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Player Spotlight

On the heels of her first USWNT call-up, Murphy eyes further breakthrough

After a strong collegiate career at Rutgers and an impressive start to her pro career with Montpellier in France, New Jersey's Casey Murphy recently received her first call-up to the USWNT. Now ahead of the French season, she is poised for a continued breakthrough for both club and country. 
BY John Halloran Posted
July 03, 2018
7:30 AM
A LOT OF players, especially young ones, might enter their first full camp with the United States women’s national team just intending to get the lay of the land, meet their new teammates, and familiarize themselves with the team’s routine.

But that wasn’t the case last month for 22-year-old goalkeeper Casey Murphy. Called into camp for the U.S.’ friendlies against China, she wasn’t just happy to be there. She came in ready to compete.

“I was very happy to get the call-up, but I knew once I got there, it was all business—game on,” Murphy explained to American Soccer Now. “Even though I’m a younger player, I think you have to walk taller and show that you belong in order to stay at that level.”

Not lacking for confidence, the young netminder hasn’t been afraid to take risks, even at this early stage of her career. She left college with a year of eligibility left and, even then, opted to take the road less traveled. Last winter, leaving school, she eschewed the National Women’s Soccer League and decided instead to sign with Montpellier in France’s Division 1 Feminine.

There, only playing half the season, she won the French Football Federation’s Best Goalkeeper Award for the 2017-18 season. That, in part, helped lead to her call-up to the U.S. squad in June, something Murphy says was all part of the plan.

“I was so honored and proud to be a part of the matches against China,” she explained. “At the same time, this is what I’m working for, this is why I’m playing abroad. It’s to play and represent our country—play at the highest level and to make a World Cup roster and continue to help the women’s national team be the best in the world.

“So, I was proud, but I knew that once I got there it didn’t matter if it was my first camp or my 50th camp, I needed to go in and prove myself and work extremely hard and prove that I belong to be there.”

The Rutgers alumna has represented the U.S. extensively at the youth levels, and after returning from the 2016 U-20 World Cup, she made up her mind to go pro early.

“I got back from the under-20 World Cup and I was like, ‘I want to go pro right now.’ And then I, obviously, had a lot of conversations that it would be better for me to take more classes and finish up a little bit more of school, but I’ve wanted to be a pro my whole life and I think it’s just a whole different level, whole different challenge,” said Murphy.

“I didn’t finish up school, but I’m still taking classes online and I think it was nice to have the support of my coaches at Rutgers. [They] were completely behind my decision to go play professionally instead of taking my fifth year.”

Now back in her home of Bridgewater, New Jersey and training before heading back to France later this month, Murphy says that her first season abroad was “definitely not what I was expecting it to be.”

“I was adjusting to the culture, and the language, and the different types of players, and everything outside of soccer and trying not to lose my mind,” she said. “It definitely was challenging.”

Murphy also explained that, as a goalkeeper, the language barrier proved especially difficult in communicating with her backline in France.

“The most challenging part is the language barrier,” she noted. “As a goalkeeper, I have to figure out how to continue to be a leader on the field without necessarily being able to completely communicate with all the players and how I want to communicate with them in the moment.

“As I learn more of the language, I think my role as a leader will continue to grow on the team. Initially, those first couple months, being able to communicate on and off the field with my teammates and growing connections and relationships with the other players on my team was definitely challenging.”

However, within a few weeks of landing in France, Murphy took over the No. 1 job in the net for Montpellier and, overall, enjoyed her first season in France. Pushed out of her comfort zone, she adjusted to the higher technical level of the professional game and, as she learned new training methods and new tactics, she adapted and grew as a player.

In her first full camp with the U.S., Murphy was excited to show the coaching staff what she had been working on in France and also prove that she has her own style in goal, one she calls “ruthless.”

“I hope to show [the coaches] that I don’t want to be compared to other goalkeepers that have been through the women’s national team. I want to come in and show them how I can be this [unique] type of player and person and help this team be successful and win gold medals and championships.”

John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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