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Monday, July 18, 2011

WWC 2011 and the 3 G Network is in the Archives

Days have passed. In the midst of tending to laundry I spotted my "Solo" jersey in the hamper. "What could we have done differently?" I caught myself thinking. We wore the lucky shirts, we sat in similar order, we cheered just as loud and believed just as much as we did the day we arrived. If those are my thoughts as a fan, I can only imagine what mental anguish the team has relived as moments in the match replay in their heads.

That's what happens with true competitors. The moments that stick with you aren't the spectacular goals with time running out. Those are great, but the moments you cannot put to bed are the near misses, a misstep, an awkward clearance, a split-second mental lapse. Those stick with high level athletes and motivates them to perfect the imperfections, it helps each competitor improve. But that doesn't mean it is any less painful.

I'm sure those reading all watched the match. The U.S.'s team defense and ability to stay compact and together was as good as I have seen in the World Cup. They took away much of what had made Japan look so special up to that point. Many say Japan had their worst game. I agree, but it was due to the collective efforts of the U.S. defensive game plan. Yes, they still looked incredibly skilled and intelligent, but remembering the 1st half, the U.S. handled everything but finding the back of the net and Japan's attacking efforts were sparse at best.

I don't want to go into tactics, or "what went wrong" because my excitement about this whole trip was the fact I got to be a fan. The goal Sawa scored to tie up the game and take away the USA lead for the 2nd time must have sucked the life out of each and every player. Japan's expressions and body language stepping up to the p.k.'s mirrored the USA during the Brazil match. "WE are so excited! We have been given another life!" The red, white and blue players looked subdued, in shock, vacant. Maybe that is my take on it simply because that is how I felt. I believe every player thought they could pull it out, but their run to the final had left their "mental fortitude" guage on empty.

Japan and the USA played a fair, clean match. I found myself not rooting against Japan but cheering for the USA. Japan was able to possess and be patient in attack. In the 2nd half when they all decided the time was right to head for the goal; it was a choreography of some of the best soccer I have ever seen and it made me sit up and say, "Oh... No! Here they come!" So... much... fun.

So as we relive the highs and lows of the 3 G Network, we couldn't have asked for more excitement. We couldn't have been more proud to be wearing our country's colors and say, "Yes, we have a friend on the team." I was touched by the fact Hope was proudly wearing her silver medal at the post game reception, that Nicholas came back with a Lauren Cheney autograph, elated that "Mom! Lauren said, "THANK YOU!" to me!!" and that each player was just as gracious in defeat as they were in victory.

It was awesome to see former USA world champs everywhere. April Heirichs working for FIFA, Carin (Jennings) Gabarra, (who is now coaching at Navy) escorting Chelsea Clinton and Dr. Jill Biden to the final: ...on AirForce II I might add not an R.V. but I'm sure it was still fun. Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf, Brandi Chastain, Brianna Scurry, Kristine Lilly all following from the booth or on the field. Joy Fawcett, Danielle Fotopolous and Tiffeny Milbrett were all in the stands as number one fans of this team. They know how hard it is to win a gold. If Kristine Lilly had not been in the perfect spot, the '99 Story would have been completely different. These players are all pulling for the team that is now carrying the torch.

So when one tweet reads how the USA/Japan Match had more tweets than any other sporting event and the next post reads how a silver versus a gold medal lost the gals millions in endorsements, I scratch my head. I wonder why supporting and endorsing women who captured the attention of the world for being confident, well- spoken, athletic, courageous women that are the best in their field is such a risky venture. It seems like a gold mine to me.

Younger players like Megan Rapinoe, Lauren Cheney and Alex Morgan assured us that we are developing talent and will return to fight for that elusive World Cup gold. Older playes such as Hope, Abby, Boxxy and Christie showed us how experience can keep a team together.

And Japan, ... well as my friend said. "What a wonderful finish for both teams. They both played well..The U.S. shoulda, coulda but didn't...Japan is taking home more than a World Cup."

Thanks so much for following along. It was a great ride... literally. I am now driving a mini-van like it's a sports car, taking 3 minute showers thinking my token is going to run out and looking forward to the Olympics!

Pictures and thoughts from Gallimore will follow shortly. Jet Lag seems to be hitting us at different times. :)

As those of you that know Amy and I can understand...yes, when Amy asked me if I'd post last night at 9...I didn't even answer her, I just walked downstairs to bed as she started her laundry!

I really can't add much to what Amy has already said. This whole trip is really still sinking in. The experience our kids had is invaluable. What I was able to pick up as a coach, fan, and parent is invaluable. The enthusiasm this World Cup gave me to begin my 18th year as head coach for the Huskies is priceless. There are so many positive things that come from competitive sports, as Amy alluded to, it would be great if that would catch on just a little bit more in American society.

It was fun to get up this morning to my DVR and watch proudly as Hope and Abby "nailed" it on the Late Show with Lettermen! Can't wait for the Daily Show tonight.

I too am excited for London 2012, for Canada 2015 and what adventures that will bring for our U.S. Women's National Team and our family. Amy and I and our staff will continue to try and help any Husky player that has the National Team as their aspiration reach that level, but I will say it was probably the biggest thrill for me to genuinely and whole-heartedly be pulling for EVERY player on the U.S. squad and their coaching staff. I have so much respect for Pia, Marcia, Erica, Hege as coaches. And it was heartfelt empathy that I hugged and congratulated Pinoe, Beuhler, Cheney, Boxxy, Abby and all of the players that have been formidable Husky foes, but were now all on the same team, OUR team, America's team. We'll win another World Cup and I'll be there to see it. Can't wait.

Next up: Husky Women's Soccer's bound to be a "good read" and we hope you follow along! Tschüss!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lead up to the Final and the last days of McRent

Well as Nicholas again so aptly put it: "I'm happy-sad that this trip is ending. Happy that I get to go home and see Toby, sad that we won't be living in our RV in Germany following the U.S. Team anymore." Very well put Nick.

I think we all feel the same way. Our last days before the final were spent camping at Auf der Au Campingplatz in a quaint little town called Nassau; soccer was played, ice cream was eaten, hiking to the Nassau Burg was done, and a great visit and dinner with the Fawcett/Biefeld clan in nearby Diethardt was had.

It was time to "polish up" McRent and pray for our full deposit to be returned.
As luck would have it, by the time we rolled into Friedburg on Saturday morning to return our home on wheels, the nice gentlemen checking us out was easily distracted by a red U.S. Soccer polo that we gave him as he said "The wee-hicle looks fine. Here is your complete deposit back. Enjoy and my warmest wishes to the U.S. goalie..she looks goood. Please give her my personal message. Please. Do you know her? Please tell her she looks good and that I send my warmest wishes." got it buddy, you got it! Thanks again Hope ;)

Shuttle back to Frankfurt where we have checked into the U.S. Soccer Friends and Family team hotel, the Frankfurt Intercontinental. We have been here now less than 36 hours and I think we've all showered 4 times...ah the lap of luxury. "Boys..the mini-bar is NOT free!"

Last night we had a pleasant surprise visit (again) from our little traveling Dawgs! Since we last saw V and Kendyl in Dresden, they have had quite an adventure. I'm sure when Kendyl returns to Norway tomorrow she'll blog about it so you'll have to read it....VERY entertaining! They made the most of their Eurail pass and hit 3 countries in 3 days...highlighted by bad smelling cheese, a death-defying hike that would leave Rose Baker's knees quaking, a watch purchase in Switzerland, a hotel in the red-light district, a midnight drag of their luggage in the boondocks somewhere that made me happy to know I was sitting talking to them! Anyway, so fun seeing the two of them "post-college" living large in Europe and having a you should when you are young! V is recognized on the street for being the famous Mexican player and she'll wear her jersey tonight in hope's of being able to score tickets to the final :) Kendyl is a good agent and wingwoman!

The Frankfurt Intercontinental is HOPPPING! Agents, celebrities, and all of the U.S. Soccer big brass are here. Even ran into MLS commish Don Garber in the elevator who was happy to know we knew about the Sounders 4-3 victory over the Rapids...and was impressed that Ben had his jersey on! Duh Don. Duh! There's a family trip to the U.S. Consul's house today to meet Chelsea Clinton and Dr. Jill Biden, President Obama's delegates for the WC Final. Love it!

Just so happens Lesle's room is next to none other than our own Husky Justin Holliday! He is here trying out for German hoops team, hanging with his brother Drew, who just happens to date Lauren Cheney. Small world. Good times.

The kids have been so cute AND courageous going up to the players they meet! "Hi Rachel (Buehler), good luck tonight, I'm glad you're back in." Ben and Nick whispered to her at breakfast. Zach speechless when being introduced to Alex Morgan. All of the boys genuinely impressed and in awe of these talented young women. Very cool.

There's a hospitality room on Floor Two...wireless and X-box 360 Kinect on the big screen....boys are in heaven! (did I mention the fridge full of free beverages?)

Big breakfast this morning and a surprise visit from our gal Hope. The team stays at a different hotel, but she dropped by to see her family (aunt, uncle, mom, brother, sister, nephew, sister-in-law, cousins AND US! ) So fun to be a part of her entourage and she is so pumped we are here. At least we like to think so.

Long day before an 8:45pm kick-off! Tonight we are in the lap of luxury parking McRent (we're on the family party bus to the stadium). No beer/brats AS dinner..we'll be fed beforehand and the beer/brats will be side-dishes!

Time to exercise today, shower again, and get ready for the big show! Amy has received a Prozone (same editing system we use at UW) video analysis of the japan/sweden game from a US Soccer buddy and we spent some time looking at it...HOLY MOLY ...the Japanese are as impressive in video breakdown as they are on the field.

Last night we watched the 3rd place game with the US Soccer Families and the room seemed to be divided. I was pulling for Sweden as #8, Lotte Shelin (sp?) is one of Hope's good friends that she played with in Sweden and she's had a terrific tournament. Cool for them to win DOWN a player. France was a terrific team to watch...will be interesting to see them moving forward..they have been as good as I've ever seen them. What has happened to China and Norway??? There are new powers in women's soccer for sure!

Tonight we'll be in Row 3, painted up and screaming our heads off! It has been so great to be fans during this tournament and we're confident the U.S. will be able to peak tonight and bring home their 3rd World Cup Title. It's time. We will blog the last big event when we're home most likely and download some more photos then.

Camp awaits us as does the Sounders/Man U game Wednesday. A few more weeks and it's the 2011 Husky Season! Fired up to get back to the team.

Thanks again for reading. #12.4.11 #OAM #Unbroken WOOF.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen... we are on to the Finals!

Leaving the R.V. park was not a difficult task, we filled our tank (don't ask) and revved up the McRent and headed for MGB. We ended up getting to the stadium early and sat in the cozy R.V. while the wind and the rain settled in. Watching from our windows as the fans strolled in, it was tough to decide which way the crowd would sway. We would see a stream of French flags and blue jerseys and we'd get a bit nervous. The next batch of World Cup groupies would be all USA! There were also plenty of fans from the other World Cup countries that were still sporting their country's jerseys and headed to the game to watch the women's best!

We have completely run out of white face paint, our red is waning and looks a bit pinkish. Our decor has taken a turn for the worse, but not our enthusiasm. Nicholas painted "Solo" on each of our cheeks, with "100" on the other to represent her 100th cap! Congrats Hope....such a great accomplishment.

Borussia-Park in Monchengladbach isn't as "covered" as the other stadiums we've been to and in Row 4 we were right in the "drip line". Seeing as both Amy and Lesle have this exact same set up at Husky Stadium it wasn't a problem. Home sweet home.

The game couldn't have started early goal on a great ball from Hea'O to Lauren Cheney and we're all feeling great. We were ultra-impressed with Becky Sauerbrunn's confidence; first ever World Cup game and it's the semi-final! The game definitely took a turn and the French were outplaying us...hands down. Our possession was poor, the French attack was giving our defenders fits and Hope was called upon to make a few saves. The second half started much like the first ended..big MO swingin' France's way, to the point that they tied the game up early in the second half and it was fingernail biting time yet again. This game did not have a great feel. Enter familiar U-Dub Husky foes: Portland Pilot Megan Rapinoe and Cal Bear Alex Morgan. As is the American on when our backs are against the wall.

Like money, Abby Wambach with a ridiculous backpost header: GOAL! U.S. starts playing more direct, clearly with direction to get the ball over the top or through to Alex Morgan. It worked; she broke clean several times and was rewarded for her efforts with a great goal from the left side, cheekily popping it over the keeper. 3-1: Phew! Into the final.

Hope looked a little "different" after the game. Clearly pumped about being in the final, but maybe bummed about no shut-out and not her "cleanest" game. Great thing about soccer, it's never about one person and in a tournament like the World Cup, each game brings different heroes! She even mentioned on her FB page: "Thanks to my defenders for having my back today." Clearly they had her back for a reason, she has theirs too. Love team sports.

Much has been made about the "benching" of Megan Rapinoe in lieu of Lauren Cheney before the WC kicked off. Quote of the day yesterday from Abby Wambach regarding Megan Rapinoe's great performance in the semi-final: "Pinoe isn't sitting on the bench pouting, she's planning!" I LOVE THAT QUOTE.

This team has a great vibe and they are finally "coming into their own". We haven't been hearing the ESPN broadcasts but have read a lot of commentary on the commentary. Hopefully THIS team, THIS 2011 USWNT will get their due praise and the torch will officially have been passed.

First they must earn it...with the "Brazil" hangover further in the past the U.S. must focus on beating an extremely formidable Japanese opponent. We cannot be fooled by their cuteness, their petite size, their polite habit of bowing in respect. They are tough, disciplined, skillful, and intelligent. They beat Germany. They have the sympathy and empathy of the world post-tsunami and they are on as big a mission as we are; this final is going to be a doozy and we are pumped to see it in person.

Post-France victory Lesle's cell phone rang...Erica Walsh, U.S. Assistant and Penn State Head Coach, calling to hitch a ride to Dusseldorf so that their staff, Marcia McDermott, Hege Riise, and she could catch the bulk of the other semi-final back at their hotel. Well they were in luck! The U.S. Soccer entourage wasn't leaving the stadium anytime soon, and better than a police escort is Amy Griffin at the wheel of McRent! "Boys! Get to the back. Make room for the U.S. Soccer staff...and please keep your game analysis and whom should be playing instead of whom comments to yourselves." Hello Marcia, Erica and Hege. Congrats on your semi-final victory...Amy, let's roll. Lesle served them congratulatory beers and off we went on the Autobahn in the R.V. You think beating Brazil in penalty kicks and beating France to get into the WC final is a thrill; well trying riding in a RV at 120km/hr down the Autobahn for the first time...nothin' like it! So fun to visit with them briefly post-game, hear their take and "pinky swear" that what's said in the RV stays in the RV.

Three days to prep. One night at the Courtyard Marriott helps us prepare, two more nights of camping, then our trusty RV is returned and we go into the U.S. Soccer family hotel in Frankfurt for pre-game night and hopefully WC Championship celebration night before heading back to Seattle.

Thanks for reading.....we have been so blessed to be on this trip, and it's been fun to share it will all of you. Stay tuned.....just a little game on Sunday left..stay tuned!

Follow Lesle on Twitter at CoachGallimore or view more pictures on the Husky FB page at!/UWWomensSoccer

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Two Days to get to Monchengladbach

We had big dreams. We had big ideas. Buchenwald...a concentration camp..very educational for the boys. (Closed Mondays..scratch that). Hotel life was tough to leave, but leave we must....Euros, euros, euros!!! Prague? Not too far from Dresden, supposed to be awesome. 1 p.m. check out...geez it's nice here, let's just have one more lunch NOT in the R.V. Oh my goodness, we have no clean clothes. Okay, new plan for Monday: nice breakfast, nice showers, Amy and Lesle to the Waschermeister (laundromat), Jack/boys hang out and go to pool...oops, it's an Aqua Sauna which Nicholas described as a kiddy-pool for old people..really old people, like 80, in bikinis, in 4 inches of water. Okay...just go to lunch and we'll meet you after laundry and we'll head out of town. WE are flailing...the game Sunday did us the heck are the U.S. women going to be ready by Wednesday if WE can't get OUR act together?

Drive in the direction of Monchengladbach and get to a campingplatz before 9pm. Uh oh, groceries, we have no more food since we've been living high on the hotel hog for 2 days. 2 hour drive, groceries and a nice camplingplatz in Leipzig. A nice little town describe as Paris-like, only nicer people.'s a campground.
Time to wake up and drive on Tuesday..we are still TOO far from Monchengladbach and I'm tired of typing it and saying it. MGB we'll call it from here on out.
But first, Nicholas has to hit the playground...nope, other kids there and dag gummit if they aren't "all speaking foreign". Nicholas returns from the playground and we leave.

So more fun than a concentration camp and way less educational we surprise the kids with a trip to a nearby amusement park, Belantis. It's a toned down (way) you can tell this isn't a litigious society because you can basically do whatever you want: drink beer, drop your drawers and take a swim, walk across the tracks of a ride to get off whenever you feel like it..buckle your belt, or don't..your problem, very casual here.

All in all a nice surprise for the kids and other than Zach whacking his nose (thank GOD not the newly unbraced teeth) on the bar at the end of the Fluch de Pharaoh (log ride), the day was quite fun.

Nicholas with mom and dad in tow slayed the scary a roller coaster as I've ever seen. Couldn't believe it! Ben was a hair...literally, too small to go on and the Gallimores, well the Gallimores had better things to do...take pictures (read: scared s*i*l*ss) because someone has to "capture" the essence of this trip.

HAVE to get to MGB...or at least Amy drive! Scary RV story numbers 2 & 3 again with Amy at the wheel (pure coincidence). No detail needed (Audi clocking 110 mph passing us on the LEFT shoulder with no room and a double-wide John Deere coming at us on a road about as wide as my rear is getting from sitting on it and eating Brats and brot)as we are all safe and McRent is in tact.

Campingplatz number 5..not that we're counting; somewhere outside Gottingen, in a town called Densfeld. Beautiful countryside and a friendly place to eat and rest for tonight. When I say friendly I mean the people at the table next to us at dinner had to physically show Lesle how to eat fish with this weird little fork and knife. Bizarre, we eat fish at home and it's much like eating everything else. Again, whatevs...roll with it.

No game of Bananagrams tonight...straight to bed and up to please Lord get us to MGB by game time! 6pm kick off for U.S. versus France. Have had fun hearing from everyone on Facebook, Twitter and Email. Fun talking to Elise and Softy on KJR; doing another radio interview with ESPN radio tomorrow. Hope sure makes us popular...if people could only see us in our "special pajamas" outside in the dark blogging so as not to wake our "campermates" and feeling really glamorous.....internet is dicey at best and pictures loading makes us cuss (I personally owe Benjamin 40 Euros for my bad mouth).'s to hoping the awesome women in the Red, White and Blue (American type-not French) have had 2.5 better days of preparation than us! We're excited to hook up with the Fawcetts again, and we are excited to watch this semi-final! It will be a doozy. The French are good and we're in for a duel! Sacre Bleu! Faustine...I need some quotes!

Speaking of Faustine....and all of our DAWGS (Hunds) back home...we MISS you and saw the greatest picture (courtesy of Mike Bos) from your trip to Eniat! So cool to see the rookies in the mix with you all! You all look healthy and happy and a big shout out to you all for high team gpa 3rd quarter in a row. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOF!

Okay...bugs are biting; gotta go dream good dreams about a semi-final victory and the thrill of getting to sleep in a hotel again tomorrow : )

MGB here we come! USA-USA-USA-!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pressure Makes Us. True that.

Still on Cloud 9 from the game, Lesle and I are at the computer trying to find a way to capture at least a small portion of the quarterfinal match.

The Nike commercial promoting the Women's World Cup rings more true than ever after the drama that unfolded last night in Dresden. Honestly, with seconds left before the USA's World Cup was over, it almost seemed as if the pressure was off. And then finally, one beautifully crossed ball by former Portland Pilot, Megan Rapinoe, found the head of Abby Wambach... and the pressure was back on... to the point of us almost being able to hear the collective heartbeats of players and fans. Ahhhh, the beauty of this sport. I am sure Rapinoe and Wambach would agree when we say it wasn't their best game, but had to have been one of their finest moments.

And then what about Hope? What could be a more perfect name for the U.S. goalkeeper and the pride of the Huskies but Hope Solo. No one near us could decipher what the call was that allowed the p.k. in regulation time to be re-taken. We had to text our Canadian Husky correspondent, Clare Rustad who is in the booth for Canada, to figure out what the heck was going on. Between yellow cards, red cards, p.k.s, playing a man down, and still.... having "Hope" when it came down to p.k.'s could not have been scripted any better for the 2 Husky coaches and their families sitting in the front row of the stands along with the crew from Richland, Washington! Thank you US Soccer, thanks Hope, and thank you U.S. Women's National Team!

Not quite sure how the players pulled it off. All of us at some point were out of breath, light-headed, exhausted and had lost our focus from doing our best to be the 12th man. Ever since my playing days were over I always think how lucky I am to coach, but how much fun it would be just to warm up with the National Team again, to play at the highest level ONE MORE TIME. Last night was the first time I was thankful I was not out there.

Many fans came to the game to see Marta in action. She truly is a phenomenal player, but her antics and "gamesmanship" and the predicament the U.S. was put in with more than 20 minutes to go in regulation changed the tune of the crowd. Boos and whistles emanated every time Marta flashed across the field with the ball at her feet and when the U.S. was able to generate an attack, their efforts were rewarded with deafening applause.

Our phones were blowing up during the game with reports of the 3G Network getting "airtime", and Jack Griffin's spectacular snag of an out of play ball! The boys were cheering their hearts out. Zach couldn't believe this game. Nicholas kept saying "Come on USA (pronounced OO-Suh), you've got one more in ya!" Benjamin looked over at me during PK's and said, "If we win this, I will be so happy". Such a simple statement, that's why ya gotta love kids.

By now you've all seen the game, first time through or on replay, so I won't drag out the drama again. But to literally be within speaking distance of Hope as she came in and out of the net between PK's, was something to behold. Harkening back to 2007 while we were left helpless back in the States as Hope was treated like a leper by her coach and some team members in China, made her being able to look at us and hear us say, "You have this Hope. You have this.", was worth it all. Pressure makes her. Pressure makes them all. Pressure is a privilege.

As we sit here this morning, utterly exhausted, we are realizing first hand the grind and difficulty of winning a World Cup. In less than 3 days, the. U.S. will take the field AGAIN in the semi-final versus France. I can't imagine them being recovered by then, but they will be and we'll be right there in Mochengladbach to scream our lungs out again. We promise. So happy to be along on this ride.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Game Day in Dresden...but first more Wolfsburg and Berlin!

After the U.S.-Sweden loss we were all a little aggravated, but tried to put a good spin on things...grown up take?: "The U.S. gals just saved us a ton of dough in gas money as Dresden is way closer to Wolfsburg than Augsburg. Thank you U.S. Women's National Team, we will pay you back in screaming and cheering you on to victory versus Brazil." So a day and a half more in Wolfsburg...a very cool town known for mainly for the Volkswagon factory. Day one we met up with Olympic and WC Champion and our dear friend Joy Fawcett and her family. We have all known each other for years and the kids all get along fabulously. Joy's folks, Terry and Bev, were in tow as well and we had a super fun time at the unbelievable Phaeno Science Center...Pacific Science Center, sorry to say, BITES compared to this place. We were there for almost 5 hours and didn't even get to every floor! So fun to hang with the Fawcetts, hoping to see them in Mochengladbach...they are now in Augsburg as their plans were dependent on a U.S. victory and group win! Darn it. Last Day in Wolfsburg we visited the Autostadt...basically the Volkswagon's version of Disneyland. Super clean, super cool, and ridiculously awesome architecture. We went on paddle-boat swans, oggled all the different cars in the different pavilions, and had a great meal in the ultra-modern cafeteria..topped off by dessert for the men-folk at Cool and Creamy (desserts that cost as much as the entrees!) Leaving ourselves a good 2 hour buffer to get to Berlin failed...we didn't fail, we pulled McRent out of the parking lot in plenty of time, but Friday afternoon on the Wolfsburg to Berlin Hwy is much like L.A. or Seattle on a Friday afternoon...literally we moved 7km in an hour and a half. Highlight...cramping leg on the clutch and some dudes in the fast lane of the autobahn in a van straight out of Woodstock, hanging our the sides and driving with the slider open...standing up smoking as they crawled down the fast lane. Okay...not quite a highlight, but it was a bad traffic jam and I'm trying to stay positive. Watching the "time of arrival" at destination and with a 9pm camping platz curfew to meet, it quickly became apparent that we needed a new plan: Hotel Time! 2 rooms at Best Western Potsdam for 2 nights. Nice meals, nice people, only one person in McRent at night and a little reprieve from campground life. Off to bed and a big day tomorrow in Berlin. A 5 minute walk the next morning to the train station and in 45 minutes or less we're smack dab in the middle of Berlin. I think the grown-ups knew this ahead of time, but we did it anyway, Berlin is not exactly the GREATEST day trip for a 7 and 9year old, but all 3 of our boys have been unbelievable travelers and game for anything. They've walked more than ever and enjoyed the sites and sounds of Germany. So a nice hot day in Berlin: the main train station, the Reichstag Building (but no visit to the DOME...3 day reservation in advance needed), walked through the Brandenburg Gate
and into Pariser Platz, went and sat and chatted at the Holocaust Memorial where Jack gave the boys a history lesson, and then lunch on the river and more people watching!

Back to the train...oops, this train doesn't stop at our station..passed it by 4, back the other direction...HOBOS..didn't buy new tickets but the train lady was great and let us go back the other way. Very fast, very smooth trains by the way. Back to the hotel in time to get to our rooms, kick up our feet and watch the first two UNBELIEVABLE quarter-finals! Lesle and Amy 0-2, boys 2-0! Dang it! Up today to get a good breakfast before the 2 hour drive to Dresden. One of our most staunch and great blog followers has been Diane Moore, childhood friend of Lesle's! This year instead of a 30 year HS reunion, Lesle and Diane will reunite in Dresden, as Diane, her husband Davis...also a South Torrance HS alum and former Spartan soccer great, along with their friends from London and their eldest daughters, Lindsey and Kelsey, on a whim have decided to fly in from London for the game! Can't wait and Diane, could this possibly top Minnesota for our fortieths? Go USA! Beat Brazil! Hope's family is now here and her personal rooting section will have grown. Can't wait to see the crew from Richland! Stay tuned and cheer on the women in red, white and blue!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Time to get our Game Faces On!

We had our game faces on for the Mexico/New Zealand game, but despite a goal within ghe opening minutes of the game and cheering our lungs out, New Zealand managed to give Mexico a run for their money with a 2-2 tie. Veronica played with all the skill and energy one would expect for a World Cup match. We are still discussing, "Wouldn't that have been great if she connected on the diving header that missed her noggin by mere inches!" She worked her butt off to get open for her teammates, she defended as if she were solely reponsible for her team allowing a shot, and she helped her team possess the ball in the attacking half of the field as good as anyone out there. Yes Veronica! We were all so happy to have been present for her first World Cup!

Last night in Heidleberg and then off to Wolfsburg for the USA match. The drive ended up being a little over 6 hours thanks to summer construction detours and our GPS not being helpful with an alternate route. Thanks to our friends who were renting a house in Wolfsburg, they has secured us a camping spot, cooked us a fantastic dinner and chauffeured us to the game. We have known Lisa Fraser and Bruce Caris for many years and it was tons of fun to hook up with them, their friends and son Robbie for the match. Talk about hopitality! They dropped us off at our Kampplatz around midnight and their crew needed to be out the door and to the airport at 5:00 A.M. Last thing I heard before I fell asleep was Nicholas talking to Jack. "Dad? can I have some more covers?" "Yes." "I want to kill that bird." Our new camping spot had 1 insomniac bird that I pictured being a baby teradactyl based on the sound of it.

The U.S. game was exciting to watch if you were a Swedish fan. For the Americans it was frustrating to watch. So many attacking opportunities, but not enough of them found the frame of the goal. Off to a bit of a slow start, Hope had to come up a save that showed her patience, ability to react and how wonderful she is under pressure.

The first goal against the USA was a penalty kick, which Hope's outstretched fingers were a hair's breath away from getting a touch on. I always felt it was worse coming so close than missing the thing by a mile. You can tell by the silence of the stadium, that Hope's reputation is known by more than the U.S. fans. It was silent. Everyone, including me thought she just might pull it off. Drats!

I have really enjoyed watching Hope in action. During both the Columbia match and the Sweden match there is so much she does that is not on camera that helps her teammates. From staying as far back as she can to receive a ball to feet from a centerback that is being mauled by an ensuing forward, to being in perfect position EVERY time. 90 percent of the time, the shot does not come, but if it did, she would be ready. I have always taken pride on the small things and she does a gazillion things perfectly that go unnoticed to most. She is a true professional.

We are up today to hit the Science Center with the Fawcett family! Should be fun.
... and eventually off to Dresden! Brazil / USA !!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Two days of Touring in Heidelberg

First of all, thanks for tuning in again. We have posted a few photos on the last couple of posts if you'd like to take a peek.

A typical day in the R.V. with no games to attend.

Adult workout thanks to Rose Baker and/or Elysia Tsai
Soccer Tennis
Pack, KP Duty, Wash up
Site See
Watch a World Cup Game on T.V.
Soccer again at the camp site
Mad Game of UNO; I think Zach and Jack are vying for King's Court
and Bed (no simple task)

Sounds like your run of the mill day.

As has been the case on our camping venture, we have been suspicious of a gas leak in the RV as nobody...even our resident insomniac, can seem to get out of bed before 10:30. So our first trip into Heidelberg didn't commence until 3pm...fortunately, like Seattle, it stays light pretty late here. So off we go to see the Schloss (castle) and stroll the Hauptstrasse in Zentrum (central) town. Here we'll skip to the part where we are all okay and it wasn't our fault. Little fender bender caused by an overzealous German who was going the wrong way in a RED X lane into head on traffic and had to cut in front of us to avoiding killing himself and his girlfriend. He clipped us,and Amy, expert reactionary that she is, kept us from harms way and besides a scratch on his car and a hubcap needing to be replaced on our rig, disaster was averted and we finally made it into to park the beast. 45 minutes later and we won't bore you further, but we did finally make it to town and walked the cobblestone strasse ooohing and ahhhing at the people, shops, wares, and general ambience of this very hip European, university town.

As we always like to say...well, there are two things we like to say: "Nothing is ever easy" -Dr. Donald Z. Silver, and "Things happen for a reason"-unknown.
If not for our little "scrape" or our nightmare trying to dock McRent, we wouldn't have had the great fortune at the end of the strasse to run into the entire Mexican National Team and our little friend Vero! We were so excited to see her again, and good thing we did because we needed to remind her (even though we're pretty sure we've told her no less that 1,000 times) that we are going to her 2nd game versus New Zealand! She was thrilled (does she have amnesia?). Also had to throw in the "You do remember you promised us tickets, right?" No problemo! Viva Mexico!

Second highlight and great timing due to our ineptness and misfortune, spotting BIG BLUE in the Karlplatz! we stood in awe of the Heidelberg Castle with mouths agape, all saying, wowwwwwwwwwwwwwww, this is awesome, Jack stood with the same expression and saying the same thing only when we turn to look at him he wasn't looking up at the castle....he was in awe of BIG BLUE....otherwise known as the ESPN production truck! So we walked around it as the broadcast team of Bob Ley, Monica Gonzales, and Tony DiCicco, starting the pre-game show for Brazil-Norway. Amy and I both were curious as to where our anchor buddy Brandi was and no sooner had we wondered than, poof, she appeared out of nowhere, looking as svelt and cheery as always! So good to see our old friend.

She took the boys inside Big Blue where they met the crew and got to sit at the anchor desk! Very nice of Brandi and very cool experience for the kids! They'll watch ESPN with a whole new insight now!

The boys juggled a ball around with Brandi and then we went to the Hard Rock Cafe and watched the second half of Brazil spank Norway...OMG, Marta is amazing, who is going to mark and deal with her each match...will be interesting.

We left town, looked up at the Castle and said: "Tomorrow! We storm the castle tomorrow!" Which, even though we still slept til about 10am, still played soccer tennis, still cooked, ate, did dishes and grocery shopped (is this vacation?), made it into to town around 3, found awesome parking (why didn't we see that yesterday?), and stormed the castle! 10 minute hike to the top and the boys, as well as the adults, were in awe of this huge piece of architecture that has been here since the 1700's. Very cool to walk the grounds...Nicholas was only disappointed that we didn't get to see the King's chair. Oh well.
Back down to the village, Eis for the men folk, and back to the campground for pasta (bland) and salad (decent). M & M's for everyone to tide us over til morning and a 6 way game of UNO before bed.

Tomorrow is our last day in Heidelberg, we'll relax, play some more soccer tennis, get some much needed exercise, head to V's hotel to pick up the tickets (better communication on that this time) and then off to root HARD for Mexico to slaughter New Zealand where simultaneously we'll be rooting for Japan to demolish England. Really hope this is not Mexico's last game, but if it is, we are so very, very fortunate and proud to have watched our little V-Magic compete for her other country. We all feel a little Mexican. Vamos Mexico!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Finally...U.S. Game Day

After the rush to get to Germany, get our lost luggage, get our big rig, get to Leverkusen, get to the Mexico-Japan game, and get BACK down south to Heidelberg to find a spot to park...we were FINALLY able to wake up rested at a leisurely hour and get ready for the U.S.-Columbia match in nearby Sinsheim at Rhein-Neckar Stadium.

The game kicked off at 6pm and we were in Sinsheim at 1pm ready to suss things out (re: PARKING the McRent). This stadium had a nice big parking lot, so our minds were at ease. We grabbed a little lunch and headed to an area where the Sinsheim Auto-Technik museum is and happened to run into the U.S. Soccer Family and Friends bus. This got us even more pumped up for the match as we wandered around the plaza meeting and chatting with other soccer fans from all over the world.

The most interesting group we met was the Women's (girls really) National Team from Jordan. They were traveling around Germany, playing games and watching World Cup they one day hope to qualify for their first ever World Cup. They are just getting started and it is just now acceptable for the Jordanian woman to play sports. They were a super young team, average age 16 (the goalkeeper is 36, so that puts their youth in perspective. Zach had brought the adidas "Speed Cell" match ball from the car that I caved and purchased at the Mexico/Japan game. He began to juggle with Nick and Ben and soon the Jordanian girls, one by one, started to join in. It was super cool for Amy and I to witness with our own kids what we have seen so many times in our lives as "soccer travelers": that soccer truly is the international language and unifier.
The free-style juggling festivities took us up to about 3pm when we could go and park McRent back at the stadium and begin our mini-tailgate..."NO GRILLING" here. So we got out the chairs, tables, U.S. Flags and some beverages and snacks and began chatting with others in the lot. So awe inspiring how many people of all nationalities and ages come to the World Cup.
We ran into Hope's boyfriend, Jesse Bignami, in his #1 purple U.S. Goalkeeper jersey; we also saw Alex Morgan's (#13) dad, Mike, with a sign for his youngest of 3 daughters who was turning 22 on this day! The sign: MORE AMOR! Very cute.

Zach and I spent some time painting Nick and Ben's faces...both turned out great if I do say so myself!

Finally, it was time to head into the stadium! Thanks to Hope we are able to get in on the family and friends ticket allotment, so we were seated amongst the players families and friends which made for a very spirited experience!
As we knew would happen..Amy cried when the National Anthem was played and we all got goosebumps when we first saw Hope! We, of course, are biased, but she truly is an amazing athlete, personality, goalkeeper and American sportshero. We are so proud of her and can't wait to see what the rest of this World Cup brings for her and her U.S. teammates.

Columbia was no real match for the U.S., but regardless, the best of the best couldn't have stopped the laser that Heather O'Reilly hit the first half! So fun to be sitting right in front of her family when it happened!

We saw a few other old friends and teammates, most notable our good friend and Brown University alum, Teresa Abrahamsohn,
who was traveling around Europe with her former coach and Brown's team.

The game ended 3-0, Hope hopped into the stands to give an autograph to a girl and then had a HUGE smile when she looked up at us and blew us all kisses.

Suddenly this game and this day made the "initial hassles and headaches" of the trip totally worth it. After the game we headed to the U.S. team hotel, where Mexico is also staying because their next game v. New Zealand is in Sinsheim. So we got to tour V and Hope around the R.V., chat with them both for a bit and let them know how proud we are to be here watching them play on the world's biggest stage!

We are now getting into "the groove" and super pumped about the rest of the tournament and the rest of our adventures in Germany. We'll hang in Heidelberg for a few more days, watch Mexico play, and hopefully beat New Zealand....and sorry Jimbo, but hope for an England loss to Japan so V can advance.

Photo of Husky Goalkeepers Hope Solo, Leslie Weeks and Zach Gallimore :) in 1999

Stay tuned.....more good stuff to come! Thanks for reading and following the 3G Network.