The Team To Envy – Pali Blues

I have been feeling guilty lately and I just need to air it out.  I’m feeling really bad for all the people who don’t live close enough to Pacific Palisades, CA to be able to witness the Pali Blues women’s soccer club play games live.  I feel like I’m hogging all the magnificence.  But now that I say it out loud; I don’t feel that guilty anymore.  I feel kind of awesome actually.  Let me tell you why…

I live 30 minutes from The Stadium By The Sea where the Pali Blues tear up the pitch on a regular basis.  They are legit in their stadium name, too.  It’s as great as it sounds.  It’s not like one of those motels that boast their color TV sets and indoor pool, which is essentially a puddle out back, and then calls themselves ‘The Grand Ocean View Motel’; when it’s 6 miles from the beach.  This stadium is a beautiful turf field that is right around the corner from the gorgeous Pacific.  Sorry if I sound like someone from the tourism board trying to sell you a tour, but it’s pretty super there and I just can’t help it.

But enough about the stadium, let’s talk about what happens inside the stadium.  “What happens in The Stadium by the Sea stays in the Stadium by the Sea.”  You guys like that?  I just made it up.  It does sound familiar though…

When you enter the stadium you enter it knowing you are going to be right on top of watching women’s soccer at its highest level in the US.  You enter knowing you made the right choice to come to the game and ditch the $15 movie you were going to attend instead.  The Pali Blues have put together an impressive roster that has led to an amazing start to their season.

Raise your hand if you love watching a midfielder who connects plays, finds openings and plays a physically demanding style of soccer which you can respect all day long.  (I will assume your hand is raised.  If it is not raised I will assume you are incapable of reading the written word and / or have no pulse.)  I’m speaking of Sarah Huffman.  She’s a hard working midfielder who takes a hard tackle as well as she gives one.  And trust me; she takes plenty.  She is a midfielder willing to put her body on the line for the sake of her team.  She’s got a killer shot, a smart mind for the game and a strength all young aspiring players should strive for.

Now raise your hand…actually no.  Let’s jazz it up.  Do ‘The Dougie’ if you love watching a forward with speed, skill and impeccable vision for the game.  (If you are not doing ‘The Dougie’ I will assume you just an old white person with no rhythm or again, have no pulse.)  This time I’m taking about Liz Bogus.  A defense can never rest or look away from this player for a minute.  If they do, you can be sure she will quickly punish them for it.  She has experience, quality timing on the ball and a super awesome name.

Still not understanding why I feel awesome about living so close to this team?  Fine.  I’ll give you a few more reasons to hate me.

We have a spider monkey with cat like reflexes as a goalkeeper.  BOOM.  Straight from the Italian national team, Anna Picarelli is one feisty little goalkeeper.  At 5’4, some forwards may underestimate her and think they will have an easy time beating her.  Those forwards are what we call in the biz; dumb-dumbs.  Whether you go high, low, far post or near post she will get there.  She is enormously fun to watch and is a major part of this finely oiled machine we call Pali Blues.

Then there is Whitney Engen who has been getting consistent call ups from this little team you may have heard of; The US Women’s National Team.  Coming off of a Women’s Professional Soccer championship last year with the New York Flash and the Defender of the Year honor for the league in 2011 she is more than worth the trip.  Want to hear bad news for all opposing teams?  Before you even get to Picarelli and her spider monkey saves you have to get through Whitney Engen.  Good luck with that.

And this is all without mentioning names like Nikki Washington, Cami Levin and Mariah Nogueira who are all young guns making moves.  This team, as a whole, is a collective unit and a shining example of the beautiful game being played by a roster full of class players.

So although I do feel kind of bad that not everyone gets to witness this team live; I feel a stronger sense of overall awesomeness.  If you do live anywhere nearby, do yourself a favor and check out some of these games.  If you don’t live anywhere nearby, do yourself a favor and move here.  Ok, so that may be a little drastic.  How about instead, you just check out their live streams and show your support through their Facebook page and Twitter accounts?  (www.facebook.com/PaliBluesSoccer and @PaliBlues)  And for that matter, do the same for your local W League or WPSL club if you haven’t already.

They take on the Seattle Sounders Women today, June 20th, which is sure to be a doozie.  With that much talent on one field coming from both sides, meeting on the pitch, I am predicting some sort of explosion or combustion.  Get ready for fireworks.  Check out the livestream from the Sounders to watch some top shelf soccer and put in your earplugs if firework boom-booms scare you.  Because it will be going off.

Enjoy the game!