Wednesday, February 4, 2009

See You in Portugal

Above is a pic from this morning of the team warming down after the final training of this 17-day camp. Christie Rampone's daugther Rylie decided to join the team on the jog. She looks happy, perhaps because her mom made the roster for the Algarve Cup? Or perhaps because she was going to Disneyland in the afternoon? (We heard a rumor that she was in fact going to meet Mickey). Either way, we'll probably release the entire Algarve Cup roster tomorrow and the team leaves for Portugal on Feb. 25. The WNT Blog will pick back up when the team arrives in Europe, so for now, consider this the "warm down post" and we'll get back with you in a few weeks. As they say in Portugal, Até logo.

Finishing Up...

The U.S. team finished its 17-day training camp this morning with a spirited hour-long session that ended with a four-team small-sided tournament featuring one field with big goals and goalkeepers and one with small goals. Awards were giving out for team champion, golden ball, golden glove, fair play and most spirited (Abby Wambach won that one). There were also some consolation awards for the teams that didn' shall we say... fare so well. It was a nice way to end a long, but extremely productive training camp. Above is the locker room before the final training. And before you think the players leave their cleats and guards nicely lined up after the previous training, that is the work of team equipment manager Andrew "A.D." Dessert. The A.D. stands for "All Day" because as we've said in the past, that's how he rolls.

Small Gesture, Big Cause

Christie Rampone and Marian Dalmy fill out paper work to become part of the National Bone Marrow Registry.

Almost all of the members of the U.S. Women's National Team took 10 minutes out of their busy days yesterday after the morning training to become a part of the National Bone Marrow Registry. It's a cause near to the heart of U.S. legend Mia Hamm, whose foundation is focused on providing support for two important causes: raising funds and awareness for families needing marrow or cord blood transplants and continuing the growth in opportunities for young women in sports. Hamm's brother passed away in 1997 from complications related to aplastic anemia. The Bone Marrow Drive, organized by the The Home Depot Center Charitable Foundation, the LA Galaxy Foundation, the LA Galaxy, Chivas USA and Chivas de Corazón, was in part trying to find a donor for the wife of Real Salt Lake midfielder Andy Williams as Marcia has been diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and is in need of a bone marrow transplant. While it is unlikely that any of the U.S. players would be a match for what is a rare blood type, the players are now in the registry and may be contacted if they are a match for someone in need. Click these links for more information about Andy and Marcia as well as bone marrow donation.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And the Boots Belong to...

An amazing amount of guesses on whose boots graced the below Blog post. Well done. Most of you got it right. The 9.5 (M) Vapor on the top has scored 99 goals for the USA (well, the foot that goes in it has contributed to the 99, along with the right foot, the head and sometimes a knee). The size 6 (W) Tiempo on the bottom has just one cap for the USA, but it could be more should she make the Algarve Cup roster. (She can also squeeze into a 5.5 W). So, mystery solved.

Monday, February 2, 2009

If the Shoe Fits...

The U.S. WNT players comes in all shapes and sizes, which means of course, so do their boots. As you can see, these two cleats don't belong to the same player. (That would be really weird if they did). It might be tough to guess which belongs to whom, but it's not that hard if you put some analytical thought into it. And no, one does not belong to a hobbit and the other does not belong to a balrog. This is not Middle Earth, people, this is The Home Depot Center. We invite you to take a guess...if you dare.

Camp Winds Down

For 15 days, the players have trained...and Pia has watched
(well, and coached, but watched made for a more dramatic cut line).

With just one and a half days and three trainings left in this 17-day "pre-season" camp, the hard work has been done, the players - veteran and rookie - have left their impressions on Pia Sundhage and soon it will be time to choose a roster for the upcoming Algarve Cup. The camp has been marked by some fantastic weather, a few sore muscles here and there, certainly some intense trainings and also some solid performances by some of the newer players. The players that make the Algarve roster will have about three weeks to prepare on their own before the team leaves for Europe while the rest will start focusing on the WPS training camps, which are set the open at the beginning of March. That of course does not include the few players who are still collegians, who have papers, labs and college hoops waiting for them back on campus.

Angela Answers

Thanks again for the questions for Angela Hucles. She took some time out of her busy training camp schedule to answer a few...

Faye asked: Where is your favorite place to go or do when you have a chance to go back home to Virginia Beach , aka the 757?

Angela Hucles: “Hmmm...good question. Normally when I get back to Virginia Beach it's only for a quick visit or during the holidays. Because I don't get back as often as I'd like, I tend to spend most of the time with my family and friends in the area, and sometimes visit my high school and see my old teachers and coaches. I also like that my parents live close to the beach even though I don't take advantage of it as much as I should.”

Emily asked: In your career when did you actually realize that you had the potential to be on the Olympic Team, and when you realized this what did you do to get there?
AH: “Thanks for your question Emily. I feel very fortunate for the career I've had in soccer and how things have progressed. I told my parents and a news reporter when I was 12 that I wanted to be in a World Cup and Olympics, but the irony is I didn't know what it really took until I was with the national team and saw how high the level of play was. Up until that point I had worked hard and had much success, but whatever I thought before, I knew it would take at least twice as much work and dedication to continue on to the path of making the goal I set as a 12 year old a reality.”

fyasko7 asked: I just wanted to know what you're state of mind was before you were starting on the Olympic Team and if that changed after the Olympics? I know it’s important to be a team player and play the roles but did you ever feel frustrated by not being out on the pitch?

AH: “There are different mentalities that players possess depending on whether they are about to start a game versus coming off the bench. I guess for me, throughout the year, I never felt like it was out of the realm of possibility for me to start on the Olympic Team and I held on to that until it happened. So in essence I was preparing myself for that to happen. I think I also was in a mind set of not being frustrated just because I wasn't starting or playing and that helped me focus on just playing the best I could and trust in the coaching staff to use my abilities how they saw fit to best help the team. Over the years I've learned it's just a waste of energy to get frustrated over things I have no control over, so put the energy into things I can control.”

Smitty asked: How often have you had to, for the good of the team, play in a position that you felt was not your natural position, and how have you handled that situation?

AH: “I've played on every line now for the national team, with the exception of one, goalkeeper, and I'm not expecting to be called to play there at any time soon ;) However, playing different positions can give me a different perspective on how to play my "normal" position more effectively. I guess the way I handle it is one of a challenge and a way to make me a more complete soccer player.”

just miri asked: I always admired you for going to South Africa. I have been on several mission trips to Russia to the same orphanage. Actually, the organization I go with now travels and help Swaziland ! You are such an amazing person, soccer-wise and your humanitarian actions. What made you choose to go on that trip last year?

AH: “How wonderful that you are able to take trips to these orphanages! I jumped at the opportunity to go to South Africa and use soccer, a sport that's given me so much, to try and help other people. I decided to go on the trip to help support my friend who started the non-profit, TRIAD Trust, and also to expand the areas that I reach out to. I've always enjoyed traveling and thought it would be a great experience to go to Africa, a place I've never been to before. It was a great decision!”

Marjory asked: You have definitely scored plenty of important goals across all friendlies, games and tournaments! My question to you is...which was the most important goal amongst all for you and why?

AH: “Thanks Marjory. That's a tough question for me because being able to score a goal at this level for me is very special and I treasure the goals I've been able to score on the national team. However, if I choose one I would say the first goal I scored in this past Olympics in our second against Japan during the semifinal. It tied the game and we went on to win 4-2. It was a good boost to get us on the right track!”