John checks in from preseason camp

The game Thursday in Tampa couldn't come at a better time. Everyone's dying for a change of scenery after spending about three weeks in the same place. The practices have been sharper and are always very enjoyable. After every practice I end up anticipating the season opener on April 2 more and more.

We ended our preseason training with a highly intense bowling tournament on Wednesday night. While our equipment manager (Charles Raycroft) took home the MVP award, Scott Buete took home the award for the worst bowling style and coach Dave Sarachan took one of the nastiest bowling spills ever. After letting his ball roll he attempted not to cross the foul line but his efforts unfortunately earned him a spot on the slick floor. All in all it was a rather good way to end our last night in Bradenton.

The few days off that we'll enjoy after Thursday night's game will be well deserved, but I'll be anticipating our next trip to Guadalajara, Mexico. We will be staying at the same place of my first foreign trip. I spent two weeks at this facility in Mexico with the U-14 national team and it was an amazing trip. The passion and intensity that their fans have is something that I hope our country will have sometime in my career.

Our coaches have emphasized a winning and competing mentality that we'll need to develop and carry out starting with the game against the Kansas City Wizards. It's strange that up until a month ago I was a die-hard Wizard fan. My earliest memories of being in a soccer stadium are of the 1994 World Cup and numerous Wizards games. As much as I'm anticipating my rookie season, the chance to play in front of everyone from my hometown would be quite a highlight. But things are much different now than I had envisioned them when I was younger. Now that I have a new home and great teammates, I would have it no other way.