Friday, July 15, 2011

Lumberjack Talk: Q&A with Andre Luciano

What has the success of the USA National team done for the sport of women’s soccer?
First and foremost, the success of the USA National team has created a totally new audience. The quarterfinal win and the way it was won has brought a new appreciation for the sport and new type of fan to the game. It exposes the visibility of the national team and our sport as well.

How does it relate with the run by the 1999 US team to the championship?
I think it is totally different because there is so much more media exposure with the social networking sites, blogs and the amount of internet visibility for the game. The viewership has gone up dramatically. In 1999, it was an up-and-coming sport. The number of women’s sports teams that played Division I, II and III versus now it is a completely different animal.

How does that translate into fans at Lumberjack Stadium?
I think Flagstaff’s community is very in tune to what goes on not only with our program but following the national team. It is great having camp and having kids walking about with the jerseys of national team players and their favorite players. I hope it translates into an overall appreciation for the sport and the women’s game. There was huge spike in number of terms of people going to games after 1999 win and WUSA was developed. I am hoping this World Cup run and hopefully a win will add to more exposure for the WPS.

You coached USA goalkeeper Hope Solo in Washington. Tell us about that experience.
I was able to work with Hope on the Washington Olympic Development Program (ODP) East team back in 1995 and 1996. Hope was a brilliant goalkeeper but people forget she was an All-American forward.  She is a very, very talented individual and extremely athletic player. Right now she is the face and the poster girl for US soccer.  I am not sure if I had anything to do with her success but it has been fun watching her grow up, her career at Washington and watch her develop as a professional. She has come through her struggles and been extremely successful.

What is your prediction for the winner on Sunday?
My prediction is I think the game will be won in the midfield and who takes control of the game will win. I want to the US to win but Japan is a very good opponent who is playing with a huge cause behind them after the earthquakes and the tsunami. They are playing with a lot of national pride and are probably the hottest team in the tournament. Whoever wins the midfield will win the game.

The Northern Arizona women's soccer team and Taverna Greek Grill will host a viewing party for the Women's World Cup Championship game between the United States and Japan on Sunday. Fans can join the NAU women's soccer coaches and players as well as other members of the Northern Arizona athletic department in watching the Americans play for their third Women's World Cup title. Doors will open at 11 a.m. with kickoff slated for just after 11:30.