Friday, July 22, 2011

"We've learned a lesson ... We can't take anything for granted" Pia Sundhage

Friday morning Jackie and I landed in Frankfurt, Germany. It was a last minute decision for me but after seeing the semi-final match I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The flight from Finland was only about 2 hours and since we had the weekend off from practice, our coach had no problem letting us go. We got off the train and managed to find the hotel pretty easily.  There we met up with 2 of the Swedes I had met earlier this summer, Martina and Helena.

We traveled around the city and became more familiar with our surroundings.  Frankfurt was definitely an interesting place. While some parts of the city were not very nice and a bit sketchy, there were also parts that had a lot to offer. The downtown area had a lot of old buildings and museums.

On Saturday we went down to a section they designed for the world cup.  There they had many different stands; food, drink, games and music. They had big screen TV’s alongside the river. We decided it would be a good place to watch the Bronze medal match! We had a table in front of one of the TV’s and met a bunch of new people. Helena brought Swedish gear for everyone to wear and we made sure anyone who joined our table was rooting for Sweden.  The game was exciting and everyone was so into it. After Sweden won they set fireworks off over the river and the bands began to play. Everyone liked our Swedish gear and made comments as they passed us. After the world cup fan zone died down we went to the world cup bar by our hotel for some laughs at karaoke. The whole day was really fun!

Sunday morning was the day of the World Cup Finals. I sported my USA gear and dressed in red, white and blue. I was going to paint my face but we had some problems.. While Helena and I got on the train to the game, Martina and Jackie missed it! The trains were jammed packed and everyone was pushing. Since we got separated we didn’t have enough time before the game to paint ourselves. We got into the stadium and the atmosphere was amazing. I sat with a woman who coaches college back home in the US. We were about 20 rows up from the goal in which they shot the PK’s. The stadium was roaring and was sold out, about 48,000 fans! The game was everything we could have asked for, except for maybe the outcome! While the US started the game at a great pace they were unable to put one away. When Wambach scored in overtime I felt like I was a part of the game. The stadium was going wild. Somehow Japan was able to score with less than three minutes left off a corner-kick goal. Japan was able to fight back twice and force the game into penalty kicks. While the US has never lost in PK’s before it wasn’t their day. It almost looked like their confidence was broken. It’s hard to be mad when Japan won the game with everything that has been going on in their home country, the win could change a lot for them. I also believe the tournament could help the US professional league survive and hope that the loss in the finals won’t change that!

This experience was one that I will never forget. I had an amazing time! I was able to take in another European country and get to see the Women’s World Cup finals all at the same time.

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