I arrived in Amsterdam on July 2nd and immediately headed to the town of Laren for our teams 10 day pre-tournament camp. Our team took the field three times, yes three times a day for full practices in the blazing summer sun. Some of the highlights of the camp included riding as a team on bikes to practice and taking a team trip into Amsterdam to watch the World Cup Soccer finals with 180 000 screaming fans.
We arrived in Liverpool on July 12th and headed to Manchester later that day. We moved into our dorm rooms and had a light practice in the Manchester rains. There has not been a day that we have not seen rain. Blue skies means it will rain in a couple hours. We arranged a game with Canada for July 14 and our players enjoyed getting beat by the same players the see on TV and all over the internet. It was great to see Duch and all the other NLL players on Team Canada. I am pretty sure Duch was scoreless in that game, at least that is the way I saw it.
Our first game was a loss to Wales. Conditions we terrible with sideways rain and a sloppy field. I think our players were a little nervous and it showed. We rebounded by beating Argentina and Austria. The way the tournament is set up forced us to score more goals that we would have liked but we had to do what we did in order to move on in the games.
We had an easy game against Spain in a World Cup Soccer rematch that secured us a date with Wales for the right to move on and play the 3rd place team from the Blue division (Likely England, Australia or Japan). Our rematch against Wales was easily the most exciting game of the tournament so far. Both teams played great and fought for every inch on the field. It ended tied and moved onto overtime. After two 4 minute halves the game was still tied and moved into a 4 minute sudden death frame. We thought we had lost when Wales missed an empty net and their team stormed the field. The ball was on the outside of the net and their team was flagged for too many men on the pitch. We gained the ball and moved down the field and scored with only seconds left.
Tonight we play Japan for the right to play Canada or the USA. Although we are huge underdogs our players won’t be backing down in this game.
It has been great to see Eric Martin and Paul Rabil around the grounds and last night I met with Eric at a local pub to talk about defense and meat pies. Lewis Ratcliff has been spending most of his time in the food hall where he won two chicken wing eating contests.
With the exception of the ever changing weather and the lack of anything not fried at the food court this has been an amazing trip. It is awesome to see teams from every corner of the world all playing the same game.
Talk to you soon.