One day I was pulling on my Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC jersey and the next I was warming up in RFK Stadium for pregame practice with the USWNT. It was like I had transferred worlds in the blink of an eye.
After my game in Sweden, I immediately cooled down thoroughly, did an ice bath, and then put on my recovery tights. There would be very limited recovery time once I landed in DC. After all, it was only one training session and then a game against Mexico the following night.
There’s a lot that goes into the final product on the field. Besides actual soccer preparation, it is vital for me to be mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared to play at my best. I knew that this game would be very tough. Not only did I play 90 minutes in Sweden before flying across the Atlantic, but the temperature and humidity in DC were a shock to my body even when I just stepped out of the airport. I would be jet lagged, and the 8pm game would feel like 2am (Swedish time) to me.
I have a lot of friends in DC and it is very close to home (NJ). So it was tempting to try to squeeze in lots of social time and see people I haven’t been able to catch up with in months. But it was very clear in my mind—this was a business trip.
It’s so important that I keep everything in perspective when I travel with the USWNT. It is always a trip filled with excitement, gratitude, and stress, among many other emotions. Many of my closest friends are on the team, so it is an opportunity to share laughs and bond with people I care about a lot. But it is also a continued tryout process and I have to be at my very best in every session and every game. At the end of the day, it is “work,” although many times it doesn’t feel like it.
The game against Mexico was very one-sided, which was highlighted by Sydney Leroux’s first half hat trick. I got to play a good amount in the second half and was very grateful for the opportunity. I admittedly wasn’t my sharpest, because of the physical toll the travel had taken on my body. But every time I can step on the field and represent my country, I learn something new about the international level and how I can make myself more effective playing in that environment.(Photo courtesy of Yael Averbuch)
So although this business trip was quick, it was well worth it to wear my National Team crest in front of a wonderful crowd in DC. Now it’s time to head back across the Atlantic and get re-acclimated to my Swedish life for my next game on Wednesday.
Yael Averbuch is a midfielder for the United States Women’s National team and for Göteborg FC in Sweden. She also contributes to her own blog and contributed to the New York Times Goal Blog as well (which you should all go and check out if you haven’t already). Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.