Saturday, May 24, 2008

Congrats Ali!

Today in Germany, U.S. National Team defender Ali Krieger did something pretty special. She (we think?) became the first American to win a UEFA Women's Cup, basically the Champions League of Europe for women's soccer. Krieger plays for German powerhouse FFC Frankfurt, which defeated Swedish powerhouse Umea 3-2 (after the teams tied 1-1 during the first leg in Sweden) to take the Cup on a 4-3 aggregate. Krieger played the full 90 minutes in front of a German record crowd for a women's match of 27,640, and next to at least six members of the full Germany Women's National Team (probably more, but we don't feel like looking up German National Team players right now). She squared off against a team that featured a number of Swedish National Team players as well as Danish and Japanese National Team players, not to mention...yeah, Marta. She's Brazilian. Frankfurt managed to keep Marta off the scoresheet and got two goals from former WUSA player Conny Pohlers. Krieger, who earned her first two full National Team caps in January at the Four Nations Tournament, has been fulfilling club commitments in Germany ever since, but will arrive at U.S. camp tomorrow and spend a week doing her best to show well and be considered for a spot on the Olympic Team. Krieger has yet to play for the USA in a FIFA youth or senior world championship, but now she has a very unique accomplishment on her soccer resume. See above right.

A Night With David

About a dozen U.S. players took advantage of one of the perks of having its training base at The Home Depot Center, taking in the Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Kansas City Wizards match this evening. It was an entertaining battle with plenty of chances for both teams and featured a Galaxy comeback from 1-0 down to win 3-1. The final goal was scored by David Beckham from deep inside his own half. Kansas City GK Kevin Hartman has come into the penalty box for a corner kick when the score was 2-1. The ball was cleared out to Beckham, who took a look at the opposing net and fired from at least 70 yards away, bouncing it into the open the goal! The legend grows. Unfortunately, most of the U.S. players had left the stadium to beat traffic! Well, it sometimes is tough to get out of the HDC with such a big crowd. And they can check it out on tomorrow. It's well worth the mouse clicks.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

We Knew Cats Were Good Jumpers...

The U.S. team had its combo on-field weight and agility / soccer workout this morning, with half the team running through the circuit while the other half played soccer before switching after 45 minutes. It was a high intensity, efficient training with tons of touches on the ball for all the players. That set the tone for another hard workout in the afternoon that featured some 3 v 3 and 4 v 4 games as well as finishing. With Friday off, the team will train once on Saturday before head coach Pia Sundhage splits the squad on Sunday for two 90-minute scrimmages.

Hau`oli Lā Hānau Tash!

Today is the (gulp) 25th birthday of forward Natasha Kai. Yeah, she's halfway to 50, but if there was ever a person young at heart, it's Natasha Kai. To celebrate her B-day, and the May birthdays of Kristin Luckenbill, Leslie Osborne and Tobin Heath, the team is going to team captain Christie Rampone's house tonight for a home cooked dinner. With tomorrow off from training, the team can relax and stuff themselves before enjoying some great California weather on Friday. What? It's supposed to rain on Friday? Well, that would put a damper on things, but after several days of hard training, a day of rest will be good, whether its spent in a movie theatre, at an indoor mall or just relaxing in your hotel room. For now, Hau`oli Lā Hānau to Natasha Kai (Hawaiian for Happy Birthday) and the team will hit the field again on Saturday.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Price is Right

The U.S. team certainly had a full day today. After a hard morning training session this a.m., and after watching most of the UEFA Champions League Final in the locker room (most of the players were rooting for Man U), the team boarded a bus to the Fairfax district of Los Angeles and the CBS studios at Television City to make a special appearance on legendary game show The Price is Right. The show is hosted by huge soccer fan and MLS Seattle investor Drew Carey, who was tabbed a little less than a year ago to take over from the iconic Bob Barker, who retired after hosting the show for 35 years. We can't give away too many details, but suffice it to say that all the folks at The Price is Right were great to the team and the players had a fantastic time. The air date for the show featuring the U.S. team is June 13, so set your DVRs, and get ready to COME ON DOWN! Ok, the U.S. players weren't actually bidding on any prizes, much to the chagrin of Heather O'Reilly, who was sure she could win the Showcase Showdown. A few players did get to spin The Big Wheel before the show, which Natasha Kai called, "a dream come true." Of course, there are a few more dreams on the table for the next few months, namely making the Olympic Team and competing for a gold medal.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New 'do

U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath showed up to training camp with a new look, cutting off nine inches of brown locks. While she can barely put her hair in a ponytail, the bob has drawn great reviews from her teammates, who can't decide whether it makes her look older or younger, but definitely are in agreement that it's "super cute." The motivation for the new 'do was more than looking for some low-maintenance hair for the hot summer ahead. Heath donated her hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, a charitable organization created to bring people together to share their strength and donate their beautiful, healthy hair to create free wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment. Well done, Tobin. Today at training, pre-wrap hairband expert Heather O'Reilly was seen giving some tips to Heath, who will definitely need the bands to keep her hair out of her eyes until she can go full ponytail again.

Back in Blog

After what seemed like a very short break after a great win over Canada on May 10 in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Women's National Team is back in action for a training camp at The Home Depot Center. This two-weeker will be the USA's final training before leaving for the Peace Queen Cup in South Korea on June 8. This being the beginning of a training camp, that of course means the team ran the Beep Test today. This is sort of a bad news, good news sort of situation. The bad news is that they had to run the Beep Test. The good news is that most everyone did extremely well, including Heather O'Reilly and Heather Mitts, who seemed to be Cyborg fitness machines sent from the future to dominate the Beep Test. Mitts sweated and sprinted to the best score by far and probably one of the best marks in recent U.S. WNT history. The other good news is that this was the last Beep Test of the year for the team! While of course the players will continue to work on fitness leading into the Olympics, the Beep Test is in the rear view mirror, at least for 2008.