United States coach Jill Ellis insists her team is not arrogant as they prepare to face England in the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup on Tuesday.
Defender Ali Krieger said earlier this month that the strength in depth available to Ellis means the United States not only have the best team on the planet but also the second-best team.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference, however, Ellis said: “It’s really a comment about ourselves.
“It’s really a comment about how she (Krieger) feels because she’s played on two different teams and she has the right to say that if that’s how she feels.
“It’s important that our team has confidence, I don’t think in any way this is an arrogant team.
“I think this team knows they’ve got to earn everything, that we’ve got tough opponents still ahead of us and we have to earn every right to advance in this tournament.”
Portsmouth-born Ellis has not been surprised to see England make progress under manager Phil Neville, who spent part of his career playing for Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
“A lot of us are products of our environment and he had a pretty good mentor there for a while,” Ellis added.
“I definitely think the team has made strides, you can see that they’ve bought into what he wants them to do, you can see that they are playing hard, so I think he’s done a really good job.”
Alex Morgan is currently joint top scorer with five goals but insists winning the Golden Boot is not a priority.
“I would love someone on our team to win the golden boot, of course, it would be a great accolade, but that’s not my goal,” Morgan said.
“My goal is to help this team win a World Cup so as long as the goals continue to come then I’m happy.
“Right now Megan Rapinoe has put the team on her back from Spain to France and it’s going to take players like that, and a couple of individuals each game to step up and really help carry this team.”
Morgan scored all of her five goals in the the defending champions’ opening game at the tournament in France, the 13-0 victory over Thailand.
Rapinoe has matched her haul after netting twice in both matches as the US beat Spain 2-1 in the last 16 and then France 2-1 in the quarter-finals, while the other player with a five-goal tally is England’s Ellen White.
The venue for the semi-finals and the final is Groupama Stadium, where six-time Champions League winners Lyon Feminin play some of their home games.
Morgan and Rapinoe have both had spells with the club, and Morgan said at the press conference at the ground: “Just coming to this city made me so happy yesterday and being at the stadium for the first time in two years brings back such good memories.
“I’m really excited to see a full stadium for the game and it’s great to be back here.
“I came here and trained, ate, breathed, and slept soccer. It was a great experience for me. My evolution as a player grew a little bit here.”