Homeward Bound!

Guys. It’s been too long! Sorry for being M.I.A. the last couple of weeks and not posting. Time just was moving too quickly and this little thing called the WORLD CUP has been eating up my free time. But as I sit in the airport in Warsaw, Poland, waiting for my next flight back to Chicago for a week (more on that later), I wanted to get back on track and get y’all up to speed with things. With that being said… let’s blog.

As far as soccer goes, we have had 4 games since I last posted.

1). 0-0 draw with Sirius. Not much to talk about here. Sirius was a good team and it was a good test for us defensively. We were up to the challenge that night and getting a point on the road was a positive for us!

2). 2-1 loss to Landskrona. This one stung. Landskrona is a town not too far from Angelholm, so this game is always tabbed as a local derby. Much like the UWM/Milwaukee derby back in my college days, these games pack a little extra punch to them and are ones you always want to win. Things started brilliantly for us, as we scored in the 2nd minute. We held this lead going into halftime and were feeling good about controlling the game. However, following the script of previous games this season, things got interesting in the second half. We hit the crossbar and the post, just minutes apart and it seemed like the bounces were just not going our way today. Shortly after that, Landskrona was able to equalize via a shot that took a wicked deflection off my thigh and left Matt stranded. Again, bounces just not going our way.Pressure was mounting and in extra time, Landskrona was able to produce a series of one touch passes, resulting in an easy finish for one of their forwards. It was heartbreaking and one of those games where you feel the soccer Gods were against you. Not to mention that this was the same day that the USA conceded that last second equalizer to Portugal. Soccer drives me nuts sometimes and this was one of those days. Such a beautifully cruel game.

3). 2-1 win away at Ostersund. This was the one game of the season where we flew to the game. A couple of one hour flights was a lot better than a 16 hour bus ride. This was a new experience for me as it was the first time I’ve flown domestically in Sweden. The Angelholm airport is tinnyyyyy. If my memory is correct, there are like 2 gates. Quite the difference when you consider Ohare! It was an easy trip, but the game was going to be a tough one. Ostersund was riding a wave of momentum, having been unbeaten in their last 9 matches. It was going to take a maximum effort from everyone if we were going to pull this off. We started with a “Mourinho-esque” park the bus and counter tactical line up for this game. We went with 5 defenders, 4 midfielders, and 1 forward. We wanted to clog up the passing lanes that Ostersund loves to exploit with their quick combination style of play. It worked really well. They were noticeably frustrated and we got out to a 2-0 lead by halftime. Sam scored the first goal and then Ottie scored one of the goals of the season: a flying scissor kick that he hit pure that scorched the side netting. Nasty. The game was far from over and we knew the second half may be spent defending our box like Spartans. After conceding a goal halfway through and going a man down after Moody got a red card, we were able to triumphantly hold on. It was a great feeling to get a much-needed win, especially against a quality side. There were some massive performances that night. The trip was almost perfect, but a delayed flight the next day causing me to miss the USA-Germany game was the lone blemish. Can’t win ‘em all I guess.

Winning a header against Ostersund.

Winning a header against Ostersund.

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 9.48.40 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 9.48.18 PM

4). 1-0 win at home against GAIS. This was our 3rd game in 7 days. Tired legs would be an understatement. However, this game was the last before a nice mid-season break and a game that was being played back in ANGELHOLM. We no longer are playing our home games at Olympia (that place was cursed for us) and playing in the town the team represents just feels so right. It was a noticeably bigger crowd—over 1,000 people vs. the traditional 300 we would get at Olympia—and it was familiar and felt more like a home game than anything we’ve experienced this season. We again went with the 5 defenders strategy and we again came out on top. Matt was relatively untested the whole game, which was a nice change of pace from previous matches. Sam was able to get his head on a set piece and that was all we need to gain another 3 crucial points. We are slowly inching our way up the table and I hope we can continue the momentum after the break!

 

This beak could not have come at a better time. After playing every minute except the second half of our 2nd game of the season, my body definitely needs some time to recover. The first half of the season has flown by and after recharging the batteries a bit, it’s time to embrace the grind once again. I can’t wait to be home though and be around friends and family. Breaking up the daily routine will be a great change of pace. I literally couldn’t sleep last night because I was so excited to get back. I went straight from hanging with the guys at the local ‘watering hole’ to the airport at 5 am. I thought this was a smart idea somehow, but now I have time to snooze on the flight in a few hours. I’m hoping to be in LZ, Door County, and Milwaukee this week so if you’re around, I would love to meet up!

 

Midsommer has also come and gone since we last spoke. For those of you that don’t know about this great Swedish holiday, it basically is a celebration of Summer (and an excuse to drink a lot and party till dawn). With our games, my midsummer wasn’t anything crazy. Ebba’s parents once again had me over for a late lunch and then I met up with some guys later to cook out and watch the World Cup games. Midsommer falls on the longest day of the year and the sun never sets… it’s a thing of beauty (unless you’re trying to sleep).

Ebba and Simon making the Midsommer tree: a Swedish tradition.

Ebba and Simon making the Midsommer tree: a Swedish tradition.

 

Tree completed! They dance and play games around this as part of the celebration.

Tree completed! They dance and play games around this as part of the celebration.

I love how the USA is embracing the World Cup. To see friends, celebrities, and others who haven’t necessarily been soccer fans come to see the light is a beautiful thing. Where some people are annoyed about this response and feel like they are just ‘posers’, I think it’s fantastic and if you consider yourself a  real soccer super fan, you should welcome these newbies and further build the sport in the US. I feel like we are turning a corner and soccer is on the verge of becoming a real spectacle on and off the field in the US. The more people interested in the sport the better! On that note: BEAT BELGIUM!!! #USA

 

Alright, alright, alriiiiight. I know I’m forgetting to write about something, but I have a flight to catch! I’m absolutely buzzing to get home! Being in the USA for the 4th of July? Can’t beat that. I will talk to you all when I touch down… Johnny and Caleb if you’re reading this, try not to be too late to pick me up from the airport later today. Terminal 5. Be there. Peace out homies!

Cool building in Malmo, a bigger city I explored on a recent day off.

Cool building in Malmo, a bigger city I explored on a recent day off.

 

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