The Chance arrives in Manchester, England by Fay Wells, ESPN

July 29, 2012

After landing early Sunday morning, the winners of The Chance: Female Finals headed out for a quick training session with their new teammates. Although the girls played together before, they hadn’t played together as a team – so everyone was still feeling things out a bit. Even so, things looked pretty good the more and more comfortable the team got, as they learned each other’s styles and preferences.

With the first practice out of the way, the girls dived into more of the cultural aspect of the trip. First up, a tour of Etihad Stadium where Manchester City plays. We learned a lot from our tour guide Dave, a true die-hard fan who’s been a ManCity season ticket holder since 1966! Best of all though was pretty much getting backstage pass access to the stadium…checking out the locker rooms, going down to the field level, and even sitting in Roberto Mancini’s chair! Lots of cool pics and smiles, for sure.

After the tour wrapped, everyone headed back to the hotel in downtown Manchester for some down time and dinner. A great first day!

July 30, 2012

Monday started with a rainy, 9:00 a.m. training session in nearby Salford. The wet playing conditions made things a bit challenging at times but the girls worked through it…looking more and more ready for their upcoming matches this week against the Lincoln Ladies, the Doncaster Belles, and Everton FC.

After practice, the team headed to Old Trafford for lunch in the Red Café and to tour of the home of Manchester United. Learning more about the history of the team, sitting in the locker rooms, and taking pictures in the stands was pretty cool. Can’t wait to fully experience it tomorrow, when we’re back in Old Trafford to see the USA women’s national team take on Korea as part of the Olympics.

Speaking of Team USA, there was a pretty huge surprise on the way back to the hotel. After taking a slight detour, the girls found themselves parked outside of a hotel, waiting. For what, they didn’t know. Soon enough, though, they found out. USA WNT members Abby Wambaugh, Megan Rapinoe, and Rachel Buehler showed up on the bus to chat. Down-to-earth and cool, the ladies asked the girls about their experiences in Manchester so far, and even posed for pictures. What an amazing experience! Didn’t think it was possible, but now even more psyched to cheer on Team USA against Korea tomorrow.