We have had a very busy week this week. We went to Toronto on Friday and played them on Saturday. The following morning we headed off to Trinidad for our first game in the CONCACAF Champions League tournament against Joe Public on Tuesday.
For me, it is always fun and a pleasure playing in Toronto due to the fan base and all their support. We understand that soccer is not the most popular sport in America so appreciate all the wonderful support and fans that we do have, but it is definitely a different level in Toronto, and even though the fans are against us, the environment and atmosphere is topnotch. I was also excited to be in Toronto because I was getting the start, due to extenuating circumstances. It had been too darn long since my last start and I was eager and prepared to get out there and bust it. We also went to a 4-4-2 formation as a result of our lack of forwards. My good buddy Adam Christman was not able to make the trip because of an injury, so we were left with only Taylor Twellman as a forward. That meant that Ralston pushed from central midfield to a more forward position. I really was not too concerned about the change, especially when it is Ralston doing the moving around. I don’t care what position Ralston plays in, he can not only play them all, but he plays them all very well. He is one of the best players I have ever played with and he only continues to amaze me by his ability and skill despite his age and the amount of games he has played. It was a decent performance by the team. We went into halftime with a 1-0 advantage as a result of Chris Tierney delivering a gorgeous ball to the head of Twellman. The game was back and forth quite a bit and they ended up striking even off a fantastic finish from Chad Barrett.
My former Wake Forest teammate and roommate Brian Edwards is the back up goalie for Toronto, so we got to catch up and have a few drinks after the game. One of the best parts about traveling is being able to catch up with old teammates and friends. Business is business, we all want so desperately to win, regardless of who is on the other team, but as soon as the game is over it is back to being friends and paling around and all that. I consider Wake to be one of the premier programs in the country, I don’t think many can argue with that, and they have produced a significant amount of pros over the past several years. Justin Moose, Michael Parkhurst, James Riley, Ryan Solle, Pat Phelan, Julian Valentin, Steven Curfman, Amir Lowry, Scott Sealy, and Will Hesmer, to mention a few all come from Wake Forest. It always makes things a little more interesting when you are facing off against a good buddy or former teammate.
Toronto was the first leg of our trip. We then took off to Trinidad early the next morning. To tell you the truth, I do not mind traveling much at all. Some of the guys hate it, and I can understand if you have a family or are scared of flying or for whatever reason, but for me it isn’t so bad. I try to catch up on my reading on the flights, since I do not get to that much in my free time while at home. I just recently finished the autobiography of Steven Gerrard and I am almost finished with the autobiography of Ricky Hatton. Both are fantastic books and I recommend them to anyone who loves sports or likes a good read. I always love reading about other sports figures. I find that you can find a lot of inspiration and motivation through others stories. Besides reading, there is always a card game or two going on. The only thing that really stinks about traveling is the toll that it takes on your body and mind. You can definitely feel the affects on your legs and mind after a long flight. I do think that all the traveling and our busy schedule played a major role in our loss to Joe Public of Trinidad. Joe Public was our first opponent in the CONCACAF Champions League tournament. I think we took them too lightly and they came out strong and proved to be more than a worthy opponent. They were quick, fast, and seemed to have a step on us all night. I am not one for making excuses but I do believe that all the travel was the reason for all of that. In the second half they opened up the scoring with two quick counter attacks. We got one back when Castro tucked home a penalty kick that was given when Shalrie was taken down in the box in the late stages if the game. It is a home and away series so we have a game to redeem ourselves and show them who we really are. I am confident our guys will not take them so lightly this time, and I suspect that we will come out on top. But we will see. First we have to concentrate on the Galaxy who we play this weekend. I am looking forward to the game. Anytime David Beckham comes to town there is always a wonderful atmosphere and bigger crowd.
1. Heya Wells, is the team excited about the CONCACAF Champions League? or is anyone worried about what a more packed schedule could do to the teams playoff aspirations?
-Ha, good question and well that all depends on whom you ask. I think it is a fantastic experience playing teams from different countries and teams that we would not play otherwise. I think that everyone will agree on that. The prize would be fantastic so that is another positive, but in the grand scheme of things it does make things a lot harder on all of us. All the extra travel and games in an already packed schedule bothers and worries a lot of the guys. This is coming from a younger player as well, so you can only imagine how the older guys feel. Our main goal is to win the MLS Cup and I think that everyone would agree on that, especially considering how close we have been over the past several years. The bottom line is that the extra tournaments, this one and Superliga, take an extra toll on our legs and whether it is too big of a toll we do not know. We just know that we want to be fresh and rested going into the remainder of the season and this tournament is making it hard for that to happen.
2. Mr. Thompson, do the guys talk about any soccer websites in the locker room? About rumors or anything else? Always interested to know, Thanks!
-Mr. Thompson huh? I like that, ha! Coming from the south I was raised to say sir and mam and Mr. and Mrs. so I can appreciate that kind of respect, whether you meant it that way or not. Believe it or not, in my experience in the North many people do not like it when I say those sorts of things, but it was the way I was raised so there’s no changing it, ha. Really the only website that is talked about is mlsnet.com. I know a lot of the guys, me included, check various soccer websites daily, such as foxsports.com, ussoccer.com, espnsoccernet.com, as well as our own website. Honestly we do not talk about the websites too much unless it concerns new news concerning our league or news about transfers and so forth. Of course we are all interested in the scores of other games around the league and news concerning our opponents. If something new in our league comes out it will for sure make its way around the locker room.
3. Hello Wells, could you tell us more about the SuperLiga trophy presentation, and what ended up happening with the prize money? I assume you know since you’re on the team, keep up the great work and good luck this season!
-I so wish I could tell you about the SuperLiga trophy presentation, but because I was really sick I was not able to make it to the game and therefore missed the presentation. It was bad timing in getting sick, to say the least, because it is such a wonderful experience celebrating and enjoying in the moment. We work hard day in and day out and to see all that hard work pay off is why we work so hard. We all know that these moments do not come around too often which makes it that much more special. Some of my fondest memories last year were celebrating our championship of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and the Eastern conference title, so I know what I was missing out on. I hope though that we will have more celebrating to do this year after we win the MLS Cup, and I can only look forward to that. I do not care too much to talk in detail about what happened concerning the prize money, but ill try and fill you in. Basically our reward for winning the SuperLiga was smaller than the amount a Mexican team would have gotten if they won. All the MLS teams were competing on an uneven playing field because our incentive was significantly smaller than that for the Mexican league teams. We tried to fight it the best that we could because it was not right or fair, but in the end there was nothing that we could do about it. In our most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) the league had already determined the details and the structure of the winnings, so in the end we had to accept that and move on. There will be a new CBA in a year or so and our players union will hopefully be able to work something out for us that will be fair for everyone. I do not think I should, and do not even know if legally I can, go into much detail about the whole ordeal, but I hope that that helps.
4. Hey Wells, how you doing up there. We all miss you man, can’t wait for you to come home. I have just one question for you. How do you feel that fans are in Mass relating to the situation in Boston? I mean do you ever feel like the world is just looking down at the sport in Boston as a whole? It just seems very special to me man. When do ya’ll get to experience that with everything going on?…Thanks buddy, keep up the stellar work.
—Well that is a very interesting question smith! But let me ask you this, “Come back yesterday?” I bet many people who would have read your question would have had no idea what you were talking about, but since I am your cousin I think I might get where you are coming from. The fans in Boston are fanatics about their teams, for the most part anyway. I would call them die-hard fans. We do not get the amount of fans out to a game that say the Patriots or Red Sox do, but we have great fans. It has been wonderful getting to know and interact with many of them. I have made lots of friends with some of the wonderful fans that I have gotten to know; friends that I can honestly say I will stay in touch with for the rest of my life. One of the greatest things about our sport is the opportunity that we have to interact and get to know our fans. It always helps when the teams you are supporting win, and all the Boston teams have done that. There are usually opportunities for us throughout the year to take in other teams games, so that is always fun. Not sure if I answered your question like you wanted, but hope that helps. Sometime the kitchen run down in the woods, get it?
Hope yall enjoyed the blog! Yall take care now! God bless and until next time be easy!