Saturday, July 28, 2012

Well, At Least It's Not Raining...

Well I’ve got news, but unfortunately it’s not good news.  Not necessarily negative, but certainly not good.  I flew back to Sweden Thursday and met with ESK’s GM on Friday morning.  We had a very brief chat in which he told me that the club has no money and that they would not be offering me an extension.  Of course, that lack of money didn’t stop them from signing two new players, but what do I know?  This was unexpected, but not an unwelcome development for me.  I had resolved to leave ESK quite a long time ago and I’ve been able to secure a few trials.  Speaking of which…

Yesterday I started my first trial, with Vasby United of the same league as ESK.  Today it ended.  More on that in a bit.  As you may recall, I mentioned that Vasby and IK Sirius were the best teams in the league, though Vasby is in the bottom half of the standings and has very little chance of being promoted to Superettan this year.  To train and trial with Vasby though is still a good opportunity.  They are a club with resources and ambition, so it’s a good place to train and play, even if they aren’t going to likely win the league.  There’s a big problem though.  My ankle.

My ankle has been bothering me ever since I injured it in my last game with ESK two weeks ago.  I was only able to go for a jog a few days ago, but the ankle is at about 70% right now.  I can get through a training, but I’m certainly not impressive.  This is a big problem because I have to stand out in order to get a contract offer from Vasby.  They already have 22-23 players contracted so they won’t be signing anyone just to do it.  That said, obviously I got the trial because Vasby has seen me play multiple times and was interested.  That’s what made it so strange when after training today the coach asked to speak with me.

I had just played very well in training despite my ankle being injured.  We did all small sided stuff, and the only time I could really show was as an extra player in a 6v6+1 game to goal at the end.  In this drill I was brilliant and created goal after goal, though I didn’t score any myself.  That’s because as the all-time offense player, I tended to stay in the middle of the field.  That way, if the team I was with suddenly lost the ball, then I wouldn’t be in a position where I’d normally be counted upon to defend.

My point is I played at the highest level I possibly could considering the ankle.  And the coach knew about the ankle via the physio.  So you can imagine my surprise when he told me that I would not be continuing my trial.  He told me that I was more of a 2nd striker, not a “#9” which is what they are looking for.  That’s fine, in fact it’s true, but how would he know that?  I had only trained for two days and we never played on a full-size field.  In small sided games, there really isn’t a way to play as a #9.  There’s no space to create and you end up playing with a lot of interchangeable midfielders.  In addition, they’ve seen me play at least twice, and every time they will have seen me playing as a winger.  What made them bring me in to train?  And if they wanted me to be a #9 and not a winger, then why not tell me?  You just see me play great then say, “Well, he’s good enough but we’ve already got 5 wingers.”  I don’t get it at all and I feel like this trial was a total waste of my time.  I am not a #9 in the traditional sense.  I can play as a center forward in a 1 forward system, but I cannot play as a big bruiser and ball winner.  I can play the position using my speed and intelligence to keep the center backs occupied, much like I did in college.

I know I mentioned that I loved my time in England with Celia.  Now, I feel like I left too soon.  I assumed that I’d be offered a contract extension from ESK and even if I didn’t accept it, I figured I’d still perhaps be forced to train the last couple days of the month or be fined.  That’s why I left London when I did.  I could just as well have had my meeting with the ESK GM on the phone and not done the Vasby trial until my ankle fully healed.  Nothing would have been different.  In fact, things may very well have been better because I could have shown myself properly when I actually had the trial.  Or sorted out what they were looking for before I arrived.  Instead, I ended up stuck in Enkoping, paying ridiculous money to take a 90 minute each way public transit journey to trial with a team while I’m effectively injured.  If I was going to waste my money, I’d buy the Olympic swimming competition tickets for the very top where you can’t even see the pool.  Not take a train and two buses to suburban Stockholm and back.

Lastly, I’ll go a bit off topic and talk about the Olympic Games.  I have always been a huge fan of the Olympics, in part because track and field always seem to be a big event and I’ve always been fast.  I remember watching Michael Johnson break those world records (200m, 400m) in Atlanta and how crazy my dad went over that.  He ran track in high school and college and admired Johnson’s ability.  My pops also ran with Edwin Moses in high school.  Moses went on to become the greatest 400m hurdler of all time.  I’ve met Moses.  Maybe meet isn’t the right word because I was a baby, but I’ve been in his presence.  I dreamed of running in the Olympics long before I dreamed of playing in the World Cup.

The way things are going at the moment, I have half a mind to just go back to London and soak up the Olympic atmosphere and spend more time with Celia.  I could still sort out a contract after the Games were over.  But I know I can’t do that.  I have to suck it up and make things work.  I’ll be going to Finland next week for a trial and we’ll see what happens.  It’s already been setup and confirmed, but I’ll wait until I’m actually there before I reveal the club.  It’s just easier that way in case anything happens in the interim.

Those of you who have stuck with me for 1150 words deserve a treat, so I’ll tell you an amazing story.  Maybe not amazing, but definitely strange and perhaps funny.  It took me four hours to get home after training today with Vasby because the public transit is much less frequent, meaning I had to wait 45+ minutes two or three times on the way home.  During one of those stops, in Balsta, I was sitting on a bench about 50 yards from the bus stop at like a bus station café, though it was closed.  Whenever I travel I read so I had my kindle out and was reading Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s autobiography.  There were probably five people in sight.  Out of nowhere some lady comes around a nearby corner kinda quickly and brushed my hair with her hand.  It caught me off guard because I didn’t see her coming and wasn’t expected any contact at that moment, so I looked up towards her (she had taken one or two more steps at that point and was about five feet away) and you’ll never guess what she did.

She, in a comedy cartoon style, put one foot like six inches off the ground and farted.  It was the weirdest thing ever.  It sounded like a trombone.  Then she looked around for a second like she was going to sit but instead just walked away.  Keep in mind, we’re not talking about like some adolescent girl.  This woman must have been in her late-30s.  She looked kind of trashy though, so maybe she was drunk or something.  I just figured you’d enjoy that little insult right at the end of my day.  It reminded me of a Family Guy clip:

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