Off the Ball, a chronicle of the U.S. Men's National Team and their journey through the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup as seen from the unique perspective of U.S. defender and SoCal native Carlos Bocanegra.
I. On The Road Again
What up? We're back. Long travels across the world and a few club games later, we have returned to national team camp. This time we are coming to you live from Boston, Mass., the city by the sea (or whatever they call it). We have set up shop in Providence, R.I., which is just about 25 minutes outside of Foxboro, where we will be playing our games. All the states are so close together up here, it doesn't really matter where we stay because we are a half hour away from everything. Once again, they have put us up in a nice area. We have a sweet three-story mall attached to the hotel and lots of restaurants around for our entertainment. This time around we will be covering the CONCACAF Gold Cup, our regional championship. Once again, I'll have interviews, updates about players and practice sessions, and whatever else I can think of. Unfortunately, there probably won't be any late night golf games in the hotel this trip. Sorry.
II. The Playing Field
OK, so we have some new faces in camp from the Confederations Cup. I'll let you read the roster to figure out who is here. We are training at the Revs practice facility, which is an old insane asylum. Kinda weird, but they have a great field. Today we had a warm-up as usual, with some cone work and laps around the field. After that we broke into two teams and played a small possession game of 8-v-8. When we wrapped that up, the defenders and attackers broke off onto separate sides of the field, with the attackers working on crossing and finishing with the goalies, and the defenders working on our shape and building out of the back To finish up we played a half-field game to big goals. The weather wasn't a boiling cauldron like yesterday, and we even had a little rain.
III. The Back Four (Holla Back)
I'm going to talk to a different set of roommates every day, getting their responses to four questions. We'll see how the answers differ from room to room. Today we've haven't traveled far, as I'm talking to my roomie on the road, Danny Califf. Additionally, we have the man who is #8 on the field, but #1 in our hearts, Earnie Stewart.
Danny has a been a long-time buddy of mine. We've played together since the U-18's, and we're both from California. We have similar interests, and I know him pretty well. He's married to Erin, and he decided to have the wedding during the MLS season, so I wasn't able to attend. What a nice guy.
Earnie Stewart is a great all-around guy. I've gotten to know him a lot better on these two trips. He's the epitome of a professional, and he sets the standard for the older guys as well as the young guys. We look up to him on and off the field, which demonstrates what a quality individual he is.
1. Traveling all over the world, what countries' women do it for you?
Danny: Well, Mr. Bocanegra, of all the countries I've been to, I'd have to say the women of Spain and Brazil are the best, because they have the nice olive-toned skin, lot's of blonde hair and green eyes. It's very exotic. Of course, blonde hair and blue eyes is my favorite (you're welcome honey...).
Earnie: I'd have to say the Dutch women, for sure. Also, I went to Venezuela, and those women are fantastic. I might get into trouble on that one, but they're beautiful!
2. Who is your favorite athlete to watch in a sport other than soccer?
Danny: I don't know watch a ton of other sports, to be honest. The only other sport I really like to watch is surfing. Kelly Slader does amazing things on a surfboard. And he dated Pamela Anderson. Can't beat that.
Earnie: Michael Jordan. He's the best athlete ever to play a sport and to be so dominant.
3. Since you're both married men, tell us about your most romantic date. Also, how do you serenade the ladies?
Danny: Normally, I don't have to use all the tricks. I rely on my superior intellect and good looks. Usually, that makes the women swoon. I think the most romantic dates a lot of times are the ones you don't have planned. For me, my most romantic date I ever had was the first date Erin and I ever went on. We went to the beach, and just hung out and walked around. It was really cool. I definitely had her hooked after that!
Earnie: This is going to be boring, but my most romantic date is probably the day I proposed to my wife. We went out to dinner after the game we played against Colombia in World Cup '94. We went to the hills of L.A., and I proposed to her. As far as charming the ladies, let me tell you this: the time I met my wife, I had made a tape of all different kinds of music, the stuff I like. I had everything hooked up for the ride we took to the movies, which was about 20 minutes. I had all kinds of music on it, and I sang a little bit a long the way. That did it for me.
4. What three people in history would you invite to dinner?
Earnie: Michael Jordan, for sure. Elizabeth Hurley. And I'd invite my Nac Breda teammate Ferry Van Vliet, who died in a car crash two years ago.
IV. Quote of the Day
"I think I lost my ball in the rough."
-- Kasey Keller, musing about the length of the grass at the Brown University training field.
Well, another city, another mall to cruise. Send questions, comments to me at email@example.com. See you in a few ...