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Behind the U-20s With Will John


You might think you know a lot about the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team. You might know the final 18-player roster that will compete in the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament, you might know when their training schedule is and you might even know their record over the past year. But what you probably don't know is that Tim Ward has some odd sleeping habits and the players played a practical joke on a certain player with a snail in the locker room. Well, that's where midfielder Will John comes in. The Kansas native has decided to share some behind the scenes moments as they get set for qualifying, so read on and find out even more about the U-20s.

It’s been quite a camp so far. We’re just over the one-week mark and we’ve seen the sun once. The weather has absolutely not cooperated with our schedule. A constant downpour has forced us to even take practice into locker rooms one day and when we did to outside we had to play a practice game in standing water. It was the kind of game that took three kicks and all of your power just to get the ball to move five yards. Nevertheless, it’s what we needed to train in seeing that it’s quite possible we might encounter the same type of field conditions on Wednesday for our first match against Trinidad & Tobago.
   
My roommate Tim Ward and I have had a little trouble getting accustomed to the small time change. We wake up 2 hours before breakfast every morning hungry and with nothing to do but lay in bed.

I think I’ve got it a little worse than Tim does simply because never in my life have I seen someone more active in their sleep. Tim has managed to scream random phrases on three different occasions throw his sheets around like rag dolls and stand up in bed all while in a deep sleep. I was pretty terrified at first because he seems to think he possesses some sort of superpowers in his sleep, but when he wakes up he unfortunately has to come back to reality.
   
The locker room is of course full of the same excitement. Soccer-tennis is the main attraction. It’s a makeshift court made of athletic tape and two chairs but it does the job and it can get quite passionate at times. Hunter and Quentin are the former champions, but they were eventually brought down by the superstars Danny Szetela and me. That team held an unbelievable 10-0 record before falling to the team from the O.C. – Sasha Kljestan and Benny Feilhaber. Deciding the real champion is always under constant dispute, but I’m sure we will eventually get it solved. The team from the O.C seems to think that Orange County is God’s gift to earth because of the popular show. However, after a little rational discussion they calm down and stop talking about what they have dubbed the best place in the universe.

Usually, while we play we’ve got music blasting in the background. The locker room is actually just a chance for Freddy to DJ for a crowd. I enjoy most of the music he plays but it turns out a few of the guys don’t like his selection of rap or rap. Nevertheless, no one has really stepped up to put on some different music aside from Eddie Gaven. His small stint as DJ was short lived as his unbelievably hardcore rock disappointed the listeners. 

Practical jokes are a constant occurrence here but the perpetrators always have a motive behind them. Upset about disputes over the real soccer-tennis champions, Benny and Sasha placed a live snail in my sock hoping that it would freak me out. Fortunately for me it just felt like a rock and I just shook it out of my sock. This didn’t stop the whole locker room from screaming and laughing and running around like children. I’m not worried though, practical jokes were a normal thing at college and I’m sure I’ll have no problem conjuring up a reply attack.

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