Sunday, November 30, 2008

France Advances

The USA's first Group B opponent here in Chile has secured the first semifinal berth - France downed Group A winner Nigeria, 3-2, in today's first quarterfinal.

France took the lead in just the second minute, but Nigeria battled back to tie it in the 13th and take the lead before halftime. Just four minutes into the second half, France leveled the score at two goals apiece to set up Nora Coton-Pelagie for what has to be the goal of her life so far. She wound up just inside the corner of the penalty area and hit a cracker just inside the far post in the 88th minute to get her team to the semis.

Hopefully in a few hours, two teams will have secured a place in the final four....

In the mean time, the fine folks at Estadio Nelson Oyarzun are treating us to some vintage Michael Jackson tunes. We can't think of a better song to get a bunch of 20 year old players fired up than "Beat It".

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Quantum of Solace

Today the team had a special screening of the new James Bond movie Quantum of Solace ... the theater invited them over for an afternoon viewing where they were the only people in the theater. There were mixed reviews...

Some liked the non-stop action... others would have preferred a little more dialogue.

The interesting thing about watching films in foreign countries: the sound is English, but there are Spanish subtitles. This was great for us until the people in the movie started speaking in Spanish or Russian! Then everyone was a little lost because there were either no subtitles, or Spanish subtitles for Russian dialogue.

Either way, it was a really nice gesture from the local mall and theater... we wish we could play all of our games here in Chillan!

The Road to Redemption

Today after lunch, the team took a few moments to think about where they stand right now and what might lie ahead. After a wonderful (and mostly funny) poem written and performed by assistant coach Tom Stone, the players and staff watched part of the Road to Redemption - a video produced about the Gold Medal Winning 2008 USA Basketball team. If you check out the clip above, you can see why there wasn't a dry eye in the room....

Friday, November 28, 2008

Regresaramos a Chillan

"It feels like a home game"

That was the general consensus today as the U.S. team pulled up to the hotel that we loved so much in Chillan. We got off the highway after the three hour drive from Temuco and started seeing the familiar sights ... then we got the same warm reception that we did the first time - actually if it's possible, it might have been warmer the second time.

Everyone is in the same rooms as we were before. It really feels like this is our home and Temuco was an away game! We just want to make sure we get the same results as we did here at Estadio Nelson Oryuzan!

The Story of Thanksgiving

We've finally gotten back to good internet here in Chillan, so we thought we'd share some of last nights "talents" from the post-Thanksgiving dinner Talent Show. Meghan Klingenberg and Keelin Winters - of Guest Blog fame - told the story of Thanksgiving... sort of.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Group of Death, Perhaps?

While every team at the event is tough, it's hard to come up with a tougher first round than pitting Japan, Germany and Canada against each other along with Congo. Japan came out firing and won all three of their matches to take the top place in the group, but Germany and Canada squared off this evening to see who else would advance to the quarterfinals.

After our fabulous Thanksgiving dinner, the team gathered around a big screen to cheer for our neighbors, but our efforts didn't pay off. Incredibly, the CONCACAF Champions were eliminated after their 3-1 loss to Germany and will be heading back up north early.

The other team from our region to advance to Chile - Mexico - also suffered a first-round exit with three losses. So it's up to us to represent CONCACAF!

Thanksgiving in Chile!

Well, it wasn't quite like home, but it was close... the U-20 team had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration here in Temuco tonight, complete with family members, standard traditions and some improvisations.... There was also a talent portion of tonight's festivities and of course, hilarity ensued.

The players enjoying a meal with their second family

Mautz's talent was knocking a bottle off Alex's head with a slingshot and a gummy bear... needless to say, Alex got hit in the head a couple of times

Kaley and assistant coach Amanda Cromwell did the Worm... they even had a race

And what Thanksgiving is complete without football? Tonight we watched futbol AND American football

All said, it was a really nice night spent with those we love. And really, what more could we ask for? A special thanks to the hotel staff and all the players' families who helped make it feel like home tonight. The people in our hotel had a difficult time understanding what exactly we celebrate, but they were eager to learn! We think that has something to do with all the food we ate...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Security Blotter

There was a lot of action from our security detail today....

-Today at training, we had our first glimpse of two policemen on horseback. We don't think we even need to tell you that it created quite a stir among the team. Thankfully, we were able to make friends with the officers and they let us pet and even ride the horses! Don't worry, it more like a pony ride where they walked us around in a circle.

-Then on the way home from our stadium walk through, one of the police escorting us home was on a motorcycle and he got hit by an SUV! The SUV just crossed into an intersection that our new friend was blocking off and hit him hard enough to knock him and the bike completely over. It was a few minutes until we got to the hotel and could talk to him.

Don't worry - he's okay. He kept telling us 'no problema!' and didn't even have a scratch on him. It was amazing. Surely that wasn't the first time that's ever happened to him, but to not even have a scratch or bruise... That's why we're not police officers - we bruise easily.

Hola, Temuco

Today the team did a walk through at Estadio German Becker in their second venue - Temuco. Lots of "oohs" and "aaahs" as the team explored the pitch before tomorrow afternoon's game.
The coaches are happy that the bench and technical areas will be nicely covered in shade by game time. The players are happy that there should be a good crowd in the 18,000 seat stadium as our game is serving as the opening act of Chile's final game.

Practice Hard... don't have to tell these girls twice. This photo of Lauren Fowlkes leg was taken today at training, and it was from practice yesterday. Apparently she had a run in while defending Alex Morgan.

As bad as it looks in this picture, it still doesn't do justice to what are clearly cleat marks on Lauren's knee.

Where We Stand

The USA has already clinched a place in the knock-out phase of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, but there is still one Group B berth on the line on the final match day.. here is what we know:

  • The U.S. can clinch the top place in the group with a win or a tie against China OR a France tie or loss to Argentina
  • Should France win and the USA lose, the tie breakers would come into play to determine who would be the top team... here are the tiebreakers:
    -Goal Differential (currently: USA +6, France -1)
    -Goals Scored (currently USA 6, France 2)
    -Head to Head (USA 3, France 0) *this is as far as it could possibly go
For the second quarterfinal berth out of Group B:
  • France has the edge with three points heading into Wednesday's game after their win over China
  • Argentina and China both have one point, but... Argentina can take second place with a win over France. China can vault into second with a win, a French loss and some tiebreakers with Argentina.
By Thursday, we'll have it all sorted out!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Warm Reception

Today the U-20 WNT was invited to the Consejo Ecologica Chillan, a small Nature Museum located not far from Estadio Nelson Oryuzan. We pulled up to the building with our big bus and a security contingent that consisted of no less than four armed policeman plus the people assigned to us full time - surely not a sight that the museum employees are used to. No matter, this is the reception we received getting off the bus by Lucy, the founder of the "consejo" who we later found out had a very impressive resume that included speaking at worldwide environmental summits.

Each player, including Elli Reed got a warm reception from Lucy as they got off the bus

The consejo was a place for underpriviledged children to come and create art while learning about the environment. There were some amazing paintings and other crafts made from recycled material and out back was a huge yard with a greenhouse and a big garden. They also had a stage that was set, and a trio performed some traditional Chilean dances just for us.

Before leaving, each player was invited to write a message on the stone wall in the back, and out front everyone added their handprint to the outside of the building.

Lauren Fowlkes, Kaley Fountain, Nikki Washington

Christine Nairn leaves her mark on the museum

It was a very nice change of pace... the team felt like they were in someone's home. Lucy emotionally told the girls how much it meant that they came to visit, and she had a hard time saying goodbye when we finally had to go. The feeling was definitely mutual. The girls felt like they'd just met a long lost grandmom who wanted nothing more than to take care of them.

And we're pretty sure that the young man teaching Kaley and Channy how to dance... well, he had about the best day of his life.

Who's Shaking the Bed?

Well... we just had a very small earthquake here in Chillan that really just felt like someone was shaking our beds and chairs. For several of the players it was their first-ever Earthquake, but a handful of California girls are old pros.

We heard initial reports that said the 'quake was stronger in Coquimbo, another World Cup... we hope everyone and everything is en tact over there.

Talk of the Town

Today, the front page story in all the newspapers in Chillan wasn't the USA's win over Argentina. That was a subhead of the photos you can see below:

U.S. Soccer's ace team of equipment managers somehow knew that the city of Chillan would be enraptured with the American girls, and created the sign you see above - nice job guys. Needless to say, it was a huge hit when it was unraveled after the post-game handshake. The crowd went absolutely wild, and as you can see from the headline, the city of Chillan thanked the girls right back.

Tomorrow we will make the three-hour bus ride to Temuco for the third game of Group B against China. There are many reasons we want to come away on top of the group - not the least of which is the opportunity to return to Chillan for the quarterfinals.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

In Spanish It's Called "Pizza"

What could make a group of tired girls break into a full sprint down the halls of the hotel? Only one thing. Pizza.

The team was rewarded for their efforts today with a taste of home... well, okay as close as we could get. Our team liason officer, Rosario, helped get some delivery and truth be told it was pretty good. Could it be that we were craving pizza so badly that anything remotely resembling a pie would be fantastic? Maybe. But we actually were impressed. Especially Alyssa Mautz, pictured below:

Right now everyone is enraptured by the Chile vs. New Zealand game currently on TV. With the way we've been treated here we're all hoping for a comeback from the hosts!

Game Day - Live from Estadio Nelson Oyarzun

It's Game Day!

We had a few things we wanted to share with you leading up to today's big Group B match against Argentina...

Just in case anyone has forgotten how important a figure Tony DiCicco is in this sport, the video board is showing highlights of the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup. If you don't realize the significance of that event.... well, what are you doing reading this blog? Did you get here by accident? If that's the case, welcome.

The teams are surely getting fired up by the music that's playing during warm ups - The Top Gun Soundtrack. Nothing like a little "Take My Breath Away" to get everyone ready to play!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Can You Beat Channy?

The YNT Blog just discovered this video - not filmed here - of goalkeeper Chantel Jones nailing several field goals. Check out the distance on the last field goal! Can anyone out there top 50 yards?

We know Shannon Boxx crushed a 40-yarder at Paul Brown Stadium, and that was on narrow practice posts - very impressive.

Kling and Keelin: Chillin' in Chillan

Hola! Yesterday, we were walking in the park, and some guys recognized us and kicked their ball at us. Cleverly, while they were yelling ‘ESTADIO UNIDOS!” we did tricks. Klingenberg did some great tricks, but she exhausted her arsenal within 30 seconds. Keelin did a cool trick where she had the ball on her head and she kissed it without using her hands. It started out with just four Chileans, and by the time we left it was up to about 30 people there with us. They didn’t yell like that for the Argentineans.

We’ve been watching the Borrne series. Last night we got really mad at Nikki Marshall because we wanted to watch the Bourne Ultimatum and she told us it was too late to start it. It was only 9:30! So we ended up not watching it. But this morning we told her that we watched it without her. Hostility was seeping out of her pores until we finally told her we were just kidding.

Last night we watched “Planet Earth – Sharks.” The shark jumped about 37 feet in the air to eat the seal lion. We pretended that the sea lion was Argentina and the shark was Keelin. We look forward to the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week every year, but this year we were in England! What terrible timing! Mark your calendars for the first week in August though for next year. Due to good timing on a broken nose, Klingenberg actually missed our trip to England and got to watch Shark Week.

Great White Shark - The best video clips are right here

We’ll be back after tomorrow’s game sometime – until then… adios amigos!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Las Gringitas" Son Muy Popular

As you can see, the Americans were all over the papers today after yesterday's big win. That photo of Alex on the front page of the Cronical was hanging from every newstand in Chillan this morning. Obviously, Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux are getting a lot of love from the press.

Needless to say, the U.S. girls have become a favorite among the locals. Hopefully we'll have swung some supporters in our favor for Saturday's game!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Game Day!

Lots of attention from the local papers in Chillan...

The US team during their walk through yesterday at the stadium

You may be wondering why this picture of Alyssa Mautz losing her shoe made the front page... apparently during the ceremonial "first kick" when the stadium opened, the same thing happened. Woops!

Meghan Klingenberg strikes the same pose that famed Chilean forward Marcelo "El Matador" Salas made famous during his goal celebrations. She's trying to be the most popular player at the tournament

And another one of the players during the walk through. We hope they have those same smiles on their faces after today's game!

It's Christmas Eve

Two years of training... qualifying... sacrificing so many other things at home... and the final journey starts tomorrow. Parents have started arriving, tickets have been handed out and the uniforms have been folded.

The players are mostly relaxing, getting massages and taking a dip in the ice bath to make sure they're 100 percent for tomorrow. Today, the team went through a pretty light training in the morning and got their first glimpse of the beautiful Estadio Nelson Oyarzun - lots of ooohs and aaahs from the delegation as they walked around the newly renovated stadium that's expected to hold a sell-out crowd tomorrow afternoon.

Wanna learn more about the tournament? Or did you already know that eight out of 18 players on the 2008 Gold Medal-winning Women's National Team have played here? You can take a glimpse through the years by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The U-20s had a strong fan base present at training today, as what we think was the University of Bio Bio team came out to watch. Actually, they came out to cheer.

They inspired the team with chants of U-S-A and cheers would come for a great goal or a great save by the 'keepers. A good showing from the boys, and the players clapped in acknowledgment after the 90 minute practice. We told you this place was excited about this tournament!

Get Your Best Of...

You may have noticed that U.S. Soccer has announced the candidates for the 2008 Best Of Awards, which cover all things soccer - including best fan photo, best bar and best soccer store.

Also included in the BEST GOAL: WNT, PRESENTED BY SIERRA MIST category is our Becky Edwards for the absolute GOLAZO she hit against Cuba during qualifying in Mexico in June.

Michelle Enyeart was also nominated in the BEST PERFORMANCE: PLAYER category for the offensive show she put on against Trinidad & Tobago in the first game of qualifying.

You can vote for your favorites at our special "Best Of Blog"

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Keelin and Klingenberg Guest Blog Returns

Well..... we have arrived here in Chillan and are definitely settled into our surroundings. Our first night here we walked around a bit to get our bearings in the new city. We’re really close to a park, and there happened to be a festival going on with bands and dancers and what not. It was pretty good timing on our part. Naturally we stayed to see what was going on and take in some local flavor.

It was really funny. The band started playing YMCA and our team was super excited that we knew the song, but apparently no one else knew it. We were doing the dance and screaming and everyone looked at us like we were idiots. It was more like Y….. isn’t anyone doing this?

We were then tricked into going onstage. Keelin served as the translator. She haven’t taken Spanish in three years. We thought they were just going to give us front row seats but those seats came with a price. She thought she was doing a pretty good job of translating but all of the sudden we were going up on stage. Baxter, you know I don’t speak Spanish (name that movie). Apparently people here love us though so that’s nice.

People here seem really interested in the tournament. There are signs everywhere promoting it and everyone knows who we are when we’re walking around. When we pulled up on the bus from Santiago, there was a huge crowd waiting for us. There is also quite a bit of media attention as well, including an insert in today’s paper all about the tournament.

We went to the market, which was cool. We don’t really know how anyone does any business because they all sell the same things. Really cool things, yes, but it’s mostly the same in every shop. We bought a few things, including a sling shot. Later we used the sling shot to shoot Tootsie Rolls at inanimate objects – that made the maids laugh. We’re going to try to get marshmallows to shoot at people.

Other than that we’ve been doing a lot of homework. Keelin also plays the guitar a lot and is teaching Nikki Washington how to play a few things. She’s only been playing for three months so her Mom told her she had to learn how to play a Christmas song. For some reason she thought Silent Night would be a good choice but it really wasn’t. She is trying really hard to hit the high notes though.

So, our game is apparently on ESPN2. Live. That’s freaking sweet. We hope all of our friends and families to be able to watch. It’s a really big step towards getting people at home interested in this tournament and we couldn’t be more excited about it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Goodbye New Zealand, Hello Chile

The U.S. U-17 Women's National Team leaves New Zealand today with a silver medal, but also with the knowledge that they gave their best effort throughout the tournament and in overtime of the World Cup Final against a very talented North Korean team. These youngsters came up just short of making history, but the lessons learned throughout the competition will surely last them a lifetime. For those players from this team that go on to make the U-20s and perhaps the full National Team, they will look back at the month in New Zealand as a stepping stone to greater things, in soccer and in life. While these players have not lived long, they all agree it was a journey of a lifetime. Sure, there were a lot of tears after the match, but when you compete at this elite level, with so much to gain, there is always so much to lose, and the players on the U.S. team could not have done a better job of handling the pressure situations and adverse conditions over the past three weeks in such a huge competition at such a young age.

Special thanks to all the organizers of this tournament for making it truly world class and setting an extremely high standard for future U-17 Women's World Cups. Special thanks to the great people of New Zealand, who treated this tournament and our team with the respect and appreciation that was truly exceptional. And special thanks to our Kiwi team liaison Andrea who could not have done a better job of guiding us through month Down Under. Now, it's time to move the YNT Blog up a few years and focus on Chile and the FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup.

So from the U-17 players to the U-20s (and especially from U-17 Vicki DiMartino to her U-20 sister Gina), good luck in Chile!

A Stroll in the Park

Yesterday evening after dinner, the team went for a stroll through the nearby park (with a walking police escort). The girls walked around a bit before reaching the giant temporary stage set up on the far end of the park. The Chile Reality Festival was a collection of local talent - from traditional dancers, to a 12-piece band that played disco hits, to hip-hop dancers to cheerleaders.

Needless to say, the American girls were a big hit with the local crowd. Though none of the players speak Spanish, they quickly made friends with a group of high school-aged girls, teaching them variations of the high five.

Event organizers quickly took notice of the Americans as they took a lot of photos and signed some autographs. So they did what any smart event organizer would do - called them onstage. The players went up on stage to a great ovation and then individually introduced themselves.

It's Official

After training yesterday, the team had their official meeting with FIFA, getting their passports checked, promising to use fair play and picking up a cool $100 bill. It was the players' first glimpse at their World Cup jerseys, complete with their names and the official Chile 2008 logo. As you can see from Nikki Marshall's face below, they were pretty excited....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Finally Here!

The U.S. U-20s made the beautiful five-hour bus ride along the mountains from Santiago to Chillan - site of their first two games - today in a fancy new busy decorated just for the occasion. It was a pretty uneventful trip, which is how we like them. In case you were wondering, we watched Iron Man and The Wedding Crashers.

We picked up a police escort on the way, and a few motorcycles took us the rest of the way into the city. Apparently people here in Chillan were expecting us. This was the scene as the team bus pulled up to the hotel (you can see the security presence too):

But once inside, we pretty much have the run of the hotel, taking up every room in the place, which is sort of like a bed and breakfast. Every room is different... some of us lucky ones have a beautiful view of the mountains. The staff here has been very welcoming, doing everything they can to make us feel at home. Which si nice, because we have about 10 days and two huge games here!

Time to Play

The USA faces North Korea in the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Final at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand on Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. local / 10 p.m. ET on nov. 15. Fans can follow the game on's MatchTracker. The U.S. players, just 16-and-17-years old, will get the chance to sing their National Anthem before a World Cup Final as well as represent their country, their team and everyone who has helped them get to this moment. So we leave you with this question. How fun is that?

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Before the semifinal, the U.S. team got together to watch "Braveheart." The night before the U-17 Women's World Cup Final, the DVD of choice was "Miracle," the story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. Of course, because the legendary upset of the Soviet Union and the subsequent gold medal happened more than 10 years before any of the U.S. players were born, the movie served not only as inspiration for their own vision-quest, but also as a history lesson. And by the way, how good was Kurt Russel as coach Herb Brooks? Probably one of his best performances besides the portrayal of Snake Plissken in "Escape from New York." But we digress...

While the U.S. team is certainly not the kind of underdog that our hockey players were 1980, some pundits have pegged the Koreans as slight favorites, and some say the USA has the edge. Needless to say, it should be a tight and exciting match at North Harbour Stadium tomorrow as the U.S. women go for gold.

The night before the final, U.S. players sign some autographs on their poster/media pamphlet for the U-17 WWC.

Last Training

The U.S. team held its final training together this afternoon after a long journey which for some of players has lasted two years through training and competition with the U.S. U-16s in 2007 and the U.S. U-17s in 2008. Ironically, the USA will end 2008 the way it started it, at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland, which is just the way they wanted it. The U.S. played its first match of this year last January on the field right outside the stadium during the Future Stars Tournament, defeating Australia 6-0, and will try to end with a win inside the stadium tomorrow. It's been a long, emotional tournament, but aside from the usual bumps and bruises, the U.S. players are healthy, motivated and ready to leave everything on the field during the U-17 Women's World Cup Final.

She Said It

A World Cup requires a lot of travel, moving from city to city and hotel to hotel, which means a lot of packing, un-packing and re-packing. After arriving in New Zealand, the U.S. has traveled from Auckland to Hamilton, Hamilton to Auckland, Auckland back to Hamilton, Hamilton to Christchurch and Christchurch back to Auckland. And that was one of the easier travel schedules of any team at the U-17 World Cup. All of this travel prompted U.S. midfielder Olivia Klei to utter this gem on the subject:

Said Klei: "I don't pack, I shove."

Fortunately, the Pleasanton, California native doesn't live that far from Santa Clara University, where she will matriculate in the fall of 2009. She can make several trips with her stuff by car to her dorm.

Walkin' on Sunshine

The U.S. team trained at 4 p.m. the day before the game, but in the morning took a walk down to Takapuna Beach. On a glorious day, some of the team took a dip in the ocean up to their ankles, some threw around a tennis ball and others collected sea shells. It was a great way to get some fresh sea air, stretch the legs and enjoy beautiful New Zealand on the second to last full day in the country.

You Scream, I Scream...

It's no secret that the U.S. U-17s really love ice cream. No, really...they LOVE ice cream. But as the team has been trying to eat healthy with nutritious foods during the World Cup (they are not drinking soda either), they have for the most part stayed away from the frozen treats. That has caused several players to crave Cold Stone, and Erika Tymrak to share a story about how creative she is when it comes to ice cream. Apparently, the U.S. midfielder actually brings a strawberry pop tart into Cold Stone and asks them to crush it up in her ice cream, and they happily oblige. Now that's some serious pre-planning for a Cold Stone run. Perhaps they'll even name it after her?

Outside the Harbour

After arriving in Auckland at around Noon on Nov. 14, the U.S. team had lunch, rested for a bit and then went to training on the excellent practice field outside North Harbour Stadium, which will host the WWC Final. The players who played 90 minutes against Germany just did some core work and stretching on what was a beautiful day. The rest of the team trained for a little over an hour as the USA focuses on rest and re-energizing for the big match on Sunday.

Arrival in Auckland

Courtney, Olivia, Julia and Kristie (and Curious George) arrive in Auckland for the Final

The U.S. U-17s traveled from Christchurch to Auckland on Nov. 14, the day after defeating Germany in the dramatic semifinal clash. The players were quite tired after the late night and early morning, but when you are on your way to the World Cup Final, somehow early doesn't seem that early and any flight doesn't seem that long. In fact, the flight from Christchurch to Auckland isn't that long. It's just over an hour. All four semifinalists traveled together on the flight, which can be a bit awkward on the day after emotional games, but the English were extremely friendly, the Germans certainly cordial and the North Koreans, well, they speak little English, but the U.S. players did get a few "hellos" when they tried to say hi to them.

Olivia Klei catches up on some reading in the airport gate area before the USA flew to Auckland

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Lesson in Sharing

Well.... the U-20 WNT finally made it to Chile, home of the FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup. After a long, hectic travel day from Los Angeles to Lima to Santiago, the team is training in the Chilean capitol until Friday. Then they'll make the four-hour trek to Chillan - site of their first two Group B matches against France (Wednesday, Nov. 19) and Argentina (Saturday, Nov. 22).

We hope that the U-17 WNT doesn't mind sharing blog space as they prepare for a historic U-17 WWC Final! Think about it.... the YNT Blog is currently coming to you from literally around the world. 19 time zones separate the two major youth events, but both USA teams are searching for the title.

We'll be back with more from Chile as soon as we sort out a solid internet connection here in Santiago...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Day Before

U.S. head coach Kaz Tambi speaks to the team during the final training before the semifinal

The U.S. team held its final training before the U17 WWC semifinal at a charming little soccer stadium called English Park. The squad ran through a short session in chilly weather this afternoon, playing some possession games, doing some shooting (for the attackers) and clearing (for the defenders) while also practicing penalty kicks, because, well, you never know. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, doing a little shopping around the great downtown area in Christchurch and in the evening, watching a movie together. The flicker of choice? Braveheart. If that doesn't get you pumped up to play what will be the toughest match of the tournament so far, nothing will. The Mewis sisters, who are partly of Scottish decent, must have been especially motivated.

Later in the evening, William Wallace spoke to the players

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Training at QEII Park

The U.S. U-17s trained this evening at 7 p.m., getting in the standard pre-game 45-minute session at the game venue QEII Park, although the practice was two games before the match instead of the usual one. The training was at 7 p.m. -- game time for the match against Germany -- and it was a bit chilly out, but considering the weather in Christchurch before the USA got here (rain, wind, some hail), the weather was perfect for soccer and the lots of running that will surely be done by both nations on Thursday. The field is in excellent shape at the half oval stadium that was constructed in 1974 and renovated in 2007.

U.S. goalkeeper Taylor Vancil at the entrance to QEII Park