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Postcard from Shannon MacMillan in Portugal


Every so often when the U.S. Women's National Team plays out of the country, a player will write an e-postcard, filling in the fans back home on the happenings of the team, off field activities, and anything else on their mind.  Today, San Diego native Shannon MacMillan, who two years ago at the Algarve Cup scored seven of the team's eight goals, and last year tallied the winning goal against Norway and also scored in a 2-0 victory over China in the championship game, shares her thoughts on a foreign substance called rain, life without Joy, and the best ice cream in southern Europe.

I've been on the U.S. National Team for 11 years now, but this is my first e-Postcard from abroad, so bear with me while I get the hang of it.

Well, we are in rainy Portugal after a quick three-day break after returning from Costa Rica and Olympic qualifying.  After my travels during the first three months of the year…to Los Angeles, to China, back to San Diego, to Costa Rica, three days in San Diego, and now Portugal, I am not really sure what time zone I'm in or what day of the week it is.  I just know that we play France in two days.  I'll know for sure that it's game day when I walk into the equipment room and see my uniform laid out instead of practice gear.

After 80-degree weather in Costa Rica and 90-degree weather in San Diego, I guess my luck ran out as it has been pouring rain all day.  None of us wanted to get off the bus and go to training, but we ended up having a really good practice, even though everyone was soaked to the bone by the end.

This trip is a bit strange for me as my best buddy Joy Fawcett is not here.  Joy misses a game about as often as it rains in San Diego, so it's quite unusual for the most capped defender in the history of the world to sit one out.  Still, she had a small injury in Costa Rica, so the rest will do her good, but don't you dare blame it on her age (36! Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!) or I will get in trouble!

Not only do we miss Joy, but it's unusually quiet in the hotel hallways that are usually filled with her three kids running up and down, yelling, laughing and playing with all the players.  We all miss her daughters as much as Joy, but we do have little Mattea, the baby of our assistant coach Tracey Leone to play with.

I'm really looking forward to the games as this is always a top-class tournament with great competition.  I've had some success scoring some goals here, so I'm hoping that I get to play some quality minutes, and I can put a few in the net.  We open with a very tough game against France, a team we haven't seen in a long time.  That last time we played them was in 1997, and they've improved a ton since then.  For those of you who watched Marinette Pinchon in the WUSA, picture chasing 11 of those quick, skillful players around the field and that's France.  Plus Pinchon is a world class finisher, all she needs is a tiny opening and she can be lethal, so we are going to have to be sharp from the opening whistle.

Today is the birthday of one of our rookies Amy LePeilbet.  She is so quiet that there was no way she was going to tell us, but luckily I had looked at our roster about a month ago and was writing birthdays in my calendar and remembered that Amy's was during the Algarve Cup.  Her roommate on this trip, Julie Foudy, led a particularly bad rendition of Happy Birthday on the bus to training, and then Amy was subjected to the birthday "butts up" tradition after practice, where she has to stand in goal and everyone gets a free chance to nail her on the behind with the ball.  No one got a direct shot, but Kylie Bivens did bounce one that grazed her.  

For her birthday, Amy is going to be treated to a grand Algarve Cup tradition, ice cream and crepes at a café that is a short walk from our hotel.  We'll buy her a triple scoop.

That's all for now from the chilly Algarve.

Take Care,
Mac

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