LVU '99 Heads to England! Players Blog About Their Experience!
Each day the Lehigh Valley United '99 Boys soccer team are in England a new blog post will composed by one of the players. New blog posts will populate on this page as the trip progresses.
Day 1 - 4/8/17
After a long day of traveling and snoozing whenever possible, it's finally time to unravel and get used to London's time. Once our plane finally landed, we had the pleasure to tour the National Football Museum. During our visit we experienced a penalty shootout game, in which a virtual goalkeeper tried to save our kick from the 12 yard spot. After the museum, the team and I got to witness Manchester City dominate Hull City 3-1. Although we left before Hull City scored in the 85th minute, it was still an amazing experience. The fans were incredible and it was the first time I was ever able to watch the players come off of the team bus. To end the day, we refueled with an appetizer, main meal, and a dessert for every one of us. The first day was great, but I'm certainly looking forward to training and games in the upcoming days.
Today we arrived in Manchester,England and we had the opportunity to tour the national football museum. After that we went to the Manchester city vs Hull city game, Manchester came out victorious with a final score of 3-1. We then had a team dinner and ended the day with a well needed full nights sleep.-Ronnie Minges
Day 2 - 4/9/17
The first thing we started the day off with was breakfast and I have to say I was not a fan of it. The Eggs were alright but everything besides the fruit I didn't like. After we ate we got to see all throughout the Manchester United Stadium on a guided tour. I really enjoyed the tour and the thrill out guys was able to bring it of the stadium and it's history. After going to the gift shop we went up to the red cafe to eat lunch and watch the Manchester play Sunderland. Later on that day we had a training session at a local soccer field, it was a pretty well kept field and they also had futsal fields on the other side of the complex. Until curfew we walked around to see more of Manchester and got food at a really good restaurant call nandos.
Today was a great day. We had a solid breakfast at the hotel and then we headed out to Old Trafford for a tour of the stadium. Considering Manchester United is my favorite soccer team I was pretty excited. We started out by touring the museum with all the trophies and learned some history of the club. Then we headed to our tour of the stadium. The stadium was beautiful to say the least. We learned that Old Trafford is the largest club stadium in the country which is pretty cool. Our tour guide was cracking jokes the whole time and I was able to see the stadium I'd always wanted to see. We finished up the tour and then went to the club megastore. This place was a Man United fan's dream, aka, my dream. I bought a Pogba jersey and then we all ate lunch at the Red Cafe, a restaurant connected to the stadium. The food was fantastic and we were able to watch a bit of the Manchester United match (away at Sunderland) on television. They pulled out a 3-0 victory and we then got ready for training. Training took place at a fairly nice turf field nearby. It was nice to get a few touches on the ball and it took me a while to comprehend the fact that we were actually playing soccer (football) in England. This is something that many American soccer players dream of doing. After training we were on our own for dinner and many of us ate at Nando's, a nearby restaurant with great chicken. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and called it a day. Lots more soccer to come in the next few days. Can't wait.
DAY 3 - 4/10/17
Today we went to St. George's park, which is the national training center for England. We were taken on an incredible tour through their facilities, followed by a training session led by am FA coach. We got a fair sense of how important soccer really is in the U.K., as if we already didn't know.
The training session was a bit different than what we are used to back in the States. There was a higher level of intensity along with some new unique drills. The session was centered around the concept of possession, as well as what we do off the ball and how that affects our decision making. It was a very mind opening practice that left all of us covered and sweat, but with a smile on our faces.
Following the training, we made our way to lunch where we had the opportunity to meet the manager of the England National team. After a quick picture and lunch, we headed down to the team building activities area. We split up into two groups, and we did some rock climbing, some archery, and a crate stacking competition. The crate stacking competition consisted of two people harnessed in climbing a stack of crates as we built them. Each team had two attempts to make the highest stack possible without it falling over, but while one of the two players that are harnessed in standing on the top crate. We learned after the first attempt that communication doesn't work if it isn't effective communication. There was a lot of shouting over each other when we should have been listening to one person’s ideas at a time. The second time around was much better on the communication side, which led to both teams breaking the previous record of 27 crates held by Aerospace engineers. One team ended up with 28 crates, the other with 29, but either way, Lehigh Valley United will be number one on the record boards.
The experiences we had today were ones that we will never forget. We were brought closer to each other as teammates as well as friends, and we had the rare opportunity to visit, and practice at one of the most elite training centers in the world. Memories were made today that will last a lifetime.
DAY 4 - 4/11/17
We arrived at Emirates Stadium. The entrance took our breath away. Going through the tour, we saw statues of the club founders. Following that, we walked outside to the actual seats of the stadium and basked in the glory of the pitch. Without any teams playing, we could still feel a particular atmosphere of creativity and excitement left over from previous match days. Once we had enough we moved on walking through the Diamond Club, a place where extremely important people stay to watch, and the team locker rooms. The Arsenal home locker room contained more exquisite pieces. They had a walk through bath for after the game to relax and recuperate where as the away locker room had basic showers and smaller quarters for the players' belongings.
After concluding the tour, we made our way to Bisham Abbey to compete against our first international side. Excitement permeated the team. Nobody knew what to expect. We were confident in our ability but then again European football is a caliber above the United States so we were nervous. Less than one minute in, the fears were banished. We won a corner which Kacper gladly took. After a scuffle, Ethan somehow puts the ball in the back of the net. Two easy goals later and we have high hopes. We cruise for the rest of the half but right before the whistle, they are awarded a penalty kick and calmly slot it left corner. 3-1. Our half time talk was short, and we head back onto the pitch ready to finish what we started. Early in the second half, Ryan slots the ball in the back of the net but it bounces out. No goal says the referee. Play continues. Then we are awarded a penalty kick and Ryan sinks it easily. We get another but then their outside mid slashes down the side line and cuts it back effectively escaping the pressure put on from our full back. He cuts into the box and drills a shot top corner. 5-2. Then on a corner kick Sam, who towers above everybody, heads the ball into the back of the net. 6-2. The clock ticks down and the game ends without any further hitches. After quick showers we head to Windsor Castle where took pictures and admired the Long Walk. We all enjoyed an exquisite dinner and dessert and then headed back to the hotel to conclude the successful day.
DAY 5 - 4/12/17
LVU 99’ Black had a full day of soccer, sights and amazing views ahead of us. We began the day with another classic English breakfast in the Madejski (consisting of hashbrown, ham, fruit, and a hot cup of tea for some) and prepared ourselves to leave for our second match of the trip.
Match #2 got out to a fast-paced and well constructed start as we found the back of the net 3 times in the first half. The game ended with as an 8-1 victory over our opposition, QPR College Academy, and Matt McDermott picked up MVP honors netting a brace and creating many opportunities for our team.
We then had the opportunity to see what is probably my favorite part of England… the city of London. The names of places such as Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and the London Eye are historic landmarks and sights that us Americans only ever get to experience through the History Channel, or by possibly seeing them online. To actually have the chance to see what many consider to be the heart of England was breathtaking. The Architecture and age of many of these buildings such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the Parliament Building, and the various pubs and eateries is enough to fill the appetite of history and travel buffs. However, the thing that made me feel more connected to being not a solely a citizen of the United States, but rather a member of our world, was seeing thousands of people around me from all across the world stare up in awe in the same way I was. We did not speak the same language (though we all know the unsaid universal hand motion for “picture please?”), nor do we have the same religions or beliefs, but when you see such intricacy and create memories such as one can in the city of London and with all of its world treasures, you cannot help but be united with those around you.
After our sightseeing, we had the amazing opportunity to take a flight on the London Eye. (This is where the views part of my introduction comes in). What a view that was. We were on top of the city, seeing out for miles across London and some of its surrounding suburbs. We could even see Wembley Stadium, home of the England National Team as we neared the top of our ride. If you, the reader, ever have the chance to get on The Eye I would highly recommend it. You will just have make sure you get your ticket about 2 weeks in advance because it is a high-demand excursion!
Finally, excited and tired, we trudged back onto the bus, and were welcomed by our stud of a driver, Mark. Many slept as we embarked on our hour journey back to the hotel, though some team members like Trevor Koski, Will Eishold and Sam Marks decided to bring up the old high school season and have that age-old high school soccer argument of “who’s team was actually better” or, “we should have beat you but you guys got so lucky”. These are direct quotes by the way. Could there be a better country in which to participate in some soccer banter? I don’t think we could deny that, so well done boys. We ate dinner at the hotel around 8:45 pm and headed back to our rooms for showers, cold baths, some well-deserved sleep. Head finally hitting the pillow, I know that I, as well as the rest of the guys are very excited for another memorable day tomorrow.
FUN FACT: Big Ben is NOT the name of the clock, nor the clock tower. It is actually the name of the bell inside the tower, but over time many have come to call the whole thing, “Big Ben”. So next time you are in London and your tour guide asks you this possible trick-question, you can impress the whole group. They’ll be so impressed that I would say you’ll have a good chance of meeting the Queen with that kind of knowledge.