Good morning from Chucktown, everybody. We arrived yesterday with just enough time to get the lay of the land here in The Palmetto State. Tucson and Orlando get the bulk of the attention this time of year, but from what we can gather everyone who comes through these parts wishes they could return. Here are a few tidbits from a fun first day for us at the Carolina Challenge Cup:
The Three Lions Club is awesome.
Our first stop was Blackbaud Stadium, where the Dynamo trained (Alligator-free) and Chicago's U-18s were taking on the Battery academy on the main stadium pitch. Thanks to Chicago-Fire.com's do-it-all editor Jeff Crandall, we were able to get a peek at the crown jewel that is the Three Lions Club. Situated on the second floor of the stadium, TLC is home to one of the most impressive collections of soccer memorabilia we've ever seen. Seriously, you know you're legit when you have an autographed 1994 U.S. National Team World Cup poster displayed prominently on the wall, framed, in all its glory.
A familar face in a new place.
There wasn't a huge crowd out at Houston Dynamo's training session, but there was one guy you might have recognized. After leaving MLS to join the Carolina Railhawks last year, Jason Garey appeared on the sidelines Monday. Only thing was, Garey was in street clothes, not training gear. So what's the former Columbus and Houston striker up to now? Putting that finance degree from the University of Maryland to good use as a wealth manager for a few of his former MLS colleagues. Not a bad transition if you ask us.
The seafood here is alright.
After training wrapped up yesterday, most everyone for all the teams here had the afternoon and evening off on their own. For many of the players, that meant getting out of the hotel and into downtown Charleston, which is where you want to be. We did so, too, meeting up with the Chi-Town quartet of Daniel Paladini, Chris Rolfe, Steven Kinney and Arne Friedrich.
Of course, seafood was the play, and Pearlz Oyster Bar was the place. Epic. Shrimp, crab, mussels, the works. Friedrich even got to try clam chowder for the first time. His North American education continues.