By Terry Jacoby
Allie Long got the call to represent the United States for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Long believes her ability to contribute to the team chemistry played a huge role in her selection to the American side.
“Going into a world event you want to find not only the best players but the best players who all gel together,” Long says. “We’ve seen teams in every sport where they may have the better players, but for some reason it just doesn’t click. It’s important to find the best players who work best together on and off the field and have that special chemistry.”
Long had a difficult end to 2018. A partial tear of her posterior cruciate ligament in August limited her effectiveness in the club’s final matches of the NWSL season, and rehab kept her from being able to make the most of her offseason. After months of recovery, however, Long is now fully fit and ready to compete for a spot on the plane to France.
Fellow National Team player Megan Rapinoe thinks Long’s skill set will be a boost to the national team and would make a unique ingredient in that formula of success.
“She offers something different than any other midfielder we have,” Rapinoe said. “She’s a low-lying holding player. She’s very good on the ball, very good in tight spaces. Great vision on the field, she’s a great passer. Especially since more teams are going to sit back on us, I think she can be the key to unlocking those defenses.”
The U.S. women’s soccer team has long been the measuring stick and the pinnacle in international competition. But the rest of the world is clearly catching up, and that has only fueled the Americans to work harder, smarter and take their game to an even higher level.
Long debuted for the USA in 2014, but did not make a major impact until 2016 when she rode an excellent NWSL season to a spot on the 2016 Olympic Team.
In 2017, she played 748 minutes in 13 games with seven starts. Against Russia on April 6, she scored her fourth and fifth career goals and was named to the CONCACAF Best XI for the first time. In 2016, Long played in all four games at the Olympics, starting three.
In January 2018, Long was involved in a blockbuster deal in which the Seattle Reign FC acquired the US international midfielder from the Portland Thorns FC. Whether playing for club or country, Long has long been associated with toughness and the willingness to do anything to create a clean sheet and kick a game into the win column.
Players like Long aren’t always the best players, but they usually are the right players.
Long says club helped make her gritty
Long, a native of Northport, N.Y., was an NCAA champion in 2008 at the University of North Carolina. She was a strong addition to the Tar Heels’ midfield following her transfer from Penn State after the 2006 season.
In her youth, Long played for the Northport Cow Harbor Mustangs of the Long Island Junior Soccer League before ultimately landing at Albertson Soccer Club, where she helped the Albertson Express to four straight State Open Cups under the guidance of Adrian Gaitan. Long still gives a big assist to Gaitan as the most influential coach of her career.
“He helped teach me the game and how to be mentally strong at such a young age,” she said. “I still seek out his advice even today and I was so fortunate to have such a good coach at Albertson. Coaches today can’t yell at players like they used to, and he was always brutally honest with me. He was always right, and I really appreciated that he was honest with me. Sometimes you don’t want to hear it, but it helped make me a tough, gritty player and I owe him so much in my career.”
While playing with the Albertson Express, Long won the MVP award at the Orange Classic and helped her team win WAGS, Orange Classic, Disney and Raleigh Shootout.