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The Return of Jules' Journal

June 19, 2007: The Return of Jules’ Journal

Hello ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to Jules’ Journal – or I should say, The Return of Jules’ Journal. Hopefully still has my old logo laying around the office somewhere. For those of you who haven’t read my journals before, my name is Julian Valentin, a defender from Wake Forest University and the U-20 MNT. Thanks for joining me tonight! This journal/blog/article series will be your inside look at the U-20s during their quest for the World Cup.

Right now we’re in Somerset, New Jersey in our final preparation camp before we take off for Montreal. It’s actually sort of a U.S. Soccer convention here right now because the Women’s National team is here, as well and the U-15 Boy’s National Team is holding a training camp. The Double Tree Hotel (wink, wink – sponsor plug) has been great and we’ve been working really hard the past few days in our preparation with demanding two-a-day sessions and fitness work.

We got back from dinner a few hours ago and now I’m just hanging out in my room after a tough training/fitness session. Nate, Tim, and Dax are playing cards, I’m sitting here, and we’re just talking about our team’s basketball competition this morning.

After a few days of hard 2-a-days, we had a regeneration session this morning before hitting the pitch hard in the afternoon. The hotel has a sweet basketball court so we broke up into teams and had a little competition – it was actually a BIG competition. Things got heated as rivalries and tempers flared. The teams were:

MLS West – Dax McCarty, Freddy Adu, Chris Seitz, Anthony Wallace, and Nate “The Big Fundamental” Sturgis

MLS East – Tim “9 Points on the Day” Ward, Danny Szetela, Robbie Rogers, Bryan Arguez, and Jozy Altidore

College – Steve Sandbo, recent Santa Clara student Amechi Igwe who returned to the college ranks for the afternoon, Brian Perk, Ofori Sarkodie, and Andre Akpan

International – Gabe Ferrari, Johann Smith, college players Sal Sizzo & Tony Beltran got called up from the college squad to defend their Italian heritage, and equipment manager Andrew Desert

Staff – Tim Mulqueen, team manager Alfonso Cerda, press extraordinaire Neil Buethe, Brian Maissenueve, and Dave Dir aka “Shaq Diesel”/trainer Ben Black who shared time

In short, today’s basketball outing was highly competitive but fell far short of anything that resembled the game of basketball. I think we’ll stick to soccer. (That reminds me, if anyone was concerned we might hurt ourselves, lets just say the way we play basketball was poor so the intensity was on a level much below the rough tackles we see everyday in training. In the end, it really ended up being guys shooting around...badly.)

Though the other squads may argue the results, the points show that MLS West came out victorious at the end of the day. Biased Dax said “The MLS West was just awesome…I mean four games in a row…” Loser-MVP Tim Ward for the MLS East squad said “I mean…it was fun.” Typical responses from a winner/loser…

That’s about it for now. Make sure to stay tuned to for future episodes of The Return of Jules’ Journal and tons of other good stuff as we continue on our quest for the U-20 World Cup!