WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The U.S. national team is dismissing critical comments that former coach Pia Sundhage made about some of the players.

The United States is preparing to face Sundhage’s current team, Sweden, in a group-stage match Friday at the Women’s World Cup. Sundhage spoke about U.S. players, including forward Abby Wambach and midfielder Carli Lloyd to The New York Times in a story published Tuesday.

“For me, all I do is focus on my players and my team and our preparation,” said U.S. Coach Jill Ellis. “That’s really where my mind is at. I think I’ve made it pretty clear that distractions don’t really creep into my mind when I’m trying to prepare my players.”

Sundhage coached the United States for five years, guiding the team to a pair of Olympic gold medals as well as the final of the 2011 World Cup in Germany, which the United States lost to Japan on penalty kicks.

In the Times, Sundhage said Lloyd was a challenge and suggested Wambach shouldn’t start at this point in her career. She also praised defender Christie Rampone as the best captain she’s seen, including herself.

Sundhage said goalkeeper Hope Solo was one of the most challenging players she’d coached “especially when it comes to trouble.”

Ellis said she hadn’t addressed the comments with the team.

“I just think we’re an incredible professional group, and the only focus for us is three points and our preparation to try to advance,” Ellis said.

Defender Lori Chalupny was asked if the U.S. would use the comments as motivation.

“I think when you’re in the World Cup, there’s no extra motivation needed,” Chalupny said.


NORWAY 1, GERMANY 1: Maren Mjelde scored on a free kick in the second half, giving Norway, the 1995 champion, a tie against top-ranked Germany at Ottawa, Ontario.

CHINA 1, NETHERLANDS 0: Wang Lisi scored in the first minute of extra time to give China a win at Edmonton, Alberta.

THAILAND 3, IVORY COAST 2: Thanatta Chawong’s insurance goal in the 75th minute proved the difference for Thailand at Ottawa.

CANADA 0, NEW ZEALAND 0: Canada took the group lead after the tie at Edmonton, but all four teams have a chance to advance heading into the final group games.