: 
We did another interview with Michelle and she says, “So I didn’t really know what was happening,” and then she said, “And another part of me is thinking, ‘I have to run back. I have to get back in goal because they’re going to kick off here any second.’” And she’s like, “Meanwhile, Allie’s like strangling me…”

TH: 
“She keeps running back.”

BC: 
“… and everybody wants to celebrate.” You know, so…

TH: 
“That’s so fun. Typical goalkeeper.”

BC: 
Exactly. She’s says, “I don’t like goals. I don’t like watching goal highlights. I watch goal highlights and think about how I could save them.” And she said, “And I watched that highlight and thought, ‘How would I save that?’”

TH: 
“Oh, my gosh. That’s so funny. She’s so cute.”

BC: 
I’d never seen anything like it. It was pretty wild.

TH: 
“I know. I mean, you always see like at the end of the game goalkeepers going up but you never–I mean, I can’t remember a time where I’ve seen them actually score.”

BC: 
I think somebody asked [Thorns FC head coach] Paul Riley and he joked, “Yeah, we work on that all the time.”

TH: 
[laughs] “Of course he did.”

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