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Jamie's Journal from U-23 MNT Camp


Hello everyone, and welcome to Jamie’s Journal! Some of you may be thinking, “Hey isn’t that THE Jamie’s Journal I’ve read in the past on ussoccer.com?” Well, the answer is yes, my friends. It’s been a few years since I have been in with the youth national teams, meaning a long awaited return to Jamie’s Journal is finally here!

Getting Started

This time we’re coming to you from sunny Manhattan Beach, Californ-i-a, the site of the first U-23 Men’s National Team Camp of 2007. This 23-player camp began last Saturday when we all flew in and met up for dinner to introduce us to head coach Bob Bradley and assistant coaches Thomas Rongen and John Hackworth. Assistant coach Peter Nowak met up with us Monday morning due to his flight schedule. We got a good idea what to expect for the two weeks we’re together and how the week here in Cali was going to be.

After the meeting broke, we went back to our rooms and immediately broke into a Texas Hold ‘em Poker tournament. This was a fun way to get caught up with everyone we hadn’t seen in a long time, and to pass a few hours before bedtime. This high-stakes (as in, not so much) tournament ended with Kansas City Wizards outside back Michael Harrington against L.A. Galaxy defender Nate Sturgis. These two outlasted a field of seven very bad poker players including myself, Will John, Tim Ward, Jake Peterson and Chris Seitz. The two battled it out and since the tournament was in my room, I watched the final table action.

As the night wore on, I got bored just watching and offered to help shuffle and deal for the two guys. Then this brilliant idea came into my head. I’ve known Michael for several years now, and I don’t know a person more competitive than him. This being the case, I rigged the deck and put the four aces on the top. Anyone who knows how to play Texas Hold ’em knows the top four cards are dealt two a piece to each of the players, meaning they each had pocket aces, or the best starting hand in poker. Mike bit PERFECTLY into my plot and acted so unsure if his hand was good or not and played it really cool and just called the bet. Nate also had pocket aces and decided to go all-in and bet everything he had on his hand as well (Nate was in the dark too, but he’s never shown emotion in his life so I knew the trick wasn’t to get him).

This is where the joke came full circle and played out to perfection. Mike quickly jumped up from his seat and at the top of his lungs yelled, “I CALL, POCKET ACES!” He slams his cards face up to show the rigged hand and is yelling uncontrollably! Right now I’m rolling on the floor laughing. Nate starts to laugh too because he sees what I’ve done and knows there’s no way this is for real. Mike hasn’t seen Nate’s cards yet so he starts yelling how proud he is of his acting skills downplaying his awesome hand by yelling, “SMOOTH CALL, TRAPPED YOU!” I can’t stop laughing now and my side begins to cramp up! I can hardly get the words, “I fixed the hand” out of my mouth because I’m in so much pain from laughing. Nate then turns his cards over to Mike showing him his pocket aces and Mike realizes he just got played. He then begins to laugh because he realizes just how overboard he went in his celebrating and we were forced to put the final table on hold until we got the laughing under control. Needless to say, I was banned from dealing for the night and Mike went on to beat Nate for the win. All in all, it was a great first night catching up with old friends, meeting new coaches, and having a few laughs over some cards.

Soccer Kicks

After the first night of catching up and meeting new people, we got up at 7:30 a.m. for breakfast and then left at 9:30 for training to practice free kicks and some head balls. If you have ever been in a Bob Bradley training session, you know it’s an hour and a half of HARD work. Let me say that one again so all you readers understand what I’m saying. If you have ever been in a Bob Bradley training session, you know it’s an hour and a half of HARD work. It was a really good introduction as to what is expected at this level and got us off on the right foot. After the session we went back to the hotel, grabbed some lunch, and were back at it at 4:30 p.m. for an afternoon session. We played a bit more this time and got ready tactically for our scrimmage the next morning vs. UCLA. The night ended with dinner and some more cards (pretty standard evening for the same seven or eight guys).

The next morning we had a 10:30 a.m. scrimmage vs. UCLA and we all wanted to show well in front of the coaching staff in our first game. The first half team was GK- Chris Seitz, RB- Michael Harrington, CB- Pat Ianni, CB- Nate Sturgis. LB- Tim Ward, RM – Nico Colaluca, CM – Sacha Kljestan, CM- Ryan Solle, LM – Arturo Alvarez, FW- Jake Peterson, and FW- Chad Barrett. The game started off slow as both teams were trying to feel each other out. Seitz had a few big time saves to keep UCLA scoreless and we came close a few times, but it ended 0-0 at halftime. The second half team made a complete line change and replaced all 11 players. Coming on was GK- Talley Hall, RB- Sean Franklin, CB- Julian Valentin, CB- Rob Valentino, LB- Hunter Freeman, RM- Quavas Kirk, CM- Peter Lowry, LM- Will John, FW- Adam Cristman, and myself at the other forward position. We also had to borrow a player for Chivas USA to round out our eleven. About 10 minutes into the second half, Quavas beat his man down the line after a six or seven pass sequence and got a cross off into the middle of the box and I was able to lay out and put a diving header past the UCLA keeper. This cross was one of those “alley-oop” type passes, it was that good! After that we started showing our class and keeping possession and controlling the speed of the game. With six minutes left Rob Valentino got up and scored a sick header off a very nice corner from Will John and capped off the match with a 2-0 score line. After the game, we went inside for some regeneration work to get our legs back for the next day’s “two-a-day.” One of the regeneration things we have to do is two minutes in the ice bath and two minutes in the sauna. The sauna part was money! That felt so good, but the ice bath in 45 degree water is miserable! I’m not a fan of ice baths at all so sorry for venting but when you try it let me know how much you like it. That’s pretty much been it so far, we have two more days of “two-a-days” before a match Thursday vs. Chivas USA. Check back in with us later on in the week for an update on that game.

Happy Valentine’s Day

There’s much debate as to how we all feel about Valentine’s Day. Some of the guys (with girlfriends) get into the holiday and celebrate by spoiling their girlfriends with roses and chocolates, while the other half of the guys (without girlfriends) think its just another day built up by Hallmark. I think this Valentine’s Day will be special since I’m spending it with two guys who will remind me of the day, Julian VALENTIN and Rob VALENTINO! I’m so sorry for that terrible pun but I thought of this one today and couldn’t wait to share it with you guys! Whatever your stance is on the day, I hope you have either a wonderful and loved filled Valentine’s Day (if you like the holiday and Cupid has already struck you with his arrow) or just another Wednesday hump day (for those of you who don’t like this day!)

Thanks for tuning in and keep checking back with ussoccer.com for more updates of Jamie’s Journal and to see some great action photos from our time in Southern Cali. Also, if you’re a myspace addict like myself, check me out at www.myspace.com/jamie_watson_22 and leave me a message on there or leave a comment letting me know what you want to hear about on the next edition of Jamie’s Journal! Take care everyone!

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