U.S. Defender Carlos Bocanegra's Off The Ball - Day Six
LYON, France (Wednesday, July 18, 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 segment, Carlos talks about today's last training before their first game in the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard (in St. Etienne), breaks down the team's daily breakfast spread, and asks roommates Pablo Mastroeni and Clint Mathis his famous four questions, ranging from what they do for fun to what superhero they most resemble.
June 18, 2003
I. Bring on Turkey
Today we took about a 45-minute bus ride to practice in the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in St. Etienne, the location of our game against Turkey tomorrow. The field is very nice and in good condition. We didn't have too intense of a practice because we have the game tomorrow. Basically, we played a game of possession and that was about it. I can't tell you to much more because I don't want to give anthing away for the game, but everyone is excited and hopefully we will do well. We are all in good spirits.
II. Cross Colors/Counter Culture
This meal is what I look forward to everyday. I usually hate to wake up early in the mornings, but here if you want to eat before practice you gotta get up. I want to be the first one downstairs so I can get first pick of all the great food. My roommate Danny Califf sets his alarm for us and we are down there by 7:50. Once again like lunch, they have a massive buffet.
On the first table they have a huge laundry-like basket of croissants, rolls and muffins. We have fresh fruits of all sorts and many different cereals. The first day the milk was not cold, so we had to change that up and now they set it in ice buckets for us. They have different kinds of jelly from strawberry to vanilla rhubarb – whatever is for croissants. They lay out ham for every meal. I guess they like it a lot over here. Of course they have the pastries for us. I think the French didn’t know what we would like so the first day they tried to please us with a tray full of glazed doughnuts. Don’t worry, we didn’t let them go to waste, but that is not usually typical for a U.S. national team breakfast. On the other table they have a basket of different breads and in heated trays they have waffles, eggs, omelets, but no FRENCH toast, which I thought was a little weird. I eat the same thing everyday – two croissants with strawberry jam, and a ham n’ egg sandwich on toast that blows McDonald’s breakfast out of the water. To wash it all down they have different fresh fruit juices. Most people take to the coffee though. It is the strongest brew I have ever had. I have to use half milk, half café but it gets the job done.
Being one of the first down at breakfast I get to see most of the team stroll in to eat. Some of the outfits we wear to meals are terrible, let alone guys bed head, which I am the main culprit of. The guys roll straight out of bed and come to breakfast in what we slept in, drool stains and all. I get a kick out of it because I’m not a morning person either, so I know exactly how they feel. I think your either born with it or not.
II. 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 two World Cup 2002 veterans, Pablo Mastroeni and Clint Mathis. A quick background: Mastroeni is from the Phoenix, Ariz. (or the greater Phoenix area to be exact) and went to North Carolina State. He now plays with the Colorado Rapids. Mathis is from Atlanta, Ga. and went to the University of South Carolina. He plays for the MetroStars.
What's your favorite thing to do outside of soccer?
Mastroeni: I enjoy playing the guitar, spending quality time with my wife and I enjoy playing golf now.
Mathis: Playing golf and going out to see the city (New York).
For you, what are the biggest pros and cons of playing in Europe?
Mastroeni: The thing I like best is that the level on the field is the most challenging. Also, the culture here in France has been fantastic. The people have opened their arms to us and the cuisine is fantastic. I don't like is that I have a hard time understanding people. But, there really aren't that many cons.
Mathis: The language barrier is definitely the worst thing. The best thing is seeing different people, cultures and food. Also, the scenerey is amazing.
What are your biggest pet peeves? What really pushes your buttons?
Mastroeni: People making excuses. There will always be an excuse for this or that and when people don't take responsibility for their actions or lack of actions I think it's self-deprevating.
Mathis: Liars. When people don't do what they say they are going to do.
What superhero would you compare yourself to and why?
Mastroeni: I'd compare myself more to Pepe le Pew. And I'd, without a doubt, be because he is a ladies man and I consider myself to be a ladies man. Sometimes after a tough practice in Lyon we even smell the same.
Mathis: I would say Wolverine because I'm unshaven. I don't like shaving and he's pretty rugged.
Thanks for the comments I received from all you soccer fans out there. If you want to write me to comment on the journal, just e-mail email@example.com.