Featured / Independence

PSP talks to Nicole Barnhart

(Photos: Paul Rudderow)

With PPL Park playing host to it’s first playoff game this Saturday, August 20 at 4:00pm when the second-seeded Philadelphia Independence host the WPS Super Semifinal, the PSP caught up with Independence and US National Team goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart. A former WPS champion with FC Gold Pride who has earned 39 caps for the USA, Barnhart discusses the recent Women’s World Cup, the Philadelphia Independence, PPL Park and WPS.

Philly Soccer Page: Being away for a full month at the World Cup, what do you do to stay physically and mentally sharp so that you don’t miss a beat jumping back in with the Independence?

Nicole Barnhart

Nicole Barnhart: I think the biggest thing I missed during that time is games, it was probably about two months since I’ve been in a game. But we were over in Germany for a good month and during that time we were doing doubles and triples, training every day. Training in such a good environment, I felt physically and mentally sharp the entire time, so coming back into this was a pretty easy transition.

PSP: While you were over in Germany, how much communication did you have with your Independence teammates? Were you able to check in on their results and were they in touch to keep up with you?

NB: We’d get emails from coach [Riley] and it was [mostly] checking up on our team online trying to follow games and results. But it was a little bit tough with the time difference and, at the same time, we were so focused on what we were doing over in Germany that it was hard to be too involved in what was going on back in the States with the league. But we definitely checked in to see how we [the Independence] were doing and where we stood.

PSP: While you were playing out in California with FC Gold Pride, you played alongside Camille Abily, one of the excellent French players from this summer’s World Cup.  How important is it for the game that team’s like France have exploded in terms of creating elite talent?

Honored for her World Cup service

NB: I think its tremendously important. You can see over the past couple years how small the gap between the teams in the World Cup has become. There weren’t any games that were huge blowouts, like you’ve seen in the past, and every game is such a competitive environment. So, to see teams like France and players like Camille excelling at that level, is exciting for the sport of women’s soccer.

PSP: What was the experience like playing for Gold Pride and having that weird feeling where you get to win the championship but then the team disbands?

NB: It was definitely tough. You go through the season and have such an incredible experience, an incredible season and an amazing roster of players, some of the best in the world. To be able to train in that environment every day, it was really exciting to walk away with a championship, but it’s a little bit tough too when you go through all that and you have such a great team and it all just ends. Obviously, with the league, you hate to see any teams leaving and dropping out because it is a tough thing to build, to start with. So anytime you’re losing teams, you have to add more in eventually. You definitely hate to see teams leave and you hope down the line you get more teams to jump on board.

PSP: So coming back to Philadelphia, you’ve had Vero Boquete take over the show. What have been your impressions of her play?

NB: I’ve only seen her play in a few games now, but from what I’ve seen, she’s been a tremendous addition to the team. She’s just so dynamic in the midfield and so dangerous. She gets chances and puts them away which is huge for us, so I’m excited to continue to watch her play and I’m glad she has come on board with our team and can make such an impact right away.

PSP: Recently, the Independence have announced that you will be staying at Widener’s Quick Stadium for next season. What it is like to play there compared to some of the other venues in WPS?

NB: It’s a good environment, location wise. I think it’s so much better to be able to get more people from the city to make it out to games. I think it’s a little easier for fans to get to in general, so to be able to have a fan base that can continue to grow and hopefully we get crowds like we did at last week’s game, I think it’s huge. To have an intimate little environment like that, where everyone is close to the field and you hear the fans, it’s just a fun environment to play in.

PSP: Looking ahead to a semifinal at PPL Park, what do you make of the stadium and what do you look forward to about playing there?

Meeting the crowd at PPL

NB: I think it’s an awesome stadium. We played there with the women’s national team last year. It’s a beautiful new soccer-specific stadium and it’s exciting to be able to play in a venue of that size and hopefully get a really great crowd out there to support us. And obviously, I love playing on grass so I’m excited to get out on such a great field. It’s a big field, so it will be a different style of game you have to go out and play, but it’s a great environment to be playing a soccer game, especially a playoff game, in the WPS.

PSP: Do you have any concerns about other teams who play more frequently on grass or on a larger field versus the smaller confines of Quick Stadium?

NB: We’re lucky enough that we have the option to train on both, so that will benefit us a little bit. Obviously, the grass at that stadium is a little different than any team can train or play on, but I think that if you play quality soccer in general, on a consistent basis, that you can go out and adapt to a high-quality field like that pretty quickly.

For tickets to Saturday’s playoff game, click here.



  1. Was surprised to read in Ed’s update today that attendance is down this year even tough they moved to Widener to be closer to the city…..

    • I think that the post World Cup buzz hasn’t quite made up for the lull that occurred during the tournament. Attendance obviously went up after, now its about maintaining those improved levels.

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