U.S. Defender Carlos Bocanegra's "Off the Ball" - Day Quatre
LYON, France (Monday, July 16, 2003) - Get a behind the scenes look into the U.S Men's National Team as they train and play in the Confederations Cup with Carlos Bocanegra's "Off the Ball," a personal chronicle about the team's daily events in France. During the team's quest for the Confederations Cup title, Bocanegra will continually present U.S. soccer fans with a unique perspective they won't be able to get anywhere else. In this Monday segment, Carlos talks about today's training (which included a few fun games between the players), shopping French-style, and asks roomates Tim Howard and Bobby Convey his famous four questions, ranging from what they do for fun to what superhero they most resemble.
June 16, 2003
I. It's a Tough Job, But I Guess Someone Has to Do It
Practice started as normal today with a good 25-minute warm-up with our fitness coach. Only today, the weather was awesome, sunny with a nice cool breeze - perfect for training. We broke up into two separate possession games of 4v4 with two neutrals. If your team doesn’t have the ball in this game all you do is chase. Luckily for me, I wasn’t chasin’ too much. After that we opened it up to a full field game that had a vigorous pace once again. Bobby Convey shined with a nice goal and a cheeky little meg in the corner.
When we finished with that Bruce gave us about fifteen minutes on our own. A couple of the guys hit some long balls, but there were also some more games created, including one called Horseshoes. Two teams of two people play head-to-head. One partner for each team stands at cones about 20 to 25 yards apart. One player must chip the ball in the air the whole way, and the object is for his teammate to take the ball out of the air with one deadening touch and place the ball as close to the cone as possible. Closest to the cone wins and games are usually to 10.
There's another game of crossing and finishing with partners. Guys pair up and the man in the middle drives the ball out to the sideline. The ball must be in the air and the crosser only gets two touches - one to settle and one to cross. When he crosses the ball back in the middle it has to be in the air and the finisher can’t score inside the six-yard box. Taylor Twellman n’ Klein had a rough one today; I think they were on different pages. Everyone was in good spirits, laughing and joking with each other.
II. Cross Colors/Counter Cultures
We’ve discovered a sweet little shopping area in the city. I know all you women are jealous because we are getting to shop in France. It is an open-air type with really nice shops. There are like five million cafes surrounding the area, which creates a great atmosphere. The Hugo Boss shop is one of my favorites. Some of the clothes are different, but it’s ok because no one will have them back home. Getting out of the hotel is key to not going insane on the overseas trips. A couple of the boys have been gettin’ into some mean card games of either spades or hearts, which helps pass the time as well. It makes me laugh that we are still doing the same things on trips with the full national team as we did with the U-18s and U-20s.
III. Holla Back
I'm going to talk to a different set of roommates every day, getting their responses to four questions. We'll see how the answers differ from room to room. Today, I talked to Tim Howard and Bobby Convey. These two live in pitch darkness (see Bobby's sleeping habits below) and are trying to learn every language they can. They try to use the funny little catch phrases they've heard come out of a foreign person's mouth so they can feel like they are multi-lingual. Tim is from the Jersey shore and went to North Brunswick High School. The MetroStars goalie recently got engaged to his lovely girl, Laura. Bobby is from Philadelphia and is another boy who came out of the U.S. Soccer residency program in Bradenton, Fla. The D.C. United star sleeps more than anyone on the trips by far, and also enjoys growing beards on road trips.
What's your favorite thing to do outside of soccer?
Howard: Taking naps is my all-time favorite thing to do. And watching the Dating Story on TLC.
Convey: I enjoy walking around the city, sleeping and playing cards.
For you, what are the biggest pros and cons of playing in Europe?
Howard: I like a lot of things about Europe – the soccer, the food. I’d say my least favorite is the hotels. That and the size of the cars is pretty crazy. They all look exactly like cookie cutter cars – they look exactly the same.
Convey: Europe is nice, but it’s a little bit hot here right now. The beds are for people like Richie Williams.
What are your biggest pet peeves? What really pushes your buttons?
Howard: When people invade my private space. Especially when they are talking to me…close talkers.
Convey: When people wake me up when I’m taking a nap and when people call when in the middle of the night and wake me up.
What superhero would you compare yourself to and why?
Howard: Spiderman, so I could have that web thing going on outside my wrists.
Convey: I want to be Spiderman because I’m afraid of heights and I want to climb on buildings.
IV. Quote of the Day
"My legs feel light-headed," U.S. MNT equipment manager Joe Ahearn after a tough day at training.
Check out photos of the boys getting after it in France in the 'Sights and Sounds" section at ussoccer.com.
Three days and counting …