Alana Cook on playing with PSG, OL Reign and attending USWNT camps
The United States Women’s National Team is currently preparing in Europe for an upcoming friendly on November 27 against the Netherlands. This will be the team’s ninth and final game as their calendar year draws to a close. This will be the first time the two teams face each other since the 2019 Women’s World Cup final last summer.
The list of 23 players selected by head coach Vlatko Andonovski ahead of the six-day camp includes big names who are currently playing abroad in Europe. One of those players is defender Alana Cook, who has played for France’s Division 1 team Paris Saint-Germain since signing with the club in 2019. She is part of the American youth football programs. since 2013, where she has been captain of the U17 and U23. respective levels, but is also eligible to play for England and spent a camp with the England Women’s National Team in September 2019 as a training player.
After winning his first cap with the USWNT on his first senior call against Costa Rica last November, Cook is now in his second stint with the United States national team. She was a highly regarded Stanford prospect and screened as a first-round pick heading into the 2019 NWSL College Draft before making the decision to begin her professional playing career in Europe.
“I felt it was a good opportunity for her to come in and so we can see a bit more of it,” Andonovski said of Cook’s selection.
“But at the same time, it’s a good opportunity for her to experience a high level game or a meaningful game, and to be with some of those players to experience the environment, because of the potential that she has. We see her as someone who has an ability to play for this team in the future. “
Cook joins these camps after a historic victory for PSG against Olympique Lyonnais, thus ending four consecutive years of unbeaten play by their rivals. The center-back came on in the second half to ensure the score ended in PSG’s favor as they beat Lyon 1-0.
“If you look at how excited everyone was on the team when the final whistle blew. You can kind of see how hard and committed we have worked to build the team that we currently have.” , Cook said.
“The end result is you see big wins like that against Lyon. So at the end of the day it’s just another league win, but I think we can all recognize the kind of importance to more. big scale in terms of ending such an incredible run as Lyon had. But I think now it’s kind of heading into the next game and making sure we stay focused for the rest of the league. “
It’s a rivalry that goes back several years and intersects in the men’s and women’s leagues. In recent years, the gap between the two clubs has narrowed, but Lyon have often won in big games. In addition to the league, the two teams constantly meet in the French Women’s Cup and have faced each other in the women’s UEFA Champions League competitions. Familiarity provided intense competition when the two teams faced off.
“The rivalry with Lyon, [they’re] recognized as the largest women’s club in the world. So I think for us it’s always a good way to measure ourselves and see how we’re doing. To be able to face them twice this year, maybe more, including the Cups and the Champions League. I think for us it’s always a great opportunity to show where we are and to show the kind of growth that we have also put into women’s football. “
For Cook, in the second year of her three-year contract with PSG, she is trying to make the most of her experiences in Europe. Adapting to the culture, the language, continuing to develop and playing a new style of football were all motivators in making the decision to go pro in Europe despite his high score in the NWSL Draft at Stanford.
“Personally, I think I was more than happy to make the NWSL Draft, depending on my options [were] and it’s just a matter of timing. I received an offer from PSG and felt too good to pass it up. . . I saw it as an overall decision of life. I think it was going to be something that was going to challenge me and really helped me develop in all areas of my life.
Overall I think it was totally worth it. I think whenever you have the opportunity to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone, you are going to grow and improve. So I really enjoyed that and I’m just thinking of trying to reap as much profit as possible. “
Globally, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted professional sports and athletes in several sports leagues. As Cook was in his second year with PSG, many clubs were forced to stop playing as lockdowns took effect in various countries. She returned to the United States to be closer to her family, and between downtime with Netflix and virtual contact with her friends, she was also working on her degree in Symbolic Systems at Stanford.
“They focus on human-machine interaction, looking at how we can combine society and technology and see how we can make the two fit together in the best possible way. Tailoring technology to the needs of humans. “
Over the summer, the American public got a glimpse of the 23-year-old defender as she spent a brief time on loan at the NWSL as she played the Challenge Cup with OL Reign. She thanks the league for helping to create a safe environment in which to play and her club for engaging in dialogue on issues of racism and social justice.
“I think as difficult as the bubble was mentally, emotionally, for a lot of people, I think it allowed us to be almost privileged in a way that we knew we were as safe as possible, given the circumstances of catching COVID and being exposed to things. So I think in terms of that they did a good job of making us feel safe. “
Within OL Reign we had quite a bit of discussion and I was actually very proud of the team and felt really embraced by everyone’s openness to discuss issues and learn from each other. When you have such an environment on the team, it’s much easier for everyone to feel comfortable and play well together. I really enjoyed it. I found the team to be amazing and I learned a lot from the players and staff I was able to work with. All in all a wonderful opportunity. “
Cook still has a year on her contract with PSG, and although she is not currently linked with any national team, she is looking to make the most of this second USWNT camp experience in Europe.
“The first thing you notice is the competitive nature. As soon as you step onto the pitch, everyone is competing. Everyone brings the intensity and works the hardest I think to improve and make the difference. “whole bunch better. I think it’s something that as soon as you step in, you have to be at that level, or you won’t survive.
I think at the highest level, in any country, you will have the same intensity. It’s the engine and the motivation. But I think the US is obviously sort of at the top [and] considered the best in the world, and that’s why the trophies keep coming. “