Jamie's Journal: The wheels on the bus
Welcome to today's very exciting edition of Jamie's Journal. I'm writing to you from Monte Gordo, Portugal, and so far the team has had a very interesting trip to say the least. So let's not waste any more time and let's dive right in. Sit back, prop your feet up, and set the mouse on the scroll down button and get ready to enjoy a very eventful edition of Jamie's Journal.
Just getting to the hotel
Just getting to hotel was such an adventure that I could have very easily written today's entire entry on the journey here, but instead I'll condense it down into the most memorable parts. Many players' day started mid to early morning on Thursday, February 24, which consisted of a flight to Newark Liberty International Airport. This is normally only a three- of four-hour flight, except for today. Apparently Mother Nature decided to drop 6 to 8 inches of snow in the Newark airport area causing many flights to be delayed and resulting in my flight from Dallas circling above the airport while in the air for about an hour and a half. After a lengthy layover we were finally in the air and on our way to Portugal!
So, after we got all excited about finally starting the seven-hour flight to Portugal, the pilot came over the intercom and told us that we would be sitting on the runway waiting for clearance for an estimated 25 minutes and that we were just going to be waiting for clearance. After waiting for the go-ahead, we took off and were finally in the air, running only two hours behind on our scheduled arrival time. Yeah, exactly, ONLY two hours.
A lot of the guys chose many different activities to do while on the plane. For instance, Jason Kreis, DJ Countess, and I turned the three tray tables in Row 32 into a makeshift poker table and went at it in a fierce three-person game of Texas Hold 'em. (Of course, we did not gamble for money.) It got so intense that Jason lost his temper about three different times and threw the cards in the air, turning our game of Hold 'em into 52-card pickup.
Other than turning rows into card tables, some people, like our equipment manager Braden Chandler, decided they needed the help of sleeping pills to ensure they would be knocked out for the duration of the flight. What no one had anticipated was that right before the pills knock you out, they make you extremely drowsy and almost incompetent. Braden fell under both of those categories and decided to turn around in his seat and wave, almost princess-like or beauty pageant-like, to everyone behind him. (Maybe he had already started dreaming and he was dreaming of himself being named Mrs. America or something) Anyway, whatever he was dreaming, or thinking of, it caused several laughs and was very memorable.
After we finally landed at 10 a.m. on Friday (Portugal time), we got our bags, cleared customs, and got situated on the bus and braced ourselves for what was supposed to be a 4-hour bus ride. After grabbing a quick bite to eat, and cruising down the Portuguese highway for about 3.5 hours of the ride, the most shocking moment of the day came, hands down. All of a sudden there was a loud noise and a terrible stench, and everyone kind of looked around wondering if someone just had some food that didn't settle right or if it was a flat tire and it was the burning rubber we smelled.
It was actually neither one of those. What happened was part of the engine had blown out and smoke was billowing out of the tailpipe. We were trying to pull off into a rest stop just about a mile down the road, when the smoke started entering the bus. People were actually starting to get worried that the bus might catch on fire while we were still driving. By the time we came to a complete stop, the smoke was so bad that when we got out of the door, you could not see what was two feet in front of you. We all ran away from the bus and waited for it to explode like in the movies with all of our bags underneath in the luggage compartments. Fortunately, the smoke stopped when the bus was turned off, and we were forced to wait over an hour for another bus to come to pick up and take us the hotel. Finally, after close to six hours on the bus and roadside, we pulled up to the very beautiful Iberotel hotel at 6 p.m. Friday. After a day and a half, our trip ended with dinner and a light jog to get the legs going after such a long journey.
What we came to do
Sunday was the first day of practice since arriving, and the training grounds were quality. What's funny is we are staying in the country of Portugal, but we are training in neighboring Spain, or "España" as all the road signs say. We started off with a warm-up and then did some technical work with assistant coach BJ, or Brian Johnson. After that we went into a possession game which was very intense. It was a battle between orange bibs vs. blue bibs that was very high paced. This was a very positive thing to see seeing as how it was our first practice since arriving in Monte Gordo. After the possession game, we broke off into a 9 v 9 game from 18 yard box to 18 yard box. This match had the same orange bibs vs. blue bibs, and it was a physical, end-to-end game. After the 35-minute game, we ended with some fitness on an overall great day of training. Stay tuned for more practice reports as the camp goes on.
Feature player of the day
Today's feature player of the day is veteran Brian Dunseth. Brian is a leader on our team with a plethora of soccer knowledge. Brian joined Real Salt Lake after playing overseas in Sweden for the last 11 months with Superettan side Bodens BK. Brian has been holding down the backline for us as a center back this preseason and has been doing a tremendous job jelling with the rest of the backline. The results are showing in the score lines as well, as the starting group has only given up 2 goals in 5 preseason games. They say "Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships." Well, we are well on the right track with our goal of winning MLS Cup with Mr. Dunseth in the back, if you ask me.
Off the field Brian is a funny guy who is outgoing and likes to joke around quite often. Brian is often the receiver of many jokes however, having various nicknames referring to his "OC" looking hairstyle that he "rocks". For all of you who don't know, Dunseth loves to represent his 909 area code of southern California. (A note to Brian: I don't care about all of the negative things people say about 909 guys, I just block them out and think to myself that you mean well and you can't help it that you are the way you are!) Dunny grew up in the same town with another famous U.S. center back, Carlos Bocanegra. So other than the off the wall, Cali-boy style he and Carlos share, he is a very fun guy to be around.
Going along with Dunseth having a style all his own, in the past year he and his best friend have put their mark on the fashion world by introducing Bumpy Pitch, a line designed for the fashion of fútbol. Surfers have Hurley, skaters have Volcom, and now we have Bumpy Pitch! I've personally seen some of the shirts they have and it really is something everyone should check out. I'm not just saying this to get a dark blue t-shirt with the red "bp" logo on it (size Medium) or anything (Wink, wink). In all seriousness, check it out for yourself at www.bumpypitch.com. The site is under construction right now, but when it's up and running, I guarantee you'll like what you see!
One little known fact about Dunseth and I is that we met a few years back in a match when I was with the U-17 national team and Brian was with the full team. Actually it was more of Dunseth's elbow meeting my jaw as I tried running past him. Needless to say I hated Brian for the next two years until we finally met, and this introduction – while we were in camp in Florida – did not result in me needing my jaw wired shut. This is pretty much all the dirt I have on Brian, as our friendship is still blossoming and growing as the days go on. This is also all the dirt I have out of pure fear of my facial features being re-arranged at practice in the near future. That's it for today; make sure to check back next time to see who the next feature player of the day is.
I would like to apologize for the email account not working that was included in last week's installment. I know thousands of you were disappointed when your fan mail was returned to sender, but have no fear: the email should be working any day now so if you are interested in finding out something about your favorite Real Salt Lake player (I'm not sure what you would want to ask me, but ask away if you feel the need) or to just send some feedback, you should be able to now. The address, again, is email@example.com. Anyways, sorry for the big let down and I hope this didn't upset too many people!
That's all for today, thanks for reading along and I hope you enjoyed! Take care everybody!