Friday, February 15, 2008


U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage canceled the morning sessions on the field, so the players will just lift weights in the a.m. and hit the field in the afternoon. If there was ever a training camp that has served as a “pre-season” for the WNT, this would be it. The team has worked extremely hard and efficiently over the past two weeks with just a few days off, and after a week off before heading to Portugal for the Algarve Cup, the team should be fit and played in once they arrive in Europe. The players have one last scrimmage on Saturday morning, which will be an important match for several players who may be on the bubble as far as making the Algarve roster. By the way, it is a spectacular day in Los Angeles today.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Breakfast, Rain and Sun

The morning started out with a U.S. Women’s National Team first. Sure the team has gone out to many, many dinners together, and a few lunches too, but this morning marked the first-ever “breakfast out” for the WNT. The whole team drove to a well-known local eatery and munched down on some fantastic breakfast fare before 12 players headed straight to training and the rest headed for a day off. When the dozen players started warming up, it was raining and windy. When they ended, there was bright sunshine and light breezes, making for some pretty prefect soccer weather. For the two dozen players that got the day off, several of whom are nursing sore hamstrings and other body parts, it was a nice respite from an intense week and a half of training. The U.S. team hits the field again tomorrow for two trainings and the morning practice will include some weight-lifting. There will be scrimmage on Saturday then a morning training on Sunday will conclude the camp. U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage should announce the Algarve Cup roster early next week.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Scary Moment

There was a gruesome collision in today’s training as defender Rachel Buehler and Leslie Osborne cracked heads going for a bouncing ball. Both players went down in a heap and there was nary a breath breathed or an eye blinked for a few moments as the trainers rushed out to both players. Amazingly there was no blood spilled by either player, but Osborne definitely got the worst of it in the form of a huge knot on the right side of her head. Truth be told, the massive bump sort of freaked out her teammates before the trainers quickly applied an ice bag to her noggin. Those who know the hard-nosed Buehler’s game would not be surprised to hear that due to her extremely hard head (we think that’s the reason, although we are not doctors), she got up after a few minutes and returned to practice with barely a bump. Osborne was taken for an X-ray, but we are happy to report that Leslie (who apparently also has a very hard head) is fine and was eating dinner (with a compression bandage on her head) next to Buehler at the hotel after training. Buehler, being about the sweetest kid you could ever meet (when she is not knocking you down in a game), apologized profusely to Osborne on the field, but the 2007 Women’s World Cup veteran, who has been known to lay down a few mean tackles herself, told her no worries.

Happy B-Day Pia

There have been a number of February birthdays in training camp this month, including Cat Whitehill and athletic trainer Gigi Garcia, while Keeley Dowling and Amy Rodriguez celebrate their b-days in a few days. But today was head coach Pia Sundhage’s birthday. In addition to wolfing down ice cream cake at dinner, the team celebrated at the end of training by changing the usual “One-two-three-TEAM!” to the Happy Birthday song for Pia. Sundhage is known for her singing ability (and she also plays a mean acoustic guitar), but truth be told, the U.S. players ain’t bad either. It’s not like they are going to win American Idol anytime soon, but singing sessions on long bus rides in the past have been more than decent. To talk to them, though, they can’t seem to hit those right notes during the pre-game National Anthem, although they make up for it with volume.

Busy Bees

It was another busy day in WNT training camp. First, all 26 players went to the doctor’s office this morning to get blood drawn for standard blood work. No stone is unturned in preparing these players for competition! Then, the whole team came to The Home Depot Center at Noon for lunch before jumping into one of the team’s favorite days of the year – Photo Day! Ok, so maybe posing for tons of photos isn’t everyone’s idea of a fun afternoon, but the players definitely got into it as the WNT does it at a bit higher level than your standard 5th grade school photo day. The players did three different set-ups with three different backdrops, posing in casual clothes (also known as “lifestyle shots”), sitting for standard head and shoulder shots (also know as “mug shots”), and then headed to the stadium pitch to stand for full length portraits in their white, long-sleeve game jerseys (those white long sleeves are sweet-looking if we do say so ourselves). Special thanks to official team photog John Todd and his assistant Don for powering out the photo shoot (those guys are good), and to all the players and coaches for their patience posing for a plethora of pics (sometimes, we just gotta bust out the alliteration in the WNT Blog). Tomorrow, most of the team has the day off, but about a dozen players will train in the morning as this WNT training camps nears its end…


Monday, February 11, 2008

Pump You Up

Today was another busy day for the U.S. Women’s National Team. Half the team trained on the field in the morning while the other half did a weight workout at gym near the team hotel. In the afternoon, the groups flip-flopped. In the morning, the group that was lifting had to move outside the gym to do their workout as their wasn’t room inside, making for an odd sight for any passers-by who would have seen a dozen athletic women in Nike U.S. National Team gear pumping some iron. Said forward Heather O’Reilly: “It was like muscle beach out there.” We’re pretty sure she was joking, although O’Reilly does have some impressive pipes. Tomorrow is another double-day, although the entire 26 players in camp will train together in both sessions as head coach Pia Sundhage continues the process of selecting the 20-player Algarve Cup roster.


Pet Names

We found out the other day that goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart had two cats while growing up, one named “Lilly” and another named “Scurry.” Who would have known that one day Barnhart would be saving shots from one and training next to the other? Barnhart was just 11 years old when Scurry debuted for the USA in 1993 (and five years old when Lilly first played for the USA), but Barnhart says the cats are still kicking and meowing. This has spurred us to find out if any other young players on the National Team had pets named after U.S. Women’s National Team players.

Cat Racer

We found out today that Cat Whitehill is an excellent driver. During training camps, the U.S. team has about a 25-30 minute drive from the team hotel to training at The Home Depot Center every day. Sometimes, when the team has split practices, the players take vans instead of the team bus and cutting precious minutes off the commute is of great value. Doing so involves an intimate knowledge of the timing of stoplights, a bit of weaving in and out of traffic and a feel for Southern California traffic patterns. All these skills were learned by Whitehill during the several Residency Training Camps and she has put those talents on display this week. Of course, she also drives safely and abides by all California vehicle laws and codes, but darn if her van doesn’t get to places just a bit fast than everyone else’s van, earning her Top Driver Award for the WNT. This should not be a surprise as Whitehill does hail from the Alabama, which of course is NASCAR country. Back in 2004 after the USA won the Olympic gold medal, Whitehill was approached to be the official starter at the Talladega 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway (we love writing Talladega) about 40 miles east of her hometown of Birmingham. At the last moment, Kiefer Sutherland committed, denying Whitehill what she admitted would have been a highlight of her life. But hey, when Jack Bauer wants to the starter, Jack Bauer gets to be the starter.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Steph Steps Up

Stephanie Cox also did a photo shoot yesterday, but this one was at The Home Depot Center for a major feature in a magazine coming out later in the year as well. Cox, however, was in her game uniform for her first major individual photo shoot as a WNT player (and as Stephanie Cox!). Of course, she nailed it. Steph, although sometimes a bit shy off the field, seems to be a natural in front of the camera. It’s a good thing, as the 21-year-old already has 33 caps for the National Team, and is always thoughtful and well-spoken in her interviews. And hey, it’s about time a defender got some love from the media!

Flashbulbs Popping

Yesterday was a big photo shoot day for the U.S. team. Christie Rampone, Abby Wambach, Leslie Osborne and Heather O’Reilly did a photo shoot for a major women’s magazine. We can’t give out too many details, but suffice it to say that it was pretty cool and it should make for a unique image. Amazing how the WNT players can transition smoothly from sweaty soccer players to super models (with help of course from make-up artists and stylists). Keep a lookout for the photo down the road and we’ll try to give you details when it comes out. See above for a pic of the quartet outside the studio. Meanwhile…