Thinking outside the Boxx

Shannon Boxx was dealt a surprise at the team hotel on Monday. She was told that Mia and Abby were in the hotel. Believing them to be Hamm and Wambach respectively, she was surprised to see two volunteers who have adopted the American names for themselves.

"It was so funny," she chuckled while being interviewed for "I was wondering whether it was a coincidence or a set-up! They told me that they were following the US team, so that's wonderful!

"No-one can replace Abby - on and off the field. We'll miss her obviously, but we have some great players who will be given a chance to come into the team. They've looked good in training and we have great confidence in them."

Playing for Pia
Training has been an enjoyable experience for the 30-year-old, who has found the transition from former coach Greg Ryan to his Swedish successor Pia Sundhage a smooth one.

"The biggest thing that Pia has brought to the team is passion," she said. "It was a tough way to end last year, but she came in during December and said: ‘I'm going to change some things. I hope you guys are excited about change.'

"Immediately, you could see a fun and passionate side to her - and this is reflected in the way we train and play. She makes you want to play for her and for your team-mates. The way she celebrates goals in training is infectious."

A golden era?
The USA were criticised in certain quarters for their long-ball tactics in China last year, but Boxx believes that entertaining fare will be served up, thanks to the new coach.

"It's going to be a good first game against Norway," she said. "I think every team in this tournament is good and no-one is going to have an easy game. We know we have to come out strong, but we've been training hard and we're ready to play some good football."

Another gold medal is the ultimate aim for the 2005 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year finalist, who tasted glory in Greece four years ago. Her sister, Gillian, won the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics with the US softball team, so with the Boxx girls currently tied at 1-1 in the gold medal stakes, the younger of the two is looking to get one over her sibling.

"It's not my only reason for getting another gold, but it's a good one," she laughed. "She's going to be here supporting me, as is my mom - and those two have supported me my entire life. Hopefully, I'll play well, and do what I came here to do - take another medal back home."