ALBUFEIRA, Portugal — I love how there’s always fútbol on TV in Europe! It’s Sunday and Porto is beating Braga, 3-0. [The final score was 5-1.] I’m lying in bed in my compression/recovery tights, as is typical of any time I’m not at training or at a meal. A group of us just finished playing Bananagrams (a word game similar to Scrabble, where each player selects 21 letters and has to use them all to create connected words). I think it’s safe to say that Nicole Barnhart (we call her Barney) is the reigning champ. She won every game until she retired early this evening and let the rest of us have a shot at victory. Barney is also the team crossword expert, so her Bananagram success was not unexpected.
I have a massage in about 20 minutes, which I’m really looking forward to. Today we had a closed door scrimmage against China and tied, 1-1. The field was already in questionable condition and last night it rained steadily for hours. Still, when we got there, I think we were all a little shocked as we stepped across the line and into the giant puddle (one of several strewn across the field). Throughout the course of the game it only got worse, and as the final whistle blew, it was hard to imagine that the mud pit we were standing in had once been green. That said, and considering the difficult conditions, I think we had some good moments. (Side note: Porto just scored AGAIN!)
I had a lot of fun playing, despite what Meghan Schnur pointed out after we had cooled down, “If you decided to go one direction, you were pretty much committed to it, because there was no changing it or going back!” The impossibility of changing direction and the fact that nearly 50 percent of our passes were slowed down or stopped dead by the puddles didn’t change our team’s attitude and commitment to prepare well for the beginning of the tournament. That always impresses me about being with this group — no one ever complains or makes excuses. Yes, there were moments when we laughed about it, but everyone was focused on doing their absolute best.
On Monday we have to be up at 8 a.m. for our morning assessment with Dawn. A vertical jump test has now been added to the repertory. We did a baseline test during strength training the other day, so now we do a few jumps every morning to measure fatigue. It’s slightly comical to try to step out of bed, only having brushed our teeth and peed in a cup, and try to do a max effort vertical jump. Next thing you know we’ll have to run the beep test up and down the hotel hallway every morning!
The Algarve Cup starts for us against Iceland on Wednesday.