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Wednesday November 13 2019
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Up Close with Meghan Klingenberg

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In March, when the United States Women’s National Team announced their 23-woman roster, Gibsonia’s Meghan Klingenberg made her first World Cup team with very little fanfare.

Klingenberg played every minute of the World Cup as part of a defending unit that went more than four games without surrendering a goal. Her game-saving header clearance against Sweden in Group Play helped preserve a 0-0 shutout that kept the U.S. at the top of their group. Her stellar play throughout the tournament helped lead the U.S. to a record third Women’s World Cup victory and earned her a spot on the FIFA World Cup All-Star team. PSR’s John Krysinsky was among the Pittsburgh soccer media that caught up with Meghan during the national team’s visit to Heinz Field in August.

Q: How much were you looking forward to returning to Pittsburgh and your hometown?
A: I am very excited to come here. And especially to bring my teammates here. It’s an incredible fan base we have in Pittsburgh. To me, it’s an opportunity to make a statement. Yes, we’re going to celebrate (the World Cup), but we want to show the world that we are very serious about Olympic qualifying. I knew Pittsburgh would show up. Pittsburgh is an awesome place. We have great fans here.

Q: What is it like to be part of the unique conversation of being from the same high school as two others who’ve gone on to become successful pro athletes in (the Pittsburgh Pirates’) Neil Walker and (NHL player and Stanley Cup Champion) Brendan Saad?
A: I don’t know them that well personally. But this is a really cool thing. I don’t know how many high schools can say that. It’s a testament to Pine-Richland, and to the quality of people they produce. And to Pittsburgh in general, really. It seems like they are really great people too.

Q: Pittsburgh has not always been considered to have a strong pedigree for developing soccer players. What do you think that you can do to help change that?
A: Pittsburgh hasn’t had the opportunities that players in places like New Jersey or California to develop players on to the National Team and the player pool yet. But, I’ve never been to a place where there are so many women, and young girls, who watch sports, who love to be involved in fandom. We have for our sports teams. To me that’s a prime opportunity to develop world class players. I can only see great potential for Pittsburgh to develop many world class soccer players.

Q: How do you plan to help build soccer for young players in Pittsburgh?
A: It would start by continuing to have my camp. This is what I am passionate about. It’s not just about babysitting. It’s about developing players and showing them how to also be successful, teach life skills such as leadership and confidence. To me, that’s my way of giving back. I know I have a blast doing this and I know the kids do too. The way I feel is that if you are passionate about something, it rubs off on the other people who want to be around you.

Q: When did you feel that you’ve developed more confidence – on the field and off the field in dealing with the media and other areas of your life?
A: (Joking) I didn’t realize I was so much more mature?

Honestly, I think once you go to a World Cup and play on that type of stage. That was probably the most nerves that I’ve ever had to deal with. I am sure that every player felt that way. When you get to go through something like that, ultimately it prepares you for everything else you will do – whether it’s in dealing with media and sitting in press conferences, or playing for my club team (in Houston).

At the World Cup it was all about performance.  Nothing else mattered.

When you are playing with your club or in other levels like friendlies, it’s still about development. You have to develop a strong attitude and keep working to develop as a player all of the time.
Megan Klingenberg
Q: Can you share what it was like to score a goal at Heinz Field – and was Your Terrible Towel celebration planned?
A: I love the way we scored that goal. That was a great team goal. Great build up. Tobin (Heath) played a great ball into the box and I just tapped it in. When we score goals like that – that’s something special. Everyone went nuts. I think I went nuts. It was incredible.

And, no it wasn’t planned. [Head coach] Jill [Ellis] came up to me at halftime and said to be ready for it and showed me a flag that she had. That was fun.

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