The following is a letter from East Brunswick resident Phil Peterson. Peterson, who used to coach Heather O’Reilly during her East Brunswick Soccer Club days, is traveling in Great Britain with the O’Reilly clan to watch Heather play in the 2012 games.
I'm squeezing this in, before we walk up to St. James Park here in Newcastle for the quarterfinal match vs New Zealand. (Played Friday, Aug. 3).
I arrived in England (into Manchester), this past Monday morning, as the U.S. Women were playing their 3rd group match the following late afternoon vs North Korea. On the morning of gameday, Heather (O'Reilly) popped over to the hotel where her parents were staying to say "hi." At that time she was pretty pumped up, as she had been told she was starting the match.
We left for Old Trafford about three hours before kickoff. An East Brunswick resident, formerly from Manchester, had told me about a great pub near to the stadium where we could get a meal (and a pint, of course!) before the game. After eating we wanted to get right to Old Trafford in order to pick up souvenirs and soak up the atmosphere.
For a match not involving Great Britain, the crowd turned out to be about 30,000, which was fantastic. Most of the "locals" who came out were cheering for the U.S. Women (note the picture of the four little girls with the American flag...the guy to the left sitting behind them is Tim Howard, originally from North Brunswick and now the keeper for Everton and the U.S. National Team keeper).
In the match itself, North Korea needed a tie to advance but they pretty much packed their defense with seven players defending. The U.S. scored early in the first half and continued to pressure throughout, but the final was only 1-0.
Heather played with the most confidence I've seen with her in a long time. She was moving around, confusing the North Korean defense. Also, Heather did a great job of being a "maestro" on the field, playing a key role in orchestrating the attack.
More after the quarterfinal!