U.S. Women's National Team Settles into the Algarve
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%USA SETTLES INTO THE ALGARVE: With the tournament having begun, the U.S. players have settled into a rhythm of training, playing, resting, eating and studying. And eating, as the infamous "snack trunk" has been restocked with various European and American goodies. Almost all the players have found the time to tear themselves away from their textbooks and explore the small town of Albufeira, which has a main "strip" that leads from the hotel down to the beach, an approximately 15-minute walk on the shop and restaurant-lined cobblestone street. Albufeira is a charming town filled with whitewashed buildings topped by red clay shingles. The town has many trees, from pine to palm, and an ocean breeze is almost always blowing. The USA is training just minutes from its team hotel on what are usually high quality fields which have suffered from the rain. The sun came out in force for the first time on Sunday for the USA's clash with Canada, and while short bursts of light rain have hit since, the USA is enjoying Southern California-style weather in Southern Portugal. U.S. head coach April Heinrichs held a short, light-hearted training session the morning after the Canada loss, running the players through relay races, which provided non-stop comedy. The USA then did some skill work and finished with some functional training; clearing for the defenders and finishing for the forwards and midfielders. During the relay races, the team was hit with a 10-minute deluge of rain that left the players soaking wet and muddy, but the practice was spirited and high energy, with all the USA players looking with anticipation to the match with Portugal tomorrow.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%MONROE TAKES A DIP: U.S. midfielder Mary-Frances Monroe and forward Christie Welsh took a walk down to the beach last weekend and decided to explore. They were told by a local of a spot where they could collect some "interesting rocks" so they strolled down the beach in search of their bounty. To get to the "prized rock spot" they had to walk around a big boulder and sneak in between the crashing waves. As they moved past the boulder, they saw a huge wave coming towards them, and they scrambled up the boulder to avoid the "perfect storm" type wall of water that was coming fast. They found some rocks to their liking, but as the tide was rising, the waves were coming harder and harder. The two brave explorers decided they would make a run for it on the way back. Monroe didn't quite make it. On the count of three, they went for it, bursting between the big boulder and the oncoming wave. Monroe, one of the quickest U.S. players, was home-free until her NIKE sandal got caught in the water between two rocks. She fell face down into the turf, much to the delight of Welsh, who fished her out of the ocean and helped the water-logged midfielder back to the beach. Her sandal was not as fortunate.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%RIGAMAT vs. THE POLE: It was an accident-prone day for the U.S. players. While Monroe was flopping around in the surf, forward Stephanie Rigamat walked face-first into a pole while out shopping with U.S. players. Rigamat, who took much worse when she butted heads with an Italian player on March 7, was dazed by unscathed.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%USA FACES TOUGH ROAD TO THE FINAL: The young U.S. women dug themselves a deep hole with the 3-0 loss to Canada in the opening match of the Algarve Cup. Many scenarios would have to come together in order for the USA to play for the title. In order to make the championship game, it is likely that the USA would have to score plenty of goals against Portugal to improve what is now a minus-3 goal difference. The USA must then hope that Sweden edges Canada, evening out the goal difference and hopefully giving the winner of USA and Sweden match a place in the final, provided of course that Canada ties or loses to Portugal. The USA will face host Portugal on Tuesday, March 13 in Silves (4:30 p.m. local/11:30 a.m. ET) and then finish first-round play against Sweden on March 15 in Albufeira (2:00 p.m. local/9 a.m. ET). Depending on where the USA finishes in its four-team group, it will play for first, third, fifth or seventh on Saturday, March 17.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%USA vs. PORTUGAL: The USA has faced Portugal five times in its history, three of those coming at the Algarve Cup. The USA has won every match convincingly, outscoring the Portuguese 28-0, including a 7-0 trouncing at the Algarve Cup last year on a hat trick from Cindy Parlow and single goals from Joy Fawcett, Tisha Venturini, Julie Foudy and Shannon MacMillan. Portugal was also the victim for Michelle Akers' 100th career goal in January of 1999 at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%INJURY REPORT: Defender Keisha Bell, finally over a sore left hip flexor, wrenched her back against Canada and sat out training on Monday. Mary-Frances Monroe has a slight left groin strain, and also rested during training, but is listed as probable for the match vs. Portugal. Forward Laura Schott has a sore right shoulder after falling on it against Canada but trained on Monday without problems. All other U.S. players are healthy and ready to go.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%CAT'S GRIDIRON CORNER: U.S. defender Catherine Reddick grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. For those of you who have never been to the Deep South, that's football country. The tackling kind. Fans love their college football in Alabama and Reddick is no different, except for one small detail - she's a Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs fan. Reddick's mom, Anne, went to Florida and her dad Phil, a Georgia alum, bleeds red and black. Although it has not been confirmed by the NCAA, it is likely that few 19-year-old women know more about football than Reddick. For each addition of the Daily Notes, Reddick will give her opinion on one segment of the college game.
Today: The BCS and a potential college football playoff system.
"Here's the thing - I like the Bowl Championship Series and like watching all the bowl games. But when it comes down to it, a shared national championship just ain't right. Since Miami beat Florida, and if Florida State had beaten Oklahoma, there would have been a huge controversy. And what about Washington? Those guys had a right to claim #1. This is just nuts. I would be in favor a system in which maybe the top four teams had a playoff, or perhaps if at the end of all the bowls, if the polls split the national championship, then the top two teams could play a "College Super Bowl." How fun would that be? So fun. And speaking of bowls, when are my Tar Heels going to make it to one? My friends back in Alabama make fun of me. C'mon boys, we need you to have a breakout season. I need some bragging rights in Crimson Tide country, although the Tide didn't have much to cheer about this year. 3-8? Ouch."
Note: Reddick was the quarterback, as both a junior and senior, for her powder puff football team at Briarwood Christian High School. She won both games. She ran for one touchdown as a junior and threw for one touchdown as a senior as her team won 7-0.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%THAT'S DEDICATION: Amy Steadman, the 16-year old defender who got her first cap against Canada, hails from Brevard, N.C., a small town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. Every weekend during the club season, Steadman drives 31/2 hours one way to play for the U-18 Greensboro Twisters as there is no competitive soccer for girls in her area. Steadman does not play high school soccer, but trains with a local boys club. Her dad has done most of the driving, but since Steadman recently got her driver's license, she has been making the trek by herself, with plenty of country, rap and pop CDs to keep her company.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%IS THAT A LATVIAN POLKA? At the USA's training on Monday, U.S. general manger Nils Krumins was called upon to even up one of the four teams for the relay races at the beginning of practice. One of the relay legs included skipping, with the soccer ball in hand, around a cone and then back to hand off to a teammate. Krumins proceeded to put on a perhaps the worst display of skipping in the history of mankind, causing one member of the staff to ask the team doctor if Krumins was having a seizure. Said Krumins, stating the obvious: "I never learned how to skip."
Note: Krumins' team was not severely handicapped by the skipping debacle, and went on to win the overall competition.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%THE CREAM OF THE ODP: Of the 20 players on the U.S. roster for the Algarve Cup, 19 played in the Olympic Development Program for their respective state associations and for their regional teams. Only forward Stephanie Rigamat, a late bloomer from Southern California, never played ODP. 15 different state associations are represented and Region IV leads the way with seven of the 19 players. Following is a break down of the state associations and regions represented on the Algarve Cup roster:
- Region I -- EAST: 4
- Region II - NORTH: 4
- Region II - SOUTH: 4
- Region IV - WEST: 7
- Northern California: 2
- North Carolina: 2
- Eastern New York: 2
- Washington: 2
- Alabama: 1
- Southern California: 1
- Colorado: 1
- Maryland: 1
- Minnesota: 1
- Missouri: 1
- Ohio North: 1
- Ohio South: 1
- Oregon: 1
- Eastern Pennsylvania: 1
- South Texas: 1
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%LITTLE KNOWN FACT: As a senior in high school, defender Ally Marquand finished 16th at the high school cross-country national championships. She was a three-time CIF champion in the two-mile, winning the race as a senior after playing in a state championship soccer game in the morning, a game in which she suffered a concussion.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%STAT OF NOTE: Defender Amy Steadman, who made her full national team debut against Canada, missed surpassing Aleisha Cramer as the third youngest woman ever to play for the national team by 44 days. Mia Hamm is still the youngest at 15 years, 140 days, followed by Kristine Lilly at 16 years, 12 days and then Cramer at 16 years, 141 days. Steadman now sits at fourth at 16 years, 185 days.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%QUOTES OF THE WEEK: Seventeen-year-old Lori Chalupny, who earned her first-ever cap against Italy on March 7, will be on Spring Break when she returns home, and did not bring any homework with her to Portugal. She has been looking for activities to fill her days and was upset upon finding her roommate Hope Solo's collection of DVDs.
"Man, I didn't know Hope had DVDs. All I've been doing is mastering video pinball. I don't think anyone will ever beat my score."
Chalupny (pronounced Kah-LUP-knee), who may be saddled with the nickname "Chalupa" for the rest of her career, promptly popped "Road Trip" into the DVD player on her laptop and claims she is done with video pinball.
Sixteen-year-old Kristen Weiss, who proclaimed herself the team's "drop ball specialist" after entering the Italy match in the 90th minute right before a drop ball restarted play, almost got another chance against Canada after an injury and another drop ball.
"I thought was going in. I had my sweats off and everything."
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%STRANGE BUT TRUE: U.S. defender Ally Marquand has a lot in common with U.S. midfielder Julie Foudy.
- Both are from Orange County, Calif.
- Both played for the Mission Viejo Soccer Club.
- Marquand plays for Stanford, Foudy's alma mater.
- Marquand, like Foudy, is a pre-med major.
- Marquand, like Foudy, would rather play soccer into her 30s than go to medical school.
- Marquand will wear #11 next year, Foudy's number.
- Next year, she will likely play center midfield, Foudy's position.
Asked whether, like Foudy, she loves donuts, is a world-class karaoke singer or drives a new convertible BMW, Marquand said, "Yes on donuts, no on karaoke, definitely no on the Beemer."
And finally, adding to the strangeness, Marquand, who is on her first trip with the full national team, has never met or spoken to Julie Foudy.