At the Algarve Cup, It's All About the Jersey

ALBUFEIRA, Portugal — I just returned to my room from an evening ocean adventure with Heather O’Reilly (a k a Hao). After our 2-0 win over Iceland to open the Algarve Cup, we returned to the hotel and went in the pool to help regenerate our muscles. Hao and I decided that we wanted to head down to the ocean on a little expedition … the water would be colder and the waves are almost like a massage on tired muscles. After overcoming our fear of the dark and rocky water, having a joking-yet-serious discussion regarding who would be first to notice if we went missing (we both thought our roommates — Lauren Cheney and Lori Lindsey), and the disappearance and recovery of all four of our flip =flops, we made our way back up to the hotel, shivering but satisfied that our expedition had been a success.

Hours before, as I stood in the tunnel, about to walk out onto the field with the other starters for the game, I made a silent promise to myself — that I would never take for granted putting on the national team jersey and stepping on the field to represent my country. It is really important to me to always appreciate the little things. I love seeing my last name on the jersey that is set out as we enter the locker room. I love the way it feels on my back, and how nice the game socks are. I love the song that FIFA plays as the players walk out, and even when I go to watch games, it gives me the chills.

On a different note, I did something today that I vowed I would never do … I wore pre-wrap in my hair (as a headband). I always considered this really girly, and just not me. I’m actually kind of ashamed that I went back on my declaration, but it was a necessity. I actually couldn’t see because, with the slight wind and my hair being out of control, all the pieces kept flying in my eyes. So I justified my decision as my only option, and essential to my performance. (I feel a lot better now that I confessed this detail.) Now, back to the game.

Iceland was awarded two penalty kicks — one early and one late in the game — both of which goalkeeper Hope Solo saved. We joked about it after because we actually all celebrated more after Hope’s second PK save than we did after our two goals.

I played 60 minutes at left mid. I’ve played there a few times before, including in our game against Germany last November, but it’s still somewhat new for me. I’m usually a center mid, and that’s where I feel most comfortable, but I will gladly play anywhere for this team, and being on the outside is fun and different. My Sky Blue F.C. teammate, Meghan Schnur played left back behind me and got her first cap on Wednesday! She played great and made it easy for me, and also set up our first goal (which was recorded as an own goal, but I credit it to Schnur).

As part of the trainer Dawn Scott revolution, we now wear global positioning system devices for training and games. We have to wear these sports bra-type vests, and the G.P.S. unit goes in the back, making us all look like we have some strange spinal deformation. It will be interesting feedback to assess and possibly improve our individual and team movement.

The other day after practice, Dawn knocked on Abby [Wambach’]s door and in her lovely English accent politely said, “Abby, do you still have your G.P.S.?” Abby realized that she had accidentally worn it in the van going back to the hotel and handed itto Dawn, who said, “you certainly will have set some sort of record, having run at 60 m.p.h. for nearly 15 minutes!” Although none of us will be able to beat Abby’s performance on that one, I’m looking forward to seeing my data.

O.K, time for some sleep. We have training tomorrow and then play against Norway on Friday!

One last thing … I’ve really been wondering if there’s less toilet paper on the rolls in Portugal or if our hydration has been making us go through them faster … after some evaluation, Lori and I have agreed that it’s most likely a combination of the two.

Until next time.