US women's soccer team wins gold, doesn't know what they'll do now
"If I sit and think about it, there's a little bitterness. More than a little bitterness," Solo said. "It's the times we live in, there should be opportunities for women. We have so many young players coming out of college and they have nowhere to go play. They're not quite good enough to make the national team — but they could be in the next couple of years. But the opportunities aren't there for them."
And the Americans will likely need to dip into that up-and-coming talent pool before the 2015 World Cup, which will be in Canada. Defender Heather Mitts has already said she is retiring. Captain Christie Rampone has two small girls and is 37 — though she plays far younger than that — and has said she needs time to decide whether to keep playing or not. Midfielder Shannon Boxx is 35.
Even Wambach is not a given. Though she craves a World Cup title and has said she intends to play through the 2015 tournament, she turned 32 this summer and her body has begun showing signs of the wear and tear from her fearless playing style.
"I can only be positive that there is a spot for players to play in the future," Solo said. "In the near future."
In the meantime, the Americans will do a "victory tour," beginning next month. The first two games have already been announced: Sept. 1 against Costa Rica and Sept. 16 against Australia. Some well-deserved downtime will come after that. O'Reilly and her husband never did take a honeymoon after their wedding last fall, and Lloyd is craving some beach time.
But at some point, the Americans will have to figure out what comes next.
It might present an even bigger challenge than Japan did.
"We haven't really thought too far in advance," Lloyd said. "There's a lot of missing parts, whether there's a league — we just heard bits and pieces about a league coming back. But we're going to go after it. I want to win a world championship before my career is over. So that's the next thing."
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