Postcard from Guangzhou, China

Jan. 20, 2002

Every several days, a player from the U.S. Women's National Team will send out an e- postcard from Guangzhou, China, where the U.S. team is preparing for the Four Nations Women's Tournament featuring the USA, China, Norway and Germany. The USA begins the tournament on Wednesday, January 23 against Norway. Today's postcard is from defender Brandi Chastain.

Height: 5-7
Born: July 21, 1968
Hometown: San Jose, California
Club: San Jose CyberRays

If you are looking for a destination for your next vacation and travel time is not important, China is the place for you. It took us 43 hours to get from the east coast of United States to Guangzhou. The problem wasn't so much the two days of travel, but inability to change clothes after you spill food on them (see Kate Sobrero). Here in China it never ceases to amaze me how much traffic there is and how few actual traffic laws there are. Lanes? They don't concern themselves with them. Pedestrians? Despite the fact that they DON'T have the right of way, they seem to walk in the middle of the street with little regard for their safety. Crosswalks? You make your own. One thing I will say is that there is a vast decrease in bicycles and motor scooters from the first time we were here in the late 80s. There were more bikes than cars times 100 back then. Now, it seems, that there are as many cars as in Los Angeles.

Over the last four days, training has been intense and productive, but nothing out of the ordinary, until today. In one drill, Julie Foudy and I nearly came to blows over whether I got fouled. (For the record, I did, and Kristine Lilly, who was on my team, will back me up on this). Julie didn't agree and we had heated words. Of course, it didn't come to blows, but that battle paled in comparison to what happened on the field next to us later on during training. There was a men's amateur league game going on behind a big chain-link fence. We heard some shouting and we all looked over to see a full-scale Jackie Chan-type bench-clearing Kung-Fu brawl going on. It was over quickly as the Chinese police ran across our field to quell the "riot," but it looked like a scene out of a movie.

We had our first encounter with the Norwegians, our first opponent in the tournament, tonight at our buffet style dinner. Most of us just walked by their tables without a glance, but Kristine stopped to chat with her teammate on the Boston Breakers, Dagny Mellgren. Lil' says they are very nice. We are looking forward to our match against Norway as we have been practicing our heading all week. Some players have been adversely affected by all the heading we've been doing. Aly Wagner has taken more than few soccer balls to the face and her nose is showing significant swelling. (Note to Mr. and Mrs. Wagner: Jerry Smith is not paying for a nose job). Thanks for reading my postcard and as always, thanks very much to the fans for all the support.

Zai Jian (goodbye in Chinese!), Brandi

P.S.: Another note to Aly Wagner's parents: She has been talking constantly about studying on this trip, but I think she has opened her books for a grand total of 12 minutes.

Brandi Chastain has played 144 times for the United States and is making her fourth trip to China with the national team. The veteran is one of four players on the U.S. roster for the Four Nations Tournament who played in the 1991 Women's World Cup in China. Last August, she led the San Jose CyberRays to the first-ever WUSA championship.