Veteran players and younger rising stars fill the rosters of the various national teams competing this year in the Women's World Cup soccer tournament in the United States. The defending champion U.S. team is similar to many others in the tournament, where veteran players have one last chance at winning the top prize in their sport.
Shannon MacMillan feels lucky just to be on the U-S team. She has fully recovered from a ligament tear in her knee and can run and play as she did before her injury. Like many of the well-known U-S veterans, this World Cup will likely be her last. But instead of being saddened by the looming end of a great career, MacMillan says the feeling she shares with her experienced teammates resembles the younger players taking part in their first World Cup.
"If you get to be in our locker room before the game, people are singing and dancing. I think we have taken 500 pictures. It is just really a great blend, because everyone is so excited," she says. "And with each game, the excitement's building. And you get on our charter flight, and you would think we are 10-year-old kids on our first flight. We are just loving it, and everyone is enjoying the ride."
Captain Julie Foudy is playing in her 16th year with the U.S. national team, and says an inspiration from the 1999 World Cup for her and the other veterans continues to be.
"This great atmosphere playing in the United States; there is nothing like it. You step out on the field -- we stepped out at Columbus (Sunday), and the place goes crazy," Foudy says. "And you cannot match that anywhere else. So, I feel that we are very fortunate to play in front of our fans again, and great enthusiasm."
The U.S. women are ranked Number One in the world, and remain poised to repeat the magical run they made in the World Cup four years ago.