Former Santa Clara soccer star Leslie Osborne is currently in China with the U.S. Women's National Team for the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup. Osborne will be writing blogs throughout her time in China, chronicling her first World Cup experience. She is joined in Shangahi by two former Santa Clara stars, Aly Wagner and Marian Dalmy. Check back in on a regular basis to see what is happening on the other side of the globe.
BLOG ENTRY #1 - Shanghai
AND SO IT BEGINS...
The time we have dreamt about has come. The Women's World cup is here. This is why we have dragged each other past the finish line during fitness. This is why we live the game every day! This is our opportunity to make the last two years of training and preparation pay off. This is where the best team in the world will shine!
For some, this is another opportunity to play in a World Cup, for others it will be the first. It all comes together on September 11 in our first game against North Korea. We will have been in China 13 days by then, plenty of time to get acclimated to the time zone, the food and the weather.
We left Los Angeles on Monday morning, Aug. 27, after playing our last send off game vs. Finland the previous Saturday. We beat the Fins 4-0 as Shannon Boxx, Lindsay Tarpley, Kristine Lilly and Heather O'Reilly scored.
Sunday was our day off to get everything done before departing. Everyone split up to get ready for our 35-day adventure. I went with some friends to Manhattan Beach to enjoy my last banana buckwheat pancakes and my vanilla latte from Coffee Bean. The rest of the day was spent packing, doing laundry, errands and cleaning. It is very hard to pack for 35 days, especially in China.
We left early Monday morning for Shanghai. Everything went pretty smoothly, I must say. Some of my teammates were lucky enough to be bumped up to business class. I didn't make the cut (not enough caps, yet!), but I enjoyed coach class with two of my teammates Carli Lloyd and Natasha Kai. I watched a DVD, read a book, colored with Tasha and even slept a couple hours. Time flew by and before I knew it, the 13-hour flight was over. Best trip over to China yet!
It doesn't really feel like we are in China, mostly because our hotel rooms are amazing. It is definitely one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed in. The food here is usually our biggest challenge. We shipped over trunks of American food and snacks, but in all honestly, the food has been pretty good. I have never seen cheese here during the four previous times I've been to China, so I was ecstatic to see cheese platters set out at all of our meals! What makes our trip even more special is that we have found a Coffee Bean Tea & Leaf. I will be making daily trips to Old Town, which is a cute section in Shanghai, to get my fix.
We got to pick our roommates for the first leg of the trip. I am lucky enough to room with Steph Lopez. She is the only college player left on the team so much of her time is consumed with homework, and planning her Christmas wedding. Congrats Steph!
With a fifteen-hour time change from the West Coast, China can be difficult to adjust to. Having a great hotel with comfortable beds and great food can help make it easier.
Shanghai is quite crazy! We have to be very careful because the Chinese drivers are nuts. Shanghai has around 800 car accidents per day! It's a good thing we travel in a huge bus with police escorts!
Our first practice was pretty fun. It was pouring rain and very humid! There were thunderstorms and lightening the whole day so we were lucky to even get out on the field. We were welcomed by hundreds of frogs one day and lots of dragonflies the next. These dragonflies were like small birds and actually were not bothered by us at all. I wonder what animals will surprise us tomorrow? The weather has been very humid and it looks as if it will be that way the whole month of September.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more pre-Women's World Cup updates! We are looking forward to our first day off tomorrow in Shanghai. I am sure we will have some adventures!