WNT Jan 30, 2010
When Nikki Krzysik arrived at U.S. Under-23 WNT training camp on Jan. 13 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif, she was sure that when the camp ended on Jan. 20, she would be traveling to Dallas to see her boyfriend. It didn't quite turn out that way.
Thank heavens for Skype, texting and BBM.
You see, Krzysik never made it to Dallas. When U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe was forced to withdraw from full National Team camp due to illness, it opened up a spot. As the U-23s were training at The HDC when the WNT arrived, U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage decided to call-up a player from the U-23s to join her camp. When Sundhage attended a scrimmage between the U-23s and South Korea, Krzysik had an excellent match at center back against the skillful and speedy Koreans.
Hello call-up. Suddenly, Krzysik's training camp had turned into a MegaCamp. Only scheduled to be in Los Angeles for a week, instead, she will be in training for 24 days. The U-23 camp overlapped a few days with the WNT, so she just switched hotels, locker rooms and teammates. We're thinking that she should tell her coach on the Philadelphia Independence that she doesn't need a pre-season.
"Well, it does seem like a pre pre-season," said Krzysik. "But it has been the greatest soccer experience I've had. You just don't get to train with the best players in the country and the world every day."
Krzysik, though, has some extensive experience with the best YOUNG players in the world. She represented the United States in two youth World Cups, starting in the center of the defense with the Washington Freedom's Becky Sauerbrunn at the 2004 U-19 WWC in Thailand and at the 2006 U-20 WWC in Russia with FC Gold Pride's Carrie Dew, but this is her first-ever call-up to the full national team.
"It's been so exciting to be here, but I've sort of found myself breaking it up into three camps," said Krzysik. "The first part was the U-23 camp, then the first week of this camp and now we are starting the second week. I am not even thinking about how long it is, I'm just focusing on my performance at each training and in each day. It really takes of a lot of concentration to compete at this level every minute of every training and I'm just trying to do that."
With the 23s, Krzysik played matches against the U.S. U-18s and twice against South Korea. She didn't get into the WNT's two matches againts the Koreans, but will get another full match against boys this weekend.
"It's awesome," said Krzysik of the quality of training. "I didn't play 90 minutes for months during the fall when I was training at UVA and you just can't ask for anything better than the environment here."
With Rachel Buehler and Amy LePeilbet having stepped up in world class fashion as center backs for the USA, and Christie Rampone due back perhaps next summer after having her second baby this spring, as well as Cat Whitehill and Stephanie Cox able to play in the middle, the USA does have depth at the position. However, Krzysik is taking this chance for what it is...a great opportunity to improve her game heading into WPS Season 2 and hopefully get a call-back at some point.
"At this level, it's all about the details, and anything I can learn from the players, I'm going to, " Krzysik. "If there was a book on all the little things that can help your game, everyone would know them. But in reality, you can't learn them unless you are going against and playing with players like Abby Wambach, Lauren Cheney and Rachel Buehler. I've learned so much in just a few weeks."
As far as getting to Dallas? "Not gonna happen," said Krzysik. "I'm going home after this to rest. My boyfriend will have to come see me."
Editor's Note: His trip is already planned.