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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Clean Living

I mentioned in the last post that there are many people living in a small country.  They are very conscious about their health.  For instance... there is no Diet Coke.  It is believed that the chemicals in Diet Coke are more dangerous to one's health compared to Coke Zero and regular Coke.  My guess is it is saccharin but I am not quite sure when I look at the can.  :)

When I mean there is no Diet Coke I am not kidding.  There are no Diet foods and/or sodas with saccharin like products.  It is illegal to have it in the country.  Come to think of it, we have known that saccharin is a cancer producing agent for some time...

Want to hear something else crazy? There are no public garbage cans.  This came about in 1995 after a gas subway attack occurred in Tokyo in which a gas bomb was tossed in a trash can.  What began is an antiterrorism measure has stuck around because it saves the government money.  I am just now getting used to the fact we must hold onto the gum wrapper, to-go cup, receipt  until I return to my hotel room.  Again, I need to remind you how many hundreds of thousands of people live here and the place is spotless; airports, malls, city streets, parks.

Okay, that was your tidbit on Japan for the day.  Now a bit about our first game.  The first 15 minutes did not go according to the script.   We dodged a bullet or two and struggled to possess the ball in the manner which we have been practicing. Maybe it was first game jitters, or that Ghana had some fast skillful players, or the heat or a combination of all of the above.  I don't mean for those to be excuses. We all know sports are unpredictable.  That is why we play and watch and cheer, because we are unsure of the outcome.
That is also why I have bags under my eyes, gray hairs and can't sleep at night.  Whether I am deemed good at my job or not is simply as the ball bounces.  Fun and frightening.

Okay, the  second half we came out more diligent on defense and a bit more sharp with our passes.   That seemed to help but the catalyst was Penn State forward, Maya Hayes who's shooting streak was as hot as the stadium that day scoring 3 of the USA's 4 goals.

The Ghanaians had some speed and skill and playing against them  will help us settle in for the next game; or at least that is the plan.  In the meantime, we will stop looking at every grocery store for diet coke and find a new and improved caffeine fix.
With so much down time for the players we try to make sure they don't get too stir crazy.  Coaching is fun, but I have always thought it is much more fun to be a player.  However, these players will do anything you ask (tee hee her) and they are competitive.  So... when you ask they to try to roll an oreo from their forehead into their mouth it is game on; no questions asked.  This might be one of the rare occasions it is more fun to be a coach. My favorite quote was from Sam Mewis who shouted to her teammate, "Use your instincts!" Not sure which instinct snaps into action when asked to perform this feat but many were born without it. 

I must say that the players aren't the only ones that get stir crazy.  It seems our trainers, Carrie and Elysia (goes by E-Money around these parts) are already showing signs of losing it.   Here is what I caught at a training session. It is my hope that by the end of our journey you will know more about Japan, the U20 USA soccer team as well as our the cast of character on our road show.  It might be due to the fact they test the players' urine, deal with their blisters, rub out their muscles, put suction cups on their aches and pains and listen to their stories about 18 hours a day.  It's enough to make anyone nuts.

China is our next opponent.  A team with size and skill that needs a victory since they lost to Germany in their opening game.  If we win, we will for sure advance into the quarter final rounds regardless of our 3rd round robin game so it is important.
After our match against China, we board a charter flight with Germany and head to Miyagi for our 3rd match.  We all will miss Hiroshima.  The people, scenery, accommodations, food have all been excellent.  What a great place to begin our journey.  The place where the paper crane originated.

Happy Birthday to Jack (greatest husband a traveling soccer mom could ask for) and Dad (the guy who said "good game" when I did okay... and not a word when I sucked.) Love you both very much.

Morgan Brian Heads toward Goal

Maya Hayes in Flight

"And if you spin like this... you get really dizzy..."

No Caption Necessary :)


  1. I'm so glad you used your instincts to start this blog and keep it going. Sam Mewis should be proud :-) I'm also so glad we get to watch you guys this time around. Last U-20 WWC was torture!

  2. I blame no video on Africa!! :) And thanks for the video of E dancing. that was the best ever. OR more importantly her reluctance to participate and just laugh. Now, I'm kind of thinking I'm glad I'm not there with you. Don't want to get caught on camera with my goofiness.

  3. I should really have both of you guys edit this before I hit "Publish" Can you say, "delirious?" Off for the 5th meal of the day.

  4. I'm sure today or yesterday was a tough day with that hard loss. Don't let Bre get down on herself as I'm sure she would want to. :) They'll bounce back, I'm not worried. Sorry about that. I hate losing to Germany!