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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Sunderland Diary Part II

August 17, 2005

It's almost 4:00 in the afternoon and its a beautiful day in Newcastle, unfortunately I'm too tired and way too lazy to leave the hotel and appreciate the weather. Surprisingly it's been very nice weather here and yesterday it was actually hotter than Portland, of course perfectly timed for our practice match yesterday.

We played a League 1(3rd level) squad yesterday and we won 2-1. I played a full 90 and our side controlled most of the play for the match, especially in the first half.

I was wearing my studs expecting rain and that the field would be wet and of course it was sunny, humid, and the carpet pitch was extremely firm. You know that saying "Assume makes a ass of you and me"(ass-u-me) well my assumption only made an ass of me because my feet were killing me the entire match. But besides the minor inconvenience I played well and was happy with my overall effort.

I didn't give any balls away and I was solid in the back. Our squad consisted of reserve players, one or two first team players, and the rest were u18's. I will say that the players around me made my job a lot easier but the speed of play was fast but I never felt overwhelmed when I had the ball at my feet.

My one fault, and it was a huge one was giving up a pk late in the second half. The forward I was marking checked deep into the midfield and then spun off me as their fullback played a long ball over the top. I expected the other center back to pick up the long ball, but once again assuming just made an ass of me as I was forced to sprint back 50 yards to catch this forward. As I caught up with him he cut back and I put my arm out to stop him. Of course he fell and the ref gave him the penalty.

In the end, the coach of the u18 squad basically told me I played well and that next time don't come so deep into the midfield. Seeing all these players, I think that most Americans can play over in England, the only problem is work permits and the fact that over here, the country is immersed in football 24/7 so there is no need to really cross the atlantic to find players. I'm not saying that the premiership isn't top quality, I just think that the lower levels Championship, League 1, and League 2 are not beyond our reach.

That night I went to dinner with some of the guys and for the first time in my life I felt what it was like to be a pro basketball or football player in the states. Though everyone was dressed casually, they all wore designer clothes and everyone owned huge watches, whether it was diamond encrusted, or enormous leather strapped, to solid platinum, they all looked like Calvin Klein models.

After dinner we went out for a while, unfortunately I cannot further divulge what happened, but it was a good time and a great night spent with quality guys. It's funny but the first couple of hours I really didn't speak that much, I was just sitting there trying to understand everyone. The northern accents are sooooooo thick here in Newcastle and Sunderland that sometimes it's like they're speaking another language.

As time goes by it's becoming easier, actually, everything is getting easier as time goes by. The hotel, the football, interacting with the other players, the British food, which by the way is an experience unto itself. I like to say that I can eat anything, and I can eat the food here, and I mean no disrespect to any of the cooks here, but this is one of those differences between the US and Britain that I don't want to get used too. Maybe its just a Northern thing because when my mom cooked British food it always tasted good, same with my grandparents, and my aunts when they visited.

Anyway, life is good and I'll be training again at 12:00, actually I'll be going to have lunch at the clubhouse at 12:00 then training at 2:00. This is one of the huge differences in that clubs here give you breakfast and lunch after you train, which is MONEY. Even with MLS, I wouldn't eat until an hour after training because it took so long to drive home from, so having a ready meal right when you get done is key.

I'm done, I wrote way to much today.


posted by the timberlog at 8:55 AM

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