Forget Disney World: Yael Averbuch Is Going to Portugal

Lauren GreenCorrespondent IFebruary 10, 2010

GUANGZHOU, CHINA - JANUARY 28:  Yael Averbuch (L) of U.S.A. fights for the ball against Casey Stoney of England during their match in the Four Nations Women's Soccer Tournament at Guangdong Olympic Stadium on January 28, 2007 in Guangzhou, China.  (Photo by Cancan Chu/Getty Images)
Cancan Chu/Getty Images

Midfielder Yael Averbuch helped lead Sky Blue F.C. to the championship of Women’s Professional Soccer in the league’s first season. Now, the Montclair, NJ, product by way of the University of North Carolina, is on the roster of the United States women’s national team as it prepares for the Algarve Cup tournament in Portugal .

She was named to the team last week by Coach Pia Sundhage after a January training camp at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. Averbuch will be filing to the Goal blog before, during, and after her trip to Portugal.

I remember being in preseason with Sky Blue F.C. one year ago when the national team players came back from the Algarve Cup. Since I was nine it has been my dream to play for the national team, but last March it didn’t seem to be close on my horizon, and I was nervous when my new teammates flew in from Portugal to join us.  Heather O’Reilly, Natasha Kai, Christie Rampone, and Kacey White seemed to be coming from another world, another level of fútbol (I prefer “fútbol” over soccer) that I was not privy to.

That feeling was on my mind as I sat in the locker room at the Home Depot Center a few days ago when Pia read us the roster. Luckily, my last name starts with an A, so I didn’t have to wait long to find out that I had been picked. To be honest, I had no idea if I was going to make it or not, which is strange because usually, as a player, you have a gut feeling either way.

Pia isn’t the type to have organized individual meetings each camp. If she has something to talk to you about, she’ll pull you aside in the hallway or keep you after a meal to chat, and you are always welcome to take the initiative and ask her for feedback, but it is certainly not mandatory.

During the 20 days of this past training camp, my confidence experienced some ups and downs, but I decided not to go meet with Pia to ask for advice or assistance in helping to boost it. I took it as a challenge to do it on my own. I know what I need to do to be successful on the field, so it was just about getting back to the basics and doing the simple things consistently (easier said than done at times!).

It’s funny, because when I met with Pia in September during my first national team call-up in a couple years, she shared with me that I actually wasn’t supposed to be invited into the camp until my Sky Blue F.C. teammate, Christie Rampone, had to back out because she is pregnant. Thanks Christie!

But all along I’ve felt that what I really need is that opportunity, and for someone to invest in me and show me they believe in me. So each camp, it is my goal to secure myself one more opportunity…to be invited back to add to my experience and comfort level with the national team. So, to hear my name on the Algarve Cup roster, my fifth consecutive call-up, was a big deal to me—beyond just the honor of being selected.

I’m excited to go to Portugal. Not only is it someplace I’ve never been, but I’m enjoying being part of this group. I’ve always loved the fútbol, but getting to know the players and staff on the national team is valuable too. And maybe I’ll even pick up cap No. 4!

It’s funny, because as much as I seem to have this all put in perspective, I know that when I’m in Portugal and see the starting lineup and I’m not in it (which will likely be the case as a newer player), I will still feel that pang of disappointment. Although my aim is to get more opportunities and playing experience, my expectations seem to rise more quickly every camp. I guess that’s the feeling that allows me never to be satisfied. More to come from Portugal.


The following was posted on the NY Times Soccer blog by Yael Averbuch and is reposted by Lauren Green. Green is a free lance writer who covers Sky Blue FC for Bleacher Report and Sports Then and Now. She can be contacted for comment or hire at .