Last night’s U.S. Women’s National Team open practice at Jeld-Wen Field turned into a small double-edged sword. On one side (a side that far overshadowed the other) you have the reaction of the fans, hundreds of Portlanders — mostly kids — getting an opportunity to see and interact with their heroes. That just can’t be replicated on game day.
Even after the team took their introductory applause, fans spent the next 90 minutes calling for their favorite players but were unable to draw their attention away from training. After the hour session, those calls reached a new pitch as the likes of Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe spent time among the crowd.
The other side of that sword: It was a very cold night in Portland. The sharp breeze at the floor of a mostly empty Jeld-Wen had players resorting to caps, gloves, and long sleeves. Five-on-five drills were played at their normal intensity, a scary thought for goalkeepers asked to stop 18-yard blasts from Tobin Heath. When Solo blocked a shot off her upper-right shoulder early on, we saw the effects of the cold Portland evening.
Players were also made available after practice to give their thoughts on the evening, tour, Portland, and their approach to Wednesday’s match.