Nordic Cup 2005 – Sweden
Well done, Jillian Ellis. No, not because you’re one of the top women’s soccer coaches in the country, with a 2000 Nordic Cup title on your resume and several trips to the NCAA Final Four with UCLA. It’s because you chose midfielder Manya Makoski to the 2005 Nordic Cup Team.
And that means more “Manya’s Musings,” one of the most popular and well read ussoccer.com journals in U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team history (along with legendary journal writer Jena Kluegel, whose current job at a high-powered New York City investment banking firm, we feel, can be traced directly back to her work on ussoccer.com). In this third entry, Makoski, a rising senior at Arizona State, checks in from Sweden on the eve of the USA’s crucial final opening round match against Germany and muses on the first two matches of the tournament, why there are no Swedes on the “Anger Management Tour” and world-class goal scorer and game-maker-upper Heather O’Reilly.
Welcome to the third installment of my musings! After what seemed like a long week in Sweden, we finally got to play four first two games of the Nordic Cup, both 4-0 wins versus Iceland and Denmark. As much fun as we had in the first half of the trip, the most exciting part is now underway as we prepare to take on rival Germany with a third win sending us into the championship game.
O GETS US STARTED
On Wednesday (July 20), we opened the tournament against what turned out to be a very physical Iceland team. On the 45-minute bus ride to the game, you could tell everyone was excited and focused for the first game of the Nordic Cup, as the team sat in silence, preparing themselves mentally for the task at hand. Pumped up by an energy-filled warm-up (the music over the P.A. system was so loud that we couldn’t even hear ourselves think), it took us only six minutes to get one on the board. Midfielder Carli Lloyd sent a perfect through pass to the sprinting forward Heather O’Reilly who chipped the ball over the on-rushing Iceland ‘keeper! As the ball sailed into the goal, we were up out of our seats and screaming our heads off. There is nothing like the first goal of a tournament! The rest of the half remained scoreless despite a bunch of great opportunities to score.
MC STOCKHOLM ROCKS THE HIZ-ZOUSE…NOT
The half-time “entertainment” seemed a little out of place. Two Swedish rappers jumped around on a stage singing what must have been their hit song (which I’m guessing was probably called “Aww Yea” by the number of times they said that). The inappropriate full-blown swearing made me want to go back to kindergarten, where the use of any of the words like those would you’re your mouth washed out with soap. I mean, at the club, maybe that stuff flies…but at the Nordic Cup?
Glad to be watching soccer again, the second half with another U.S. goal just three minutes in when midfielder Jen Buczcowski blasted one into the net off of an Icelandic defender’s hand. (I don’t think the ref saw it, but it didn’t matter as it went in anyway). After 66 minutes and with a 2-0 lead, I was sent into the game for Carli, our attacking midfielder. I moved to left outside midfielder, Lindsay Tarpley went to central midfield, pushing Heather to the right outside midfielder and changing our formation from a 4-3-3- to a 4-4-2. Later on, I moved to central midfield, as Lindsay came out and defender Jessica Maxwell came into the game, pushing defender Kendall Fletcher to left outside midfield. Yeah, we’re a versatile team. The score remained 2-0 as three minutes of stoppage time was added. Our patience was rewarded when forward Lauren Cheney beat her defender and slipped a perfect ball to forward Megan Rapinoe, who blasted it into the back of the net from eight yards out. The ‘keeper didn’t know what was coming! Then something amazing happened…we scored again! Kendall streaked down the final third of the field and crossed a perfectly paced ball into the box. I sprinted towards the near post, bringing my defender with me as I deflected the ball into the path of Heather who smashed the ball into the net. Celebrating like crazy, we knew we had finished the game how we wanted to. We jogged back into our half for their kickoff, but the final whistle blew as soon as the Iceland player touched the ball.
DENMARK GOES DOWN
With a day’s rest, we were ready to take on a frustrated and agitated Denmark who had lost 6-0 to Germany in their first game. Ouch. It started as a rainy Friday night, but the rain stopped just as we started our warm-up. There were no Van Halen-sized speakers to blast our ears out this time, so we were glad to be able hear each other on the field and we got ourselves psyched-up for another physical match. We dominated from the start, firing shot after shot, but we were unable to find the net. How could that goal be so big and so small at the same time! Finally, with five minutes to go in the half, Carli took a square pass from midfielder Lori Chalupny, cutting it across the top of the box before crushing the ball into the left corner. Boy, can that kid shoot.
YOLANDA MAKES AN APPEARANCE
After coming so close so many times, it felt so amazing to stand up and cheer after we put the icebreaking goal onto the scoreboard. At halftime, the reserves warmed up next to a marching band led by some baton twirlers and two cheerleaders. As much as I wanted to laugh at their bright white, knee-high leather boots and royal blue skirts (I have to admit they were more talented than those Swedish rappers…Aww yea!), I had to stay focused in case our head coach Jillian Ellis called my name. The second half started out a lot like the first half. We dominated the Danes as we kept firing shots. The more we dominated the more frustrated they got, and they earned some cheap fouls on us. Our team coordinator, Brittany Braun, who is the sweetest girl ever (and a former college player), said to me that she wished she could be out there playing because Denmark was making her so mad with their unnecessary fouling. I asked her what she would do if she were out there. Brittany said she has a mean, feisty alter ego and her name is Yolanda and that Yolanda would take care of business. I hope I never meet Yolanda.
After wearing them down we were finally able to score again about 10 minutes from the end of the game. Chalupa sped down the left flank, beating a couple of defenders with her sweet, quick moves, and crossed it on the ground to the waiting Carli at the penalty mark. Carli was able to hit it first time, easily placing the ball into the right side netting. We erupted in cheers as we celebrated the beautiful soccer that we had been displaying. In the 89th minute, Megan scored her second goal of the tournament, after entering the game just a few minutes earlier. She ran onto a slight flick from Lauren, just beating their last defender, and nut-megged the ‘keeper, giving us our third goal of the game! With five minutes of extra time added on, we still pressed, not letting Denmark get control of the ball. Our fourth and final goal came when Lauren took a pass from Heather just past the center circle, and after weaving past a couple of defenders, she finally ripped a shot from the 18 yard box. The ball deflected off a defender’s leg, arching over the outstretched hands of the goalkeeper and into back of the net. What a perfect way to end the game!
SHOUT OUT TO JESSICA AND RACHEL
Unfortunately, we had a couple of injuries during the game. Defender Jessica Maxwell hurt her knee in the middle of the second half. She was playing a phenomenal game, so it’s so unfortunate that she had to come out. Early in the second half, defender Rachel Buehler went up for a header against a Danish forward who head-butted her in the back of the head. The Dane immediately went down to the ground, but Rachel, who might be the toughest girl I know, just jogged back to her position. Then she realized her nose was gushing blood and she came to the sideline for some help from the trainer, Sean McNeil and the doctor, Hythem Shadid. Yes, she broke it. Dr. Shadid reset it while also giving her one stitch for the cut she endured. Did I mention Rachel is the toughest girl I have ever seen? If that happened to me, I would be hysterically crying (granted I have broken my nose before and I did cry hysterically). And Rachel wanted to go back in the game! You have to love that girl. Make sure you girls ice that nose and that knee so you can get back in there to fight for our spot in the championship game!
GIMMEE FIVE, OR 10, OR…
We have spent some time after training waiting for the bus. Seeking shelter from the rain after training on Saturday (July 23) we hung out under an open space near the locker rooms that was covered by a roof. Bored by the waiting and the falling rain, Heather decided to conjure up a game of hand slapping. No, it was not that well-known game where you try to out-smart and out-quick your opponent by slapping their hands. This game required so much more intellect. Heather, Kendall, Mary Castelanelli, ‘keeper Nicole Barnhart, and I laid down on our stomachs in a circle. We twisted our arms around the person next to us, placing our hands in another circle. The game was to tap your hand once against the ground as the tapping went from one hand to the next in order. If one hand double-tapped, the flow of tapping went into the other direction. If your hand was too slow or tapped when it wasn’t supposed to, that hand was out. You play until there are no more hands left. We only got one round in. Our brains were fried after trying to concentrate on our own two hands. Let me tell you, it was harder than it seemed. Try it sometime. Oh yeah, that game was our only excitement of the day.
ROAD GOES THROUGH GERMANY
It always seems that on every level of women’s international soccer, if the U.S. or Germany is going to win something major, they have to get through each other. It will be the same way tomorrow as we battle for a spot in the championship game! We are well rested and excited to play against one of our biggest rivals, and even though the food has gotten a bit repetitive (pasta, rice, broccoli, yogurt, and bread for every meal), we are well fed and focused too. Wish us luck!