Saturday, January 31, 2009

Super Sunday

The WNT Blog will not be posting on Sunday, Feb. 1, due to the day of gluttony and couch surfing known as Super Bowl Sunday. It also happens to be an off day from training for the U.S. WNT after some hard scrimmages today. Swedish head coach Pia Sundhage may not know much about the Super Bowl, but she knows it would be a good idea to let the players watch it...and watch it they will. Abby Wambach is hosting a Super Bowl party for the team at her place and surely there will be food, fun and laughs for all. But certainly no wagering. Certainly. The consensus from the players is that the Pittsburgh Steelers will win football's ultimate prize, but many would like to see the underdog Cardinals pull it out. It's a tough game to watch for the several Philadelphia Eagles fans on the team. The Cardinals beat the Eagles in the conference title game and off course the Steelers are Pennsylvania's other team. Still, all the players are hoping for a competitive contest...and a whole bunch of funny commercials.

Abby on Studio 90 News

Today's edition of Studio 90 News on checks in with U.S. forward Abby Wambach, who is in her first WNT training camp since breaking her leg just before the 2008 Olympics. To see Abby talk about how her training camp is going and her thoughts on being back with the National Team, click here or watch below.

Caption That

We thought we'd give you, the WNT Blog reader, the chance to work for, if only for a moment. Now, Nicole Barnhart is known for throwing her body in front of any shot from any distance and she probably gets blasted in the midsection at least once per training. Often the U.S. attackers show little or no remorse for their point-blank strikes, but we know that Leslie Osborne certainly wouldn't drill her on purpose. Barnhart saved this one. Can you think of a good caption or what either player might be saying at this moment? We will only post funny, creative or entertaining captions so put on your caption writing caps before you post.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ponytail Named

We gotta admit..."Name That Ponytail" was a big success. So much so that we decided to wait not even a day before we named that ponytail. Give props to Gregory Smith who more than correctly stated: "The Ginger Princess." Yes, that was Lori Chalupny's ponytail. We have to say that the WNT Blog won this one, as the majority did not choose Chups. Perhaps you'll do better next time...and oh yes, there will be a next time for Name That Ponytail.

55% said Heather O'Reilly
29% said Lori Chalupny
8% said Christie Rampone
8% said Tobin Heath

All Hail the Ginger Princess...

It's a Bird, It's a Plane...

...It's SuperHAO! We really have nothing to go with this picture, we just thought it was really cool. We are not sure if Heather O'Reilly finished this chance, but we do know that if we had any doubt before (we didn't) that Ms. O'Reilly is blessed with tremendous athleticism, we now have some more visual proof. Rumor is that the control tower at LAX cleared Heather for landing soon after this shot.

Pinkberry Gooooood...

The team went out to dinner tonight, which they do at least once per training camp, and following the meal, almost the whole squad sauntered over to Pinkberry for some scrumptious frozen yogurt. Most of the players are big Pinkberry fans, led by midfielder Angie Woznuk, a self-proclaimed Pinkberry fanatic. In fact, if you are ever at a game where Wozzy is playing and you want her autograph but there are hundreds of other people waiting, just wave a Pinkberry gift card and Wozzy is sure to come right over. We hope there are some Pinkberrys in St. Louis, where she will be playing for the St. Louis Athletica in the WPS or she'll be one sad midfielder. Wozzy got a small original with strawberries and chocolate chips. Suffice to say, the fro-yo was a nice capper to a nice meal and a good but healthy sweet snack before the team plays its final scrimmages of the training camp tomorrow afternoon.

Name That Ponytail!

We are starting a new game here on the WNT Blog. (Well, we're going to try it out). We've decided to call it: Name That Ponytail! We'll take a picture of one WNT player's ponytail and you have to guess who that player is. If the game is too easy or a flop (perish the thought), this might be the only time we play it, but we'll see. This pic was taken at night, which may make it easier or more difficult, but for now do your best and...Name that Ponytail!

Sharp in '11?

It's so nice in Los Angeles that the U.S. team is holding its meetings outdoors. Ok, just the above meeting, which was with reps from Nike to discuss the team's next kit, which will come out sometime prior to the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. The players gave input into their game uniforms and training gear, listing their likes, dislikes, preferences, style, color, sizing and fabric. We know that the current WNT uniforms are pretty sweet, but if anyone has any suggestions of what they'd like to see their favorite Women's National Team wear in 2011, feel free to comment. We're not promising the input will make it to Nike, and we know its pretty hard to improve on the current sharpness of the WNT gear, but any insightful comments will be posted.

Sorry Ella!

Two days ago in training, during a relatively normal 50/50 challenge, U.S. midfielder Kacey White accidentally elbowed Ella Masar in the face. Result: Broken nose. Three things you need to know: 1) Kacey felt really, really bad and apologized profusely. 2) Ella's nose is fine. Doesn't even look out of place or anything, just a tiny bit swollen. 3) Total time Ella missed from training? About a minute. That's right, girls from Illinois are tough. Yes, it hurts a bit to run and she is not heading the ball, but Ella hasn't missed any training. She will need some surgery next week to clear a nasal passage, but that shouldn't slow down the Chicago Red Stars draft pick too much. Unfortunately, broken noses are not uncommon on the WNT. Ask Carli Lloyd and Kate Markgraf, both of whom got major knocks on the schnoz in the recent past and had to wear masks for a period of time.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Chups!

Today is the 25th birthday of U.S. defender Lori Chalupny, who not only has developed into one of the best players on the U.S. Women's National Team over the past few years, but perhaps one of the best left backs in the world. At age 25, Chalupny has 87 caps as well as one U-19 Women's World Cup, one senior Women's World Cup and one Olympic Games on her resume. When told by teammate Abby Wambach that she could now rent a car, Chalupny remarked with a sigh that this was her last significant birthday. For all those 30 and 40-year-olds out there, we'd like to say..."Hey! You're still a youngster, Chups!" We're not sure if she got any good birthday gifts yet, but we're sure some of her teammates will think of something special. (She already got a cool balloon at breakfast...see above).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

DiMartino Goes 80s

U.S. midfielder Tina DiMartino was sporting a unique hair management device the other day at training, something not seen since the glory days of the 1980s. Yes, it was a florescent green scrunchy. Apparently DiMartino and Megan Rapinoe were browsing through American Apparel when Rapinoe spied the fashion nugget. "I'll buy it if you wear it," said Rapinoe to DiMartino. Rapinoe called the scrunchy "both shockingly awful and wonderfully tremendous" at the same time, she knew she had a potential trend-setting in DiMartino. Known for one of the best messy buns in women's soccer, and with a mop of brown hair that is just as likely to be on the top or either side of her head (and sometimes all of the above), DiMartino was certainly game. She only wore it for one training, but we are thinking she may spark a "retro trend" with young soccer girls all across America bringing back the scrunchy. Below are a few that DiMartino might sport in the future. (Left: Hearts. Middle: Giraffe. Right: Green w/ soccer balls).

Ask Ang

Since our fan Q&A with Carli Lloyd earlier during this training camp proved so popular, we've decided to put Angela Hucles on the hot seat. The U.S. midfielder-turned-forward stepped up HUGE at the 2008 Olympics, taking the injured Abby Wambach's spot in the starting lineup, helping the USA adjust its attacking style, and scored an amazing four goals to lead the U.S. in scoring, including two during the 4-2 semifinal victory over Japan. Once again, we'll pick a few good questions and have Angela respond via the WNT Blog in a few days. A reminder: We like creative, insightful and thought-provoking questions. So, if you have a query for Hucles, please go ahead and ask...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Not Cool

We apologize in advance for having to post this entry as it’s not interesting, fun or amusing like almost every other scribble we drop in when we’re with the WNT, but it’s something we need to address.

Since we started the WNT Blog, we’ve encouraged our readers to comment on entries and interact with us and the players, and 99.9 percent of the people add comments that are respectful, but it’s always that .1 percent that tries to ruin it for the rest, right? At times certain people have sent inappropriate comments, which we obviously have deleted before they can see the light of day. Now, this is a free country, but the Blog was set up so fans can follow the WNT on its travels around the USA and the world, to give some more insight into the goings on and the personalities of the team and to give fans a medium to be more interactive with It was not intended to simply allow for anyone at a computer to post derogatory comments.

So, anyone out there thinking of writing something over the line, think twice before you do it for two reasons: 1) No one will ever see it anyway as we control which comments are made visible on the blog, which means you're just wasting your time, and 2) some comments are not simply unwelcome, but arguably illegal. We are working with authorities who will take the necessary action to uncover the individuals who continue to write such comments. You can only hide behind anonymous blog postings for so long.

So, in short, please leave the blog and postings for those who enjoy them and use the site correctly. We are not saying you can’t post a strong opinion, positive or negative, please do, but keep it in the realm of free speech. Or if you continue to post, please be brave enough to include your contact phone number and email so we can have a follow up discussion.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Too Easy

We asked you to name the eight players in WNT camp who had won a Women's World Cup, and yeah, that trivia question was a bit too easy. Credit goes to "F#3" who correctly pegged the great eight.

Christie Rampone - 1999 FIFA WWC
Rachel Buehler - 2002 FIFA U-19 WWC
Lindsey Tarpley - 2002 FIFA U-19 WWC
Heather O'Reilly - 2002 FIFA U-19 WWC
Lori Chalupny - 2002 FIFA U-19 WWC
Angie Woznuk - 2002 FIFA U-19 WWC
Kendall Fletcher - 2002 FIFA U-19 WWC
Christine Nairn -- 2008 FIFA U-20 WWC

We'll try to come up with something more challenging next time, but for now, we present your WWC champs:

(L to R) Woznuk, Buehler, Nairn, Fletcher, Rampone, Tarpley, Chalupny. (Front) O'Reilly

Guest Player

The 25-player U.S. Women's National Team training camp roster featured a "+1" today as midfielder Leslie Osborne pulled on national team training gear for the first time since she tore the ACL in her left knee last May, causing her to miss the 2008 Olympics. Osborne is one of the U.S. team's favorite teammates, whose work ethic and positivity always contributes greatly to team chemistry. Osborne, who also had reconstructive surgery on her left ankle to clear up long-lingering issues in the joint, has joined the U.S. team mid-camp to do some light work, but is not allowed in any contact drills. Osborne looked very good, striking balls and going through passing drills, but will take her time getting back to full fitness after the two major surgeries. The light training, which just featured passing patterns and a soccer tennis tournament, came to a rousing end as Osborne was re-instituted to her old job of bringing the team together in a huddle for the end of practice ritual to shout "Team on three! 1,23...Team!" (See above).

"It was a pretty exciting day for me on a lot of different levels," said the 25-year-old Osborne, who has 60 caps for the USA. "It's been along seven and a half months. It's gone by pretty quickly, but still it's been a long time to be out and it's been a lot of hard work. Just to be around my teammates today, I was smiling the whole practice. It makes me appreciate it a lot more and I am excited to get back."

Welcome Back Leslie!

Pia at The House of Blues

It's pretty well known now that U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage is cool. Heck, she's European, plays guitar, sings, guides teams to gold medals, and in her spare time, goes to rock shows. Well, not a lot of rock shows, but with an evening off last night, she and asst. coach Amanda Cromwell headed south to Anaheim to see O.A.R. at the House of Blues. Sundhage, whose musical tastes run more to folk and classic rock, enjoyed the show and the atmosphere. Will the U.S. players soon be treated to a rendition of "Crazy Game of Poker"? We shall see.

Fear the Anteater

Of the top 40 or so players in the U.S. Women's National Team Player Pool, just one is a full-time assistant coach for a Division I school. That would be defender Kendall Fletcher, who has been the asst. coach for two seasons at UC Irvine in California. Drafted by the Los Angeles Sol in the new WPS, she will continue her duties at UCI, which is only about 40 minutes down the freeway from The Home Depot Center, where the Sol will play its home games. Fletcher, who is from Cary, N.C., and played her college soccer at UNC, helping the Tar Heels to the 2003 NCAA title, has traveled a long way for her first coaching gig.

"After working summer camps at Carolina, I knew I wanted to coach after I graduated. I just loved it," said Fletcher. "It was a way to keep me around the game after college and without a pro league. I was lucky enough to have (UCLA head coach and U.S. WNT asst.) Jill Ellis recommend me to Scott Juniper, the head coach at UCI and I applied. I interviewed for the job and I think I fit what he was looking for."

Fletcher says that it's been a smooth transition from player to coach, and she has really enjoyed her two seasons so far.

"It's been very fulfilling to be able share my experience in the game with younger players. I've really enjoyed working in a new environment on the West Coast and I feel I've grown a lot as both a coach as a player. I can't wait to see what the coming years bring as far as my continued growth as a coach and our continued growth as a program."

Fletcher, who won a U-19 Women's World Cup with the USA in 2002, was a top college player during her four years and was a top pick of the Sol, is certainly a great role model as a player and person for the young UC Irvine Anteaters.

"I've benefited from playing for some great coaches in the past and I really enjoy watching players develop. I want to pass on to our players the knowledge I've gained from these great coaches as well as my passion for the game."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Who Has Won a WWC?

The 25-player U.S. roster during this current training camp is chock full of players who own an Olympic gold medal, but there are just eight who have won a Women's World Cup. Can you name them? We'd give a few hints, but we don't think you need them, although a bit or research may be required. Answer later in the week or when someone gets it right.

Rookie Featured

Masar, second from left, suits up for Team Strommen in the Norway First Division
We hope you took a few minutes to read this unique feature on WNT rookie Ella Masar, and if you did, you'd learn that she scored a goal in the Norwegian Cup Final last year. Through the magic of YouTube, you can see it here. In another interesting sidenote, prior to last summer's U-23 Nordic Cup, a friend of Masar's brother bet him $1,000 that she couldn't score two goals in an international match. Sure enough, she scored twice against the Germans in the championship game. Her brother got the cash and Masar says that for the next wager, she's getting a commission.