On Monday, we beat Sweden, 2-0, thanks to two beautiful second half goals from [Lauren] Cheney. I started and played the first half, which looked nowhere near as good as the second. It was a tough first 45, and there are things that I know I could have done better. Playing at this level exposes a new set of mental challenges, which is part of what I’m adjusting to, as well as the level of play. It’s so easy to get swept up in the highs and lows of the experience: the thrill of starting, but then a slightly disappointing performance … a great practice, then a not-so-good one … positive feedback from the coaches, then some criticism/critique. I’ve been working hard on staying even-keeled throughout the process, because in the long run everyone will have their ups and downs. But it is important to not get so confident that you become complacent, and not so critical that you become discouraged.
I’ve worked on changing other aspects of my mind-set as well. I’m so competitive, that sometimes it can have a negative effect. As much as I am always striving to be better and earn a spot, I’ve learned that at times it is healthier to simply try to be the best possible me. I used to get upset when someone on my team would “outplay” me, but now it makes me happy. I want to be a part of this team, and I want to start, but I want to earn that and be playing among the best possible players. So when someone does something nice or has a great performance, I couldn’t be happier for them. And instead of feeling inadequate because I was not able to do the same thing, I think, “wow, I am so lucky to be able to play with her.” This isn’t easy to do sometimes, but I am conscious of trying to maintain that attitude. I want to be a mainstay in this group eventually. And when that time comes, I want us to be hands down the best team in the world.
Sweden had some impressive players today. I’m glad that one of them, Jessica Landstrom, is my new teammate on Sky Blue F.C. After the game, Heather [O'Reilly], Carli [Lloyd], Schnur [Meghan] and I waited while she cooled down to go introduce ourselves. It was slightly awkward, because we had just beaten them, and we could tell that she wasn’t happy about the result. But she was friendly and gracious, and we’re looking forward to playing with her soon, rather than against her.
There were a lot of American fans today! The four, U17 regional teams are in Portugal to play some games, so they came to cheer us on. Heather and I talked to the Region I girls afterward and it brought back some good and not-so-good memories of my journey through the O.D.P. process. Heather said a few words to them about recognizing and embracing what makes you special as a player. Then I added a thought about appreciating the little moments. As much as these themes may sound like big clichés, I think they’re so important and constantly need to be reinforced (for me just as much as the U17 girls we spoke to).
Tuesday we have a recovery session, then we play Germany on Wednesday. Time for me to turn off my fútbol mind for a little bit … I could think about it and reflect on it all night. It’s healthy for me to have some distractions, though. Banagrams, here I come!