Off the Ball: Waiting for Cuba
Carlos Bocanegra is back with another edition of "Off the Ball", a personal chronicle about the team's daily events while participating in the Gold Cup. In this episode, Carlos assesses the Martinique match, tells how Frankie Hejduk nearly knocked himself out of the tournament, and poses his famous four questions to U.S. head honcho Bruce Arena..
July 17, 2003
OFF THE BALL, a chronicle of the U.S. Men's National Team and their journey through the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup as seen from the unique perspective of U.S. defender and SoCal native Carlos Bocanegra.
I. The Playing Field
Hello again. Well, we're coming off a nice win the other night against Martinique. I thought the guys played well. It was tough to score a lot of goals against those guys, because they had like eight guys behind the ball. Even though we had complete control of the game, the key was to get the ball wide on the flanks and swing in some crosses. We created some good chances, and McBride scored a great goal on a world-class cross from Stone Cold Steve Ralston, a fan favorite here in New England. They connected again later on to put the game. Once again, Bruce was happy with the game. He said we played hard, and that anyone in the world would have had trouble scoring on a team with so many players behind the ball. One play that stood out in the game was when Eddie Lewis was dribbling the ball down the line and his man was hanging all over him. With a quick little forearm shiver, Eddie sent him stumbling to the ground.
As he was falling, Eddie waited for him and punked him again, finishing the job off by sending him to the ground. Martinique was playing so dirty, they deserved a little taste of their own medicine.
II. Cross Culture/Counter Culture
Dave & Busters is in the mall attached to the hotel. Just what this group needs: an Arcade for Adults. D&B has been eating up numerous hours of our time, whether it's the basketball games, Golden Tee, or Frankie boxing in a simulated ring sweating like a fat kid playing kick ball. Frankie didn't hold back on the computer with his punches. I swear he almost threw out his shoulder on one of his knockout punches. Good thing a tall blonde woman came by to give him instructions on how to throw his jab, or we might have lost him for the tournament.
III. The Back Four (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 we have a couple of very special guests. We put our head coach Bruce Arena in the hot seat, and you can clearly see where the generation gap lies. Also, we have Eddie Lewis, who has been lighting up the left flanks for the MNT and also Preston North End in England.
Bruce has been a coach for almost 30 years, winning championships at UVa, D.C. United and the national team. He's married to Phyllis, and their son Kenny is a defender on our rivals, the MetroStars. Eddie Lewis went to UCLA, and now kicks it at PNE. He and his wife Marisol have a two-year old daughter, Giselle.
1. Traveling all over the world, what countries' women do it for you?
Bruce: Oddly enough, my experiences are limited. I haven't been to Brazil, which I think if I had gone there I would have rated them number one. The countries I've been in where I was fascinated by the women are Mexico, Italy and France. When I was in Milan, I thought the women were beautiful. Milan is one of the fashion capitals of the world, and you can certainly tell it when you walk down the streets and see the women.
Eddie: It's hard to say. They're everywhere. The latin skin of South America definitely does it for me. Argentina's not bad, especially women with the light eyes and brown skin.
2. Who is your favorite athlete to watch in a sport other than soccer?
Bruce: I realize this answer will be a bit redundant, but I would say Michael Jordan, followed by Tiger Woods. They are dominant, graceful, and arguably the best of all time in their particular sports.
Eddie Lewis: I think Tony Hawk is the most influential athlete in his sport. He's pretty much transformed skateboarding.
3. Tell us about your most romantic date (yes, he's had one). Also, how do you serenade the ladies?
Bruce: My most romantic date would have to have been with my wife. That's why I'm probably married, which has now been for 27 years. That also means I haven't been on a date in a long time. When we met, I remember going out and having simple dinners, ordering a nice bottle of wine, and talking about the things that are important in our lives. I'm a pretty simple guy. I was never much about making things real fancy. As I dated my wife and we got to know each other, being alone together with a bottle of wine were our most romantic nights.
Eddie Lewis: The number one rule in general is making girls feel special. The most romantic thing I've ever done is when I proposed to my wife. We had a big suite in Big Sur overlooking the water. I had tons of rose petals all over the floor, leading in a trail outside to where I was. We had a candlelight dinner, and a bit of a dessert thing. We spent about 20 minutes out there. I was telling her all the things I liked about her, and then I popped the question. It was pretty sweet, and very romantic.
4. What three people in history would you invite to dinner?
Bruce: The people I've found most interesting during my lifetime are Mick Jagger, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. I've met Clinton a couple times, and he's an extremely bright guy. I'd like to hear his side of the story on a lot of issues, mostly political. He led our country during a time when our economy was at an all-time high, yet the Congress was controlled by Republicans. I find that interesting.
Eddie: Bob Marley, Will Farrell to provide laughs, and Phil Anschutz, so we can talk about everything he's doing that's right and wrong for soccer. Also, he could pick up the check.
IV. Quote of the Day
"Hit the gym."
--Eddie Lewis, giving advice to his fallen opponent.
Tomorrow we'll have answers from the teeny-bopper king himself, and by numerous requests, I'll take the quiz myself. We'll also get to some fan mail. Keep it up...