Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the ninth and final edition of "Jules’ Undercover Journal." Thank you very much for joining me. I’ll warn you that it’s hard for me to keep this completely humorous at a time like this, but I’ll try my best. I may be a bit sentimental in this one.
I would like to start off today by thanking our staff for all of their hard work. U.S. Soccer has the best coaches in the world and I have nothing but kind words for our coaches, manager, trainer, and team coordinator. They more than prepared us for our World Championship and I just wish that we could have won it – if not for us, for them and all of their hard work.
To coach Ellinger, coach Hack, and coach Mellor: You three have imparted so much knowledge of the game to me and I thank you for helping put me in a position to be successful. You are all surrogate fathers to me.
To Jeff: Thanks for all of the things that you do to make life easier on me and my family. It is much appreciated.
Jake and RJ: You guys are not fathers to me at all. But you’re definitely are my older brothers. Thanks for all the laughs and everything thing that you’ve done for me. I’m just so glad that this is not a final goodbye for us.
Speaking for all the guys, thank you all so much for everything that you have done for us in our year(s) down in Bradenton. Now, on with today installment.
You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania
To elaborate on my strange title to this column, all of PA’s old license plates bear the phrase "You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania." And, I figured you’ve got a friend in me. Well, I’m back home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and it’s kind of a bittersweet reunion with my hometown. The bitter would be coming home without a gold medal and having to say farewell to my brothers, who mean so much to me. The sweet would be that I’m home with my family and that shoefly pie that I always talk about.
I’m sure that you know Brazil beat us 3-0 last Sunday. They are a classy team and nobody can take that away from them. I wish them luck as they continue on in the tournament.
But, I always dreamed of a vision of returning to the ‘States with an Under-17 World Cup gold medal as the whole country welcomed us with a parade of red, white, and blue flowers. We would get to meet President Bush and our team would be on every single TV show that isn’t hosted by Bob Barker. We’d even be hosting Sesame Street with Big Bird, as we would tell Ernie and Bert about our experience Finland. I dreamed that we would be America’s team. Yes, I honestly have thought about this before.
My dreams of that valiant homecoming are now over, but we have far from failed in our dream. It’s just that when you set such big goals for yourself in life, you also set yourself up for even greater pain should the goal not be reached. For what are goals but just dreams with deadlines? We may not have won or accomplished our ultimate goal, be we finished in a respectable fifth place and the experience will live forever in out minds and hearts.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s been a long ride and I just wish that it hadn’t ended. I’m going to miss all my teammates so much, but the times that we’ve shared will never die.
I think that it would be fitting for today’s Undercover Jules subject to be none other than Freddy Adu. I’m sure that the world has just been biting their nails in anticipating for my Undercover Freddy. At this time, I usually would include my victim’s middle name, but I do not know how to spell Freddy’s. (By the way, I made an error in my seventh journal. Corey Ashe’s middle name is spelled "Alan," not "Allen" as I put). As most people already know, Freddy is from Ghana and he moved to our country when he was 8. Now he resides in Potomac, Maryland near the mighty Chesapeake Bay – which is great for fishing.
Freddy is a tenacious forward who loves, and thrives on, the big games. He has the unique ability to combine flashy play with simplicity. Wait…why am I telling everyone things that they already know? You can read that information ANYWHERE. I’ve got to focus on Freddy the person!
Okay, Freddy is an absolute video game enthusiast. His favorite games, for the most part, are sports games – especially games produced by EA Sports including FIFA 2003, EA’s NCAA, the Madden football series, and EA Sports’ Tiger Woods golf (your welcome Mr. EA for the advertising).
He loves watching DVDs and listening to rap and hip-hop music. His favorite rappers are Eminem, Fabolous, and 50 "Fidy" Cent. Fred is actually quite the rapper himself! I bet that you didn’t know that he used to jot down lyrics in computer class and we’d rap duets together.
Freddy also has the most extensive DVD collection known to man. He makes Blockbuster’s collection look weak collection and puts the store to shame. His collection is so large that he even has "Sweet Home Alabama," which he and I watched together on a trip once. Now how many 14-year olds have that one?
For the last month in England and Finland, Fred got the team hooked on the tune "Where’s the Love" by the Black Eyed Peas and Justin Timberlake. Freddy could always be heard squealing at the top of his lungs in his own squeaky, distressful version of the catchy song. Even our coaches were caught whistling the catchy melody and asking where the love was. Ladies and gentleman, the dirt is: Freddy Adu loves to sing…but lets just say that he has a much more promising future in soccer.
The night we had our team dinner at the lake in Lahti (see my seventh chapter for details on that) I posed for a picture with our assistant coach John Hackworth. As my mom got ready to snap the photo, Freddy, in typical 14-year old fashion, jumped in front of the camera, blocking me out of the picture. The picture was taken and Adu’s timing was perfect as it looks as if he’d been cropped out of a different picture and pasted next to coach Hackworth. Kids.
All in all, Freddy Adu is just a normal kid (as hard as that may be for many to swallow). He is just a normal 14-year old with tons of soccer prowess and potential. If anyone had to be the focus of such intense scrutiny and press, it should be Freddy. He deserves all of it and handles his rapidly growing world notoriety better than most professionals. Yesterday in the airport, I even read a British tabloid that mentioned Adu, but he just laughed as they tried to court him.
So that is the true story on Freddy (middle name here) Adu. I hope that this was a fitting end to my famous Undercover Jules segment and I hope that you’ve enjoyed getting a closer look at some of my brothers over the last month.
Play of the Day
I’m extremely sorry folks, but there is no "Play of the Day" today. I just wish that I could have had a great story to end with. However, I hope that you’ve enjoyed this segment over the last month.
Residency 11(Tomiwa, Trini, Drew, Chase, Bradley, Rigo, Tim, Christian, Mask, Robbie, and Marcus): I have not forgotten about you guys! Even though you weren’t with us in Finland, you’ve trained with us every day for the past year(s) and deserve just as much credit as those who played this past month. Thanks guys. Good luck in whatever you embark on now.
Phil Marfuggi: I’m going to miss all the laughs we shared about "the little things." The Eagles will always be better than the Giants though – sorry. I’m sure that I’ll see you again so this isn’t "goodbye," it’s "see you later." Good luck at Clemson.
Kyle Helton: Thanks for laughing at my jokes when nobody else would. I’ll miss you but I’m sure I’ll see you around, buddy.
Jonathan Spector: Spec, I could never really tell you this until now, but I really look up to you in many ways. Your friendship means so much to me. I’m going to miss you a lot but good luck in Manchester. Remember, they call potato chips "crisps!"
Eddie Gaven: Ed, good luck with the MetroStars. Here’s some advice: don’t change a bit and you will do just fine. Coach Bradley has a great kid in you. God Bless.
Brandon Owens: B, thanks for everything you’ve taught me. Have fun back home at UCLA. Keep doing it up there…I’ll see you when I see you.
Chris Germani: Germs, enjoy your "year off" at home. Take care of PA for me while I’m in Bradenton and I’m sure that I’ll see you soon.
Brian Grazier: Graz, keep working out so I can watch you on ESPN’s "World Strongest Man" some day. Good luck at SLU, and I hope to see you around.
John DiRaimondo: Juan, I’m really going to miss all of the great times that we’ve shared. I loved the many laughs and "mini arguments" that we’ve shared. Take care of your Adam’s apple for me until I see you again.
Mike Harrington: I’m going to miss you, but I’m sure that I’ll see you before long. Thanks for always being the beat. Good luck at UNC.
Memo Gonzalez: Mems, bueno suerte en el MLS. I’m going to miss you a lot, but "good talk – see you out there."
Freddy Adu: I’ve still got a lot more time with you, so I’ll see you in Bradenton in a couple weeks buddy. Have fun at home.
Steve Curfman: Rana, keep up the great work on and off the field. Don’t be surprised if I send you some of my math homework this year. I’ll do your English. Good luck at Wake.
Jamie Watson: Calvo, remember all the good times that we’ve had and just keep on truckin’. Good luck at Chapel Hill buddy.
Corey Ashe: Core, thanks for always being there for me. Don’t ever forget all of the laughs and good times that we’ve shared. I respect you so much and you’ve taught me so much about what a competitor and a captain should be. I’ll make sure to carry that fire to the ‘88s. Bring out Tommy on the ACC.
Adrian Chevannes: AD, roomie – thanks for all the memories and laughs "pla." Have a great time at Clemson and make sure to invest in a good alarm clock so you don’t miss any classes!
Danny Szetela: Your "goodbye" will be saved for another time. I’ll see you back at IMG in a couple weeks. Enjoy your short break.
Quentin Westberg: Q, good luck in France. It was a pleasure to have known and played with you. I hope that I see you in the future.
Jake Peterson: Hake, I’m really going to miss you buddy. Remember Korea and all of the other great times that we’ve had. Keep dancing into the future. I’ll see you around buddy.
Steve Sandbo: Sandy, enjoy Columbus for another couple weeks. I see you in Bradenton before long.
Coach Ellinger, coach Hackworth, coach Mellor, Coach Fulk, Jeff McRaney, Jacob Joachim, R.J. Noto, Michael White and Braden Chandler: You guys have not seen the last of Julian Edward Valentin. You’re stuck with me for another year! Make sure to rest up because I’m going to be back in Bradenton before
you know it.
I’m going to end my final "Jules’ Undercover Journal" with a couple lines from a song that I wrote called "Dedicated to the Future." I wrote this song a couple days ago and it goes out to all of my brothers who are going off to college or to the pros: "It’s so hard to turn away, from these same old smiles. Have I already wasted my short time? It just flew by. And it’s about that time to leave each other now. We put our memories at mind and go on our separate ways…It’s far too easy for me to think the past today, that’s not the message to be conveyed. This song recalls the past, but it’s dedicated to the future. And for all of us, the future starts today."
Thank you ladies and gentleman for allowing me to write my column. But thanks for actually reading it! I hope that now some of the haze and mystery has been taken out of being in Residency or on the U-17 MNT. We are just normal kids. Although my column won’t be there anymore, make sure to keep visiting the best site on the web, ussoccer.com, for information and updates on our team and all of our other teams. Once again, thank you and take care.