UA soccer head coach Tony Amato talks USA, UA soccer
The 2014 FIFA World Cup may be over, but soccer addicts and recent converts need not fret: The 2014 Arizona soccer season is right around the corner.
Arizona soccer head coach Tony Amato recently returned from a trip to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. Amato said he went to Argentina’s 2-1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chile’s 2-0 win over Spain and Belgium’s 1-0 win over Russia. Amato led Arizona to its first winning season since 2005 and the Wildcats’ best start since 1994 in his first season as UA’s head coach in 2013.
Amato talked to the Arizona Summer Wildcat about the atmosphere in Brazil, Team USA’s chances in the 2015 Women’s World Cup and whether former Wildcats Ana Montoya and Jazmin Ponce could play in the World Cup next year.
Arizona Summer Wildcat: What was the trip to Brazil like?
Amato: Honestly, it was unbelievable. If you haven’t experienced a world event like that, it’s something you should do. It’s just a bunch of cultures coming together. It’s kind of madness, and there are people everywhere, but it really is a celebration of people who love the game. We went to three games. I went to the last World Cup, I went to this World Cup and there is just no way in the future I could sit at home knowing what it’s like to be there, even if it is just for the first few days.
There has been a lot of talk about the USA fans in Brazil. What kind of presence do you think the US will have in the World Cup next year in Canada?
Amato: That’s the Women’s World Cup, in Canada, so I think our team, our women’s team, always does so well, so you would think that a lot of this can carry over, even more into supporting that World Cup. I think we will see a good turn out, good support and our team should do well.
What do you think USA’s chances are to win it all next year?
Amato: Well, they’re going to be one of the favorites. They’ll be one of the top two or three teams in the tournament. Last time they lost in penalties in the final to Japan, but they’ll be one of the favorites and you just hope that a few things fall their way and they come together as a team and get a bit of luck and are able to win it.
Do you think you might see a little rise in attendance at UA games?
Amato: Well, World Cup aside, we would expect a little rise, just from the fact that we’re getting some momentum with the team since we’ve been here. We’ve been reaching out to the community. We’ve had a little more success last year than in previous years and you would think it would increase a little bit and we want to keep growing on that. Add the World Cup fever into it, and I think we’ll be able to tie into that and keep growing in attendance and support of what we’re doing, but ultimately it comes down to how we do on the field.
After Ana Montoya played in the Olympics and Jazmin Ponce played for Mexico, what are the chances that we might see a former Wildcat play in the World Cup next year?
Amato: For next year, I know that Ana just got connected back with the Colombian national team. She was talking about committing to getting in shape for that, so I think that’s a good possibility. Obviously Jaz with Mexico always has a shot. Mexico is one of the better teams and she is just out of camp. I haven’t talked to her yet, but I think if that went well then the chances of her playing in the World Cup are very likely. Hopefully we’ll have someone in that and that would be a great thing for the program.
—Follow James Kelley @JamesKelley520