Thanks For Coming!
Good afternoon friends! I thank you for joining me for today’s special episode of The Valentin Chronicles, which is being broadcast to you live from Busan, South Korea. Lets get right into things today.
First, it is fitting to congratulate coach Arena and the MNT for their 6-2 aggregate victory over Grenada, which keeps our nation rolling towards Germany 2006. Great job guys, keep up the good work!
As I said in my last installment, I have a couple surprises in store for my fans this week. Saying that, I would like to welcome my good buddy, teen heartthrob, the often replicated but never duplicated, Jamie Watson, to The Valentin Chronicles. You know how much I love my professional wrestling and I am overjoyed that now I will be able to battle in the tag team division like the Legion of Doom or The Dudley Boys. Anyways, I would like to officially welcome him as my tag team partner for the rest of the trip here in Korea. TAG!
First off I would like to say thanks to my friend, and now partner, Jules for most of my previous fame on ussoccer.com. With that being said, I feel there is a certain need to clear up some things that were previously said on The Valentin Chronicles. My tag team partner thought it was a great idea to make it seem as though I was a “ladies man” or “teen heartthrob” amongst the locals here in the cozy confines on Busan. However, I regret to inform everyone that I am far from that. Yours truly is happily taken by a wonderful gal named Jess and am trying my hardest not to get the reputation of a “heartbreaker” by disappointing the Korean girls. I believe that despite some of Jules’ not so nice decision to publicly announce some of my not so bright moments, he really is the best tag team partner out there! TAG!
Jamie recently did a piece for ussoccer.com on the PDL and the U.S. Open Cup. Before he started writing the article, he got on his cell phone and gave me a ring for advice on what approach to take in writing his article. I can remember I was sitting on the recliner in my bedroom and he asked me, “Jules, what can I do to make the people like me like they like you?” That question gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling in my gizzards. But then I thought about it and replied, “Who said that people like me?”
Jules’ Note: All of Jamie’s words appear in the italic font. Also, “TAG!” will appear any time that the speaker switches as if we were in a Tag Team Wrestling Match.
18 vs. a Nation
Last night we lost 1-0 to the home South Korean team in front of somewhere between 22,000 and 1,000,000 screaming Korean fans. Okay, it was really somewhere around 37,000, but when “The Reds” got really fired up, it seemed like millions. Plus, 37,000 is not too shabby for a U-20 game. By the way, these are only estimates, so don’t hold me to these numbers. The official attendance was never actually given, but should be released soon.
It was a tough game, filled with ups and downs – one of those physically demanding games. It’s safe to say that not a single player for either side walked off the field without any aches or pains. Both teams defended well against the opposition and created dangerous attacking chances.
The Koreans were able to take the game midway through the second half with a header off a service from the right side of midfield. The ball was played from the center of midfield, diagonally towards the right corner flag for a Korean winger to run on to. The right mid got to the ball first and firmly served a near-post ball to a streaking Korean forward. That forward got to the ball first on the transition and redirected it into the net past Quentin Westberg, who had already come up with a brilliant PK save earlier in the match.
That lone goal was enough to be the difference between the two teams that night, even though the game could have gone either way at different points throughout the match.
Foreign CuisineEvery time that I go on foreign trips, my friends and family, who know how much I love food, always ask me one question: “So, how’s the food?” That being said, I figured that I would do a little segment on the food here in Korea. So, here goes nothing:
For me, breakfast is, by far, the best meal of the day. I lay in bed at night, sick with insomnia, waiting to wake up in the morning and go to breakfast. Its headlining feature must be the hot, fresh omelets that are made to order by the various chefs. The chefs are extremely meticulous about the preparation and each omelet is cooked to perfection. Players can choose from bacon, onions, red and green peppers, mushrooms, carrots, and choose to personalize each individual creation.
The hotel also serves pancakes, bacon, sausage, french toast, and of course white rice. Fresh fruit consisting of watermelon, oranges, kiwi, and awesome pineapple is also a great call for the morning. They also have tater-tots sometimes, which are big time as well. One day they had fresh waffles that were absolutely breathtaking. Topping off the morning meal is the happy sounds of the band Aqua that plays in the background at every meal. Let me tell you, there is nothing better than a nice breakfast and the trendy sound of “Barbie Girl.” TAG!
I agree! Nothing gets me going in the morning like Aqua does, and for that, I thank the hotel DJs. Keep up the good work! The food here has been great so far. The one thing that has surprised me so far is that rice has been served at every meal. I guess I never realized how appetizing rice was at 9:00 AM until I tried it. Along with having rice 24/7, some of us have gotten the chance to try such fancy foods as caviar and other fresh seafood. I think several of the guys have gone with the “just eat it before you find out with it is you’re eating” method and have had some mixed results. Overall, I think the experience has been a really interesting one, but nonetheless one that none of us will ever forget. I’ll send it back to my better half for more commentary on the fine dining here. TAG!
For lunch and dinner there is a wide variety of foods to choose from. I like the fact that they have traditional Korean food as an option, so that players can get a taste of the orient, but if that is not your desired prerogative, they have American food to fall back on. The hotel has all types of sushi, raw and cooked salmon, weird black stuff, and caviar to choose from. A lot of the Korean food is questionable, but I have seen most players try it at some point.
All of our staff, loves the sushi here and speak of how it much better and fresher than the ‘States supply of sushi. Charlie Davies apprehensively tried his first sushi roll the other day and said it was pretty good. John DiRaimondo raves of these shrimp and wasabi treats and Quentin Westberg was not shy to try all of the Korean foods. Danny Szetela loves the sushi choices here, as his plate is always decorated with several white circles. Then there are guys like Nico Colaluca, Tim Ward, and Memo Gonzalez, who have never even considered trying the native food. Will John refuses to eat rice without soy sauce and Steve Curfman bravely tested a watery, strange looking crab soup that he said turned out to be really good.
If the Korean food is not your thing, the hotel also serves an assortment of American food. Each meal has spaghetti and meat sauce, chicken, white rice, and some sort of french fries. Served in a cycle are beef, turkey, and other feature meats. They also serve special features such as popcorn shrimp, spring rolls, potato wedges, and other goodies that make cameo appearances. Each meal also has an assortment of fruit juices ranging from orange juice, to grape juice, to pineapple juice.
That’s the basic rundown of what we’re eating here. It’s pretty good and there is a lot to choose from, which is good. Now that my Mom and my Grandma know that I’m eating well, I’m sure that they will be able to sleep a little better.
Another one of today’s surprises is the reintroduction of my world-famous “Undercover Jules” feature, where I secretly scrutinize and expose idiosyncrasies, ignorance, and the true nature of my teammates. One of my classic “Undercover Jules” segments featured my associate Jamie in a not-so-bright moment concerning a toaster, cheese bread, and some metal utensils. TAG! I still say at the time it seemed like a brilliant idea. Who doesn’t love fresh cheese toast in the morning? TAG!
Regardless of my cohort’s past stupidity, we are here to expose another one of our teammates. Today’s unsuspecting “Undercover Jules/Jamie” victim is Clemson University’s poster boy Stuart Holden. TAG!
This is the part where I give the great state of Texas a shout out seeing as how Stuie – as I like to call him – is from Houston and I am from Dallas. Even though he is from the second best city in Texas, I never held that against him before we met and never once prejudged his insuperiority of being from #2 best Houston – and yes, “insuperiority” IS made up so don’t go looking in Websters for that one. TAG!
Stu is a relative newcomer to the national team program, but he is an asset in the middle with his first touch and clever ideas on the ball. He can play simple when the game calls for it, but also has lethal footskills when called upon. It would be easy to prejudge Stu as the “cute little teddy bear” of the team. This may be partially due to the gelled highlights in his hair, or his beautiful smile, but I assure you that once he steps inside those white lines, he is nothing but a fiery competitor.
Off the field, Stu is one of the funniest guys on the team. He has a witty, quick-thinking sense of humor that never sleeps. TAG!
One thing that separates Stuie from the rest is his very unique and trend setting personal website. The one feature I cannot wait for is “Ask Stuie.” According to our very computer literate companion, he says very soon visitors of his website will be able to ask Stuie a variety of questions ranging from normal everyday questions, all the way to “Just how much gel should I put in my hair to make it looks like yours?”
It is my personal goal in life to be on the writing staff of www.sholden.com and one day, just maybe one day, the editors will give me the nod and let me have a go at it to fulfill my lifelong dream. Anyways folks, enough with me and my petty hopes and dreams, we need to shift the focus back onto our unsuspecting victim. Despite all his appealing qualities of nice hair and teddy bear like qualities, Stuie is a great guy and has made our trip a lot more fun off the field and has added a new dynamic to our team on the field. TAG!
I’m sorry Stu, but the people crave the inside scoop. I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s edition of “Undercover Jules/Jamie” and make sure to read our next installment of The Valentin Chronicles to see who our next innocent target will be.
Showdown on the Beach
On Wednesday, we went to the beach, once again, for a jog and stretch as a part of our regeneration after our Tuesday night’s game. When we got to the shore, there was an immediate raise in temperature. We took off our shirts in an attempt to get a little sun, something that many guys on our team desperately need, and began a light jog down the boardwalk.
All of a sudden, we saw a large group of Korean school kids running towards us carrying, flags and yelling wildly. We were all puzzled as to what in the world they were doing. In an impulsive move, we decided to have a little fun with this stampede of students. Then, we sprinted out onto the sand and in traditional Red Rover fashion, we formed a long chain that stretched from the sea to the boardwalk – nobody could get past us.
It was a showdown for the ages, like a medieval jousting match between two champions or William Wallace and his men from the classic movie Braveheart. We all began to move ahead on towards the students in a game of “chicken,” jogging at first and then moving into a full sprint before long. Both groups ran towards each other, us bellowing loudly like wild apes with our arms flailing wildly and the school kids peacefully trotting, minding their own business. Finally, we met in the middle.
Led by Undercover’s Stuart Holden, we sprinted right in between, ruining their double-file lines and perfect organization. All the school kids gave us high-fives and peace signs as we ran between them and cheered for us, as many of them knew that we were the American team. We cheered back.
It was a really random, impulsive thing and you had to be there to get the full effect of the event. It was absolutely hilarious to all who witnessed out giant game of Red Rover, Red Rover.
After our game of “chicken,” coach Cle Kooiman and coach Thomas Rongen got us together and led a more organized jog and stretch. We ran up and down the boardwalk to get the lactic acid out of our legs and try to run off some of the aches and pains from the game. We broke a good sweat and ended the morning recovery session with a two-minute dip in the brisk, choppy water of the Sea of Japan. TAG!
My partner summed it up well. That impromptu game of chicken could easily be one of the top 5 things I’ve ever been apart of in my life! The sheer joy on every single one of our faces was indescribable. Then the dip in the ocean was not quite what I thought it would be to say the least. If you’re into really salty tasting water, below zero temperature, and seaweed galore, then I guess you would be on my partner’s side and say that sounds exciting! All in all, the workout on the beach was an awesome one, with some events that could only be written in some fairy tale.
Until Next Time…
I want to thank everyone for reading along. I hope that you enjoyed this issue of the Jules/Jamie Chronicles brought to you by ussoccer.com! I’ll give it back to my partner right as he is about to jump off the top rope and get the 1-2-3. Until next time, take care. TAG!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s action packed edition of this special Chronicle. Make sure to stay tuned into ussoccer.com to see updates from here in beautiful Busan, South Korea. Until next time, enjoy life and make sure to join us again soon. Thanks folks!
-Jules & Jamie