As the team with the most championships at the Algarve Cup since its inception in 1994, the U.S. Women’s National Team has certainly produced on the field, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t enjoy their time off it. Here are six memorable clips from the U.S. WNT during their previous trips to the Algarve region:
Portugal 101 with HAO: Heather O’Reilly’s tour of Albufeira in 2009 once again proved her worth as a tour guide and gave fans a look at the area where the U.S. team stayed for years at the tournament. It seems her degree in education is definitely paying off, although her cartography skills could use a little work. To learn the basics about Albufeira and the U.S. WNT’s experience there, give this tour with HAO a watch. If you enjoy O’Reilly’s tour guide skills, here is a similar video when she showed us around Guangdong Olympic Stadium in China way back in 2007.
Secret Diet of Champions: Watch the U.S. WNT players treat themselves with these made-to-order crepes in 2007, followed by an attempt at a crepe-making from defender Heather Mitts. The final result received rave reviews from the team, even Aly Wagner, the ultimate crepe critic. (Warning: This crepe making and eating might produce hunger and crepe cravings.) But as shown in the video, “the bananas make it healthy,” and helped spur the U.S. WNT to a title that year.
Life of Two Souvenir Connoisseurs: Watch Megan Rapinoe and Lori Lindsey as they spend the afternoon souvenir shopping near the U.S. WNT’s hotel in the Albufeira, Portugal, in search of a perfect gift for each other.
Creative Soccer Tennis: Tobin Heath and Yael Averbuch got creative with their soccer tennis at the team’s hotel in Portugal in 2013. Hopefully the other guests didn’t mind too much as Heath and Averbuch turned the location into their own personal playground. Watch as they use people, pillows, chairs, plants and swimming pools as their net before winning the 2013 Algarve Cup.
The Other 2009 Algarve Cup: The spirit of the 2009 Sandcastle Competition forever lives on within the rivalries among the forwards, midfielders, defenders and goalkeepers. The sandcastle building teams, divided by position, put forth total effort, but alas, there could only be one winner. Watch as the champions celebrate and attribute the win to their excellent teamwork.
Can You Spell Pelada? Heath and Averbuch entertain yet again in their 2011 Trick Shot Battle. The “goal” was to spell pelada, the Portuguese word for a kick-around or pickup game. They earned letters by scoring trick shots, and whoever got to all six letters first wins. Also, watch the video that started it all, the original Ball Trick Battle from 2006 featuring Heath and Casey Nogueira.
Ever wondered what a day in the life of a U.S. Women’s National Team player is like? We followed WNT goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris to get an inside look at a day inside WNT training camp, a day that included a weight session and on-field practice.
After a grabbing a quick coffee, the busy day starts early for Harris and the WNT, as they are headed to a weight lifting, the first of two trainings sessions that day.
“The bus ride is always total shenanigans with the people I sit around with. Usually that group is Allie Long, Megan Rapinoe and Ali Krieger. It’s just fun and good vibes heading into our workout.”
First stop of the day: weightlifting. The WNT usually spends about 90 minutes at the gym, and each player has a specialized workout sheet that is tailored to their needs.
“At lifting I usually spend time on my shoulders and continue to strengthen my back; things I need as goalkeeper. Every day I hit the ground, so I have to make sure my arms are strong. Shoulder strength and shoulder stability are key to make sure my arms are moving well and to prevent any injuries.”
As the team exits the gym, several fans await them by the bus and most players, including Harris, stop to sign a few autographs and pose for a few selfies.
“It’s always just really cool to stop and have a chat with the younger generation after or before training sessions. They’re just awesome.”
“Our van leaves the hotel about 45 minutes before the field players whenever we go to the training. I always have a pre-training and pre-game routine of taping my fingers and hands. It’s a personal preference and to be honest, I’ve always done it. Being at training earlier helps us get some good stretching in, stay focused and it allows us to nail down techniques and work individually and collectively as a small group before we jump in with everyone else.”
For afternoon training, Harris, along with Alyssa Naeher and Jane Campbell, as well as goalkeeper coach Graeme Abel, all pile into a team van and head to training earlier than the field players to spend some time working on their technique and specific areas before the rest of the team arrives.
“Alyssa and I have very good communication and no one has a better view or can critique one another better than each other. If we see something we tell each other and help each other out.”
After training, the players all cool down, chat with each other, hydrate and reflect on the session they just completed.
“We tend to immediately grab our protein shakes. We talk about the day, what we saw on the field, what we can fix, what wasn’t good, what was good and we just overall critique the game in every way we can to become better.”
“Once we’re back in the hotel, it’s all about treatment. Like true professionals, we must take care of our bodies and be responsible to get the treatment we need. Our bodies take a beating from all the impact at training so we take care of it to do it all over again the day after.”