The Fire coaching staff put their players through the paces for a week in Mexico.
Chicago Fire

Chicago's John longs for MLS debut

The past week in Mexico was very entertaining, which was to be expected. We played three quality teams and I enjoyed every second of it. Our opponents were Atlas, Guadalajara Select, and the current first place team in the Mexican first division, Tecos. The first two games were played on practice facilities but the third against Tecos was played at their beautiful stadium (Tres de Marzo). The games, regardless of their outcomes, were a success. Each and every game I feel more and more comfortable. The staff has asked me to run at players on the wings and since I enjoy watching players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs, I have a number of inspired moves to experiment with.

While in Mexico, we stayed at the Hotel Primavera, which is a very isolated place about 45 minutes from the city of Guadalajara. The food at the hotel was excellent, but after about four days everyone was simply ready for any American food we could get. I knew that the second we reached the Dallas airport it would be a mad race to the food court. We were allowed to go into the city only one day to restock on snacks and other stuff, and it just so happened that I was sick that day. I was sick for about three days with what I'm told is either food poisoning or a virus. I wasn't completely miserable though, because while the team was in the city I was watching one of my favorite teams, Real Madrid, play Valencia to a 1-1 tie. I obviously would not have been able to see the game if I were in the States since we aren't showing regular La Liga games on ESPN.

With not much to do besides play soccer and get rest in between practices or games, DVDs were a huge asset to our entertainment. I must have seen over 20 movies while I was there. I also contributed to two of three puzzles the team put together while in Guadalajara. The puzzles would sit outside next to the courtyard and there was constantly someone trying put the pieces together. We finished each of the puzzles and left them there on display once they were finished.

Last, but not least, we of course had our Winning Eleven 8 soccer video game to occupy our time. There was no team tournament this trip, but there was a very heated series between the infamous ex-champion Scott Buete and myself. I'm proud to say that he has now been officially dethroned, as he lost each game of the series.

We finished our trip with an exhibition game against the Colorado Rapids in Birmingham, Ala., and it ended up a 0-0 tie. As the season approaches, we are showing obvious signs of improvement. The more we play together, the better flowing our soccer has become. There is one last exhibition game left against the MetroStars in Mississippi, and then we simply have to prepare for our first game.

I'm at home now during our few days off, but I'm eagerly awaiting my trip to South Korea with the U.S. Under-20s. I've been to Korea before and I know it will be an amazing trip. Once I return there are only a few days before the season opener and my first MLS game, something I've dreamed about for years now.

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