USNAST: The World Cup Life, Day 5 (October 8)
Guess who was late again. After setting my alarm for the wrong day on Saturday, I made sure my alarm was set for the right day and time…and then I forgot to hit save.
When I got to the restaurant, the guys were just finishing breakfast and all of the food had been put away. Taylor Bond said, “You should always wake up with a smile,” and he thought I answered, “I woke up with an ocean,” but I actually said, “I woke up with an, ‘Oh sh!t!'”
Taylor pulled some strings and got me some cereal, which I appreciated. I have been eating so much, though, that I wasn’t even sweating the prospect of missing a meal, I was more upset about making my roommate late and setting a bad example for the team.
Sunday was our off day, but we all went to scout the Senegal vs. India game, since those are our next two opponents. Senegal won 11-0 and didn’t even make any player substitutions until the second half even though you can sub freely like arena soccer. The Indian team is young and was overmatched. Stadium construction continues with the addition of a new video board today.
The players had a good training between breakfast and the Senegal/India game and then Coach Bernie dismissed everyone for the day.
I had planned to finally swim, but instead went to the lobby to write. Some of the US players were having a passionate political discussion with one of the team managers from Hungary about racism and immigration. At one point she walked off in a huff, but later returned to re-engage. It was lively, but friendly. The lobby is the only place in the hotel where the wi-fi works consistently, but it’s also a cultural exchange, where you can meet with some of the people from all over the world, who have converged here in Tunisia.
Mario Scicluna, who has traveled more than most of us and speaks several different languages is not shy about introducing himself to anyone here, in any language. He is our guide and goodwill ambassador.
By the time I finished my article, my battery died, and it was too late to swim so I went back to the room. There are no outlets in the lobby so you can have wi-fi in the lobby or power in your room, but not both.
Back in my room I watched Somalia nearly upset Brazil (Brazil won 3-2) and then I fell asleep. After dinner several of us grabbed blankets from our room to go to the chilly stadium to watch Mexico and Hungary.
Half of the Mexican team plays for the San Diego Sockers and 13 of them play in the Major Arena Soccer League, so they are our friends and teammates. We were half-seriously cheering and chanting for Mexico from the stands, drawing confused stares from the Kazakhstani and Russian players seated near us. Mexico won 3-1.
The mood and comaraderie of the team took a big step forward today. I feel like the team bonded and is now on the same page.
Mario, who is my roommate on the trip, has become an in-demand team masseur, getting the team in physical and mental shape. After the game he worked on one or two more of our guys and then we went to bed.