Aaron Heifetz, the press officer for the USWNT, was not amused that I'd sent the squad's goalkeeper coach, Phil Wheddon, an email asking for an interview.
Contrary to rumors flying about on the Internet, Wheddon is still gainfully employed by U.S. Soccer, Heifetz confirmed.
Basically, the regular protocol for any journalist covering U.S. Soccer is to put all media requests through the organization. On the men's team, it's possible to work around this somewhat by asking a question or two about the national team when interviewing a player after an MLS game, for example.
It's not that way with the women, of course, because there's no professional soccer league for the top players right now in the U.S.
Some U.S. soccer people do answer the media on their individual email accounts - notably Sunil Gulati, for one.
Though press people are usually delighted when there's a lot of publicity, Heifetz is less than thrilled at the attention the team has garnered lately. It's probably obvious why. He's also been really irritated at the lengths some reporters have gone to in trying to contact players for comments. I told him (and for those who think I'm devious, it was absolutely true) that I had never tried to contact a squad player on the women's senior team except through the official channels.
Anyway, Aaron's friendly, though grumpy, reminder was that the same scenario applied to USWNT staff members as well. All the cast and crew are on vacation right now, though, so Aaron isn't setting up any interviews.
Can the team threaten or censure reporters who try to get the story any which way they can? Not directly perhaps, but the USSF can exercise discretion via who they grant credentials and interviews to - they're basically not going feel any compulsion to lift a finger to help anyone who they feel has burned them or broken their rules.