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Manya's Musing From Brazil (Part 2)

Fresh off a great result in a 0-0 tie with the Brazilian Olympic Team, U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team forward Manya Makoski checks in with Part 2 of her journals from Brazil, where the young U.S. squad is in the midst of a four-game tour. Manya muses on less than stellar shopping, filling a whole lot of downtime, an emotional match with the hosts and why you can’t go wrong with a Huge Grant movie.

Tuesday, May 25
After breakfast at nine, we left at 9:30 a.m. for a long and windy bus ride to shop in Serra Negra, the city we stayed in during our trip to Brazil last year with the U-21s. While defender Jill Oakes and I were watching the countryside fly by us, saying how much it reminded us of the tropical island of Tobago (where we dominated and won our qualifiers for the U-19 Women’s World Cup in 2002); Lu (Julianne Sitch), who was sitting next to us, said that she felt sick, and had to move to the front of the bus. But before she could, she vomited all over me. Okay, I’m just kidding, but that’d be pretty gross if she did, but I swear I was ready to move faster than if a Brazilian defender was chasing me.

It was a rainy shopping experience, which compounded our disappointment of zero successful purchases. One highlight of the shopping trip was being followed around by a cute, but scruffy dog as we went from store to store in search of the perfect souvenir. But since we couldn’t take him home, we finally we found a place that had tiny trinkets. I bought two turtles carved from soapstone, which I will give to my mom. (If anyone in Trumbull, Conn., is reading this, please don’t tell her as I want it to be a surprise).  I also bought a wooden bird caller that I had engraved with my name. I’m sure the storeowner was getting quite annoyed with our competition of who could “quack” the loudest on their bird caller. I think I won.  Jill was going to buy this Brazilian musical instrument (which I forget the name of), which I thought looked more like a bow and arrow set.  We then headed back to the bus, but since we were early and had some time to contemplate our purchases, Jill, Lu, and I soon realized our regret of not buying more gifts and we grabbed some money and ran back to the store, only to see that it had closed. How do you say “bummer” in Portuguese?  Maybe the storeowner didn’t want to hear any more birdcalls, and he locked the door after we left.  We realized that we had experienced the opposite of buyer’s remorse…we didn’t buy enough!

Since I didn’t get my nap in yet, I slept on the way back. I might be getting a cold because I kept sneezing a lot.  After lunch we watched Brazil play against the All-Star team we played earlier in the tour at fields by our hotel. We enjoyed watching the fourth-ranked team in the world play right in front of our eyes. Brazil was up 2-0 at halftime, when our coaches came over to give us the opportunity to leave if Brazil went up by four goals. Brazil got an easy goal to start out the half and then a penalty kick not long after.  We all stood up in anticipation, and even though being able to watch a full Brazilian team play doesn’t come around too often, it was getting a little boring. As soon as the player “kissed the net” with her shot, we walked back to the hotel. After we realized that we couldn’t get into the Internet room because our head coach Chris Petrucelli had the key, I took a shower, and then we watched “Love Actually” in Lu’s room. Hugh Grant certainly makes you feel all warm inside. The movie ended just in time for dinner and after eating I made paper airplanes as I waited in line to use the computer. I gained some excellent experience in the aerodynamics of folded paper during all of my days of high school math class, a.k.a. Paper Airplane Making 101. During snack time at nine, Katie Jo, Lu, Amy LePeilbet and I watched one of the young waiters do card tricks. His “magic” of picking out our cards consisted of looking through the cards, which we had to hold up in the light to memorize. We still applauded because even though his performance was weak, he did make us laugh.

Wednesday, May 26
Worst breakfast ever. The pineapple has gone downhill. And there are no traces of any kiwis. However, I did get some cold medicine from our doctor, Christina Allen. It’s not like I would have been able to taste the sweetness of the pineapple as I seem to have lost all use of my taste buds due to the impending cold. We had training at 10:30 a.m. on fields that were more like a swamp than grass.  I was looking for crocodiles while doing drills.  During our warm-up possession game, the ball kept getting stuck in mysterious puddles. When someone would dribble along, the ball would get stuck, and she would just end up running right by it while trying to take a stab at it with her foot.  During lunch, while waiting for my oatmeal in the microwave, a couple of us talked to the waiters. One named Sebastian (also known as “Mosquito”), likes to sing and dance to Michael Jackson songs. He also likes to dart from table to table asking us if we want more “agua.” We left at 2 for shopping in Monte Siao.  We walked around the area that we were told had good shopping. Sadly, every other shop sold only sweaters. Who needs a sweater in Brazil!!?  What made the situation worse was that my camera battery died and that meant no pictures.

Eventually we found a small stand that sold random items. Tasha Kai and I bought these toy plastic swords. You can never go wrong with toys. As we were walking along the sidewalk, Tasha turned around for a second to say something to me, and just then a guy came out of the store and startled her. I think Tasha’s scream and the swipe of her sword scared the guy more than he scared her. We found some ice cream for $1 Brazilian (which would be about 30 cents U.S.) for two scoops. After watching some of the players jump on a trampoline, and arguing about which shrub looked like what object (yeah, we are an exciting bunch), Tasha, Lu, Jill, Haley Hunt, and I sat at a pavilion for 45 minutes. One notable sighting during our people-watching session was a guy wearing the same jeans I had bought recently. I would like to go on record saying that he was kind of feminine.

When we got it back, Lu and I started to watch “Bring It On” and finished it after dinner with Lu, Nikki Thaden, Katie Jo, Kelly Wilson, and Amy. At the end of the movie, where Torrance, the head cheerleader, gets together with the guy she likes, everyone was so cheery.  We all love a happy ending.  Katie Jo, who is a big jokester, told Nikki that she was “cheesing really big.” I’m assuming that it means that she had a big smile on her face, but that’s just a guess. She’s from Texas so sometimes we don’t know what she is saying.  Kelly (who is also from Texas) asked me if the “cheesing” comment was going in the journal, and yes, Kelly, you bet it is. Watching “Bruce Almighty” helped to end our night of laughing.

Thursday, May 27
Breakfast was at 9 a.m. as usual. I got some medicine to help suppress what just might be a cold so I could sleep until our team meeting at 11:30 a.m.  Chris gave us a great motivational speech and reminded us of our disappointing loss to Brazil during our trip last year. But he also reminded us that we have some of the best young players in the world. Karen reviewed what they saw yesterday watching the Brazil game, going over the players and their tendencies, the free kicks, and corners.

Since we were playing on the hotel fields, we met at 2:20 p.m. to walk out together. As we approached the field, Amanda our equipment manager told us to watch out for the wet paint because they had just finished lining the field, but we saw some guys still “painting” the lines on with a long paintbrush.  Since the field was still pretty squishy with water, Chris made us wear studs. After a short warm-up, I started at forward with Kelly and Tasha. It was still tied at 0-0 at half time when midfielder Kacey White came on and I came out and we changed our formation to a 4-4-2. Both teams had some good chances, but our goalkeeper Nicole “Barnie” Barnhart is a wall.  Nothing gets behind her. While sitting on the bench in the second half next to Katie Jo, we were beginning to think that we had become the Brazilian team because of the gamesmanship we were showing. Sarah Huffman (by accident we think) did a one armed throw-in. The ref did not know whether to call it back as he laughed at the coaches laughing on the bench. Also, after the many so-called fouls on us, we held onto the ball as we ran back into position and then threw it into the air. The ref couldn’t yell at us because the Brazilian team was doing exactly the same thing. The game proved to be a rough battle. Tasha suffered a bloody lip, Nikki ended up sliding ten feet on her shoulder, and Leslie toughed it out against a Brazilian player who was obsessed with talking to her. Of course, Leslie had not idea what she was saying, but it was still pretty funny.  The famous Katia, who was a star in the WUSA with the San Jose CyberRays, ended up leaving the game with a hurt knee. Our back four Keeley Dowling, Jill, Amy, and Lindsey Huie, put in an amazing performance, helping us to add to Brazil’s frustrations and mistakes and the game ended, 0-0. 

After a cool down, we came back to the hotel for a shower and for some dinner and then I spent a couple of hours writing in my journal. Then I sat with Keeley, Barnie, Amy, Lu, Kelly, and Nikki as we played Catch Phrase, watched movies, and talked about siblings’ names. Yes, there is not much to do here, and now it my favorite time of the day…snack time! We can’t wait for our Jeep tour tomorrow afternoon, and a second chance to face Brazil on Saturday in the last match of the four games down here. In conclusion, I had to wait for the last line to tell Chris that yes, I still do have a slight cold.  But I’m still ready still run and play!  And I promise not to do any one-armed throw-ins.