July 26, 2007
The time is here for another year of Husky Soccer! This time period is like the calm before the storm as a lot of us guys rest and enjoy the summer before the start of an intense preseason. That being said, it is also an extremely important time to build up a strong fitness base in order to have a jump start on the season and avoid injuries. Now, with a little less than a month before preseason begins I want to summarize the last months since the disappointing end of our fall 2006 season to catch our fans up with our progress.
Last fall season our team's high expectations came to a crashing halt with a 3-2 overtime loss to Santa Clara in the 2nd round of the NCAA playoffs. We began the playoffs on a strong note with a 3-0 win over Creighton in what Coach Dean called the "best playoff performance" he's had since coaching here. Then we played a second round game several days later down at Santa Clara. As a team we knew that we had the opportunity to bring the program farther than it's ever been in postseason but we couldn't produce a good performance on the day. Both as a team and as individuals we struggled to play with our dominating form of earlier that season and gave a mediocre at best performance. Despite going down 2-0 we were fortunate to bring it back to a 2-2 tie and take the game into overtime. Unfortunately just a few minutes into overtime a Santa Clara player crossed the ball to a forward who headed it into our goal to bringing their players into a frenzy and ours onto the ground in dismay. For the seniors it was heartbreaking. For the rest of us returning for this year it was fuel to our fire.
About a month after the end of the season came the start of my final spring season! It begins with early morning weight training and fitness with our weight coach, Rose Baker. Then as soon as the NCAA rules permit we begin full time spring training. The end of fall season saw the loss of three seniors: Mike Cusenza, Ty Harden (drafted second round in the MLS Superdraft and now a starter for LA Galaxy), and Matt Fischer (drafted as the Seattle Sounders first pick in the USL-1 draft), so our coaches looked to fill the gaps left by our departed seniors, especially in the center of defense. In order to truly test our team our coaches gave us some tough spring games namely three professional teams: Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, and Vancouver Whitecaps. The rest of our schedule consisted of local D1 and D2 college teams. Overall our results were mixed during the spring as we sorted out our line-up but what is more important than wins and losses is making progress as a team, improving individually and sorting out any issues because the games don't actually count for anything. Our team went through some adversity at the end of spring season and we had a couple of bad results, but in the end I believe we learned a lot. There are a lot of quotes about failure being a necessary ingredient for success, and I am confident we will benefit in the fall!
Now we arrive at this summer which has guys playing and living all over the place. Some guys flew home for the summer and are spending the summer training with local teams from their states. A handful of guys are playing for the local PDL team, the Tacoma Tides. Raphael Cox flew to Denver to train with the Rapids Reserve PDL, and several guys are just working locally and playing when they get the chance. For me personally, I have had an exciting opportunity to travel around and train with a couple MLS teams. In late June I spent a week in Ohio along with fellow teammates George John and Ely Allen training with the MLS team Columbus Crew. I had sprained my shoulder a week before and was fortunate to recover enough to make the trip. We spent each day training with the Crew and getting a taste for the pace of the game at the next level. A few weeks later I traveled to Los Angeles to train with Chivas USA. I went alone this time but fortunately was able to visit with Ty Harden, who is now a starting center back for the LA Galaxy. Traveling alone was a different experience because it forced me to fit in with the team at all times rather than hanging out with a teammate. It was a great experience down there, and it was an exciting week too because David Beckham arrived to a stadium chanting his name just as I was training right outside. The main benefit for me is getting the opportunity to compare myself to the players at that level and see where I stand. When I compete well and start having fun playing in that environment it is a confidence builder and I hope to bring some of that high level training with me back to the UW!
I was scheduled to be training with Husky alum Mike Chabala and the Houston Dynamo this week, but unfortunately I tweaked my back and need to get some rest. Although I really wanted to go out there and train, the rest is good for me. It all goes back to that working out and relaxing balance that I mentioned at the beginning. Getting burned out right before season is a bad idea!
Finally, I want to notify Husky Soccer fans of two important players who, due to injury, will most likely be missing the fall season. Jo Jo Katz tore his ACL in a spring game and Steve Mohn just recently had a bad break in his leg during a PDL game. We wish them speedy recoveries and I wanted to make sure their names were mentioned because they will giving most of their contribution from the sideline.
Thank you for reading my first Entry of 2007, I look forward to giving you guys updates leading up to and throughout my last season as a Husky!