Hey guys and gals. Thus far, my blog has been exclusively about myself and the people I am around. If you’re reading this then clearly that’s not a huge problem for you, but I thought today it would be nice to kind of talk about some of my American friends and colleagues who are playing in Europe. There are quite a few but I will only mention the people who I most identify with. Hence, you’re not gonna hear about Clint Dempsey in this list. Before I start that though, I want to mention that here in Enkoping, we have been working on some tactics for the match on Monday. I won’t go into those tactics until after the game, but I just wanted to say that I’m happy we’re working on it. I like our training sessions, but I’ve always felt that we kind of neglect the tactical side and it hurts us, most notably in our match against BK Forward.
In other news that doesn’t technically involve me, Allsvenskan went on a one month break because the European Championships starting next month. I don’t know what the teams will do in the break. I assume they’ll have two weeks off then pick up training again around the 10th of June, but I don’t know. Maybe the teams will just train the entire time. That would suck for those guys, but then again they get paid good money so if they have to train then tough noogies.
Last thing from me: Yesterday, Robert told me that he would be “holding his thumbs” for me, which means he is wishing me good luck. That is by far my favorite Swedish phrase since it makes absolutely no sense. It’s slightly above, ”When the cat’s away, the mice are dancing on the table”. The second phrase is a funnier visual, but “holding my thumbs” just gets a laugh out of me every time.
Enough about me let’s get on to my friends who are also living/chasing the dream!
Brad Rusin (HB Koge, Denmark 1st division, but recently relegated)– Brad is a guy that I’ve known through mutual friends for almost 15 years at this point, since he was a youth player in Indiana that I was trying to recruit to my Dynamo FC team. Though we are not necessarily close, I do consider him a friend. The only time we’ve actually met was in the SunBowl soccer tournament in Tampa, FL when he and I teamed up on the Clearwater Chargers. We were both coming off our very successful freshman seasons in college, me at USF and him at UCLA. Since then, our paths have taken rather different trajectories, but I contact him every once in awhile. If things don’t work out in Sweden when my contract is up, I just may look to the Danish 2nd division so there’s a small chance we might be teammates!
Alejandro Taylor (CD Estoril, Portugese 2nd division, but recently promoted to the top league) – Tony, as he’s known, is one of the quickest and technically gifted players I have ever met. We played together for one season at USF before he transferred to Jacksonville University for personal reasons. I was his host on his recruiting visit and one of his closest buddies on the team (at least on the field. Off the field he had his own totally separate group of friends). I remember the first time I ever played with him; I laughed at how comically hard he went through even the simplest drills. Only to then have to play 1v1 in training and have absolutely no chance of tackling him. I tell people that he surely must be as quick a dribbler as Messi and I mean that. People who know me know that I love Messi more than my own theoretical children so to make that comparison takes a truly special talent, which Tony (El Tigre, as I nicknamed him) is.
Neven Subotic (Borrusia Dortmund, German 1st division) – Neven is one of my favorite people to brag about knowing. Like Tony, I met Neven at USF and I was also his host for his recruiting visit. It’s interesting the relationship you form with someone you host on a recruiting trip. For 48 hours, you’re like a big brother to these guys. The only non-adult they really have a chance to sit and talk to during the whole trip is you. They eat with you, occasionally go to your classes and sleep in your room (I would always let the recruits have the bed and I would sleep on an air mattress or the couch. I guess that’s why every single recruit I had my freshman year committed. Allow me to list them: Diego Restrepo, Anthony Wallace, Marc Doherty, Neven Subotic, Tony Taylor…the list goes on. Google that group and then be impressed!). Neven also lived with some random roommates since he was a January enrollee. Thus he spent most of his time in my apartment using MY PRINTER! I joke with him to this day that he owes me about $30 in printer ink. Most of you reading this blog will know that Neven went on to play in the German Bundesliga and has been one of the best players on Dortmund’s back-to-back championship teams. I’ve lost touch with him over the past year or so, mostly because I only communicated with him via facebook and now his facebook page is full of fans. I’m really happy for him that he’s doing so well.
Monica Dolinsky (Kokkola F10, Finnish Women’s 1st division) – Monica is a really cool girl who is kind of living a mirrored life to me. We are actually quite similar in that we both have lots of talent but haven’t found that big break just yet. Monica is from Indianapolis like me and I knew her just because we were both doing well in the youth soccer scene and we are the same age. We were never close though growing up and when I left for college I didn’t hear or really think about her for like 5-6 years. In a pretty crazy coincidence, the day before I left for Sweden last fall I went to a party with my best friend. His girlfriend (now fiancé) came to the party with Monica, who was ALSO going to Sweden just a few days after me. Since that revelation we’ve kept in decent touch and I’m happy she’s doing so well. She’s suffering from the all day sun too!
Mallori Malachi (Aland United, Finnish Women’s 1st division) – Mallori and I went to USF at the same time, but in all honesty I barely know her. I’ve noticed via facebook though that she is playing in Finland in the same league as Monica. The only things I can tell you with certainty about Mallori is that she’s nice girl and the best female goalkeeper I’ve ever seen in person. She, and I mean this, could have played ‘keeper for the USF men’s team if we didn’t have two All-Americans already playing the position.
Paul Torres (Nykoping, Swedish 4th division) – Paul is a player I met during my trial with FC Haka (remember them?) last fall. I only stayed with Paul for maybe ten days but we got along really well. He’s currently playing about 100km from me so I hope to travel down to one of his games. He also introduced me to TED Talks, which I have been watching like crazy the past couple weeks.
Brian Span (Djugarden, Swedish 1st division) – I actually don’t know Span at all. As far I know I have never met the kid. I phrase the last sentence that way because I visited the University of Virginia to hang out with Diego Restrepo while Span was enrolled in the school, but I don’t remember him. There was a lot of alcohol associated with that trip, so maybe my memory isn’t the most reliable, but it’s good that he’s doing so well. It shows once again that Americans from the college soccer system have what it takes to succeed in Sweden’s top tier. That’s nothing but good news for my chances of moving up. Hopefully he keeps doing well. As his stock rises, so does mine a little bit.
Ok. I wrote this post because I had nothing to say and ended up writing 1400 words lol. I like how this post turned out so maybe I’ll do some more about other people I know, though there’s not many. Maybe I can get together with some of the Americans playing in Sweden and spend a day in Stockholm or something. I’m sure the guys I know would be open to it. That could be a pretty sweet post for those who are interested in Yanks Abroad. I could get a picture with half a dozen of us!