Up Close with Washington Freedom Defender Emily Janss

Shobha KondraguntaCorrespondent IMay 11, 2009

I recently had a chance to catch up with Washington Freedom defender Emily Janss.  Read to find out what she has to say about her experience, the league, and upcoming
Breakers vs. Freedom game on May 17.

SK: Emily, congratulations on your selection to WPS Washington Freedom.  
You played for New York Power in the WUSA and you are now part of WPS.  
What is different this time?

EJ: The biggest difference is my age and experience.  There has been a ton of time
that has passed from the last league.  I have had the chance to grow as a player
and gain experience while playing overseas and for the Freedom W-league team.

SK: Are the energy levels different now?

EJ: There is a new excited feeling surrounding this league.  There are fans out there
who held on to support the new league that were around during the WUSA and
new fans that we have captured.

SK:  After the folding of the WUSA, you joined the coaching staff of the
University of Maryland women’s soccer program and quit after a short time to play in the W-league for Washington Freedom.  Did you foresee the comeback of women’s professional soccer or you just missed playing?

EJ: At the time I left UMD, I knew I could not commit 100 percent to both coaching and
playing.  I had been holding on to hope that the new league would come back. The
part about being a professional athlete is you can only play your sport for a limited
amount of time.  I can coach or do whatever is next in my career path when I am
finished having fun playing.

SK: WPS is picking up the pace and the quality of the game is getting better with
what looks like some rivalries in the making.  The first game between Washington
Freedom and Los Angeles Sol was a letdown though.  Did you feel that way?  

EJ: I definitely saw the game ending much differently.  We were all pretty
disappointed, but when we looked back at our performance, we created enough
chances to get us the win.

SK: Was it all nerves?

EJ: We definitely were very excited about the game and our nerves certainly
played a part in that, especially early on.

SK: Or was it the hype around Marta?

EJ: We all know what a great player Marta is and we were keyed in on attempting
to limit her touches and influence on the game.

SK: Washington Freedom is playing good stylish soccer.  Not rushing the shots and being patient with the offense.  It is almost like watching an English premiership game.
Is this a conscious effort or is that how it is working out with the cast of
players you have on the team?

EJ: Keeping possession of the ball is the way we try to play.  If we get the ball out
to one side of the field and the options are few then the idea is to get it out the other
side of the field.

SK: There is a controversy brewing around Wambach’s tackle that led to Daniela’s
injury at the last week’s game against St. Louis Athletica.  Do you think this
controversy is good because it gives the game some attention or a distraction
in the middle of the season?

EJ: It is too bad to hear about Daniela's diagnosis, I don't believe there should be
controversy surrounding this situation.  Both players were going in hard on the tackle.
There was nothing dirty about it.

SK: How are you preparing for your game against Boston Breakers?  Both Heather
Mitts and Alex Scott have a tendency to push up.  Will the space left behind
them be exploited?

EJ: We will certainly look at Boston's tendencies to get forward out of the back and
counter-attack the space that was left open.  We will start concentrating on Boston
the first day of practice of the week. The most important part every week is to
concentrate on our best qualities.

SK: Freedom is in the community a lot.  It is great to see all the youth soccer
players fill up the stands at the games.  We hear “Go Emily” a lot.  You have
obviously made a difference by staying involved with youth soccer.  What is
your advice to that aspiring young player?

EJ: I hope the young girls are inspired when they come watch us play weekly. My
advice for them is to get out and play as much as possible, watch the game as much
as possible and enjoy it.

SK:  Our readers would love to know how the international players are adjusting
to life in the United States?  Do you as a team do some fun things?

EJ: We are a very social, fun team that gets along very well together.  We get
together for lake trips, DC United games, dinners hosted by teammates, and to
watch the other WPS games together.  I think and hope our international players are
enjoying our team’s atmosphere.  They seem well adjusted.

SK:  I am somewhat in a bind for your games against Boston Breakers because I
like Smith and Rodriguez a lot.  But trust me the faithful Freedom fan is going
to come out game day.  Any parting words to our readers?

EJ: There is no doubt that Kelly Smith is an outstanding player and Boston has
some other strong attacking personalities, but we've got some scoring power and
fight on our side. I hope everyone enjoys an exciting game and for all you
Freedom fans, cheer us on to a victory.


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