On location: Metros arrive in Ecuador

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador - The MetroStars arrived in Guayaquil, Ecuador at 1 a.m. early Thursday morning and began their first day of training in South America that afternoon. This journey is the first of two international preseason trips for the Metros, having also scheduled a six-day trip to Trinidad & Tobago beginning on March 15. Their first game was originally slated for Thursday, however because of their early-morning arrival, the match will be rescheduled for a date to be determined.

Nevertheless, the Metros enjoyed a safe and pleasant flight and are looking forward to their stay in Ecuador.

"So far, so good," said MetroStars midfielder Mark Lisi. "The travel here was great even though we got in a little late. The facilities we are staying in are very nice. I think we are all excited for the next couple of weeks."

On Thursday the Metros had the morning off and then enjoyed an eclectic Ecuadorian meal at their hotel that featured vegetable soup topped off with popcorn, meat lasagna with white rice and sides of potatoes and steamed vegetables. The team participated in a 4 p.m. running session in preparation for their first match on Tuesday, which will be against a team to be announced in the near future. Two-a-days are set to begin on Friday.

Brazilian midfielder Gilberto will make his first preseason appearance with the Metros in Ecuador. Gilberto, who was acquired as a developmental player on March 31, 2004, appeared in seven games in the Red and Black last season.

Also training with the Metros for the first time will be newly acquired midfielder/forward Youri Djorkaeff. He will join the club next week after making a brief stop in his native France. Djorkaeff flew to the United States for his press conference in New York City on Monday, made his way up to ESPN Studios in Bristol, Conn., on Wednesday and returned back to France Wednesday evening.

The Metros' activity of choice other than soccer in Ecuador appears to be table tennis, as the hotel has a ping-pong table set up in the lobby. A heated rivalry has already brewed between head athletic trainer Stu Schwerner, goalkeeper Zach Wells, defender Chris Leitch and forward John Wolyniec. While it is still early in the trip, Leitch is the frontrunner to claim the Guayaquil ping-pong championship. It will be interesting to see how this plays out during their stay.

Ecuador at a glance:

Location: Western South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean at the Equator, between Colombia and Peru
Capital: Quito
Population: 13,212,742
Currency: Ecuador Sucre

Did you know? Cotopaxi, located in the Andes Mountains, is highest active volcano in world.