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The Return of Jules' Journal

Bienvenue - June 28, 2007
Hey everyone! I just got back from a nice (but painful) massage and I’m taking some time off of some intense card playing to write today’s journal. I’m actually catching a lot of slack from the guys for standing them up to write another “lame" journal so I sure hope you enjoy it.

Well, we’re in Montreal now after a week in New Jersey. It’s a really nice city – very French. It’s nice to finally be in Canada and now we’re only a day and a half away from our first game against South Korea!

We’ve started to taper down our workload – the sessions have been more short and sharp. It’s been scorching hot here. The first day here we trained at one of the outdoor venues and it had to be about a thousand degrees – the sun was blaring and the turf had about three times the amount of black rubber tire stuff in it. It was like playing on a stove. Since then, though, we’ve been training in the stadium. The stadium is AMAZING. Our first two group games are in the Olympic Stadium. Supposedly they’ve sold about 60,000 tickets so, needless to say, we’re pumped. The best part of the stadium: AIR CONDITIONING.

Other than that, not much is really going on. We’ve been playing a lot of cards – a lot of “22” I should say. I’m not a big card guy but I’ve really gotten into the game. It gets pretty heated sometimes with tempers flaring and loud outbursts of joy and agony. At the end of the day, though, it’s all about being together.

Okay, Bradley is yelling at me to come play so I’m needed in the card room. Today’s journal was a short one today but I’ll definitely check in later on this week. Stay tuned!

June 22, 2007 - Afternoon Off?
Welcome back folks.  This is Jules checking in again for a brief update.  There’s really not too much going on around here but I thought I’d check in anyway.

Today we boarded a bus and made the trip up to The Meadowlands for training.  East Rutherford is about 45 minutes from where we’re staying here but it’s really not too bad – when there’s no traffic.  It’s pretty cool driving up the Jersey Turnpike, seeing the New York skyline.  On the bus we watched the classic flick “Old School” with Will Farrell, Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Jeremy Piven, and that girl from “Grey’s Anatomy.”  Since we play tomorrow afternoon against Chile at 2:18 (a double-header with the women’s national team) we trained today at 2:00 at Giants Stadium to get accustomed to the turf and the stadium.

Yesterday we (finally…) had some time off after a tough morning session so a bunch of guys to the train to New York for the afternoon.  Nate, Dax, Robbie, Sandbo, and I walked around town, seeing Time’s Square, 5th Avenue, and took a wild goose chase around town looking for the Ed Hardy shop.  A few groups of other guys also wandered around the city to see what their hearts desired.  We had some AMAZING sushi at a Japanese restaurant and then took the train back to New Brunswick.  It was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

The Gatorade shipment came in the other day – that’s pretty big news!  Now we have a plethora of flavors, endurance formula, shakes, Propel, and Gatorade bars. Now we’re just waiting for our casual gear shipment to come in.  When that happens, it will be a fine, fine day.

I also wanted to congratulate the senior team for their 2-1 win against Canada yesterday in the Gold Cup semis.  Now they’re only a game away from their second?? consecutive Gold Cup.  Make sure to check out the Gold Cup finals versus Mexico on Sunday afternoon – it’s sure to be an awesome game.

Well, as I said, there’s really not much to say today.  I’m about to head downstairs to watch the staff basketball game between the U-20 staff and the U-15 staff.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  Make sure to stay tune for my next update from here in New Jersey.

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!