Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I'm On A Boat! But it's going to Marieheim...

February 7:

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything, so I apologize.  Things just weren’t very exciting in small town Finland.  Yesterday I played my first official match with Haka, a League Cup match against IFK Marienheim (sp).  Ironically, IFK Marienheim is one of the only teams in Finland I’ve ever heard of because I know a couple of their players from America.  One day, I’ll have to explain how I got to the point where I am now, and maybe later I’ll go back and put in a preface post, but in the summer of 2010 I trained briefly with Real Maryland of the USL.  There I met Josh Wicks and Mason Trafford who now play with Marienheim.  In fact the experiences of those two are what made me interested in the Finnish league.
Before talking about the game, I have to take you through the nightmare travel situation that arises with a game against Marienheim.  For those who don’t know, which is probably most of you, Marienheim is an island between Finland and Sweden.  I don’t even know if they have an airport.  Regardless, the best way to get there is by ferry.  That said, in order to get to Marienheim for a 7pm kickoff, we met at the stadium and left by bus at 5am.  This wasn’t a big problem for me, since I have been waking up at 3am every morning anyway.  From Valkeakoski we took the team bus on a 2.5 hour trip to Turku, the southwestern port city for our ferry.  From there, we boarded the ferry which really is a cruise ship for the 6 hour ferry ride to Marienheim.  We all had rooms so many of the players slept, but I couldn’t sleep at all since I had already gotten a full night’s sleep from 5pm-3am the night before.  So I just walked around taking pictures.  Yes, that is ice we were sailing through.

The match went well and we won 1-0.  The first half was much better than the second from our point of view.  We had the better of possession and created some chances.  Not many, mind you, but a few.  The team is changing formations and that is affecting our cohesion offensively.  We have not yet spoken about the attacking players in training because we are building the new formation from back to front.  That makes sense so I’m not worried about the lack of chances just yet.  I personally played well, considering it was the first full 90 minutes I’ve played in an official match since 2009 with Crystal Palace Baltimore (hereafter I might call them CPB, so bear with me).
Sami (the Haka coach, remember?) seemed very pleased with my performance.  Even though I didn’t score, I did play a part in the buildup to the goal and helped make the goal possible, which is my job.  I think that with a bit more match fitness and some time to get to know my teammates I will be more effective.  I don’t want to make excuses but it is worth noting that it’s still been only 4 days since I arrived from another continent.  That’s all for now, but before I go, I’ll put some notes from the match:
-This was the first 90 minutes I’ve played in a long time, but there may be many more to come.  Haka doesn’t appear to have any other center forwards available for selection at the moment.
-In Marienheim, the first language is Swedish, even though the island is a part of Finland.
-My buddies Josh Wicks and Mason Trafford didn’t play.  They were rested after playing only a few days ago in another League Cup match.

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