Men's Soccer: Day 5 In England
Aug. 22, 2004
9:00 a.m.-- The Terps benefit from a complete night of sleep and rest as they get a late wake up this morning.
9:30-11:15 a.m.-- Realizing the team needs a lighter day, today's training session consists solely of a game of soccer-tennis, a game in which teams of two juggle and volley the ball over a net consisting of (for today, at least) a piece of tape that is suspended by chairs roughly seven feet apart.
After rounds of elimination, the grand finale pits the team of Sasho Cirovski and Maurice Edu against Jason Garey and A.J. Godbolt. A competitive game throughout, Cirovski's competitive nature comes through as he contests a call midway through the game. Tied 6-6 with the game on the line, Edu tries a quick header to catch Godbolt and Garey off guard, but the ball misses wide and Godbolt and Garey are crowned the undisputed Maryland Soccer-Tennis champions of the world, or so they say. Included in the highlights of the game is a winner from Godbolt in which he leaves his feet to make a kick and the ball curves sharply over the net and on the line for the score.
11:30 a.m.-- Brunch consisting of eggs, beans and French fries, is served at the University of Manchester by a pleasant, mustachioed lady.
12:30-3 p.m.-- The team buses to Strafford Centre, where they shop at a mall for a few hours. There, Cirovski is finally able to get a satisfactory cup of coffee at a Starbucks. (Cirovski's quest for coffee started on the first morning of the trip, and every morning thereafter he would rattle off a list of things he would give just for that good old American cup of coffee.)
The players pick up more souvenirs and assorted gifts in the huge, two level mall. Since it is match day for Manchester United, virtually everyone is wearing a Man U jersey - infants, kids, men and women. Craig Salvati comments that all of the jerseys are the new ones that just hit stores only three weeks ago. Apparently, the natives wouldn't be caught dead in an old Man U jersey.
3:15-7:45 p.m.-- The team makes its way to the stadium and receives its tickets for the match. Before heading into the stadium for the game that begins at 5:15, the group walks around to take in the sights and the atmosphere, and of course, more shopping. Popular items around the stadium are scarfs, photos and posters. It's apparent that Abe Thompson is coming back to the states with a lot more than he came with as he bags drape over his arms at every opportunity.
The tickets for the team are scattered throughout the stadium, and American music like "The Boys Are Back In Town" and "Country Roads" plays while the teams warm up.
They say that Old Trafford Stadium is the "Theater of Dreams," and it is guaranteed that every player on the Maryland team, for at least a second, thinks about running out onto a picture-perfect pitch in front of 67,812 loyal fans. They think about what it would be like to have their names woven into songs to the tunes of "Skip To My Lou," "When The Saints Come Marching In" or "You Are My Sunshine." Have you ever been serenaded by 67,000 people in unison? They weren't sitting there with their mouths agape fantasizing about playing in this atmosphere, but it is fair to say that those thoughts ran through their brains for at least a second.
Man U prevails in the game defeating Norwich 2-1. The game-winner came on an unbelievable goal in which the Man U player chested a ball at the top of the box and then one-timed it against the far post for the score.
Thoughts on the game range from "awesome" to "amazing" to "surreal." The atmosphere in the stadium is difficult to describe. Passionate is a good word, but it lacks the intensity that is in the air. Fanatic is too strong, because it has a negative connotation. The correct word lies somewhere in between.
8:15 p.m.-- Following the bus ride back, dinner is served at the University of Manchester.
After dinner, the team meets for 20 minutes before being excused for the night. The next week will be busy for the Terps, starting with tomorrow when they play their second game of the trip and then bus four hours to Glasgow.
Check back to umterps.com for more updates on the men's soccer team's trip to Europe.