U.S. Web Log: 2006 FIFA U-20 Women's World Championship
Follow the U-20 Women's National Team at the 2006 FIFA Women's World Championship in Russia. Follow each minute of their quest for the world title with ussoccer.com's exclusive behind-the-scenes blog.
Aug. 13, 2006
Entry #1: Aug. 12, 9:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m. ET )
The players are arriving separately into JFK Airport for the direct flight to Moscow and we must say it’s a bit nerve-wracking with all the new airline security. Some players came from California and took red-eyes, other flew in the same day and a few drove in. Will everyone make the team flight? Amazingly, there are no issues. And team coordinator Amy Colquhoun was as cool as the other side of the pillow despite the madness at the Delta terminal. In fact, midfielder Allie Long who lives the closest to JKF (on Long Island) was the last to arrive (her mom dropped her off), along with goalkeeper Joanna Haig, who was coming in from Minnesota. The only real issue was the “misplacement” of the bags of Brittany Bock and Kelley O’Hara, who were connected through Atlanta. Eventually, they found the bags in time to get them checked to Moscow, but O’Hara’s bag had a little accident. She had stuffed snacks and Easy Mac into the bag and apparently the Nike soccer duffle had not been handled with “TLC.” Almost every packet of Easy Mac burst open, covering her clothes with a fine cheese dust and what seemed liked thousands of kernels of hard macaroni pasta. To top of it off, her chips broke as well, creating a sort of strange “dried snack buffet” inside her bag. She cleaned it out the best she could and checked it through to Moscow. Kelley will be without Easy Mac during the World Championship. Maybe Mom and Dad can bring her some more? Many of the players had a “last meal” at Chili’s at JFK. It looked scrumptious. Brittany Bock didn’t order anything, but walked up during the meal and ate half of someone’s cheeseburger and a whole bunch of fries. She was happy.
Entry #2: Aug. 12, 11:45 p.m. (3:45 p.m. ET )
When planning a major international trip like this one, which involves a traveling party of more than 30 people, numerous domestic flights, a massive amount of baggage, travel visas for everyone and numerous other hiccups that can occur in a flash, the U.S. Soccer Team Administrators do many great things to keep everyone organized. Getting ready for a World Championship is one of the most difficult jobs around and it’s nearly impossible to account for every detail. A misplaced passport is the peril of any traveling team. Forward Amy Rodriguez left on her red-eye from California without her passport on Friday night thinking that Colquhoun had it when, in fact, it had delivered been overnighted. But with some quick thinking by Manager of Youth National Teams Bill Ferguson, U-21 WNT coordinator Brittany Braun and Colquhoun, the situation was saved. MAJOR props go out to Braun, recently back from the Nordic Cup in Norway, who hopped on a plane to JFK with A-Rod’s passport, delivered it, and hopped back on a plane to Los Angeles. (Brittany now gets an assist for every goal A-Rod gets). And it all happened the day AFTER the new tighter traveling regulations! But that’s how the TAs roll at U.S. Soccer. Job well done, all.
Entry #3: Aug. 12, 1:45 a.m. (5:45 p.m. ET)
The flight was already supposed to be in the air, but the pilot announced that “Ladies and gentlemen, due to a large amount of baggage on this flight, we had to remove some cargo so all that baggage would fit. We wish we would have done that before, but once we get that cargo off and all the bags on, we’ll be headed to Moscow. Thanks for your patience.” Whoops! Sorry, fellow passengers. After the announcement, Kelsey Davis yelled, “That’s our fault!” Is she trying to get us lynched by angry Russians? People were already in testy enough moods after the packed airports! Because of that stupid team with all their baggage, and because of packed runways at JFK, the flight actually left two hours late.
Entry #4: Aug. 13, 12:15 p.m. (4:15 a.m. ET)
The flight landed just one hour late! Well done Mr. Pilot! Way to put the pedal to medal! (Do planes have pedals?) After the 8 hour and 55 minute flight, the weather is perfect in Moscow. It is a bit on the chilly side, but perfect for soccer if it holds. The FIFA folks were super organized and the players and staff quickly loaded all the gear and equipment, rolled it out to the bus where a big equipment truck was waiting. The staff loaded it up onto the truck with equipment manager Jason Peters looking like an ant (lifting bags twice his size) and the team was on its way to the hotel. The freeway to the hotel rolled past the Dynamo Stadium where the team will be playing its third group match against France. The players snapped pictures and you could feel the aura of the World Championship building! By they way, they told us it would be “20 minutes to two hours” to get to the hotel. Huh? Traffic was not that bad and it only took 30 minutes.
Entry #5 Aug. 13, 3:00 p.m. (7 a.m. ET)
The first lunch! The hotel is spectacular and food is excellent! Only problem is FIFA has set up just seven computers for the four or five teams staying at the hotel. There is wireless in the hotel, but it costs $35 a day! Do you get someone to come up to your room, do your Google searches, print them out and type up your term papers for that? Needless to say, most of the U.S. players/college students will be using the free FIFA computers. Mexico is at the hotel, so is France and Argentina. Congo has yet to arrive as far as we can tell. The Germans arrived in the afternoon. This just in: Germans are tall. Very tall. Even the U-20s. At the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup in Thailand, Kelsey Davis decided that the official mascot, a female elephant with long eyelashes, most resembled midfielder Stephanie Kron of all the players on the U.S. team. Kron was not amused. This world championship, Davis has been charged with deciding which U.S. players looks most like this year’s mascot, a little wolf with a ponytail named Alissa. Davis says the early front-runner is 5-foot-2 midfielder Tina DiMartino, who didn’t seem at all bothered with the comparison. Granted, it’s very difficult to ruffle Tina’s fur….hmmm, much like a wolf?
Entry #6 Aug. 13 10:10 p.m. (2:10 ET)
After lunch, the players tried to stay up to adjust quickly to the time change as they open the tournament in just five days on Aug. 18 against DR Congo. Some made it to the team walk at 7:30 p.m. without snoozing, some didn’t. Amanda Poach mistakenly entrusted Casey Nogueira to wake up her and her roomie Tobin Heath after a 30 minute “cat-nap.” Two hours later, Poach snapped awake, thinking she missed the team walk and dinner, only to see Nogueria passed out next to Heath. The team walk was quick, up and down the huge boulevard that borders the hotel, passing many expensive shops and stores that just might be out of the players’ socio-economic range, but maybe not. Stay tuned…there is a shopping trip planned for tomorrow. After dinner and a meeting, where U.S. head coach Tim Schulz went over the team goals for the tournament, the players finally hit the sack for the evening. FYI: The FIFA team liaison, Irena, seems like a sharp cookie, which will be a big help during the tournament. She speaks excellent English and has even mastered the art of diplomacy. When asked by Schulz who she would root for if the USA met Russia in the tournament, she answered, with a smile, “We’ll see.”