09/25 09:00 CDT Christen Press honors Kobe Bryant with Man United 24 jersey
Christen Press honors Kobe Bryant with Man United 24 jersey
By ROB HARRIS
AP Global Soccer Writer
LONDON (AP) --- With her usual No. 23 jersey already claimed, Christen Press
had a decision to make when she joined Manchester United.
It was a quick call.
"I picked 24," the United States forward said on a video call. "It was a best
of the bunch and obviously has a history to that number as well."
History immersed in grief --- in a year that began with former Los Angeles
Lakers No. 24 Kobe Bryant dying in a helicopter crash at the age of 41.
"When I wasn't able to wear my normal number, I definitely chose this (24) with
a little nod to Kobe, because I'm an LA girl," Press said. "Everywhere we went,
they were crazy for Kobe and the amount of inspiration and joy that he gave
people by the way he played with his passion is amazing. And, it's something
that as athletes we're all striving to do."
More significant than the number on her Red Devils jersey is where she will
play in Casey Stoney's front line.
"For most of my career, I would have said I'm a nine," Press said, referencing
the traditional jersey number for a center forward. "It's where I was trained
to play ... but in the last three years of my life, both at club and country, I
have played wide. I've played primarily in the 11 and I would say I'm very
comfortable there as well.
"I think it allows me to have a little bit more of a dynamic nature to my style
of play to be able to be a little bit more free flowing. I don't have a lot of
the traditional traits of you know, a posting nine or something like that. So,
I think it allows me the versatility to play in more different styles and
The 31-year-old Press has signed up for a season in the Women's Super League
away from the Utah Royals. Her previous experience overseas --- apart from in a
U.S. career that has seen her score 58 goals in 138 appearances --- has been at
Swedish clubs Gteborg FC and Tyres FF.
United only reformed its women's team in 2018 after 13 years and has started
its second season in the WSL by collecting four points from a possible six. The
northern English club is part of the Glazer family investments that includes
the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"It's exactly what we need and what we want to see," Press said, "more
organizations investing in the women's game because they see the value, because
they see the opportunity and potential and that's what you have here. And I
think it is something that's contagious and catches fire and the other clubs
investing in their teams 100% inspired this.
"What you hope is that it inspires the next club and that's how the global game
With the American domestic season disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, Press
is part of a wave of talent that has moved across the Atlantic to play in
In London there is Alex Morgan at Tottenham who, like Press, scored in the 2019
World Cup semifinal win over England.
Three other compatriots who featured in the game in Lyon have moved to
Manchester, with Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis at City, and Tobin Heath for
company at United.
"I'm reluctantly accepting that I'm a veteran player and that I'm now one of
the oldest players on the team, but younger than Tobin," Press said. "We're
here to fight for titles. I think what we'll be able to bring is just like a
relentless mindset towards that."
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