Allie Long’s future success could hinge on staying away from a regular post-game diet of birthday cake and ice cream.
If the Northport native is eating either or both, her team probably lost.
“That’s her favorite,” husband Jose Batista said. “After a loss, it’s get her something she likes.”
So, it’s better for the determined Long to enjoy a steady nourishment of wins as she did with the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League champions, the Portland Thorns.
Yet, she strives for more than just domestic success. With Women’s World Cup qualifying for France 2019 later in the year, the midfielder sees 2018 as vital in preparing to help the defending champion U.S. retain its title.
Her personal motivation has been fueled by the U.S.’s stunning quarterfinal elimination at the 2016 Olympics. Until then, the four-time gold medalists had played in every medal round.
“Losing was the worst thing ever,” said Long, who performed in her first major FIFA competition then. “You finally make it. You get to the Olympics and you lose, especially the way we did. That experience, you can’t replicate that at all, like the pressure, the weight of the games.”
Long, 30, won’t get an opportunity to experience that again until the Women’s World Cup. And, she doesn’t want to miss out on what could be her only chance to play in the tournament.
“My only goal is the 2019 World Cup and to be a key role and be able to play, perform my best soccer I’ve ever performed,” Long said. “I think I haven’t even hit my prime.”
She cited U.S. teammate Carli Lloyd, named the top women’s player in the world in 2016 at 33.
“I am fine tuning things that I wasn’t good at or that I am getting really good at,” Long said. “I don’t think age really has anything to do with that. Come 2019, I think that will probably be my best football.”
With the national team’s winter camp kicking off in Carson, California next week, Long has been on the island for offseason training. She and Batista have played in futsal leagues five nights a week in Brentwood, Uniondale and Queens to stoke her competitive edge and keep in shape.
Wednesday, she took time to hold clinics for four age groups for youth soccer players at the Elite Sports Factory in Massapequa. Long ran the kids through drills and games before a Q and A session, answering queries about her pre-game eating habits, national team roommates and rituals.
Long understood she wasn’t going to turn anyone into an elite player.
“I hope they walk away with a little bit of encouragement,” she said. “I want to give them confidence to be who they are and just like love what they’re doing and make them believe that you can dream big and literally anything can happen. I’m not going to teach them to be Messi in an hour and a half or two hours.”
Her message got through to at least one participant. Holbrook’s Brooke Gallo, 11, who met the midfielder for the first time, was impressed with her work ethic.
“It’s just how she works hard all the time,” Gallo said. “She’s always training, and she never gives up.”
Whether Long takes her clinic experience to another level and becomes a coach remains to be seen.
“It depends. I admire coaches like Pep Guardiola and I see what he can do,” she said about the Manchester City coach. “There is so much to learn. I’m so competitive. I will have to learn how to lose nicely.”
Which might require a lot of birthday cake and ice cream.