Almost ready to roll

Leon Halip/Getty Images

With World Cup qualifiers not until next year, Christie Rampone knows she doesn't need to rush back from knee surgery.

It was a secret at the time ... I had knee surgery right after our game in D.C. versus Mexico.

I literally walked off the field, drove home to New Jersey, dropped off my family and went into New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery for my second surgery under Dr. Jo Hannafin. She reconstructed my ACL in 2001. Some bones had broken off my kneecap and were floating around, so they needed to be removed. Also, Dr. Hannafin clipped my meniscus. Nothing too crazy. The biggest issue was the bone fragments moving around and impeding my extension. I wasn't feeling that great, planting my right foot and kicking with my left foot.

The recovery is keeping me out for a little longer, but I've felt a lot better striking the ball and moving around. And definitely a lot more stable in the past couple of days. I stepped into practice the other day with no contact as I'm really trying to take it slow and heal 100 percent. Now is the time. Yes, we're playing games, but I also know that I need to be smart about what I am doing. The Women's World Cup qualifiers aren't 'til next year.

For now, I'm doing fitness one day with our fitness coach, Dawn Scott, and the next day all strength with our trainer, Rick Guter. Initially I was aiming to be back for Sunday's game against New Zealand, but now my goal is Wednesday or the November match versus Brazil. I don't want to push it. It's important to not get over-anxious just because I'm here and miss playing. At the same time there are other players competing and everyone is fighting for a roster spot, so it's not like, "Oh, let me get some minutes." I want to earn it.

Being injured has allowed me to sit back or up high in the box, and watch how the girls adjust to our new coach, Tom Sermanni. He's not over-coaching at this point, really just observing, and I'm sure it will pick up next year when qualifiers begin. We haven't had a lot of training sessions under Tom, and I'm looking forward to the December camp to see how that goes. At the end of the day, I think we're winning marginally more than ever. And that's especially big when we've been away from one another for six weeks or more. There's always some hesitation with a new coach as you try to figure out the style, but it's great to see the team doing so well.

It's a complete 180 from the prior coach, Pia Sundhage. The focus was on change of speed/point with an emphasis on a high-tempo training environment. It was very much about running and fitness with fast-paced training and double days. Tom is trying to slow us down and wants us to evaluate the game, seeing what the game presents on each day. He's been pleased with the technical side but really hasn't seen enough as we have a tendency to go more on our fitness, outrunning teams with superior athleticism. It's an adjustment to go from high-paced on and off the field to taking things much slower, while working on skills and technique. It's all about adapting and adjusting. With Pia we were like, "Whoa, here we go!" At first, under Tom we were like, "Are we going to get unfit?" But then you realize we're playing with fresh legs right now and the team is doing well. The team grew and thrived under Pia's style and now we are looking to grow even further under Tom's vision.