The Washington Spirit are sitting atop the NWSL standings, having taken 9 out of 9 possible points from their matches with a 3-0 record. Leading up to the Portland game this week, arguably the first real test for the Spirit this season, I was lucky enough to catch up with the new keeper in town, Stephanie Labbé. She was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions after training.
Backline Soccer (BS): What has been the biggest adjustment coming over to the NWSL?
Stephanie Labbé (SL): The speed of play and the quality of strikers that I face. I had the same backline in front of me for 6 years in Sweden, so figuring out everyone’s strengths and weaknesses on this backline and getting to know their styles of play.
BS: Do you think that the Olympic break helps with national team players not having to miss as many games and helps keep team chemistry in the club teams?
SL: Yes, I definitely think it’ll help. Anytime you get to play together, and the longer you get to play together, the more chemistry and the stronger the team becomes. We have a deep bench with a lot of good players, and the more we can play together, the better.
BS: Who is the crazier captain to play with Ali Krieger or Christine Sinclair?
SL: They both have different leadership styles. Ali tends to be more vocal, giving the pregame speeches and talking a lot on the field. Sinc is more of the lead by example, putting her body on the line and going all out. They are similar in that they are both very humble and have worked for everything they have, nothing in their careers have been given to them.
BS: What is the mindset going into the next four weeks knowing you play the same two teams back to back?
SL: I haven’t really thought of that too much. We’ve been keeping it game by game and really concentrating on the next opponent for the upcoming week. This week is Portland and we have to step up our performance from last week and play better against them then we did against Western New York.
BS: Do you ever wish, just once, that when your team scores, someone would come and give the keeper some love?
SL: Yes! I can’t really go running to the huddle and then all the way back to goal, maybe I can run to the bench. I will definitely have to talk to the defenders about this and maybe one of them can give me a hug or something—show me some love.
Hopefully one of the defenders will agree, and maybe when Ali Krieger scores again, she’ll show Steph some love.