USA and Brazil have contested some epic encounters through the years, and this Sunday's FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™ quarter-final in Dresden promises to be no different.
After suffering defeat at the hands of the South Americans in the semi-finals of China 2007, Heather O'Reilly is determined to make amends this time around. FIFA.com caught up with the 26-year-old midfielder for an exclusive chat about the rivalry between these two powerhouses of women's football.
FIFA.com: How would you rate your team's performances so far at Germany 2011?
Heather O'Reilly: I think we showed some really good stuff in our first two games and scored a lot of goals. We're proud of our results. Obviously we didn't get the result we were looking for against Sweden, but we're pretty confident based on our performances so far. We're very happy with the variety of goals we've been scoring – from set pieces, long-range shots and crosses – and also that different people have been scoring.
This is your second FIFA Women’s World Cup and you crowned it with a marvellous goal against Colombia. How do you rate your own performances so far?
I think I've been solid. I could have played better but I’m nursing an injury right now. It was frustrating that I couldn’t help the team in our third game against Sweden. Hopefully I'll be fine for the next game and I can continue to raise my level. I'm very proud of that goal.
Let's focus on your next opponents, Brazil. You've faced them several times in the past. Can you tell us a little about the rivalry between the two teams?
We have a lot of respect for each other’s abilities. I think we have different styles of play. We don’t play Brazil very often but when we do it seems it's always in these huge matches. That’s what makes the rivalry so exciting. We've got to know some of the girls from the WPS [Women's Professional Soccer League], so that's changed the dynamic a little because we all get along away from the pitch. Still, on the field it's very competitive.
You faced Brazil in the semi-finals of the last FIFA Women's World Cup. How well do you remember that game, and will there be an element of déjà-vu on Sunday?
Of course I remember that game. You don’t forget a 4-0 defeat too quickly! It's definitely not a déjà-vu feeling in a bad sense. We were able to rebound and beat Brazil in the Olympic final a year later, but 2007 is a long time ago now. We're hungry to face them again and I hope the result will be very different this time around.
What are the main differences between the USA team of 2007 and today's squad?
Obviously we've changed our coaching staff. That's the biggest difference. Pia [Sundhage] has emphasised a possession-oriented attack, focusing more on our rhythm and attack. We still have a few players who were there in 2007 and we're carrying that experience with us this time around.
Where does the team need to improve in order to beat Brazil and reach the semi-finals?
We've been creating some wonderful chances. In the first two games we could have scored more goals than we did. Against Sweden we created some decent chances but we didn't finish them off. If we can focus on our finishing in the box then we can be successful.
Finally, what are your general impressions of the tournament so far?
It's absolutely amazing. I'm having the time of my life. To see the support for the women’s game here in Germany has been very inspiring as a player. You train every single day back home and an event like this makes it all worth it. It's such an incredible tournament.