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Brooks Makes Solid U.S. Debut
Former Wildcats midfielder has made big strides in past 12 months

W-League Feature

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

ORLANDO, Fla. – Amber Brooks’ introduction to international soccer wasn’t the most auspicious. The former New Jersey Wildcat, making her first appearance for the U.S. Women’s National Team this past Sunday against Brazil, was an early recipient of a cut on her right cheek.

After a quick bit of attention on the sideline, though, the former University of North Carolina and current Bayern Munich midfielder put in a solid performance acting as a shield in front of the back four. Brooks’ play capped a good 12 months for the 22-year-old, who has scoring nine goals in 17 appearances in the Frauen Bundesliga since moving to Germany late last season.

“It was great finishing up with Carolina with a national championship, and then in the new year signing with Bayern Munich, I’ve enjoyed my time over there, and it’s great to get my cap today,” Brooks said following Sunday’s game.

It certainly will have helped that Brooks had a familiar face alongside her in the center of the midfield, with fellow former Wildcat Carli Lloyd offering support as Brooks moved up to the international level. Brooks, Lloyd and fellow USWNT midfielder Yael Averbuch have been training partners for a number of years at James Galanis’ Universal Soccer Academy, in addition to each having represented the Wildcats in the W-League, giving a familiarity for Lloyd and Brooks as they played off each other well in the 4-1 win.

“She just told me to play my game,” Brooks said of the brief conversation she and Lloyd had just before kickoff. “I’ve been training with her with our trainer James Galanis out at Universal Soccer Academy for many, many years, and she just said ‘hey, it’s just like training, just do what got you here and what you’ve been doing all week and you’ll be fine’.”

United States coach Tom Sermanni was pleased with what he saw from Brooks in her first appearance. With Shannon Boxx currently unavailable due to pregnancy, Lloyd believes there is the opportunity for someone like Brooks to prove herself in the No. 6 role as the U.S. looks to start building toward the 2015 World Cup in Canada.

“It leaves some things open a little bit,” Lloyd said. “I’m comfortable in that defensive-mid role, obviously I’m more of an attacking player, but either role is fine with me. Wherever the team needs me to play, I’ll play, but we obviously need some depth, and I think bringing in these young players, giving them a chance, is only going to make them more confident and make them ready in case they need to be called upon come World Cup time.”

Sermanni added that Brooks’ consistency in sitting back in the holding role allowed Lloyd to play a more attacking game, which paid dividends for the U.S. going forward.

“I think it helped Carli,” Sermanni said, “because Carli likes to, as you see, roam around the field, and with having Amber in there as a disciplined player, that helped Carli play her natural game.”

Brooks believes the holding midfield role is her best position, but as evidenced by her scoring output since arriving at Bayern, she has put an emphasis on improving her offensive play. Should her ability to find the back of the net continue to improve, then her goal of remaining in the mix for a national team position should become a reality as the team moves into 2014.

Certainly, after a solid first start, the door appears to have opened wider, and Brooks appears determined to walk through.

“Yeah, definitely, this is a dream come true for me, and obviously a big step forward,” Brooks said. “Hopefully I did well enough and I can continue to get better and just prove that I belong here.”