Sunday, October 26, 2014

4 the Hard Way

I told you all that this would happen.  I fucking told you!  I said months ago when I heard about the forfeit that there was a 100% chance that we finish 0,1,2 or 3 points ahead of MIFK and what do you know?  Karma’s a bitch.

Mariehamn played a great season but now has no chance at Europe next season and literally it’s only because their front office didn’t do the most basic of tasks, registering its players.  An asshole might feel it necessary to note that this stupid front office mistake essentially cost MIFK upwards of 100,000€, but I’m not an asshole! 
I scored another goal this month (keeping my essentially spotless “one a month” goal streak intact).  That can only mean one thing…………
DANCING BEARS!!!!!!!!!!!  One for each goal this season.

 I just typed "dancing bear" into google.  DON'T do that search if you are at work as it might get you fired.  Apparently "dancing bear" is a term my blog shares in common with a porn site lol.

If you’re reading this then I’m sure you already know that we improbably finished 4th place in the league.  We were as low as 9th just two and a half months ago.  Hell, we were something like 8 points behind Mariehamn going into the international break in September.  For the first time all season though we were healthy and in the last nine games we didn’t lose a single time.  We also only conceded six goals I think, three of which were in one game.  Of that nine game unbeaten streak, six of them were shutouts.  It’s kind of dumb to dwell on it now, especially if we qualify for Europe, but you have to wonder how good we could have been if we hadn’t gotten any major injuries.  I mean, Steven scored an amazing hat trick two weeks before he broke his arm.  I was sure that he would score 20 this year.  Timi Lahti missed like15 games and Antti Uimaniemi missed the entire season.  Antti is a top-3 Veikkausliiga left back.  Henkka is the best goalie in Finland and he missed like 1/3 of the season.  Cheyne didn’t play at all until the summertime and he’s probably our most important field player.  It’s just frustrating to know how good our team could have been if we had better luck with our health.  If you add in players from last year who could have been brought back and helped us, you get a squad that looks like this:



Karsten Smith



Grant Kerr


Nganbe Nganbe


This is off the top of my head so I may have missed a few guys, but that 22 plus our young guys Miika, Ilary, Artu, Samu and Jontoo give us easily the second best squad in Finland behind HJK.  That squad could easily deal with 6/7 games a month.  We made 48 points this year but with that squad and better luck we could have made 65 like Honka did last year.  Like I said I don’t want to dwell on it, but I want people who haven’t thought about it to realize how close this team was to being the best VPS team in a generation, maybe ever.  In that sense, 4th place is disappointing.

It’s been a long season, and in a way it doesn’t feel like it’s over.  This year doesn’t have that same satisfaction as we got last year, when we got medals after the last game and partied on the boat coming home.  Instead the year is just over.  Not much fanfare, no records or history being made.  It’s weird because in America we have playoffs so every season has a more climactic finish.  Either you miss the playoffs and there’s that moment of anguish after the last game you had a chance to qualify, or you make the playoffs and lose depressingly or win triumphantly.  Europe is obviously different than that.  I didn’t feel this way the last two years because both times we essentially had a playoff feeling.  Haka had to fight until the very last minute and VPS had a game that felt like a cup final against Jaro last October.  Just the daytime kickoff and full stadium reminded me of like a small country FA Cup final.  I guess it will sink in soon enough that the season’s over (I’ll be in Asia for vacation in 10 days) but it has lacked that finality and that’s a bit strange for me.

I’ve written a lot of words here but haven’t really said much.  Still though that’s all for now.  I’m going to post one more time a bit later this week.  It will be a reflection of how accurate my preseason  predictions were (hint: very accurate, obviously J) and I’m going to post my personal Veikkausliiga XI, or really 18 because I feel no need to be bounded to 11 picks.  Come back later this week to see that!  For those who want a sneak peek into my gift of seeing the future, consider this from my blog post from August.  Keep in mind that we were on a 5 game losing streak when I wrote this:

 Pretty much all of our last 9 games are winnable, and if we were to win 7 of the last 9 (like we did last year) then we’d end up with the same number of points as last season.  This might sound crazy, but these are games we still have to play: Inter (who have nothing to play for) at home, TPS at home, Honka away, HJK home after they will have won the league and played a Europa League group game, Jaro home.  To win all of those games is too much to ask, but we will feel that we are favorites in all of the games I just listed.  My point is that we are poised to get on a roll similar to how we did last year.  Last year after 24 games we had 32 or 33 points - this year we have 29.  So for all the doomsday fans remember...we’ve been here before.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Blog Lives

I guess I blog once a month now.

September was a good month for VPS.  We played 4 games and got 8 points.  In the last three games we haven’t conceded any goals and now we’re in a good position to finish top 6.  It’s by no means guaranteed though because our last three games are all against teams we’ve been miserable against this year (5 losses and 1 draw).

This time of year it’s always best to play teams that have nothing to play for.  Unfortunately we’ve got the opposite of that this year.  SJK is fighting with Lahti for the silver, HJK has nothing to play for but they’re just way better than us, and KuPS are directly fighting with us for position.  Of course we can win any of the games now that our team is fully healthy, but we won’t be favorites in any of the remaining games.

Going back a bit, I have to mention that I scored another goal!  It was MAAAAAAAAAAAYBE offside but I deserved to get away with one especially after this atrocity of an offsides call:
OFFSIDE?!  On by 3 yards...

Anyway, a goal means only one thing…dancing bear!
To add to the others!

Aside from soccer I haven’t really done much since our last break finished.  This whole month I’ve only been to the center two or three times.  Staying home has only had the advantage of saving me money, but at the risk of my sanity.  Also this sun setting at 7pm is making me sad.

Last week, I was completely ready to go on an epic rant against the officiating in this league.  Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately for the readers wanting a laugh) our last two games have been well officiated and I’m stepped back from the edge. The only negative thing I have to say about Veikkausliiga right now is that the season should be over next weekend.   I’ve played two Octobers already in Finland and both times I’ve been forced to play on ice covered fields.  Those kinds of games are useless.  The level on the field goes down significantly from the late summer games and to be honest nobody wants to play when it’s -10 and the field is frozen.  It also sucks for the players because the risk of injury is much higher on a frozen field and the majority of us don’t have long term contracts.  If I tear my ACL because I tried to plant on a patch of ice what will I do?  No way VPS or any other club is going to pay for me to get my knee surgically repaired and rehabbed.  I’d be out for 6 months, have no way of getting proper physiotherapy and be out thousands of euros.  And those are just the legitimate reasons I wish the season ended sooner.  I won’t even go into the fact that I just don’t like being out in the cold or I get sick easily or I’d just rather be inside.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Back So Soon

We just can't seem to do anything right.

It’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything, so I figured I’d come back.  Our season has been a proverbial roller coaster and the past five weeks have been no different.  Losing streaks become winning streaks become losing streaks.  Players are returning from injury, only for another player to get hurt or suspended.  We haven’t started the same 11 players in back to back games in months, if at all. Not a great situation.

Despite all that, and all the doom and gloom of our supporters, we’re not terribly far off reaching our goals.  We wanted to be top 3 to be entered in European competition, and because of the Finnish Cup situations we could finish even in 4th place and still qualify for the Europa league.  All that aside, 3rd place is still technically possible.  Pretty much all of our last 9 games are winnable, and if we were to win 7 of the last 9 (like we did last year) then we’d end up with the same number of points as last season.  This might sound crazy, but these are games we still have to play: Inter (who have nothing to play for) at home, TPS at home, Honka away, HJK home after they will have won the league and played a Europa League group game, Jaro home.  To win all of those games is too much to ask, but we will feel that we are favorites in all of the games I just listed.  My point is that we are poised to get on a roll similar to how we did last year.  Last year after 24 games we had 32 or 33 points - this year we have 29.  So for all the doomsday fans remember...we’ve been here before.  And to be honest, we’ll probably win the Fair Play spot into Europa League regardless of where we finish in the table.  We may not win a lot, but we tackle very politely!

As for the Europa League, I’ll do a very brief post mortem.  We blew our lead from Valkeakoski and ended up losing in Sweden 2-0.  I had our best chance but hit the post.  I probably could have done better, but then again I made the chance from absolutely nothing so I’m not sure anyone can complain about it too much.  Honestly the biggest disappointment was to miss out on the bonus money and trip to Italy that would have come along with beating The Bromma Boys and presumably also beating Crusaders.  Hell who knows one or two of us might have even earned themselves a big time transfer with a good performance against Torino.  Losing in Sweden cost me and everyone else on the team at least 2,000 euros and cost the club upwards of 100,000 euros after all the expenses and taxes associated with the competition and prize money.  Sorry Eero.

The past month has been pretty fun for me.  I’ve actually gotten out and enjoyed Vaasa’s beach(es).  I’m not a big beach person, but it’s nice to go hangout somewhere when the weather is so nice.  More importantly, I’ve been visited by my dad in the last three weeks so the time has flown by.  Despite the dismal state of the team at the moment, I’ve been enjoying life off the field.  It’s the absolute opposite of how I felt for the majority of my first year in Europe.

Normally in my posts I talk a little bit about our games, but honestly we’ve lost five in a row and I just don’t feel like getting into all of that.  What I do feel like talking about is the two more goals I’ve scored since my last post!  Bring in the dancing bears!

To go along with the two I already had:

That’s all I have to say about the last seven weeks of soccer.

As for my life personally, I’m starting to come around on Vaasa.  Last year at this time I had already begun a countdown of days until I was leaving.  I even packed all my things around the end of September and just wore VPS clothes for the final month I was in town.  This year you’ll all be happy to know that I haven’t packed anything (except for my shorts because apparently autumn arrives in August.  That’s assonance, asshole.  Look it up :).
 I could even see myself signing a longer contract here assuming the terms were right.  I’m not getting into what “right terms” means, but simply stating that I can happily see myself in Vaasa in 2015 and beyond.  The only requirement is that I no longer live next to the biggest de facto playground in Vaasa.

So pretty much that’s it.  Everyone can relax.  We’ve had two great trainings so far this week that are specifically preparing us for the match on Monday.  We’ll beat TPS to eliminate any relegation fears then we’ll beat Honka to be back in outside medals chase.  Then I’m going to London for a week and coming back to what will probably be winter weather in Vaasa.

The meme (I’ll do a few since I’ve been away so long):

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Jaro and The Swedish Job

I wouldn’t normally post again so quickly...

...but fuck it, I SCORED! That's two for the season.  Against our rivals Jaro, no less.

I was also hilariously credited with an assist despite two people touching the ball between me and the player who scored (ex-Jaro player Tomas Kula, in case you didn’t already know).

Interestingly, I didn’t speak with Celia the entire day before the game which is really rare.  I might have to consider giving her the silent treatment more often if it leads to me scoring goals!

The game itself wasn’t great, but we came through in the end and got the points.  I said it in my last post but I’ll say it again, the team is finally showing that perseverance that got us into the medals last year.  And don’t look now, but we have 25 points, exactly half of the 50 we got last year at the midway point of our season.  All this without the left back, goalkeeper, striker or center back you would have expected to be our starters back in March.  Imagine how good we’ll be if we ever get everyone healthy and can actually rotate our squad and keep all the players fresh.  Haha who am I kidding?  Everyone knows that VPS can only have 15 healthy players at a time!

We have a bit more time than usual to relax before our next game, so the team organized a quick trip to Tropiclandia for us.  It was really nice and was my first time visiting the facility.  I had a good time but it was nothing compared to Anthony, whom I think would build Tropiclandia in his backyard if he had enough money.  It was a great time though and honestly people must have thought we were a bunch of oversized kids the way we were running around and giggling on the water slides.

We head to Stockholm tomorrow to try and finish the job against The Bromma Boys.  I was hoping they’d lose big over the weekend to Malmo and be demoralized, but instead they drew 1-1 and are probably full of confidence.  The first goal in this game is going to be so vital.  If we score then they’ll have to open themselves up trying to score two goals and give us chances to settle the tie with counterattacking goals.  If they score first then they’ll be ahead on aggregate and we’ll be forced to chase the game and we are not great at that.  Though we did overturn a deficit against Brommapojkarna last week so we could do it again this week if necessary, I just hope we don’t have to do that.

We’ll head to Stockholm a day before the game, so I’m hoping I can get out in the city for a bit.  I really like Stockholm and there’s really no place I’d rather visit in Scandinavia.  Our schedule is pretty full though and I don’t know where our hotel is going to be, so I might be forced to just stay inside until the game Thursday night.

That’s all for now.  Hopefully some of you reading this are heading to Stockholm to cheer us on!  It could be a great night for the club!

The meme:

Friday, July 4, 2014


Giraffes fighting is like people on acid.

Or I guess I should say we’re winning.

We played our first game of the Europa League first round yesterday and came away with a 2-1 victory.  It was a hard fought win, but in the end I think we deserved to win and honestly should have scored one or two more.  We also should have had a great chance to score a goal at the very end of the game when I was played through on goal.  I was clean in, but slowed down anticipating that the ball would bounce up a bit.  Instead, the pass skidded on the turf and put me on a desperate chase.  Fortunately though I made it to the ball just in time before being cleaned out by the goalkeeper.  My foot got caught awkwardly under the ‘keeper and I went down with a lot of pain.  Unfortunately, the referee saw nothing wrong with this obvious foul and didn’t call anything, or check on me to see if I was ok.  This was terrible refereeing that pissed me off.  First, it’s as obvious a foul as you’ll ever see in a game.  Second, it’s a red card offence because the goalkeeper was the last defender.  That would have been enormous considering that Brommapojkarna didn’t bring a backup senior ‘keeper and possibly would have had to play a junior ‘keeper for the return leg next week.  Third, the double standard for attackers vs. defenders is infuriating.  Imagine if in that situation the goalkeeper had got there first and touched the ball past me and then I had slide tackled him?  I would absolutely be called for a foul and get a yellow card, if not red.  If the referee didn’t think the goalkeeper fouled me, then he must assume that I dived, in which case I deserve a yellow card.  But I didn’t dive, as you can see below. Besides, I want to score so that I can put a Europa League goal on my CV to give it some clout.

Although I didn’t write anything here, I felt very strongly that we could beat this team if we put them under adversity.  I was vindicated when we scored our second goal from a horrible mistake just two minutes after our first goal.  Brommapojkarna (which btw means “The Bromma Boys” and is the single coolest name in all of sports) have been having a bad season and the team is mostly young talents from Sweden.  Thus they are far less equipped to deal with adversity than a team of veterans like, to pick at random, VPS.  I played on a similarly-designed team with Enkoping SK.  We had a ton of skill, but no history with adversity.  It was almost the same team that had dominated Division 2 a year earlier and we had easily enough talent for Division 1.  But as soon as things went wrong they just compounded and by June we were just making up ways to lose.  We (VPS) screwed up by giving Brommapojkarna the first goal, but we really got in their heads once we took the lead.  None of their players looked tired until we scored our second goal, then suddenly they were all tired.

It’s America’s birthday, so I figure I’ll talk a bit about USA!  Not the country really, because who cares, but instead about our recently doomed World Cup campaign.  I won’t talk too long because this won’t relate at all to most people who may read this.  The United States both overachieved and underachieved simultaneously.  The team advanced to the Round of 16 and only lost after extra time.  On the flip side we only won one game.  We were dominated in three of our four matches, only controlling the game against a completely out of whack Portugal team.  We lacked creativity while our most creative players sat at home (Landon Donovan) or on the bench (Mix Diskeruud).  We brought Aron Johansson over Eddie Johnson or Terrance Boyd, then benched him because he wasn’t as big and strong as the guys we left home.  We took one of our best performers in the tournament (Kyle Beckerman) and replaced him in the knockout game with Geoff Cameron, a player having a horrendous tournament.  And we put Cameron in a position he literally never plays (he’s a right back at Stoke City and a CB with USA).  Despite all these coaching mistakes the team still made it out of the group of death, so that’s something.  The fact that we gave up the most scoring chances (72, tied with freaking Honduras) and created the fewest doesn’t seem to bother most people.  The point I’m making, and I promise I’m wrapping up though I could write 5000 words on this, is that USA got very lucky even though they shouldn’t have had to.  We have the players to get the same results without all the luck.  We should have been able to beat Ghana without a miraculous goal from a teenage reserve center back.  We should be able to lose by a goal to Belgium without our goalkeeper making literally 16 saves.  In the end, it all gets washed over because Americans care more about drama than results.  If we won every game 4-0 and won the World Cup the team wouldn’t be nearly as popular as they are as lovable losers.  Our goalkeeper Tim Howard is now a hero at home and the rest of our team goes back to their clubs honestly believing they did everything they could do, which is what everyone tells them but is not the truth at all.

Off the field the mood of the team is really good at the moment.  Players are finally starting to come back from injury, plus we’ve got a new player in Jordan Brown (or Jordan “B”, since I’m obviously Jordan “A”).  This has been good for the group and we’ve been able to improve the quality of trainings which has translated into better game performances.  The team is also showing the resolve that defined us last year.  Coming from behind to beat Brommapojkarna was something that reminded me of last year’s team, where every game we ran wild during the last ten minutes.  We’re getting stronger as the season goes on, and that’s great news for our fans!

Our next game is away to Jaro, a cruelly difficult and emotional game for us before our return leg in Stockholm. To make matters worse, we really need to get something from the game and we don't have enough players to trot out a B team even if we wanted to. Hopefully we get a good crowd and earn the 3 points!

The meme:

Monday, June 16, 2014


It’s been a shitty few weeks.  I feel like I say that a lot.

I’ll talk about the games in a bit, but before that I’ll talk about life off the field.  Things have been going well and now I’m looking for ways to better spend my time.  Believe it or not, lounging around all day can get really boring after awhile.  My nights of course are taken with World Cup matches for the next three weeks or so.  It’s been a decent start to the tournament and I’m loving it so far (except for Mexico winning).  
Fuck Mexico.
Spain against Holland
Maybe you wouldn’t know it by watching me play, but I know a ton about the game and really consider myself a tactics junky.  I love the World Cup mostly for the passion that comes through in every game, but also because of the fascinating tactical battles that the tournament produces.  It is the only soccer tournament where countries from different tactical backgrounds are thrust together.  It’s fun to watch the stars of France have to solve the puzzle that is Honduras, a team unlike any they’ve probably played in years.  Later in the tournament, it’s awesome to see tactical adjustments or gameplans for teams that you only learn you’ll be playing a few days in advance.  That tactical uncertainty, along with a ton of pressure, is the reason why the knockout round games are rarely as exciting as the group stage games.  But I digress…

I mentioned I had a bunch of free time, so I’ve taken to finding some ways to fill the days.  The first thing I’ve started doing is some extra training on my off days.  It was difficult earlier in the year to do anything because we had so many games and I was needed to play essentially all the minutes.  That situation hasn’t changed that much, but we have enough players now that we can rotate our team a bit.  That relief is enough for me to have the energy and confidence to get out and work on the team’s off days.  I think the extra training will show.  We players don’t often get to train our individual tasks much when we have so many games so the extra stuff I’ve been doing it pretty necessary.

In totally non-soccer related happenings, I’ve been applying (and getting accepted into) graduate schools.  I’ve noticed that a lot of players here are studying while they play, so I figured why not me too?  I haven’t decided just yet, but it looks very likely that come September I’ll become a “student-athlete”.  I won’t be leaving VPS though, so don’t worry (or sorry, depending on whether you like me or not!)

The Europa League draw is in a week, and I’m excited to see who we draw.  I had a whole writeup prepared a few months ago about the draw, but I had to throw that out the window because we were told that our draw has been regionalized to Scandinavia and northern Europe.  Before I go into who and where I want to play, I will talk briefly about my goals for the club and myself.  The publicly stated goal for our club is to advance past the first round though I think setting a goal like that is a bit silly.  The reason is that the draw could hand us wildly differing opponents.  For instance, if we get past the first round but then lose in the second round to a team from Andorra or Luxembourg, will we be happy with that result?  Happier than if we play Rosenborg and lose on away goals?  The latter situation would be a worse result, but would likely mean that we played a much better game and lost to a better team.  I think our goal should be to beat the teams from lower leagues, and show ourselves well against teams from higher leagues.  This may not fit nicely in a newspaper, but it’s more realistic.  To beat a Norwegian or Danish team would be great, but if we draw the 2nd or 3rd place team in Norway, I don’t think it’s fair that the minimum acceptable result is to advance from that tie.  Anything is possible though and, last week excluded, we’re a really good defensive team so I think we’re ideally built to play a knockout tournament.  Now on to my hopes.

I really hope to play a team from Wales or Ireland.  If we don’t get drawn to the UK, then I’d love to play one of the Swedish teams or Iceland.  I used to live in Sweden so I know all about the clubs there and I’ve been in Gamla Ullevi in Goteborg a handful of times so it’d be nice to actually play there.  I also assume Brommapojkarna(sp) in Stockholm would play in the new stadium in Stockholm (the smaller one) so that’d be cool.  Iceland is on my wishlist in all honesty because I think we could beat them.  We get bonuses for each round we advance so I’d prefer to play the worst possible teams and keep  advancing if I can be cynical for a moment.  Then I hope to play Inter Milan in the play-off round.  Imagine that, VPS playing Inter Milan (aka the “other Inter” to Finnish fans) at the San Siro!  It’s actually harder for me to imagine them travelling to Valkeakoski for a game haha.

I’ve typed so much by now that I simply don’t feel like going through our last few games.  In short, we didn’t really play all that badly but just conceded a lot of goals and we seem unable to score any ourselves.  I was going to go through all the tactical things that I’m sure no one noticed from the KuPS game and talk about what tactics we choose to use against HJK as well, but it would have all gotten quite technical and at this point I don’t think anyone cares.  I’ll break down tactics after a win sometime instead.

This has nothing to do with anything, but today I got another example of old Finnish people charm.  I was riding my bike into town for a massage and in front of me I notice an old man.  I naturally moved my bike very early to avoid this gentleman and took up a lane to his left.  He proceeds to try and jump in my path and starts shouting at me.  I stopped, which I think confused him a bit and tried to acknowledge what he was saying but he was having none of it.  In the end, I think what he wanted was for me to pass him to the left instead of right.  It seems like only in Finland do I get accosted by senior citizens and reprimanded for my behavior in public.  The only senior citizen I actually know in Vaasa is Taku Jokinen, and he’s the happiest guy I think I’ve ever met.  Why can’t everyone else be like him?

Lastly, it was Father’s Day yesterday.  I called my dad of course and we talked for like a half hour like we always do.  I’m really lucky to have such an awesome dad.  He’s always believed in me and is 100% without a doubt my biggest fan.  Scoring in front of him on my senior night in college and against KuPS last year are two of my best memories in soccer.  I rarely called him or my mother last year, but this season I’ve talked to them quite a bit and I’m happy I’ve made that change.  It may very well have a bit to do with my improve outlook on my time here in Finland.  He’s coming to visit in a few months and I’m really looking forward to that.

That’s all, folks!  The meme and then some dad humor:

Friday, June 6, 2014

Time for a break and London Trip

I know you’ve missed me, so I’m here to please the people! I'm even posting on a Friday, and you all know how I feel about Fridays!

Since I last posted, we’ve won two games in a row and didn’t concede a single goal in the process. We had our best 45 minutes of the season in the second half against Honka so the team’s confidence is high.  We always seem to do well in the last game before big breaks and it’s good because it makes the break more enjoyable.  Finishing with a great result also keeps the spirit of the team high and that’s been true into this week.  Training this week has been as good as any week all season, at least since I arrived in March.  People are getting healthier as well so it’s almost all good news. The only downside for me personally was that I got a yellow card on a play similar to this:

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be 2014 VPS if an important player didn’t get hurt so now Timi’s out for months with some sort of ankle injury.  Regardless, we’ve now gone over three games without conceding a goal.  Vaasa is going to have to change its name to Shutout City Finland™.  That’s assuming HJK concedes a goal sometime between now and the end of time.  Now, I’m not going to re-hash the games because there’s not much to say, so instead I’ll talk about life because it’s gotten better now that the weather has improved!

The weather is pretty consistently good now, so I’ve been out and about.  I even made my first appearance at Vaasa’s beach!  There’s not so much to do in Vaasa, but my teammates and I have been making the best of it and enjoying our downtime.  The World Cup is coming up soon, so I’m preparing my house to screen the games.  I have a projector and a screen, so I’m pretty sure the guys will want to come over and watch the games on the biggest possible screen!  The USA games though I have to watch by myself, because I get really intense and don’t like to be around people when USA plays important matches.  The fact that we’re probably going to lose at least 2 out of 3 games only makes it more important that I be alone for those games.

As I mentioned earlier, we had a break for a week. It was a great week and a good chance to recharge my batteries and, more importantly, stock up on a bunch of cheap stuff that I can't find in Vaasa.

The highlight of my trip was visiting Wembley Stadium, one of the biggest and nicest soccer stadiums in the world. The game wasn't very good, but the atmosphere there was amazing. The funny thing was that more people were entertained by throwing paper airplanes onto the pitch than the actual game. We also were seated a few feet away from the people who started a wave that miraculously made it's way around the stadium five times! I got to see a lot of the stars that I watch every week on tv play in person, so it was a great experience.
The walk to Wembley

Stadium empty

Stadium full
I won't bore you with details of the rest of my trip, but I will post some pictures.

Me with my man-purse

Victoria and Albert Museum

Tooting Broadway station.

After the vacation was finished, it was back to reality.  I had to be at training on Monday morning, but didn't leave London until Sunday night.  Unfortunately, that meant flying to Helsinki and spending the night at the airport.  I was worried that I'd not be allowed to do it, but I wasn't even the only person sleeping at my gate.
The view from my seat.  It was 1am.
The plane to Vaasa.  Like something from the 1950s.

I made it back in time on the plane in the picture and went straight from the airport to training.  It must have been good preparation because I did well in that day's training and the rest of the week as well.  Hopefully the good work leads to a good performance from me and the team this weekend in Lahti!

In honor of my going on vacation, the meme is a cheeky dog on vacation: