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The Valentin Chronicles - Part III From Busan, South Korea

Back In Action


Hello again, to my loyal fans of The Valentin Chronicles.  I would like to welcome you to another special Chronicle from divine Busan, South Korea.  Back by popular demand for today’s installment is my partner in crime, Jamie Watson.  I’d like to start off today’s issue with a funny, yet moderately embarrassing tale, from Friday afternoon.  

I had just finished my last Chronicle on my laptop, saved it to a floppy disc along pictures, and went next door to John DiRaimondo and Memo Gonzalez’s room to email the freshly finished product to
I sat down at the computer, started chatting with my buddies, pulled up my email account, and started writing an email to my editor.  I quickly finished the email and I prepared to attach the actual Word Document.  I was astounded that the email refused to recognize the floppy disc in the drive and allow the attachment.  I tried it again, thinking that it would read the disc on the second time.  No luck.  I tried again.  No luck.  I tried a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth time to attach the objects, but the computer simply would not read the floppy disc.
After my sixth attempt, I was noticeably angry.  Johnny D. tried to comfort and calm me down, while Memo was laughing hysterically in an attempt to further infuriate me.  Memo won.  I was livid.  Those who know me know well understand that I get EXTREMELY upset about little things such as this stubborn floppy disc.
Then I looked down at the slot for the floppy disc and saw that the light that indicates that a disc inserted was not illuminated.  “Are you kidding!  The disc is lodged in the drive,” I quickly assumed, without thinking. 
I realized that in order to save my beloved article, I had to dig out the caught floppy disc from the computer tower.  I grabbed two pens from the room as I got set to try and fish out the wedged disc.
When I pushed open the door to the floppy drive to begin my removal of the stubborn disc, I discovered that there was no disc in the drive.  I turned to John and Memo and bashfully said, “I forgot to put the disc in.”
I guess that the moral of this fable is that it’s important to look before you leap (and electrocute yourself).
Jamie Watson:  WOW! To the dear friends and loyal readers of The Valentin Chronicles, I would like to apologize for my amigo Jules.  Normally Jules doesn’t make dumb mistakes like that, but on this one he takes the cake. This is also very exciting because this was a historical moment in The Chronicles short history. We now have a new DUMBEST MOMENT EVER! This by far has my toaster and cheese bread incident beaten. Come on Jules, you’re better than that. Now on with today’s issue.

Next Time Around…

Thursday evening in Busan, we fell 2-1 a strong Brazilian side.  Brazil started virtually the same roster as last week’s game in Ft. Lauderdale, but last night’s game was of a different nature.  We played quite well, but were unable to come up with three points in the end.
Both teams created dangerous chances at goal and kept the ball for notable stretches of time.  We came out and played most of the game with a certain attitude and intensity necessary to win.  We had some good play in the middle of the park and on the flanks allowing us to create dangerous chances off of serves.
One of our most dangerous chances came early in the first half with Steve Curfman.  Will John collected a ball at the top of the box with his chest and quickly found Curfman on the left corner of the penalty box.  Curfman took a touch before rifling a blistering shot at the Brazilian goal.  His shot had the ‘keeper beat to his left side, but unfortunately the crossbar was able to come up with the save and Curf’s rocket clanked off the bar.
We got on the board first with a solid piece of play by the whole team, finished off by Nico Colaluca and Stuart Holden.  A ball was played into Nico’s feet just outside the penalty box.  He took a touch towards goal and made it appear as if he was going to shoot.  Then, he passed a penetrating ball to the right side of the box where Stuart Holden made a run towards the net.  From a tight angle, Holden blasted Colaluca’s pass into the bottom right side of the Brazilian goal.  It was a clutch finish from Holden.
Shortly after halftime, the Brazilians got on the board after a fluke goal.  A Brazilian midfielder played a through ball towards the right side of our goal.  I sprinted back to try to defuse and slow up the play.  I beat the Brazilian to the ball, but slipped when I got to it.  The Brazilian attacker took the loose ball and went 1 on 1 with goalkeeper Andrew Kartunen.  Kartunen came off his line, stood his ground, and made a clutch save, but the ball deflected back to the man who shot it.  Simultaneously, I was making a recovery run towards the net to cover the open goal.  With Kartunen out net, the Brazilian attacker slotted a ball across the goalmouth to a streaking opponent.  Sprinting at full speed, I cut off the pass to the open man, but deflected it into the goal.  It was an unlucky turn of events, but it happens in this game.
Later in the half, the Brazilians were able to capitalize and take the lead.  Off of a corner kick, Brazil managed to find an inch of heading space and hammered the ball into the back of our net.
As the game wound down, Will John cracked a beautiful 19-yard bomb that forced the Brazilian goalkeeper to make a diving save.
The game ended in a disappointing 2-1 score.  We played a pretty good game, especially in the first half, but came up empty-handed by the full time whistle.  The good thing is that we played pretty well and took a lot of positives out of the game.  Next time we play Brazil, things are going to be different. 

Hotel Olympics

These two-week trips, such as this one in South Korea, tend to get a little bit monotonous after awhile.  With that being said, it is up to us, the members of the U-20 MNT, to find things to keep ourselves occupied in our down time – and to keep our sanity.
Yesterday after breakfast I causally walked out of my room to get a Gatorade energy bar from the training room.  When I got to the hallway, I was shocked with what I saw.  Danny Szetela, Charlie Davies, and our equipment coordinator Mike Manning were participating in a game of “Hallway Curling!”
Danny and Charlie lined up on opposite sides of the hallway and spread their legs like a giraffe taking a drink at a desert oasis.  The object of the game was to nutmeg the other person from the opposite end of the hallway.  The game sounds quite simple at first, but it is important to keep in mind the speed and breaks in the carpet that can play tricks with the ball.
To add an extra bit of precision, Mike found a vacuum head in a supply closet and used the cleaning tool to guide the ball, similar to those scraper things that are used to clear off the ice in the Olympic sport of curling.

It was really a ridiculous sight, especially since it was so early in the morning.  After the entertainment, I went back into my room to wash up.
After I had gotten out of the shower, I went back out into to the hallway to go to John DiRaimondo and Memo Gonzalez’s room.  Once again, I was shocked to see what my friends had come up with.
Danny and Charlie had rigged up a bowling alley in the hallway out of 10 full water bottles and a Nike Aerow soccer ball.  The object of the game was the same as traditional bowling: knock over as many water bottles as possible using the regular spare and strike format.  Mathematician Steven Curfman acted as the computer and added up all of the scores.
Shocked and intrigued by what my colleagues had mustered up from nothing, I chuckled at their wit and went back into my room to brush my teeth.

Dynamic Busan

The city of Busan has apparently launched a campaign called “Dynamic Busan,” that attempts to attract tourists to this city.  Although I haven’t had a chance to get out of the hotel and walk around town yet because I’ve been so busy with my Chronicles, I sent Jamie on a reconnaissance mission to scope out the local surroundings and see just what “Dynamic Busan” has to offer.  Here’s what he sent back to headquarters:

JW: I felt a sense of responsibility as I went out with teammates Kamani Hill, Kiel McClung, and undercover Stuart Holden. This responsibility was one far more important than I have ever had on a U.S. Soccer trip off the field. I was to go explore “Dynamic Busan” and spare no details to the public. Well friends, here are my findings. 
While we were walking on the beach, I noticed several kids our age trying to spell out some word in the sand with their bodies. They only had one problem – they needed one more person to spell the word since one of them was taking the picture. Naturally one would assume I would take the picture and let them have their fun. Not this time, I quickly filled in with my well-sculpted body, and made the best darn letter “I” the city of Busan has ever seen. Once that was done, we resumed our walk along the beach.
After some more fun times on the beach, we decided to check out the mean streets on Busan and venture away from the beachside. Much to our dismay, the first street that we turned on had a fish market that stretched as far as the eye could see. It didn’t smell all that great, but we decided we really wanted to see some things that we knew we don’t normally get to see at home, so we took a deep breath and began our walk.
All of a sudden, Stuart noticed a tank full of live octopuses and thought it would be cool to take a picture with one. The only trouble was getting the lady to understand what we were saying. Finally, after Kamani’s sweet-talking and Stuart’s gelled highlights, we convinced her to hold it up for us. But that wasn’t enough for us. Stuart grabbed one of the tentacles and told Kamani and I to grab one too. Those little suckers on his legs can really suck! We laughed and laughed and then moved on down the road without finding anything as cool as live octopus.
Looking back to my adventure with the boys in Dynamic Busan, I would have to say I had a fun time exploring the city. Thank you to all the locals for all of your great memories!

Alley Cats

The morning after our battle with Brazil, we participated in our customary rejuvenation workout by the beach.  Again we went to the boardwalk and did a circuit of activities that was similar to the other day.  After the workout, we had the afternoon off to rest and do as we please around the hotel.
When we got back to the hotel, our excellent team manager, Erik Carlson, said that we had some options of things that we could do in the afternoon.  Already tired of “Hallway Curling” and “Hallway Bowling,” we jumped at the opportunity to have a laugh somewhere other than the modest borders of our respective rooms.  The options were to either see a movie, which would have probably been in Korean anyways, or go bowling.
After weighing both options, the votes were in:  Bowling took the decision with a unanimous 18-0 vote.  The issue was settled.
The alley was actually in the basement of our hotel, so no long bus ride was required to get to the lanes.  When we got there the first problem was getting bowling shoes.  We all stepped up to the counter and shouted out “nine and a half, 10, nine, eight and a half,” at the Korean employee.  She stared at us blankly, noticeably intimidated by the 18 kids shouting gibberish at her.  Not only was there a language and cultural barrier to fight through, but the shoe sizes here are completely different and don’t seem to have any connection to the American system.  In a trial and error fashion, we all got fitted correctly and hit the lanes.  Apparently I wear a size 23 here in Korean shoe sizes.  I guess that means that I have the same shoe size as Shaq and Andre the Giant.
Once we got settled in our lanes, it was all business.  I had sprained my wrist during the Brazil match, so I had to adopt the “squat and roll,” grandmother approach to the game.  I grabbed the lime green, six-pound ball and approached each roll like a toddler as I hoisted my fluorescent ball down the lane as if it were my favorite Tonka Truck.  It looked ridiculous, but was moderately effective as my score shows.

We played two rounds of group play and the top four overall scores went into the championship foursome.  The finals consisted of power bowler Will Hall, strike magnet Steve Curfman, steady Andrew Kartunen, and inconsistent Jamie Watson.  The finals were entertaining, but all four competitors posted higher scores in group play.  Will Hall won the championship round and the overall score with a whopping 181. 

1. Will Hall………………………………181
2. Steven Curfman……………………….178
3. Andrew Kartunen……………………..150
4. Jamie Watson………………………....146
5. Kiel McClung…………………………140
6. Nathan Sturgis………………………...135
7. Steve Purdy…………………………...132
8. Charlie Davies………………………...127
9. Kamani Hill…………………………...122
10. Quentin Westberg……………………..120
11. Tim Ward & Jules………...…………..114
12. John DiRaimondo & Stuart Holden…..110
13. Danny Szetela…………………………109
14. Memo Gonzalez………………………108
15. Nico Colaluca…………………………67
16. Will John………………………………Did not participate

JW:  Inconsistent?!?! Come on now Jules, I started off extremely well and then sort of faded from there. I will say the 146 was the game of my life. I was very pleased with getting the last seat in the bowl-off seeing as how I went from stud to dud as the competition wore on. I think  the Chevrolet Man of the Match had to have been Will Hall for his dominant 181. He had this form that was poetry in motion to an up-and-coming bowler like myself. There were several times when I questioned whether or not I belong on the same lane as him. Anyways, his score of 181, along with Curf’s 150 and Karty’s 158 crushed my score of 91. They laughed at me quite a bit and made several comments about my inability to get a strike in the bowl-off. We had a really good time hanging out and having fun with all of the friendly competition involved. Thanks boys for the fun day, and thank you Will for being my new bowling idol! 

Bye For Now

I hate to run off so soon, but that is going to be all for today’s episode of The Valentin Chronicles.  I hope that you enjoyed the show and come back again soon.  This will be the last Jules/Jamie special due to the close of the tournament, so I would like to send a special thank you to my good buddy and partner in crime, Jamie Watson.
JW:  I want to say I’m going to miss you a lot, but I know my boy Jules will do a good job keeping the Chronicles funny. Hopefully this isn’t goodbye – maybe it’s just see you later! Take care, and be good everyone! Be sure to email Jules at thevalentinchronicles@ussoccercom and let them know just how much you want me back! So long everyone! 

Make sure to stay tuned to for the final issue of The Valentin Chronicles from here in Busan, South Korea.  I hope to see you again soon!

- Jules & Jamie