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U.S. WNT Tries to Avoid Hurricane Isabel, Sets Sights on Sweden

After the final practice for the U.S. women in Charlottesville at Klockner Stadium on the University of Virginia campus yesterday, the U.S. women opted for sandwiches instead of the usual hotel fare and held an impromptu picnic on the field, happily munching their lunches on the field, not unlike snack time at an AYSO game.  The sandwiches came from "Take-It-Away", the favorite local deli of U.S. head coach and former Virginia head coach April Heinrichs, and did not fail to please the hungry U.S. players, who dined under bright sunshine 24 hours before Hurricane Isabel would turn the skies dark.  After media interviews, the U.S. team got back to the hotel, showered, finished packing and piled on the team bus to Washington, D.C.  Joy Fawcett and Shannon MacMillan made a quick run to the toy store to buy a "puzzle preserver" so they would not have to dismantle a Mickey Mouse puzzle that might have been one of the most difficult in North America.  With some impressive maneuvering, the two players rolled the puzzle up in a special container and took it on the bus to D.C.  Minutes into the ride, the players discovered the bus was equipped only with a VHS player (the USA long ago entered the DVD era) and quickly made a detour to a local shopping center to buy a movie for the trip. About 10 minutes later, and despite a limited selection at the local Kmart, Kristine Lilly came through, purchasing a few movies to allow the team to choose. The winning selected ended up being, “The Recruit,” which may or may not have had something to do with Colin Farrell playing the lead role. The players enjoyed the movie, which was the perfect length, as the credits began rolling at the exact time the bus pulled into the hotel driveway.

The U.S. just beat out the swirling wind and rain brought on by Hurricane Isabel this morning, getting in a little over an hour-long practice on a world class field at Trinity College. The practice was originally scheduled for noon, but was bumped up to 9 a.m. and despite arriving a bit late after navigating the team vans through downtown D.C., the team got the best of Isabel, getting in a solid training session that included some work on set plays, then doing 25 minutes of media interviews before leaving the fields as the first few drops of rain fell from the sky.  The rain began to fall hard after the players returned to the hotel, and many used the afternoon to nap or work on email in the players' lounge, while a handful of players ventured out to a salon to get their hair, a) cut, b) colored or c), just trimmed.

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor wind will stop Brandi Chastain from talking about the Women's World Cup and women's soccer.  The U.S. defender will appear live on ESPN's SportsCenter tonight at about 6:45 p.m. ET from a studio at the USA Today offices in suburban Virginia, being interviewed by Dan Patrick. 


Midfielder Julie Foudy

On the teams in the Women's World Cup...
“You have all the best countries playing here and it only happens once every four years. There are a lot of good teams this year so this time you can have a dark horse, which is great because I don't think we ever had that before in a Women's World Cup. Having the chance to hopefully win it again here in the United States is a phenomenal opportunity.”

On how the U.S. will fare in their group...
“We don’t make predictions because we know it’s a bad omen. We know that it’s going to be a tough challenge because of all of the tough teams out there. We are in a tough group and start out with Sweden, which is one of the best teams in Europe. We will have to play our best to get out of the group.”

On if the experience of the U.S. team will help...
“The experience of having played in big games with large crowds is very important to have. There are a lot of teams in the World Cup who have that balance, including our first opponent Sweden. It is so important when you walk through the tunnel and onto the field because you know you have a confident group out there that has been through it before.”

U.S. Women's Head Coach April Heinrichs

On whether Briana Scurry or Siri Mullinix will start in goal...
"We haven’t made any definite decisions about that, but we are confident in using both (Scurry and Mullinix). One of the strengths of our team is that we are confident we can put anyone in at any position. We take it one game at a time and they are all ready to be starters.”

On being the reigning champions...
“We’re the team with the targets on our back. We are the team everyone plays their best game against. Our goal is to control what we can and play the best soccer we can against Sweden. Then we need to learn from that game, regroup and play our best game we can against Nigeria. We just need to move along like that.”

On the difficult group play...
“Our group is challenging, but our group in the 2000 Olympics was Norway, China and Nigeria. I truly believe that group play got the best out of us. The quality of opponents we had to compete against to get out of the group was what helped us have peak performances throughout the Olympics.” 

Forward Mia Hamm

On writers not picking the U.S. to win...
“The tournament hasn’t even started yet, but I think as a team all we can do is prepare ourselves to play and worry about the things we can control. Obviously, those two teams (Germany and Sweden) are extremely talented and we have a lot of respect for them. That’s why we have to prepare to play the best.”

On having experience in Women's World Cup...
“It doesn’t matter whether they have a tremendous amount of experience or a little World Cup experience. Tournaments like this tend to bring out the best in everyone and that is what we expect. When we step on the field Sunday, we expect to see Sweden’s best game and best team. “

On it being her last World Cup...
“For me, I’m just going to try and enjoy this one. I’ve been very fortunate to participate in now my fourth World Cup. I consider it an honor to represent my country and to play along such great players and people. So this one is just about enjoying it and realizing that these opportunities to put on this uniform are few and far between.”

On playing in Wasinghton D.C....
“The history of soccer in this area is tremendous. It’s nice to be home in front of these fans, and I know they are going to come out and appreciate wonderful soccer.”