Kyle Martino's Crew cut

Columbus Crew midfielder Kyle Martino was the 2002 MLS Rookie of the Year and has also played for the U.S. men's national team. Each week during the 2004 MLS season, Kyle will detail the week past, giving insight into the life of a professional soccer player.

With two weeks between our MLS opener and the second game of the season, training was pretty light. We were going to change the lineup a little bit [for the Kansas City game], so we were trying to get everyone comfortable with the new way we were going to try to play in the next game.

We came in every day and trained for about an hour or an hour-and-a-half on team shape and trying to get an understanding with the new guys. We caught a lot of rain this past week, so training sessions were a little soggy, but they went well, all together.

In general, when we've got a long layoff like the one we just had, we need to make sure that during the week, we're sharp, and that whatever it is we're working on, we push ourselves to play hard and to concentrate. That's important because we didn't have a competitive match between the two games. It was hard to really keep the focus, but we got to play scrimmages against some college teams like Ohio State, Marshall and Akron. Those were opportunities for us to sharpen up in a game situation.

On Friday, we trained in Columbus and then flew to Kansas City by connecting through Chicago. That's the only criticism a lot of people in MLS give about traveling; even when we have short flights, somehow we have connections. It's frustrating, but I don't think it plays too much of a factor in how prepared we are to play a game.

As for the Kansas City game itself, it was disappointing to lose that one. I think we were playing really well at the beginning, and we had opportunities to score, and we really should have taken advantage and gone ahead. We had a stretch where we were playing some really good soccer. Obviously, the red card at the end of the half changed the whole game. I think that even though we went down a man, it was good to see that no one gave up and everyone kept trying and fighting, and we almost played better when we were down a man than when we had 11.

I came into the game as a substitute in the 66th minute. It's tough to come off the bench when you're normally used to starting just because being a sub requires a different mind set and you have to prepare differently for it. You want to have a lot of time to prove yourself and a lot of time to help the team, but when you come off the bench, you've just got to try to concentrate on making a spark and changing up the way the game's going. You try to give a little bit of a change in attack and try to get chances and help get the game back in our hands. I was thinking about just coming on and trying to help the team get a goal. Obviously, it's frustrating to do that, but you've got to do whatever role you're put in.

Of course, being that we were down a man when I came in, we really had to have a defensive mind set because the Wizards were coming at us so much. We had to do so much work defensively that it was hard to attack all out. All of the energy that we were using on defense was kind of tiring everyone out. There's definitely a balance between the two, but when you're down a man, there's a lot of defensive work that needs to be done.

Apart from soccer, there's a bit of interesting sports news in Columbus. It was so beautiful the other day in Columbus that a few of us went to play a little tennis, and we're starting to realize that there are a few solid tennis players on this team.

Chris Wingert, Duncan Oughton and David Testo are all pretty good, and there have been some challenges issued for Manny Lagos and some of the older guys to come in and show us what they can do. So far Duncan is the dominating tennis player, but we'll have to have a tournament to really decide who is the best on the team. I think there's going to be a bracket set up soon, and we're going to play some preliminary games to try to get some seedings in place.

In the meantime, we're going to prepare this week to go to L.A. and play the Galaxy on Saturday.

See you next week.

- Kyle