The Columbus Crew and company departed Ohio for Phoenix Arizona in
anticipation of sunny skies and warm weather for a three week
preseason. The sunny skies were abundant, but the warm weather was
another story. With reports of seemingly apocalyptic ice storms coming
from the Midwest, Phoenix also got its fare share of cold and ice, with
local news reports highlighting frozen outdoor pools, decorative
fountains turned icicles, and stereotypical cartoon-like desert
tumbleweeds rolling across highways (who knew that tumbleweeds weren't
just for the cartoons). Not forgetting to mention that even walking to
the hotel breakfast was hazardous because of ice covered sidewalks.
On the third day into camp playing soccer was postponed, and an entire practice was devoted to running fitness stations in the sub 30 degree temperatures, not taking into account the desert wind chill factor. Without hats and gloves, because who would pack hats and gloves when going to the home of the Phoenix Suns, 35+ mph winds seared our faces and burnt our hands as we ran headfirst into them. However, this did not keep us from working hard and breaking a sweat. There is a reason the Columbus Crew are called "America's Hardest Working Team." While other teams were most likely snuggled into their warm hotel beds, we were facing the elements gaining an extra edge on the competition. Being a Minnesotan, I was not even accustomed to the cold weather and brutal winds, I cannot imagine what the guys from Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and Jamaica must have been thinking when in warm ups we were stomping on ice covered pot holes with our cleats.
In spite of the initial cold, the weather warmed up making for a great remaining week of training. The week ended with a 2-2 tie in an exhibition match against the Kansas City Wizards, highlights coming on a strong header goal from Brazilian center back Alex Fraga and a nicely slotted penalty kick from Robbie Rogers. Although a win was expected and would have been ideal, it gave the guys an opportunity to finally kick someone else not wearing the black and gold for a change, always a good thing. With competitive juices picking up in all areas of the team the next few weeks of training should be eventful with four more friendlies all against MLS competition.
(This will be my personal plug as a Fly-Fisherman) To those of you lucky enough to be on the water
This trip to Phoenix has been very interesting in certain regards. Starting off , the first thing I was expecting from this trip to Arizona was to be able to play soccer outdoors in warm and nice weather, but it did not happen and its been so cold here. I come from a country, Venezuela, where there is only one season per year, Summer, so I am not used to this cold yet and even less Ohio's but I am getting there. We got here Saturday late in the afternoon, we had a team dinner and then I was so exhausted that it did not even take me more than 20 minutes to fall asleep. The next morning we had our first practice and Monday and Tuesday we had two sessions per day. Those first three days went pretty good, the group was very competitive and everybody was doing well at training so, the coaches were happy with our performances. Honestly, that is all I have been doing for this past week, training, training and training. The days we have only one session we finish around 1pm and then we do not have anything to do but sit around until next day so Facebook, ESPN, and HBO have been my salvation in this past week. On the other hand, when we have two sessions, the day goes by quicker and when I get home from the second training, I am already in bed before 9pm. I know it sounds pretty boring but I have actually had some fun on this trip. Most of the days that we do not get to eat as a team we go wherever we want in different groups and kind of drive around the city for a while. I was assigned as the personal translator to the whole Spanish delegation and it is funny to hear that because I do not even speak English very well at all so every time we go to a restaurant just imagine how that turns out. Another interesting and funny fact is that everywhere we go to order food, they want everything but what the Menu provides so I decided to go either to Spanish restaurants or buffets so everybody can work on their own thing and not complain anymore. I have to admit that it has been a great and enjoyable experience this past week, I laughed a lot with the guys on the team and they all seem to be there for you whenever you need them. When you are on a team some things such as happiness between teammates, support, help from each other, and good social manners are what bring the group together and what make the team better and this group seem to have all those qualities so it is great to be part of this. In general, this past week has been very good, we had a game against Kansas City and we tied 2-2. I really think we could have done much better at the game but that is part of this preseason and every day we are learning something new. Lastly, today's date, Sunday February 6, we are meeting somewhere to watch the superbowl and have some fun all together. The team has a tradition to make a sort of gambling game regarding the superbowl in which every guy on the team puts $10 and there is a reward at the end of each quarter. I would like to explain the game but I did not understand it quite well and it is kind of hard for me to explain it but I am pretty sure one of the other guys will explain it so I am just hoping to win at least one time.
Looking forward to be back in Columbus again!
My first week has been a great experience. The weather has been a lot colder than what it should be but I can’t complain considering the storm that has hit a lot of the Midwest and the ice storm back in Columbus. The hotel is really nice and we have nice rooms. Rich and I have set up the PS3 and been playing call of duty in our downtime. Unfortunately there is no wireless in the rooms so we can’t play online but co-ops are a good way to pass time and relax. We recently bought call of Duty Black Ops.
The complex we play at is massive and are nice field and the standard of play is good. We get to the fields by vans that we put 5 to 7 people in. The game yesterday was awesome with a lot of fans coming out to watch. There was a big tournament going on for youth clubs so a lot of people came over to watch and we signed a few autographs. It was a great feeling.
Being in the hotel isn’t so bad and we have a nice pool and hot tub which allows all of us new guys to get a chance to sit down and really talk with our teammates. Everyday we get to know each a little better which sets us up for success on and off the field. All the older guys have been great welcoming us rookies. We will be watching the super bowl of course and me being from Wisconsin I am going with the packers.