The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team is kicking off 2020 on the right foot – with a training camp in Tampa.
After reigning supreme at the last two World Cups, the champions have their sights set on a new goal: the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“It’s really mostly about breaking the barriers and getting better and always kind of looking towards that thing that’s never been done,” said Megan Rapinoe.
Fresh off being named sportsperson of the year for Sports Illustrated and the winner of the golden boot, Megan Rapinoe is hoping for a hat trick with an Olympic medal in 2020.
“I don’t know if I’ve quite had time to really reflect. That will probably come in like 10 years,” she said. “But it’s been incredible.”
New coach Vlatko Andonovski has an even bigger vision for the team after taking over for Jill Ellis, who stepped down in October.
“It’s the best team in the world. The team won two World Cups and they’re expected to win and I was aware of it, and I was willing to accept the challenge, and obviously going forward we’re going to try to win every game,” she said.
Out of the star-studded lineup of 26 athletes, Andonovski will have the tough task of choosing only 20 women to move forward to the Concacaf Olympic qualifiers. The two teams to make the final will then head to Tokyo.
And they'll have to bring it again for the Olympics. No team has ever won the World Cup and then the Olympics back to back.
“That is the goal now, starting into the new year and into the new decade, is to keep that same mentality and push forward with this team and figure out how we can win back to back finally at the Olympics.”
After celebrating her marriage to teammate Ashlynn Harris at Miami's Viscaya, Ali Krieger and her team continue their fight for equality off the soccer pitch—both for LGBT rights and equal pay for women.
“I think we use our voice to especially during the tournament at the highest stage where everyone is listening and for people who don’t have a voice we need to speak up and we need to continue to fight for those important issues to create change,” Kreiger said. “You can’t create change staying in your lane.”
And as these soccer champions train in our backyard in Tampa, they are inspiring some local talent too.
“It feels awesome to know that the U.S. team is right here training. I mean, these are the girls that I look up to. They’re at the point where I want to be one day, so I definitely look up to them.”
A healthy dose of internal competition keeping these players on their toes as they hope to add one more accolade to their list.
“We’re here to achieve the task at hand and to win and that’s the ultimate goal and hopefully we’re [going to] be successful at that once again.”
“You’re never really satisfied with winning. Winning is just sort of the basement and then foundation of this team. So it’s always about getting better."