Meghan Klingenberg, BAON, 6.22.16
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

By Any Other Name | Thorns FC goalkeeper coach Nadine Angerer interviews Meghan Klingenberg

Editor’s Note:

“What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O! Be some other name:
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,

Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.”

Thus spoke the famous words of a love-struck Juliet as she pined for her Romeo in Shakespeare’s famous play. In the Rose City, the phrase, “By Any Other Name” was adopted by supporters of Portland Thorns FC to represent the spirit of the team and the club. As Juliet points out, it’s not the name that should matter, it’s what’s inside that counts. And so too with the Thorns.

This year, we wanted to get to know more about the team and the players and go beyond what you see on the pitch. To help us, we thought, what better way to do that than have former Ballon d’Or winner, World Cup champion goalkeeper, Germany Women’s National Team legend and Thorns FC goalkeeping coach Nadine Angerer do a series of interviews with players to hear more about who they are in their words, what inspires them, and where their personal stories lead.

Just as we learn about each player’s story, we want to learn about your story. Now through July 13, 2016, Thorns FC fans have an opportunity to share their passion and love for the team by designing their own team t-shirt. The winning entry will be sold in the team store and the winner will also receive tickets and a VIP experience to the match against Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, July 30. Enter here and show us what your story is.

First up: defender Meghan Klingenberg.

NADINE ANGERER:  Who is Meghan Klingenberg?

MEGHAN KLINGENBERG:  Is that a real question?

ANGERER:  Yeah.

KLINGENBERG:  Wait. You’re not joking.

ANGERER:  No. Who is Meghan Klingenberg? I don’t know you. Who are you?

KLINGENBERG:  Meghan Klingenberg is a short, feisty, kind of sarcastic, likes-to-live-life-as-an-exclamation, soccer-playing, food-loving kind of gal.

Who enjoys spending time with family and is grateful for the life that I have because it’s pretty cool.

ANGERER:  Cool. What does friendship mean to you?

KLINGENBERG:  Oh, friendship. To me friendship is trying to understand the other person and having them try and understand you so you can form this bond of platonic love, where if something was to happen to your friend, or your friend needed you or whatever you would be there for them and you would put them before yourself. To me that’s what a real friendship is. Is being able to understand them so you can actually love them.

ANGERER:  What does traveling mean for you?

KLINGENBERG:  Oh, traveling is the worst. Everybody always talks about how I’m so lucky to travel. “It’s so cool you travel around the world.” I’m like, “Listen. Hotels around the world all look the same, and so do the inside of airplanes, and so do the inside of airports and buses and trains and automobiles and whatever.” I think that when I’m done with soccer I’d really like for the pace of my travel to slow down and to really enjoy places that I’m at. Because I love going out and finding cool coffee shops in cities, and looking at all the historic landmarks, and learning about the history of a city. But I don’t really get to do that because I have to worry about walking too much or being tired or going to a meeting later that day or whatever. To me traveling is just a form of getting to a place. It’s a mode of transportation as opposed to a form of pleasure.

ANGERER:  What are your top three countries that you want to go to for vacation? Like, “I want to go in these three countries because of this and this reason for vacation after my retirement in a hundred years.”

KLINGENBERG:  In a hundred years. I like that. Top three countries. I’d like to just go home for a while and rest up and enjoy there, with my family and my friends all close together in one place finally. I’d like to go to… Hmm… I really want to go to Italy because I have family there, and I want to visit them and I want to be able to visit Venice and have really good food and get a little bit fat and enjoy the wine and kind of the slower pace of life, I guess you could say. And then… where else would I like to go? I don’t know yet.

ANGERER:  Anywhere else?

KLINGENBERG:  I think that I’d really like to go to some place in South America. I haven’t decided where yet, but I really like the culture. I want to learn Spanish and I love salsa. I love their type of food. I love… I don’t know. Just the way the people interact there I think has this spicy flavor of life that maybe we don’t have up here in the north. So I think that would be really fun to go down and just enjoy that for a while.

ANGERER:  What makes Portland different compared to other cities in the U.S.? Because a lot of people say Portland is different, and I think so too, but what makes it different?

KLINGENBERG:  I don’t think I’ve been here long enough to really find out what makes it different, but straight off the bat, what I would say is it’s just a little bit weird. And when I say “weird” I mean that as a total compliment. I think that if you’re not weird, you’re boring. So to me, Portland is just a little bit off, a little bit weird. You never know what you’re going to get in your interactions with people or when you’re out to dinner or whatever. For instance, sometimes I cross the road, and if I was in Pittsburgh or New York, whatever, at least, at minimum I would get honked at. At most they might just hit you because you’re in the middle of the road. But here in Portland they’re like, “No, you go.” “No you go. After you.” And I’m like, “This is so weird.”

ANGERER:  Yeah. That’s true. I think so too. It’s really different. And what do you think about or what’s your first impression from the fans in the stadium when we had our first home game, for example?

KLINGENBERG:  So frigging cool. I mean, there’s no environment like that in the world. And even when we go off for national team duty and play in front of 30,000 people or whatever, you don’t get environments like that with grown men and women screaming their faces off, with flags, singing the whole time. Smoke bombs in the air when we score. Fireworks, whatever. That’s frigging cool. These people are like living and dying with us, and you can’t ask for a better environment than that. It’s like having another person on the field because when you’re tired it just lifts you up so you can do more.

ANGERER: Tell me about these MEGisodes. What are the MEGisodes?

KLINGENBERG:  What isn’t a MEGisode? I guess a MEGisode, when I was thinking about it back in the fall about wanting to do this I thought, “I want to have something where my fans or supporters can actually get to know me off the field.” Because when I do interviews for Portland or when I do interviews for the national team it’s so really soccer-related and soccer specific, and you’re getting to know me through the lens or the crest or whatever. And in MEGisodes, it’s basically me and one of my best friends being stupid and filming it and enjoying what we’re doing and enjoying life, and having other people and the fans that are watching enjoy it with us. And to me that’s a cool experience. And so I think it’s a little different than what other soccer players or NFL players or anybody else in the professional sphere does, and it’s a little bit original in that sense. And that’s why we really have so much fun doing it, because we have this cool connection with the fans.

ANGERER:  I was dying yesterday. I saw this one with the hair.

KLINGENBERG:  Did you like it?

ANGERER:  I actually had tears in my eyes.

KLINGENBERG:  I’m so glad. That was a good one, I thought.

ANGERER:  If you opened your own restaurant, what would you call it and what would it serve?

KLINGENBERG:  I think it would be called "Meghan." (pronounced MEE-gan)

ANGERER:  That’s so funny.

KLINGENBERG:  So it will be like Meghan’s Vegan. And we would serve really awesome vegan food. And I’m not sure what it would be, but I think there would be like lettuce wraps and I really like tempeh and things like that. So I think we would come up with really cool, different ways of doing vegan food. It might even be like fast food vegan, like French fries. They’re vegan French fries. Or vegan burgers. They would be delicious.

ANGERER:  Yeah, I love it. It’s a good idea actually.

What would you say about your time in Sweden and with Tyresö FF?

KLINGENBERG:  Oh, I love Sweden.

ANGERER:  Oh. A smile is on her face.

KLINGENBERG:  Stockholm is such a cool city. By far my favorite summer city in the world. (Besides Portland, of course). People don’t even work during summer. I don’t know how their economy runs from the month of June to the end of September. People just take so much time off and they’re just out in the parks drinking coffee, taking fika (Ed. Note: “Fika” is a Swedish concept akin to having coffee). Hanging out with their family. Having beer. Chilling. Playing with their dog. Whatever. And it’s all outside. And you’ll have sunlight from 3 in the morning until like 11 o’clock at night.

ANGERER:  Yeah, exactly.

KLINGENBERG:  So some people are like, “Oh, I don’t think I can sleep.” I had no problem. It was like the best time ever. I was so awake all the time. I had so much energy and so much life. And the people are at first really reserved, but once you get to know a Swede and once you get past that initial layer, I would say that they become a friend for life and they’re really incredible human beings and friendly people. So I can’t say enough good things about my time there.

ANGERER:  Would you play in another country in Europe?

KLINGENBERG:  Geez, I wouldn’t want to rule it out, but I love it here in Portland and I think it’s the best environment to grow in the United States, and one of the best environments to grow as a person and a player in the world. If it was up to me, and I hope it is, I hope this club wants me, that I would want to retire here and spend the rest of my time here because I think making a life here would be a really cool thing.

ANGERER:  And would you describe yourself as a supportive person for the younger players?

KLINGENBERG:  I try to be. I think I’m a bit hard on them but only because I know how much potential they have and how much focus it takes to reach a different level that you have inside of you. And I was that player when I was 21, 22 years old. I was pretty raw, didn’t think about the game as smart as probably I do now. And I just want them to be able to get there. Because I know if I can get them there and take them there, then not only will they be better for it, but our team will be better for it, and the future of soccer in this country will be better for it. So really thinking about investing in those players and making sure that they feel focused enough and good enough to perform to their best ability. I don’t need them to be world class right now. I just need them to have focus and try their best.

ANGERER:  One week on the beach or one week in the mountains?

KLINGENBERG:  Half the week at the beach, half a week at the mountains.

ANGERER:  No, no, no. [laughter] It’s not a diplomatic question.  

KLINGENBERG:  Oh, crap. Can I put the mountains on the beach? You know how they have the cliff mountains. Not just the beach. I don’t ever want to sit on a beach, but I think when there’s water and there’s the big cliffs and then you have… Almost like Hawaii. You have the mountains in the back…

ANGERER:  In New Zealand they have it, right?

KLINGENBERG:  Oh yeah, New Zealand too, but I always look a little more tropical, so I’m going to to go there.

ANGERER:  What kind of ability would you like to have and you don’t have it?

KLINGENBERG:  Like superhero ability?

ANGERER:  No, real life. For me, I would like to be able to sing or play an instrument.

KLINGENBERG:  Ah, got it. Yeah. I’d love to be able to sing. I think if I was able to sing that I would probably just up and quit soccer and try out for Broadway. Because musicals are one of my favorite things in the world and I just have zero, less than zero talent when it comes to singing.

I was actually in my high school musical, and I tried out. Totally bombed the tryout. So I’m like singing up there, I walk off stage, I’m about to cry because I know how poor that I did. And so when I went to check the list I thought for sure I wasn’t going to make it, it was like a week later. And I saw my name I was like, “Yea!”

I just found out last year that the only reason that I made it was because one of the soccer moms that her daughter played with me in high school on the soccer team was a teacher at the school. And she knew that I was trying out, she asked the choir teacher how I did and he’s like, “She was really bad. I don’t think we’re going to take her.” And the mom actually said, “I really think even if she isn’t good at singing, that she will bring something to the musical that you guys would lack if she wasn’t there.” Like, “She’d be a really good leader. She’d be a really good teammate. She’d be really good… She can do other things.” And she’s the only reason that I made it. [laughter]

ANGERER:  Did you give a thank you to her?

KLINGENBERG:  Oh yeah, I wrote her a very nice thank you note.

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