Thursday, March 27, 2008

Players, parents, coaches - Here is a look into how professional teams train

One and a half years of work is finally complete and available online. The program "Learn From the Pros" has truly come out as a unique study of the ways the pros do things on the training field. The differences between the MLS teams and Brazilian approach is noticeable and something I found extremely interesting. The feedback to date has been outstanding, and regardless of your involvement in soccer I know you will find it both interesting and educational.

This project is a very inexpensive way to see 8 pro teams with all their training sessions, diagrams and outlines of practices as well as video clips to bring to life the sessions for ONLY A $40 - one time fee. With that you can come and go as much as you want. It takes a while to see it all and I am sure it something you will go to a lot.

Go to and look at the sample session. Or go directly to the registration page you can click on the following:

Here is what you get:
3 days of Training with New England!
4 days of Training with Fluminense!
2 days of Training with Columbus!
3 days of Training with Palmeiras!
3 days of Training with Chicago!
4 days of Training with Sao Paolo!
2 days of Training with Colorado!
3 days of Training with Corinthians!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Probably the last update..3/26...9 am

Tuesday, March 25

We had a minor change in schedule yesterday…the boys decided that they’d rather have some down time to relax or go shopping one last time for their final souvenirs and gifts instead of going on the tour of La Plata. We were able to give them two and a half hours of time to do their thing before loading up the bus and heading to lunch.

Lunch was another amazing meal at Lo Rafael. If anyone ever gets the chance to visit Buenos Aires, please find this restaurant no matter what…you’ll be very glad you did!

After lunch we were off to La Plata. It was about an hour drive, give or take, and the joke among the chaperones is that every trip is about one hour. That’s our tour guides favorite answer any time we ask how far somewhere is. It was a nice drive though and the weather was perfect.

We arrived at Estudiantes de La Plata training facility and were immediately impressed. I’m not sure what to compare it to back home…something like the SoccerPlex I guess, but with the most immaculate Bermuda grass fields (approximately 115 yards by 76 yards). Estudiantes is probably one of the top youth development clubs in the country. Their first team (professional team) is in the top 2 or 3 in the standings for the league, but they are very well known for their youth programs. They have a residency program set up so that kids from all over the country can come in and stay on site while attending school and training in a top class environment. It’s a similar set up to Bradenton back in the States, but this is just for the club!

Our games kicked off a bit later than anticipated. The storms from the other day actually tore the roof off of the school building so the kids were allowed to leave the campus to visit with family. So we had to wait about a half hour for the last few players to arrive. Once we kicked off, we were in for a great learning experience.

The ‘93s played first. I think we were a bit overwhelmed at first by the speed of play and the fitness of the Estudiantes players, but after about 15 or 20 minutes we settled into the game and were able to compete at a decent level. From my perspective, this game was by far our best learning experience in terms of seeing what the game is like at the highest levels around the world. The score at the end of the match was 4-0 in favor of our opponents, but we had a couple of chances to score and I think we earned some respect for our competitiveness and our talent level.

The ‘91s played next and it was more of the same for them. Remember, these are kids who are playing not just for the fun of the game…they are playing for the chance to turn professional and make a living for themselves and their families. Estudiantes scored an early goal but the boys kept after it and worked very hard. With about 8 minutes remaining, a poor back pass from an Estudiantes defender allowed Josh Patterson to strip the ball from the goalkeeper and he calmly slotted it into the back of the empty net. It was a great result for the boys, and it was their second draw of the trip.

We showered and changed in their locker room facilities and then it was off for another one hour bus ride…only this time, we were headed to Ricardo’s home for the BBQ. What a house! What a BBQ!!! When we arrived there was some grilled pork and some sort of grilled cheese (similar to a mozzarella stick I guess) for us to eat. The boys were in heaven. After about 30 minutes, we were called into the living room (yes, all 40 of us could fit in the living room) to watch a magician perform. The guy was good, and he was hysterical. When he had finished his show, we were asked to be seated at the tables and the meal began. I probably can’t remember everything that was served, but I know there was salad, potato salad, breads, beef, chicken, ribs, and on and on. The amount of food was almost overwhelming. The meal was followed by some ice cream. After finishing the meal some of the boys were in the back yard playing soccer with Ricardo’s son. Then it was time to load the bus again. I don’t think any of us realized that it was after midnight! They eat dinner late here, but this was definitely a unique evening.

We returned home and it was straight to bed for everyone. We have just returned from another very good breakfast and now have about 30 minutes to pack up before checking out of the hotel. This may be my last time to write before we head to the airport but if I can I will try to get another update posted.

I know we’ve all had a great time, but I think we’re all looking forward to getting home as well.



Monday, March 24, 2008

Argentina. 3/24/11 PM

Monday, March 24

The teams have returned from a full day. The ‘91s played first today against Excursionistas. It was a tough game from the opening whistle…both teams played very physical styles and tried to put their stamp on the game early. Excursionistas had the better of the play throughout much of the first half and took a 2-0 lead into half time. Our boys played hard all the way through, and after a few adjustments by Coach Miranda, the second half was much more evenly contested. Excursionistas scored a third goal against the run of play, but our players never gave up. We battled our way back, scoring a goal by Coleman O’Neill. As we continued to press higher up field and tried to play a more direct style, we were able to catch them again…this time Luis Mendoza scored the goal. We created a couple more quality chances and really could have scored at least one or two more goals if not for some good goalkeeping and some misfortunes. It was definitely a learning experience for the boys.

The ‘93s played second and came out super-motivated having watched how hard the ’91s battled. We decided to play a more high pressure, higher tempo style of game and from the opening whistle were able to put Excursionistas on their back foot. Our possession was much better than in our previous match and we were creating several good scoring opportunities. At halftime the game was 0-0 but we certainly showed we were the better team. The second half brought more of the same, though our opponent made some tactical adjustments which made things a bit more difficult for us at the start. Our guys solved the problem on the field and continued to create a number of good scoring chances. With about seven minutes to play, Cody Albrecht broke free around the left side and was able to play a perfectly weighted cross into the box for Gabe Phillips to head into the back of the net. There were still a few more chances that we created, but we were unable to finish them. After the game the boys were very happy with their performance.

Following the games, the boys showered in the locker rooms at the Excursionistas stadium and we then headed down to the Tigre River area where we embarked on a 45 minute boat ride. The ride dropped us off on a little island where we were to have lunch at the Gato Blanco (White Cat) restaurant. The meal consisted of salad, baked chicken, and French fries. Desert was a great little fruit salad. After the meal, the boys were able to spend a little time stretching their legs outside the restaurant in a little park area. We then boarded the ship again and began our 45 minute return journey to where the bus was parked. It was a fun and relaxing way to spend the afternoon. Many of the boys fell asleep while on the boat.

We have now returned to the hotel where we are getting showered up and will be having dinner around 8pm. Tonight’s dinner is expected to be a beef dinner, something the boys have been looking forward to. I think they’re a little tired of pasta meals, but the quality of the food continues to impress me.

Tomorrow we head to the City of La Plata after breakfast for a tour of the city and lunch. After lunch we will be playing against Estudiantes de La Plata at 4 and 5:30pm. After our return to Buenos Aires, we have been invited to attend a barbeque at the home of our main tour guide, Ricardo. He promises us a great meal so we are all looking forward to it! Tomorrow may be a long day, but I will do my best to keep you up to date when we finally return to the hotel.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter from Argentina and SCOTLAND..updated 3/24 at 2 PM

Scotland: 3/24/08
We are in outstanding facilities at the Stirling Management Centre. The boys are having big fun while, on the other hand, it has been difficult adjusting to the level of play of our first two opponents. We lost both games but had many sustained successful periods and were at our best so far during the second half of the second game. Also, our coaches have been working hard to solve the problems during the training sessions, and I think we will be very prepared to face the Celtic squad on Monday.

Weather: The temperature would be quite tolerable if it weren't for the insistent winds.

Sunday, March 23
10 PM:
Sunday, March 23

River Plate 2 – Velez Sarsfield 0. What an experience! The atmosphere was incredible. The visiting River Plate supporters (maybe 1,000 give or take) sang the entire match and most of the time were louder than the Velez fans. The eruption on the first goal was near deafening, and the second goal caused just as much euphoria for the away fans. However, we were seated in the VIP section of the home stands so our surroundings were pretty quiet most of the game. Still it was an incredible experience for the kids to see and hear the passion that our sport brings out around the rest of the world. Hopefully they bring home an understanding of the pride of playing for your club and the supporters.

Upon arriving back at the hotel, we had a 2 hour study period where the boys were asked to stay in their hotel rooms and work on whatever they brought with them. Of course some claimed they didn’t bring homework with them, but still we insisted that they find something productive to do

Tango night was a blast!!! I think a lot of the boys were skeptical to say the least as we were heading out, but once we arrived they immediately jumped right into the fun. First they learned some “rock and roll” dance moves, while listening to some songs from the 1950’s. After learning some basic steps it was time to partner up…some of the guys were brave enough to pair up with some local girls, while others were brave enough to pair up with teammates. Either way they went, there were a lot of smiles and laughter. Then came dinner…a nice meal that began with some fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, followed up a pasta meal. Then it was back to the dance floor as the tango lessons began. I think some of our guys should stick to soccer, but there were quite a few future Fred Astaires out there! After some more dancing, it was back to the dinner table as the waitresses brought out some ice cream for the teams. Upon finishing their ice cream, some headed back to the dance floor to polish up their moves. A short ride back to the hotel came around midnight and the boys were all still talking about the experience.

This morning we are off from soccer to allow those who want to go to church the opportunity. We will be having a brunch around 11:30 and then at 12:45 heading out of the hotel to see River Plate play Velez Sarsfield. Velez is currently atop the league, while River Plate (traditionally one of the top teams in Argentina) is in second. It should be an awesome game.

We are scheduled to have dinner around 8pm this evening at a local restaurant called “Lo Rafael.” Our tour guides have told us that the Kansas City Wizards absolutely loved this restaurant when they were here last week. I know I am looking forward to it!

Happy Easter from Buenos Aires!!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Trip updates as they come.updated 3/22 at 1:30 PM

I will attempt to keep updates from Argentina (Scotland if I hear from them)...

Argentina - March 22nd:
Saturday, March 22

Change of plans…due to a set of severe thunderstorms that blew through sections of the country last night, the team we were scheduled to play this morning had to cancel. Evidently a small tornado hit the area so getting their team together for the match would have been nearly impossible. The match has been rescheduled for Wednesday.

So we used our morning to let the boys sleep in a little…breakfast at 9am, followed by a 10:30 departure for a training session. We actually used the session for a 4-a-side tournament where we mixed the teams (‘91s and ‘93s) to make things a bit more interesting and to let the boys continue to get to know each other better. It turned out to be a spirited tournament and everyone had a great time.

The boys are showering up and getting ready to head down town to the Recoleta area, a street fair type of setting. We’ll have some free time downtown, followed by a return to the hotel for some study time (yes, we’re keeping on the boys about using their down time wisely), and then it will be off to dinner and tango lessons. I think we’re all looking forward to seeing the tango lessons!
Argentina - First games
Friday, March 21


We just returned from touring Buenos Aires, including a tour of La Boca and the stadium of Boca Juniors. It was a great trip…the boys seemed to really enjoy walking around the stadium, including the chance to see the locker room of the home team. Tons of pictures were taken and lots of smiling faces after the boys had a few minutes to walk around the fan shop inside the stadium. I’m sure they’ll all be wearing their new Boca Juniors gear tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a match with Tristan Suarez at 9:30 for the ‘93s and 11am for the ‘91s. Following the conclusion of those matches, we’ll be touring the Recoleta Area and experiencing the street fair.
Friday, March 21

Breakfast was followed by departure for our first set of matches. After a good warm up, the ‘93s took the field against Defensores de Belgrano It took about 10 minutes to get some of the nerves out and then we settled into what turned out to be a fantastic match. The Argentine team created the earlier chances in the first half, but we certainly created a fair number of chances for ourselves, especially toward the latter part of the half. The second half saw us continue to do a good job of defending. We were winning the ball back earlier and doing some nice things on the ball, moving around the opponent and creating spaces to attack. Somewhat against the run of play, Defensores scored their first goal of the afternoon off a deflection that resulted in a fortuitous bounce for them. Almost immediately after the kickoff, we created a couple of great scoring chances but were unlucky not to finish. As we pressed higher up field and pushed more numbers forward trying to pull back an equalizer, we gave up a second goal on a counter attack. The final score ended in a 2-0 defeat, but the coaches feel that a tremendous effort was put forth by the boys, and we learned a great deal about the soccer in Argentina. This is definitely going to be great preparation for the ODP season!

Following the ‘93s, the ‘91s kicked off against the older Defensores de Belgrano team. The opponents had the better of the play in the first half but our boys fought hard, defended well, and gave a great effort. We gave up a goal off of a free kick which rebounded off the post, allowing Defensores to follow the shot and put away the second chance. At halftime Coach Miranda made some slight adjustments to the team and the results paid off with about 10 minutes to play. They did a much better job of keeping possession and not allowing so much time and space for the opponent to play. A Maryland goal came from a tremendous individual effort by one of their players to maintain possession for his team and beat 3 defenders. His cross was met inside the penalty area, chested down, and the resulting shot brought the Maryland bench and our few spectators to their feet! It was clinical finishing. The remaining few minutes of the game saw some hard challenges by both teams as both felt they wanted to press for the win. In the end, the ‘91s were able to finish the game with a well earned draw.

Both teams put on a great display of soccer…sticking to their game plans and playing some very attractive soccer. Several Defensores fans commented about the quality of our play for both teams. We are definitely earning respect! The boys are exhausted but I think proud of their efforts.

The games were followed by a nice lunch at the hotel and the boys are currently showering up as we’re about to head out for a city tour of Buenos Aires, including La Boca area at 4pm. Dinner is scheduled for the hotel at 8pm

3/21 - Short e-mail from Scotland:
Keith: Good morning. We made it safely to Scotland. Accomodations are excellent. Food is great. Fields are outstanding. We have had two training sessions and have our first game this evening. All players are fine and ready to play. Internet access is limited and expensive. Will try to write again soon. All the best, Steve Pfeil

3/20 - Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Leg one of our journey began with our departure from Reagan International…the flight was a few minutes delayed but once airborne, it was smooth sailing. We landed in Miami on time to a beautiful sunny afternoon. We have a three hour lay over so the boys have been going in groups to the Pizza Hut or Nathan’s for dinner. The next leg of our journey begins at 8:30pm when we depart Miami for Buenos Aires.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The journey from Miami to Buenos Aires was very smooth. The flight left on time and touched down on time. Most of the boys slept for most of the long flight. Getting through customs was a breeze…in fact one of the hosts who met us at the airport commented that we set a record for getting through customs faster than any group he’s ever worked with. Also important to note, several flight attendants commented to us about how well behaved our group was on the flight! Upon arrival at the hotel, we gave the boys a chance to get to their rooms and take advantage of some of the down time to rest up. A few decided to venture out into the downtown areas with the coaches and chaperones…we needed to stretch out legs a bit.

Lunch is scheduled for 12:30pm in the hotel. It will be our first meal in the hotel, where we will actually eat a majority of our meals for the week.

Just returned from lunch. It was a delicious meal that consisted of salad, soup, chicken, and french fries. The boys ate like it was the first time they’d ever seen food so we know they thought it was good too!

Next up is a training session at 4pm. We departed the hotel at 3:30pm and traveled about 30 minutes across the city to a modern field turf training facility, very much like what we’ve trained on at the SoccerPlex. Both teams spent time working on getting the kinks out of their legs and on keeping possession of the ball. Later both teams worked on free kicks, both attacking and defending. It was a hot, sunny afternoon so both teams ended the session a bit early….approximately 5:30pm. Then it was back aboard the bus to battle the traffic back to the hotel.

Dinner is planned for 8pm in the hotel, to be followed by team meetings with the respective coaches. The plan is to have the players get to bed early tonight in preparation for a full day tomorrow. Both teams play against Defensores de Belgrano…the ‘91s kicking off at 10am and the ‘93s kicking off at 11:30am. Following the conclusion of the matches, we will return to our hotel to shower, change, eat, and then head out for a tour of the city.

More on the games to come tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Final Argentina Items

It seems as though the info packet has done its job as there have been very few questions that have come up. Here are a few other things to keep in mind and some reminders from the packet. Please feel free to e-mail or respond to this blog with other questions
1) Money. It is not possible for us to tell you how much to send with your son. All meals are covered as well as the pro game. While there may be an "add-on" after arrive (if the group decides they want it), that would be very cheap ($20-$30). (Nothing is planned, but an opportunity to do a river boat tour or a tango night may arise.) So, players will need money for snacks and whatever personal spending they need. REMEMBER THAT THEY DO NEED $22 CASH FOR THE BUENOS AIRES AIRPORT FOR THEIR DEPARTURE TAX ON THE FINAL DAY)
If they are going to buy anything significant, they will be able to do so with credit or debit card (credit cards working best). Less need for actual cash.
There are ATMs as well as the ability to change money at the hotel.
The coaching staff/chaperones will be available to hold any large amount of cash anyone may bring. Drew Hoffman will address that at the parent's meeting and with the players.
2) Remember sun block and bug spray. Mosquitoes like Americans (but they are NOT bad mosquitoes (no worries about Yellow Fever or anything - form what I understand they have had 1 case of yellow fever in 1 monkey in Northern jungle part of Argentina.)
3) We are awaiting the warm-ups and travel bag from the state. Hoping to have them for you Monday. If not, then we will let you know what plan B is.
4) Water is safe down there. While we will be using bottle water, we are at a very modern hotel in a very modern city with very drinkable water. No issues using it for brushing teeth, etc. We will tell all not to eat from street vendors and the like (something I would do if we were traveling in the US as well!).
5) Phone calls. I strongly discourage any use of cell phones. They simply lend to situations where calls come in at unwanted times (from parents, friends, girlfriends, etc). If a player simply has to call home, then they can get phone cards easily down there. They will have some access to e-mail and that will be best way to stay in touch.You all have the emergency numbers that should be used - IN AN EMERGENCY ONLY. Thanks.
6) Remember to pack any liquids in check in luggage unless they meet carry on requirements: in a zip lock bag, etc)...
7) Hotel info can be seen on here (I think web link in info packet didn't work- at least for me):
8) Personal Items: I would not go beyond an IPOD for music. Playing cards, etc are all fine. Travel alarm or inexpensive watch could be good too.
9)The company we are using is excellent. They currently have the Kansas City Wizards and Real Salt Lake down here. They are the group that has hosted the Regional teams as well. After they leave - Maryland OODP comes in. I have asked them to send me the final itinerary as soon as it is final. We have had rough ones, but felt it best to wait till we have everything ironed out. We will have representatives/guides with us the entire time including staying at hotel with us.

I hope that now covers things and reiterates other important things. The trip will be great, so please don't worry. If your son forgets something - they will find it in Buenos Aires:) Just don't forget your soccer shoes!!

Any questions... feel free to contact us via this or e-mail.