Friday was a travel day for FC Dallas, but the coaches were sure to get the squad one last workout in La Manga. Following Thursday's last gasp defeat at the hand of Stabak, the Hoops were back on the training ground to work on a few matters and get the muscles warm and loose for the long day of travel that lay ahead.
The team began its final session in Spain with a jog from the hotel down to the training fields. The coaching staff then put the team through a series of drills for the better part of an hour before having the team once again jogging back up to the hotel to get ready to head to the airport.
After a 90 minute bus ride from the La Manga Club to Alicante Airport, the players, coaches and staff then embarked on a three-hour flight to London Gatwick where they proceeded to collects their bags, this time without incident, and board the bus that would take them to the next leg of their journey. A little more than two hours down the M5, the team arrived at the Meon Valley Marriot in Hampshire on the South Coast, only to discover that they would not be the only team staying at the resort.
Just minutes after the team entered the hotel, it was met with a familiar face as U.S. Captain Claudio Reyna milled about the hotel lobby along some of his Manchester City teammates such as Trevor Sinclair and Joey Barton. Jeff Cassar and Bobby Rhine chatted with Reyna and some of the other City players, who are here to face Portsmouth on Saturday at Fratton Park, with whom they would be sharing the hotel for the evening.
After the mountain of bags was finally transported safely from the lobby to the rooms, it was time for everyone to head back downstairs for dinner. After making their way through a small sea of Man. City supporters who had come to catch a glimpse of their heroes as well as collecting some signatures, including the occasional FC Dallas player, it was on to a meal of chicken and fish with potatoes, rice, and pasta, along with fruit, soup and salad. Despite enjoying their time in Spain, including their dining options, a number of the players were vocal in their pleasure at the wealth of varying options here at the Marriott.
Saturday will be an off day for the team as it will return to London to see Tottenham visit Premier League champions and current runaway leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Dan Hunt, Vice President for the Hunt Sports Group and the son of Lamar Hunt was able to secure tickets for the entire traveling party who will then spend the afternoon in London.
The squad will be back in action on Sunday, but not out on the fields. Instead, the team will head over to a local British Naval Training facility where they will all be put through an intensive land and water workout by current members of the Naval Academy.
This portion of the trip is a return home for a number of players who have spent a portion of their careers playing in England. Mark Wilson was born and raised in Scunthorpe before signing with Manchester United while Jeff Cassar, Kenny Cooper, Ronnie O'Brien and Simo Valakari all played here at different stages of their careers. Additionally, defenders Drew Moor and David Wagenfuhr spent two weeks in England, albeit in the North East as opposed to the South Coast where they now find themselves, training with Middlesbrough in November.
The coaching staff is also very well represented locally with Colin Clarke playing for both Southampton and Portsmouth. While at Portsmouth, Clarke was a teammate of his current Goalkeeping Coach Alan Knight. Lastly, Clarke's right-hand man, Steve Morrow, spent the bulk of his playing career in England with Arsenal and Queens Park Rangers before heading to Dallas in 2002.