Men's Soccer: Day 4 In England
Aug. 20, 2004
7:43 a.m.-- Wake up. The Terps open their window to find another dreary, rainy day in England.
8-8:30 a.m.-- The team makes its way to breakfast. It becomes apparent that Craig Salvati is a morning person, as he shouts a command to start everyone's walk to breakfast. Also, assistant coach Brian Pensky determines that if a movie were to be made about the cafeteria lady's life, an aged Robin Williams would play her.
9:20-11:20-- The team trains in weather that varies from horrible to miserable, depending on the degree in which the rain persists. However, it is a successful and productive practice session.
11:40-12:10-- On his first day with us, Eric our tour guide told us that he notoriously underestimated time and distance, so that we should take whatever he says, multiply it by two and add 10. This was in full effect as the team made its way from the university to Old Trafford Stadium, a trip he said would take 10 minutes but ended up being closer to a half hour.
12:15-1:20-- The team arrives at Old Trafford Stadium, home of Manchester United, for lunch at the Red Cafe. The guys choose between Cajun chicken and burgers, and it's easily the tastiest meal of the trip so far. The waiters and waitresses all wear Man U jerseys as they serve the food, and a highlight tape of some Manchester's greatest players runs while the team eats its meal.
1:20-2:30-- The team takes a tour of Old Trafford Stadium, learning some facts and figures about the historic grounds. (For those who don't know, Old Trafford Stadium is to soccer what Yankee Stadium is to baseball.) The stadium holds roughly 68,000 people - 40,000 of which are season ticket holders - and there are plans in the works for expansion.
For diehard fans, you can get married at Old Trafford, as they now have a license to perform ceremonies. For those who are already dead, you can have your cremated ashes spread on a certain area of the field.
The tour starts in the stands, and then makes its way down closer to the field. Now just a few rows off the field, the team looks back to the stands and sees the words "Manchester United" spelled out on the seats. It provides an excellent photo opportunity.
The team then made its way through the old players' entrance and is steps away from the field. Here there is a Manchester United crest emblazoned on a brick wall, which allows for more photos. Also, the team gathers for a team picture.
The tour continues into the media room - where players and coaches are taken after the game to talk to the print media - and then down to the players' lounge, complete with huge televisions and a place for their pre-game meals.
In the players' lounge, the team is greeted by Manchester United's starting goalkeeper, Tim Howard - a friend of Terp goalkeeper coach Rob Vartughian. The two of them chat before Howard heads off to do an interview, and the team shakes hands with the goalkeeper as they make their way to the last stop on the tour.
The last stop is the opposing team's locker room. It's a modest locker room, with showers and a refrigerator, and a tiny 12-inch television in one corner. The guide reveals that the Manchester locker room is a bit more complete and includes a hot tub, but that no one with a cut may get in it after a game (for fear of disease), and that no one who has earned a red card can get in it, either (for punishment).
2:30-3:15 p.m.-- The Terps shop at the Manchester United Megastore and stock up on all of their Man U gear, as well as shop for gifts for girlfriends, dads, moms, brothers and sisters in the process. One has to guess that the Terps spent several actual pounds, as in weight (not the currency), in the Megastore as each player walks out with a bag full of stuff. Abe Thompson is the most practical, buying a Manchester United umbrella.
3:15-3:50-- The team buses back to the university, and the training session this morning and the jet lag seems to have taken a toll as most catch a nap on the ride. However, the nap is short lived as the team is set to begin its second training session in just 10 minutes.
4-6 p.m.-- Evening training session. The Terps are able to practice nearly rain-free - there is some light drizzling, but after playing through the downpour earlier, it seems practically non-existent.
6:15-7 p.m.-- Dinner at the University of Manchester cafeteria. On the menu tonight is chicken, several types of pasta, potatoes and carrots. It seems as if another camp is taking place on campus, as the cafeteria is inhabited by rambunctious 12- and 13-year old boys and girls.
After dinner, most players head to the computer lab or to the pay phones to call home. The team is excused for the evening, and most will spend it hanging out in their rooms.
Check back to www.umterps.com tomorrow for another update, as the Terps will head back to Old Trafford Stadium, this time to see Manchester United in its home-opener against Norwich City.