Jules Undercover Journal - Sixth Entry
LAHTI, Finland (Friday, August 15, 2003) - It’s been a few days and he has plenty to talk about as your favorite player/journalist Julian “Jules” Valentin returns with his next journal entry to inform you all about what’s been happening behind the scenes with the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team in Finland. In this entry, Jules talks about about the inadequate seat he had on the bench for the game, the teams’ trip to Helsinki, gives the undercover on Adrian Chevannes, and grills assistant coach John Hackworth on his not-so good “Play of the Day.”
Aug. 15, 2003
Jules Finally Back in Action
Hello again friends! Welcome back to "Jules’ Undercover Journal." First off today, I would like to apologize because I kept you waiting so long for a new installment. I know that I have not published an updated chapter to my journal in a few days and I hope that none of you were going through "Jules withdraw." Symptoms of this potentially lethal condition may include weepiness, lack of smiling, or blind searches on the Internet looking for something good to read (other than on ussoccer.com). If you suffer from any of the above symptoms, your only cure is to keep reading "Jules’ Undercover Journal" on a regular basis as I hope to be more efficient with my posts.
I would like to start off today with a hilarious story from breakfast a couple days ago that just can’t go untold. Jamie Watson unwisely attempted to make grilled cheese in the toaster at breakfast one morning. As Newton’s law of gravity kicked in, the cheese slid off the bread, started smoking and almost ignited a fire in the cafeteria. Then in a panicky fashion, Watson clumsily stuck two metal knives in the toaster to try and lift out the baking cheese.
This is all that Watson could say in his defense: "Two metal knives…what was I thinking? I’m better than that. It was early in the morning and all that I wanted was cheese toast."
Now on with today’s long awaited installment.
One Game Down, Two To Go
I usually like to stay away from the soccer side of things here as I leave that to our press officer, but I will briefly touch on our first group game. Hopefully, by now you’ve heard about our result against South Korea. We got sweet revenge against the Koreans beating them 6-1 in our first game here at the World Championship. Earlier this year, that same Korean team beat us 3-0 in Busan, Korea and it was nice to turn the table so drastically. This was a good result for us as it got us off on the right foot (and sometimes left foot in the case of Adu who had another hat trick) for our long awaited tournament. Even though I did not see action, the experience was great and the victory was sweet nonetheless. Now the important thing is that we enjoy the victory for the night and then get right back to the drawing board and focus for Sierra Leone this Sunday.
However, there was a huge problem during the game that needs to be addressed. FIFA decided to utilizes these hip, new double row benches rather than the customary single row. What this means is that if I were unlucky enough to be sitting in the back row (as I was) I would have to climb over a row of seats to reach the field or to get up for any reason. Trust me, it is such a struggle to hurdle over a row of three-foot high seats a couple times a game (sometimes even six times). I risked injury several times and I even hit Steve Sandbo’s tooth by accident when I tried to get out of my cell. For an enthusiastic teammate like me, having to sit in the back row is like being confined to a minimum-security prison.
Also, being in the back row makes it more difficult for the players to hear my loud cheers and encouragement. Folks, many would consider me to be the best cheerleader on the squad as I use my loud, bellowing voice to rally up support for our team along with the other reserves. With me hidden in the back row of these horrible double benches, it is harder for me to be heard by my buddies on the field. I simply need a front row seat next game or maybe I’ll just have to howl even louder. Or better yet, maybe I’ll be on the field.
FIFA also needs to look into the safety of these benches. After our second goal, which was calmly buried by defender Brandon Owens, assistant coach Peter Mellor stood up in celebration and slammed his head on the ceiling. The impact of the collision was enough to break the skin on coach Mellor’s bald head as he proudly wears a battle scar on his scalp. A similar tragedy happened to me as I banged my funny bone after Steven Curfman’s brilliant lob-shot finish. I may have a serious injury before I even take the field if this bench situation is not taken care of.
Now it is time for my famous Undercover Jules segment. Today’s subject is Adrian Patrick Chevannes and to simplify your reading, Chevannes is pronounced Shev-anns as he comes from a Jamaican and Mexican background. On our team, Adrian is more commonly known as "AD" and he is one of the most fun to be around.
Adrian is from Forth Worth, Texas and he will be heading east from the Lone Star State to Clemson University in the fall. Clemson is getting quite a player as they have scored this stand-up young gentleman. Adrian is an outside back who defends well and likes to get forward out of the back. Adrian has one of the best long balls on the team as he has found some sort of magical technique to send a ball 75 yards. AD also has deceptive speed and has been known to run down some rather fast attackers, fizzling countless scoring opportunities. Chevannes is also strong in the air.
Off the pitch, AD loves to sleep in his down time. So much so, that I have even seriously questioned whether or not he has a legitimate sleeping disorder. I have come to the conclusion that he just likes his rest. During that rest time, the blinds are closed, he is under the covers and he detests being woken up by anybody, for any reason. I know that from experience as AD has flipped out on me several times when I’ve accidentally awoken him.
Before Chevannes moved to Bradenton, he used to be a standout high school football kicker attracting recruiting attention in only one short year. Maybe this explains his magical long ball technique on the soccer field. Chevannes is the former starting kicker for Fossil Ridge High School (holla back Panthers) and he could knock down field goals from up to 40+ yards! Thanks to Jamie Watson for the school’s name as Watson’s former school was often the victim of Chevannes’ golden boot. Anyways, even though it looks like Chevannes could have had a future kicking on a higher level, it seems that soccer has done well for him too!
That is the inside scoop on Adrian Patrick Chevannes and if chicks really do dig the long ball, Chevannes should be renamed Brad Pitt. Please stay tuned to ussoccer.com and "Jules’ Undercover Journal" more specifically, to see who will be my next undercover biography.
A Taste of Home
Living in Bradenton away from home can be tough for us sometimes. After all, we’re people just like everyone else. Having to be away from family, friends (what’s up boys), girlfriends (hey baby), pets, and not sleeping in our own beds takes a large toll on everyone. We’ve all often wished to be just "normal kids."
Many of our parents are now safely in Helsinki and attended our game last night fully decked out in our old U.S. National Team gear. My mom and a couple other families even made banners and waved flags as we battled the Koreans. Our parents’ presence has been a huge boost for our team’s moral just knowing that they are here to watch us as we play. We have both sacrificed relationships and so much else over the past two years to be where we are right now, and the fact that we can share it with our families makes the whole experience just that much better.
Coach Ellinger decided to make a team trip to Helsinki, the location of our parent’s hotel. Each player was allowed to spend the afternoon with his family who had made the long haul here to watch us play. My mom and I spent the afternoon with Danny Szetela’s mom and sister. We had a great time as we ate a nice meal at a local Chinese restaurant and walked around downtown Helsinki. On the topic of family, I would like to give a quick "hello" to Zach, Zarek, Anya, Dad, Clint, and my grandparents who couldn’t make the journey to Finland.
I really loved meeting all of my teammate’s families – many of them for the first time. It’s nice to see them and try to match up parents with their sons. The best thing about having these get-togethers is that all of our parents, most of which don’t know each other very well, all seem to get along great. There seems to be a common bond between all of us. Some sort of binding force that joins not only our team, but our families as well. The U-17 MNT truly is one big family.
Play of the Day
Today’s "Play of the Day" comes from the self-proclaimed "Finest Young Coach in America," John Hackworth. Many do agree with Hackworth’s nickname (including me), but today’s play definitely cost him some points towards that title. The play comes from our small-sided game of 5v5, which was actually a good, action packed battle filled with classy finishing and efficient ball movement. We very well could have had a goal or save as today’s play, but this comical play sticks out in all of our minds and has been unanimously voted "Play of the Day."
Goalkeeper Quentin Westberg made a save and rolled the ball out laterally to Chris Germani. Germani scanned the field and saw coach Hackworth making a bending run to the back post, as he practiced what he preaches to us. Germani then served a brilliant cross to coach Hackworth tearing to the far post. As the ball approached him, coach Hack leaped into the air and wound up for a bicycle kick. The ball then knuckled and took a sudden dip, leaving Hackworth stranded in the air with no chance of completing this flashy volley. As the chain fell off of his bike, coach Hackworth then caught the ball while he was upside down and with his arms flailing, clumsily and very awkwardly hit the hard soil with his rump. This hilarious play closely resembled a bird being shot out of the air with feathers flying all over the place, struggling to stay in flight. Play stopped informally for a minute as all 35 of our U-17 MNT camp laughed hysterically.
That, ladies and gentleman, is today’s "Play of the Day." My description does not exactly do today’s play justice, as it really needed to be witnessed in person, but I did the best that I could. I hope that using this for today’s "Play of the Day" doesn’t come between coach Hack and me. I would just suggest that he stick to a Huffy rather than the Pele model of bicycle.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed my journal today and you can expect my next entry after our game against Sierra Leone. Please wish us luck as we prepare to play the African nation on our journey to the championship. In my next edition, I will also have a special report on co-captain Corey Ashe called "Special Report: Amazing Ashe." Trust me, you won’t want to miss that, so make sure to stay tuned to ussoccer.com in the meantime. It’s time for me to get going, but be safe and I’ll see you when the time comes. Peace out.