Author Topic: I'm not missing England - but I'll be cheering Arsenal all the way from Boston  (Read 1168 times)

Offline John

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England striker KELLY SMITH writes the first of a new weekly column for Sportsmail Online, revealing how she is adjusting to life after leaving Arsenal Ladies to join the Boston Breakers in America's brand new Women's Professional Soccer championship...

I couldn't believe how long it took to travel back from California after defeat in our opening match at FC Gold Pride. You can fly quicker from Boston to England - not that I'm missing home much.

Not many people get the chance to be a professional footballer, so every day I wake up with a smile on my face, knowing that I'm going to work to kick a football around for a couple of hours and be in the sunshine. So, no complaints, I'm enjoying every minute.

We had a few days off after flying through the night after Sunday's match, so we've only had a couple of days to prepare for Saturday. It's our first home game against Saint Louis Athletica and the club have already sold about 6,500 tickets - plus whoever turns up on the day.

We've worked on what we need to work on after losing 2-1 to FC Gold Pride. We started really well and thought we'd go on to comfortably win the game. But the game changed and they dominated us in parts. We got frustrated and our formation wasn't really sticking to the gameplan.

I was happy to equalise with about 10 minutes left but then they went and scored with one minute to go. It was a bit disappointing. We were pleased with parts of our game but there were things to improve. Our finishing wasn't very good. We had four or five good chances to put the game to bed but we weren't clinical enough in front of goal.

There's so much to learn because everything is so new and we don't really know each other's playing styles or strengths and weaknesses at the moment. I'm playing in a slightly different system here too, so it's all about getting used to how everyone plays.

It's been a bit crazy the last two weeks just trying to understand everyone's roles in the team, but it's definitely a good learning experience.

The same goes for preparing for the opposition. For the first match, we only had what Tony DiCicco, the coach, knew about certain players he's worked with or seen in the past and then trying to guess what system they would play. At least for Saint Louis we've watched footage of their opening match.

Our home debut puts me up against Hope Solo, who I played with at the Philadelphia Charge in the WUSA league before that stopped in 2003. We've not been in touch recently, so it ill be good to see her and catch up with her after the game. She's one of the best goalkeepers in the world, so it won't be easy getting ball past her.

The game is a lot stronger since WUSA. The tempo is much quicker and the individual players are a lot better than before. Having the top internationals raises the standard but the U.S. players that have come through college or the try-outs are of a very high standard as well. The product on the field is at a higher level than before.

Hopefully people will notice. Just from my experience, the interest is high. I'm doing interviews every other day with the big broadcasters media outlets, EPSN, USA Today, etc.

I heard people were talking about Twitter, so I signed up, and that's a good way to reach out to a different audience and let them know what you are up to.

There has been some debate about players updating their status during matches. I saw LA Sol player Aly Wagner's Twitter updates when she was on the bench for the opening match against Washington.

I thought to myself that she should be preparing for the game. Your mind isn't focused on the game or with your team-mates when you're on the phone or whatever, typing updates. You won't catch me doing that.

It's like when you see Premier League players in the stands listening to iPods - if you're going to do that, then you should be at home. You're there to support your team and be around your team-mates.

Talking of which, it's been a lot easier adapting to Boston with Alex Scott, who came over from Arsenal as well. We live together and have been helping each other out. Alex's mum is here for the first home match and they've been out exploring the place together.

I'm disappointed that the new women's Super League in England has been put off for a year. They were going to introduce a summer league of eight teams and everyone on the women's side have been working so hard to push the game and get this up and running - because that's what the game needs.

Me and Alex will be cheering Arsenal on to the end of the season with the League title up in the air. With Kaz Carney leaving for the Chicago Red Stars, we knew it would be a hard job for them after losing so many players in the middle of the season.

They did really well to beat Everton well and reach the FA Cup final, but then didn't play so well and lost to them in the League. Now they need to go to Everton and win. Both teams will be really pumped and it's going to be a great game.

I'm looking forward to catching up with some of my old team-mates for England duty soon. All five of the English girls over here in the WPS have been called up for the match against Norway at Shrewsbury on Thursday week (April 23). We'll be back for five or six days. There won't be much time to catch up with people, but at least my dad will be coming to the game. Then back to my new home.