Full Time: World Cup rest day reflections

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Am I jealous that Steph crossed paths with Jason Momoa? Yes, yes I am. It’s Emily Olsen here with Meg Linehan and Steph Yang — welcome to Full Time!

Take A Breath

Don’t get addicted to the destination

I’m hardly going to wax poetic in these updates, but I’m starting to feel melancholy creep in as we get toward the end of this magnificent journey.

The group stage had me up nearly 18 hours a day, mostly in my hotel room — though I did get to sneak away to Waiheke Island where I fell in a pile of mud and it was wonderful.

The round of 16 brought stress along with Plans A, B and C. The U.S. finishing second meant our team could travel to Melbourne and, wow, I’m so thankful for that city and its amazing coffee (even if that’s where the U.S. journey ended). And now on the first full rest day, I find myself in my hotel room speeding through typing this edition, so I can go outside and experience as much of this land down under as possible.

I saw this as part of an art installation in Melbs, and while it’s cliché, it hit me:

“Beware of destination addiction, the idea that happiness is in the next place. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.”

When I tell you I nearly sobbed right there on Bourke Street (blame the sleep deprivation) I’m telling the truth.

Anyway, let’s talk about soccer!

Three American-born players remain

Part of the World Cup viewing experience for many Americans is rooting for more than one team: the U.S. women’s national team and the country they or their parents may have immigrated from. The same concept can be seen among the players in the tournament. The World Cup started with 54 American-born players on various rosters.

The diaspora of multiple countries is prevalent across the United States. At the international level, playing for the U.S. isn’t always the first choice or, in other situations, even an option.

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Casey Phair became the youngest player at a World Cup when she took the field for South Korea — she’s also currently enrolled at The Pingry School in New Jersey. The Philippines are by far the team with the most American-born players, with 18 of the 23 players playing for the country. Jamaica, which made the knockout round in its second-ever World Cup, also has double-digit U.S.-born players. With the Reggae Girlz’s elimination Tuesday, there are only three American-born players left in the competition, on two teams (Angela Baron and Elexa Bahr for Colombia plus Damaris Egurrola for the Netherlands).

Today, Kudzi Musarurwa takes a look at the American-born players who took part in the World Cup as members of teams other than the USWNT.

Opponents crossed paths at a nightclub

I spent a good bit of time on Colombia yesterday, but I can’t not share this story in more detail from Tamerra Griffin, which is also about Jamaica.

You’ll have to read the whole story, but it starts with Jamaica’s national team head coach Lorne Donaldson on the upper floor of a Sydney nightclub. Downstairs, members of Colombia’s staff were partying. They mingled and marveled at the serendipity: representatives of two nations, tens of thousands of miles from home, finding the same venue to let loose before locking in for the biggest tournament in women’s soccer.

It’s a reminder of the human part of it all; just super athletic people embracing an out-of-this-world experience.

Obviously, we know how the story ended, weeks later, with Jamaica leaving the tournament after a 1-0 defeat to Colombia. But something tells me Donaldson and his team will dance again.

Steph’s Set Piece

A day at Japan’s open training

Japan’s players are not usually ones to come through high on vibes, although they seemed in a decent mood today, with goalkeeper Chika Hirao sharing a small joke with a journalist as she stood by herself waiting to go through the mixed zone. Leading goalscorer Hinata Miyazawa was the focus of the Japanese press, and a couple of Swedish press as well, who wanted to know her thoughts on how Japan could beat Sweden.

The mood in Auckland seems fairly calm, at least on a day when there are finally no games. Earlier, as fans gathered at The Cloud to watch knockout games like England vs. Nigeria and Colombia vs. Jamaica, it was a rockin’ full house, especially during the Colombia game.

But sometimes you leave your hotel to search for Panini cards (unsuccessfully, this time) and you just happen to cross paths with actor Jason Momoa as he’s headed into SkyCity for some promotion of something.

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A  Word From Wrexham

Paul Mullin and the pain of penalty kicks

This is a weird sentence to write in a World Cup newsletter, but a Wrexham AFC striker had interesting insight into what it’s like to take a penalty. On a day that USWNT forward Sophia Smith shared her first public reaction since missing her spot kick against Sweden, Mullins does his best to explain some of the shared mentality:

It must feel unbelievable to play at a World Cup.

Some players have long, successful careers at the highest level, pour everything into the game and still never get close to the world’s biggest stage.

And that’s why missing a penalty in a World Cup shootout must be so painful. The world is watching. These tournaments come around just once every four years. Now that is pressure.

The pain of missing a penalty at any level is difficult, especially if it costs your team a win.

It’s a mental pain that never truly leaves you. Scoring again and again helps. But your big misses do stay with you.

In recent days, we’ve all witnessed this as players from Sweden, the United States, England and Nigeria made that long walk from the halfway line. The players who put their hand up to take a penalty at a World Cup — particularly in a shootout — are courageous. That’s football bravery.

Fun Time World Cup Trivia

Test your knowledge

If you don’t want the answer to yesterday’s question, stop scrolling now….

Jamaica had a completely different tournament this year than its first in 2019. That year, the Reggae Girlz finished last in Group C. The team lost all three games and was outscored 12-1. A far cry from this year when they made it out of the group, conceding just one goal to Colombia after 322 minutes.

Today’s question…

After seeing Nigeria vs. England and Sweden vs. U.S. go to penalties, how many matches in the tournament’s history have been decided by penalties?

Full-Time First Looks

Nigeria’s women’s World Cup team, with the help of soccer’s global players’ union, FIFPro, announced Tuesday that it has restarted a dispute with their country’s soccer federation over missing paychecks and bonuses — some claims go back as far as two years.

Tobin Heath named her most recent surfboard after Susie Myerson from “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

France’s setup on its left flank at this World Cup is unorthodox – but it worked brilliantly as the team advances to the quarterfinals

We could see a rematch of Japan vs. Spain in the semifinals. The first edition happened at the close of the group stage with Japan shooting and scoring four unanswered goals against Spain. Maria Perez talks about being “shattered” after the game against Japan and more.

(Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

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