U.S. U-19 Women Arrive in Thailand for FIFA World Championship
PHUKET, Thailand (Nov. 5, 2004) - The U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team arrived in Phuket, Thailand, on Thursday afternoon (Nov. 4) and any way you slice it, it takes a long time to travel from the West Coast of the United States – where the USA held a three-day training camp – to this picturesque island in Southeast Asia. The almost 28-hour hotel-to-hotel trip from Los Angeles featured a stop for refueling in Taiwan (and an hour in the terminal to stretch the legs), then a change of planes in Singapore (at what must be one of the world’s nicest airports, featuring free internet, a public lounge with numerous plasma TVs, and a gym), before the relatively short flight up to Phuket (correctly pronounced as Poo-get), where the USA will play all of its Group C matches, beginning on Nov. 11 with Asian champions South Korea.
Nov. 5, 2004
U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team
Notes from Phuket, Thailand
U.S. U-19 WOMEN ARRIVE IN THAILAND, PREPARE FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: The U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team arrived in Phuket, Thailand, on Thursday afternoon (Nov. 4) and any way you slice it, it takes a long time to travel from the West Coast of the United States – where the USA held a three-day training camp – to this picturesque island in Southeast Asia. The almost 28-hour hotel-to-hotel trip from Los Angeles featured a stop for refueling in Taiwan (and an hour in the terminal to stretch the legs), then a change of planes in Singapore (at what must be one of the world’s nicest airports, featuring free internet, a public lounge with numerous plasma TVs, and a gym), before the relatively short flight up to Phuket (correctly pronounced as Poo-get), where the USA will play all of its Group C matches, beginning on Nov. 11 with Asian champions South Korea. This will be the first FIFA event hosted by The Kingdom of Thailand and the locals seem organized and excited to put on a top-notch tournament. Advertising for the U-19 Women's World Championship is omnipresent in Phuket, as billboards, signs and banners highlighting the tournament seem to be everywhere. Dubbed “Pearl of the South,” Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, most populated and also its most developed for tourism. Upon experiencing the beauty of its white, sandy beaches, rocky peninsulas and tropical vegetation, it is no surprise that tourists flock here.
WELCOME TO PHUKET!: After arrival in Phuket, the U.S. team was greeted at the airport by a small gathering of media and photographers at the baggage claim, but it was unclear whether they took more pictures of the U.S. team, or if the U.S. team snapped more pictures of themselves as the excitement of finally arriving in Thailand shook the players out of their travel stupor, at least momentarily. The U.S. team was amused to see a bright pink bus with pink and flower-print curtains waiting to take them to the hotel (and not until the next day did they realize that almost all of the busses being used for the World Championship in Phuket are pink). The Americans then experienced an interesting 45-minute bus ride from the airport, as a police escort expertly bisected a two-lane road with traffic going both ways, suddenly creating what looked like a three or perhaps-four lane highway (without lines to signify the lanes) for the U.S. motorcade to pass. After barely avoiding tearing off several side mirrors of passing cars, the U.S. bus arrived at its resort hotel amid some pomp and circumstance worthy of a world championship, as two lines of colorfully outfitted drummers played and women in traditional Thai dress placed flower necklaces on all the players and staff as they entered the hotel lobby.
MUST…STAY…AWAKE: The U.S. players are attempting to get on the Thailand sleep cycle as quickly as possible, which always proves difficult in Asia, and even worse considering Thailand is directly opposite East Coast time and 15 hours ahead of Pacific Time. The U.S. team has been taking 9 p.m. walks (Friday night’s was cut short by a quick tropical storm or a “monsoon” according to Southern California goalkeeper Kelsey Davis), playing games, snacking, watching DVDs and surfing the web on the free wireless stations in the hotel lobby. The players still in high school have been hitting the books, while the college-aged players, all of whom withdrew from school this last term to train for the world championship, have been engaging in other brain-teasing activities. Said midfielder Angie Woznuk: “My coloring-by-numbers book is almost done. It was supposed to last me the whole trip.” Defender Stephanie Logterman put together a puzzle of a boat and defender Stephanie Lopez has been cross-stitching a leaf-pattern wall hanging. Truth be told, many of the college-aged players have been reading for school and pleasure as Woznuk has been a role model, devouring her textbooks while getting a head start on her classes for next term at the University of Portland. Stanford sophomore Rachel Buehler has been reading her chemistry book, as she says in all truthfulness, for fun.
FIRST TRAINING ON THE BEACH: After arriving on Thursday and before dinner, the U.S. team got a sweat on (not difficult task in the hot, humid conditions) and got some life back into their legs after the long journey with a jog and stretch on the beach right next to the hotel, which sits smack dab on the Andaman Sea. The pack of U.S. players attracted a few friendly stray dogs who ran with the team, as well as the interest of two small Thai girls playing in the sand, who at first ran away when asked to take a picture with the team, but then after some cajoling by their father, posed like pros. The U.S. had its first real training session on Friday morning, taking a five-minute bus ride to a training field at a small stadium, also right next to the ocean. The training on the flat, but dry pitch, was remarkably energetic considering the heavy legs from traveling all the way across the world, but the midday heat was oppressive and the 5 p.m. kickoff times for all the first-round matches should make for wonderful conditions for the world championship. The U.S. team also had a light training in the afternoon, and after both practices, players waded out into the ocean for some leg-rejuvenation and light-hearted splashing around. The visits to the beach will be few for the U.S. players, however, as the focus is resting, staying out of the sun and preparing for the first match against the Koreans. Following is the USA’s first-round schedule.
U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team Schedule – Group C
Date Opponent Location Time
Thursday, Nov. 11 vs. South Korea Phuket 5 p.m. local / 5 a.m. ET
Sunday, Nov. 14 vs. Russia Phuket 5 p.m. local time / 5 a.m. ET
Thursday, Nov. 17 vs. Spain Phuket 5 p.m. local / 5 a.m. ET
MASCOT MYSTERY: The official mascot for the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship is a soccer-playing female elephant, with a bow on her head and big, curly eyelashes. While no one seems to know the name of the elephant, the majority of the U.S. players have given “the thumbs up” to the mascot, which is on posters hanging around the hotel. The elephant mascot brought on a nice piece of elephant trivia from defender Stephanie Logterman, who in a National Geographic moment, let everyone know that the elephant is the only animal in the world with four knees that can’t jump. This sparked a debate about whether a hippopotamus or a rhinoceros has four knees or the ability to jump. Training started before the controversy could be resolved.
KRZYSIK: “I’M ALL IN”: The recent popularity of poker has made its way to the U.S. U-19 Women’s National Team as eight players and assistant coach Melissa Moore sat down for an intense game of Seven Card Texas Hold’em to pass the time – and stay awake – on Friday night after the team dinner. The game was organized by reputed card shark, and yes, Allen, Texas, resident, Kerri Hanks. Unfortunately, Hanks went out early, stating she "just didn’t get the cards tonight." Defender Nikki Krzysik eventually won the game as her two pair was good enough to take down finalists Jessica Rostedt, Becky Sauerbrunn and Jen Redmond as all four went “all-in.” Some of the highlights of the evening included 1) Redmond getting new life after she went “all-in” and won the pot when the river card was a 10, giving her three of a kind, 2) Krzysik getting a royal flush in diamonds (we kid you not) and not realizing it until her teammates pointed it out, and 3) Megan Rapinoe folding on at least five straight hands (and getting heckled for it) as she tried to hold onto her last three chips. Then someone remarked that the only way she would bet is if she got pocket aces, and then she did, and won the pot. (Note: The U.S. team does not play for money. All chips, no matter what color, count the same).
Quote of the Day:
U.S. midfielder Jen Redmond commenting on the swelling in her ankles after the 28-hour journey from Los Angeles to Phuket, Thailand.
“I think my entire body weight has gone to my ankles. I don’t even have cankles (when the calves and ankles become one), I have thighkles (a new term created by Redmond when the ankles approximate the width of one's thighs).