By Janee Law
One year after her dream of playing with the U.S. Women's National soccer team in the World Cup was “taken away” from her, Northport native Allie Long has been selected to join the team for its upcoming campaign at the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Long, who was cut from the national squad prior to its 2015 World Cup win, got the call to try out for the Olympic roster in April 2016 after she re-evaluated herself as a player and worked on every aspect of her game.
“Every weakness I wanted to perfect,” she said. “And I wanted to do everything I could to get back with the team.”
On July 12, Long’s dream came true when head coach Jill Ellis called to congratulate her on making the 18-player squad.
“To make the team after being cut, with such a small roster, when everyone said it was impossible, was by far the most rewarding feeling,” Long, 28, said. “I prayed for that phone call and worked for it. It was awesome.”
The USWNT is set to face its first Olympic competitor, New Zealand, on Wednesday, Aug. 3. It’ll be broadcast on NBC Universal and NBC Sports Network at 6 p.m.
In a statement, Ellis said the roster encompasses a great blend of players with experience.
“As a coach in the Olympic Games, you want to put together a group capable of reaching the top of the podium while also being mindful of getting players prepared for the next World Cup, and I think we’ve done that,” Ellis said.
Long, a midfielder, said the competition will be the best it’s ever been, with the U.S. also primed to face France and Colombia in Group G.
“With an intense schedule, everyone will be super fit and ready,” she said. “My goal is to be the best midfielder in the tournament and help my team win gold.”
Long began playing soccer at 4 years old. She remembered being one of the few girls playing the game with boys, scoring goals and loving every minute.
“I love achieving that next level of success. When I am on the field it’s the only thing on my mind,” she said. “I want to be the best.”
Long moved on to Northport High School, graduating in 2005. She later attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She joined the USWNT when she was 22 years old, but an injury set her back. Then, in 2014, she made the team before being cut in January 2015. She was asked to try out for this year’s Olympic roster in April.
Long currently has 10 international caps and has scored two international goals, the latest of which came on April 6 against Colombia in a friendly.
“Playing for US Women’s National Team is so awesome. The atmosphere is unreal and so competitive,” Long said. “I want to be the best midfielder in the world and getting challenged every day in training is what will get me there. There is no better feeling than representing your country.”
Long also plays in the National Women’s Soccer League with the Portland Thorns, which she’s been a part of since 2013.