August 20, 2010

Men's soccer nears end of overseas trip

The CUA men’s soccer team is currently in England preparing for the start of the 2010 season.  The Cardinals departed campus on August 13th and arrived overseas first thing the very next day.  Head coach Travis Beauchamp will be keeping a blog throughout the trip with a series of updates.  Check out his latest entry!

Hangin’ with the celebrities – August 20
Wayne Rooney is a Cardinals fan.....o.k., maybe not a fan but he definitely knows about Catholic University at this point. I'll start from the beginning.

Yesterday we had our free day here at Mottram Hall. We had heard all of the fuss about the big time stars that stay here and the famous "footballers" that live in the area; this turned out to be true. We had a light training session here at the hotel at noon for about an hour. At about 1 o'clock we broke for the afternoon. The coaching staff had a tee time scheduled for 1:55 at the course here. You have to go past the clubhouse to get to the practice field.

At any rate, a couple of the guys were still out on the field getting in some extra work. As we got over there to start putting on the practice green we ran into Wayne Rooney, Wes Brown, and John O'Shea. These are all Manchester United players and it would be like running into Derek Jeter, A-Rod, and Jorge Pasada in the States.

Before we could settle in to realize what was going on the four remaining guys went sprinting past to get their cameras. As word spread throughout the hotel guys were waiting at the turn and had the chance to get autographs and take pictures with these players. It was certainly a highlight of the trip. Golf was not, so we won't mention scores. However, all of the players that wanted were able to get out and play at least a little. The rough over here is unbelievable!

We woke early today and headed into Manchester. The first stop was Old Trafford, the home stadium of Manchester United. Some of our guys are big fans and it was a great experience. From there we went to downtown Manchester and had a couple of hours to poke around and have lunch. Then it was on to the largest children's hospital in the U.K., Manchester's Children Hospital. Heading in I think some of the players were a little hesitant. After getting involved it was a great time for us and for the children (it seemed so anyway!).

We broke up into four different groups and covered a lot of the hospital. It is massive with 14 different wards and 371 total beds. We gave out some t-shirts and talked soccer with all of the little boys and girls. After spending a couple of hours we headed back to the hotel.

The last training session of the trip was this evening at five. We again saw the United players out playing golf so they are certainly not shy about getting 18 in during the season. The practice went well and now we have our last evening prior to heading back to London. The Arsenal/Blackpool game tomorrow will be our last of the trip. We can only hope that the game is better than the Chelsea match last weekend. Also tomorrow will be the close of the trip. It will be bittersweet for the guys as we have had a great time but are ready to get back and start the season.

More to come… 

Big win…now it’s time to relax – August 19
Wednesday was our first full day here in the northwest part of England. We ate early in order to depart the hotel by 9. We had a training session scheduled at Finch Farm for 10 AM. Finch Farm is the new home of Everton. They have combined both their youth academy and first team into one training ground and it is very impressive.

I must admit we were also hoping that we might catch a glimpse of the first team and the U.S. number 1, Tim Howard.......it was not to be. However, the session was put on by two of the coaches from the academy and it was done very well. They definitely have an idea as to what they want to see and I am happy to report that our guys impressed them with their work rate and ability.

The coaching staff got a special treat after the practice as a few academy coaches gave us a tour of the facility while the guys showered. The security was pretty strict (they had two guards on hand for the entire practice) so getting a look around was special for us.

After Everton we headed into Liverpool for a couple of hours. There was lots to do so after the bus doors opened the guys split in all directions. Some went to the Beatles museum while others took advantage of a shopping center with all sorts of sports gear (mainly Liverpool and Everton).  Then it was back to the hotel for a 6:00 PM kickoff.

We played a team from the UK called First Point. This is mainly made up of younger (17-19) players that are looking to go to school in the states. We took control of the match early and were able to get a much-needed win with the final being 5-0. Obviously we will all be very happy to come home with a victory. We were presented with an opportunity to play again today but declined.

As one could imagine, the guys were tired last night and there will surely be some heavy legs today.  Thankfully, we have a much-needed day off.  There are a number of things to do on the grounds of the hotel.  We will practice very light around noon and then I think most of the guys may play 18 holes on the golf course.  That's what the coaches are doing anyway!!

Talk to you soon….

Nice digs in Manchester - August 18
We've barely had a chance to breathe since leaving London yesterday morning. The four-hour trip up to Manchester was nice and we all had the chance to see a different side of the country. We arrived here at Mottram Hall about 3:30. No offense to the nice Holiday Inn we had in London but this place is sweeeeet! It's a little more isolated and in the country.  However, we have our private room to dine in plus a field on site. We have learned this is the same place where international teams come to stay when playing Manchester United.

After a quick turnaround we headed to the Northwest corner about 45 minutes away and right on the Welsh border to a town called Chester. There we played Chester Nomads FC. The game was what we had originally thought of English soccer.......very physical. It was anything but a friendly. We gave up a goal about halfway through the first half and had to then play from behind. We managed to get it back right before the half to make it even at 1-1.

Also, before the half there were a couple of hard fouls and some slight pushing and shoving before cooler heads prevailed. The half came at just the right time and the second half wasn't calm but certainly more about the actual game. In the second half we clearly had the better of the play. We were able to switch the point of attack and they were content to sit back and absorb pressure. Although we had a number of good chances we couldn't capitalize. In the end, another 1-1 tie.

The good news is that we are still undefeated on the trip, the bad news is we haven't won one and I thought we had a chance to win both. We got back to the hotel last night, ate, and went to sleep with a long day ahead. It's been a great day so far and we are heading out to the field now to play our third and final match of the tour.

More to come....

Cardinals play their first game - August 16
Today was another busy day for the squad here in London.  We started the day early by going to the Thames River for a cruise.  We felt a little like being at home as it took us a good hour-and-a-half to go about five miles.  The streets were crowded during our first workday here!

We arrived for the cruise near the Parliament building.  It is actually in Westminster and not London as was thought in the first post.  This was realized when we actually entered London along the river.  I think the guys enjoyed seeing the city from the water and we got to see the famous London Bridge and the Tower of London.  We stopped at the ladder and grabbed a quick lunch before going out to the new Wembley Stadium.
More traffic found us getting to Wembley so we ran a little late but they were very accommodating.  Wembley is a massive arena that reminded us of some of the American football venues back home.  It seats 95 thousand!  It is also the home of the English Football Association.  It was a great tour and the guys really enjoyed getting to go to the locker rooms and seeing the field.

Next it was back to the hotel for an early dinner and then to our first match.   This was played out past Fulham against the Metropolitan Football Association.  It was a great game and played at a high pace that surprised the guys at first.  However, after settling in we were able to get in behind the back line and score to take a lead in the first half.  We gave it back midway through the second, however.  Then after good chances on both sides we settled for a tie.  Overall a preseason game for both teams but a lot of good came from it.

Now it's on to Manchester in the morning and our second game tomorrow evening. Everyone is now doing well and we are looking forward to the change in scenery.  The tour so far has not disappointed and we have been extremely busy. However, there's no stopping the boys at this point!

More to come…

A great start to our trip: August 13-15
After what seemed like three days we finally arrived at Heathrow Airport early Saturday morning.  One would be hard pressed to find anyone who got more than a couple hours of sleep on the plane. The excitement that we had getting aboard in D.C. had worn off and the entire travel party wanted to find the nearest bed and shut things down.  Not to be.  We were picked up at the airport by the travel company that put the tour together (XL Travel) and went straight to practice.

We spent a couple of hours at the fields at Harlington, which is the former training facility for Chelsea and the current training grounds for the Queen Park Rangers (QPR).  We did watch a few minutes of the reserve team practice before getting on the bus and heading into London.  We then arrived at Covent Garden for lunch.  After a couple of hours it was back on the bus as we made out way to the hotel.

We checked into the hotel and rested briefly before heading out to Stamford Bridge for the Chelsea game.  The travel company had arranged for us to be in suites before and after the game.  This was first class and we all took advantage of the experience.  The game didn't disappoint either.  Chelsea beat visiting West Brom 6-0.  This gave us plenty of goals and hopefully an idea of how to score them!

After the match we went back to the hotel and everyone was ready for the first night's sleep. It felt like we had been here for a week given all the travel and everything else we had done.

On Sunday we woke early for a walking tour of London. We saw all the major sites in downtown - Parliament, Big Ben, 10 Downing Street, etc.  We had a little too much fun though, and only gave ourselves a half hour window for lunch.  After lunch we came back to the hotel for a quick change and then off to the home of Fulham.  This was certainly a highlight.  Although the first team was off after having played on Saturday it was a fantastic experience to be at the training grounds.

We had two coaches from the Fulham Youth Academy come out and run the training for a good two hours.  The guys shook off what little jet lag was left and they looked pretty sharp towards the end of the session.  We also learned that our first match here is Monday night versus the Metropolitan Police force.  Apparently the term Metropolitan Police is used lightly as there are only about half of the members that are on patrol.  It will certainly be a physical game and I know the guys are looking forward to playing.

The day ended on Sunday with a trip back into downtown to watch the Liverpool/Arsenal game.  Some of the guys used this time to go to "Lilly Whites", a very large sports store with all the Premier League gear that you could want.  Most of those guys missed the entire match shopping.  This led our tour guide to address the ladies as we got back onto the bus.

Finally back to the hotel and to a local Italian place for dinner before heading in for the night.  Monday is the last day in London and then we head north to Manchester on Tuesday. We have a very strong stretch of three days in a row with games played each day.

Should be very interesting, I’ll check in soon!

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