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Monday, July 30, 2012
U.S. soccer team in awe of Old Trafford

By Alyssa Roenigk

Monday afternoon, the U.S. women’s soccer team continued its tour of historic British football stadiums, this time taking a walkthrough of Old Trafford, the second-largest football stadium in England (after Wembley, where the gold-medal game will take place Aug. 9) and home to Manchester United since 1910. Old Trafford will also be the site of Tuesday night’s game against North Korea. “It’s gorgeous,” midfielder Megan Rapinoe said after taking “at least 25” pictures of herself and her teammates posing out on the field. “With all the history and everything you hear, you can see why they talk of the magic inside.”

Forward Alex Morgan purchased a Manchester United jersey and wore it during the walkthrough. Goalkeeper Hope Solo celebrated her 31st birthday by taking a few extra birthday shots -- with a camera, people -- and posting at least one of them to Twitter.

After spending about a half hour on the field, the women also walked through the Man-U changing rooms, ogling the glass cases filled with trophies and cups and the walls lined with photographs of 130 years of Man-U legends. “It was inspiring,” Rapinoe said. The Olympic teams, however, won’t share the home club’s changing room. “I think they cleared out an office or something for us to use,” Rapinoe joked.

Although the women concede it would be nice to play the entire Olympic tournament in front of packed stadiums in London, they realize that by playing in cities like Manchester and Glasgow, they are becoming an even bigger part of history. It’s not every week a women’s team is invited to play in the Theater of Dreams. “It’s not every decade,” said Rapinoe, who added that the only experience that’s come close was playing in a U-19 tournament in Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. “Only a few women’s teams ever have [played here]. It’s unbelievable. We saw this in our original draw and, I mean, it’s already unbelievable to be in the Olympics, but it’s a huge bonus to play in a stadium like this.”

Come Aug. 9, she might be saying the same thing after a walk through Wembley.