Making the Crew: Pro in training

The big moment arrives tomorrow. Open tryouts for the Columbus Crew start bright and early Saturday at Obetz, where the club holds its practice sessions. After a week of strenuous mental and physical preparation, I feel like I'm pretty well prepared.

The last time I put pen to paper (or fingertips to the keyboard, if we're getting technical) I was excited for the opportunity and looking forward to my Urban Soccer League game Monday night on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. That was to be my last chance to play some competitive ball before getting to show my stuff in Columbus.

Unfortunately, my week of training got off to a poor start when the game was cancelled thanks to a forfeit from our opponents. They probably just didn't want to be embarrassed by me weaving through them like Freddy Adu and then telling the world about it here. Oh well.

I opted for a nighttime run instead. I've been running in New York City fairly regularly for the last two years, but Monday's two loops around the Central Park reservoir were by far the best run I have ever had in the city. The temperature was comfortable - not too hot and not too cold, there was a slight breeze and it was quiet. Add the beautiful backdrop of the night skyline and you have all the makings for a great run. I went about 4 1/2 miles at a decent pace and was feeling good.

Tuesday's training regimen consisted of spending the day eating like a king at my grandmother's house in Long Island. I headed back into the city in the late afternoon.

Everyone knows that the British love their football, so I figured what better way to get ready for the tryout than to spend the evening with a native of Liverpool. That being the case, I headed to Madison Square Garden and caught the Paul McCartney gig. Thirty-seven songs (including lots of Beatles classics) and nearly three hours later, the second day of 'training' came to an end.

Back to work Wednesday morning with another run. This time I went for shorter distance at a faster pace and finished with some push-ups and sit-ups. A late night at the office followed as my future team was eliminated from MLS Cup Playoff contention. In my mind, the news couldn't have come at a better time. Surely the club will be looking to make some changes for next season, so the tryout is coming just at the right time. You might have seen my old pal Edson Buddle hit the post during the team's loss to FC Dallas. I would have buried it.

On Thursday I turned 25 and, after sleeping in for a while to catch up after game night, I spent the afternoon at work trying to get my computer fixed. If you're reading this article, it worked.

So here I am in beautiful Columbus where the sun is always shining and the days are always warm. Actually, it's dreary and overcast and I haven't seen the sun since I was above the clouds in the ever-dreaded middle seat on Continental Airlines flight 2522. I don't mind the weather though. In fact, it might work to my advantage. I'm thinking that some of the less serious trialists who were just planning to show up and have a little fun won't be as interested in turning up with the rain pouring down. That's good news for me because we can weed out the wimps and let us serious guys duke it out.

I don't really know what to expect tomorrow at Obetz, but my guess is that we'll play some small-sided games. Maybe they will have us do some drills or juggle the ball or something to prove we can actually play first, but I don't know. What I do know is that once the action starts, I'm going to work my tail off.

I've always been very competitive and I love a challenge. Tomorrow's tryout will be a great barometer of how I compare with other people who think they just might have what it takes to make the roster of an MLS team. While I know the odds are stacked high against us, the knowledge that the possibility - even if it is minute - that one of us (i.e. me) could get a call back just gets me revved up.

The plan for tonight is to take it easy, have a nice meal and get plenty of rest before a long day. With a little luck I can hit the town tomorrow night with good reason to celebrate. Cross your fingers for me and check back tomorrow to hear all about the adventure.

Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. Although, that could change after this weekend. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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