US Revolution Journal

Greg Narleski's Journal from the UK Trip

Thursday, Oct. 4, 2001
Didnt get much sleep last night, I was trying to tie up some loose ends for the Demons trip to D.C. for the Nationals plus pack for my 12 day footy trip. I was so excited to be selected for the Revolution team; it is a real honor to represent ones country. All of the extra training and skills work with Scott Nicholas, the Demons Coach, was worth the effort it enabled me to have the opportunity to travel to London with the Revolution. The day has finally arrived and I am waiting, outside my apartment building at 6:30 am, for Tom Ruyle to pick me up, thinking of the experience that I will undertake. Finally Tom pulls up, per his usual tardiness, at 7:30 am.

When I arrived at the hotel, Paul OKeeffe and some of the Revolution players greeted me. There are a lot of new teammates to get to know. I wondered how I would learn 23 players names in two days? Communication is so vital for success on the field when you play footy, how would the team come together in such a short period of time? This was my first experience with the Revolution, some of the players competed last year against Canada, how would I fit in? I really felt the pressure of trying to be perfect during training trying to impress the other players and coaches but the guys on the team are fantastic with encouragement and advice. We know we have to work together to be successful so the veterans made the rookies feel welcome.

Gary Hill, the Revolution coach, did a great job stressing the importance of the team coming together and learning about each other. The team responded by dropping the individual club allegiances and focused on the upcoming challenge, winning the Atlantic Alliance Cup. It was incredible how this group of individuals jelled after our two-hour training. We concluded the training with some thoughts from different players on what it means to them to be playing for the Revolution. When I was asked I said, One word says it all, Pride.

Friday, October 05, 2001
Finally went to bed at midnight and it will be another night with very little sleep. We had a 3:30 am wake call and we boarded the vans for the trip to Dulles International at 4:15 am. The flight was uneventful and there were plenty of empty seats so everybody was able to spread out and be more comfortable. We checked into our hotel, the Kenton House, and we had three people in the room. The problem with this is that the rooms are traditionally smaller in Europe then what we are used to in the U.S. With all of the gear, we were pretty crunched so the organizers added more rooms so we had only two guys to a room.

Saturday, October 06, 2001
Game day, finally! Our first game was against the boys from Denmark. We were informed that they were the team to beat, so be prepared. Gary Hill announced the lineup for the game and I was starting in the forward pocket with Jim Baldwin (Denver) and Matt Dainowski (Denver) as the full forward. I was really pumped up and honored being selected for the team and now I am on the starting squad, I could not believe it! Josh Loring (Lehigh Valley), my roommate, and I went down for some breakfast and many of the guys were chatting about the small rooms, the shower that you had to hold, etc. This was my first trip to England and the room was exactly what I had expected but I guess many of the guys just didnt know. And we wonder why Europeans think we are excessive and rude? It is always interesting to listen to people compare what they are used too with what is new or different to them. We worked it out though, and we finally jumped in the cars that picked us up for the ride to the field, which was about an hour away. I thought we would be driving on the highway, but no, it was through the streets of London. The streets were packed and part of the mayhem was due to the England vs. Greece football match (soccer match) going on in London today.

The field was beautiful, green and flat. Very different from the fields we usually play on back in Boston. This was a public park and they actually had changing rooms and showers, very different from the states. We donned our uniforms, red and white stripes with the blue field and stars and the U.S. flag stitched on the front chest, and took to the field. I was real excited to get out on this beautiful pitch and show the rest of the teams that U.S. Footy is for real.

There was a gusting wind from right to left and we were kicking into the wind so we played a very defensive game to start. I was taken out to put in an extra defender five minutes into the first quarter. We engaged the Danish and they came away with five goals, they did not miss a shot at goal. I was back in for the second quarter, this time we had the wind in our favor. I took a mark and kicked the first goal for the team and everyone was pumped to get that first goal. We kicked two more goals that quarter and our players fought splendidly for the ball. Gary, the coach, challenged the team at half time to not give up another goal in the third quarter so we could utilize the wind in the fourth quarter to kick goals and go ahead. The defense held strong and gave up only one goal; the physical punishment our team was handing out wore down the Danes. They were rushing kicks and they kicked six or so behinds. Just as the third quarter was coming to a close the rain started to come down, not a good sign when you are down by twenty-four points. The rain started coming down so hard in the fourth quarter that the forwards could not look back up the field. We managed to kick two more goals but that was all we could muster. A bit of bad luck, but the team had done battle together and we were now truly a team.

Denmark 5.1 5.1 6.9 6.10 46
USA 0.1 3.1 3.1 5.4 34
GOALS: Denmark: E.Krolmark 2; R.Rasmussen, L.Rothmann, F.Yde, M.Ollgaard.
USA: J,Baldwin, J.Battaglia, T.Ellis, J.Hunter, G.Narleski.
BEST: Denmark: R.Storgaard, J.Jakobsen, P.Ghazouani, M.Hansen, F.Schulin.
USA: J.Amstutz, J.Purcell, T.Ellis, J.Loring, D.Jones, J.Becker.

Sunday, October 07, 2001
The team was focused to get going and get a win against Ireland. The day was brutal, rain, rain, rain, and a bit of wind to make it fun. We were playing at Trailfinders Sports Club today and the facilities were beautiful. There were heated changing rooms, hot showers, covered grand stands, and a beautiful function room with projection T.V. and a bar. I have never been in a place like it in the U.S. The club had two rugby pitches, a soccer field and a cricket pitch. We played on one of the rugby pitches, so the field was a bit on the short and narrow.

We came out hard and fast against the Irish we each exchange two goals, the game was on. The rain started to get heavy at the end of the first quarter and Ireland did a better job of getting the ball off of the ground and hand passing. Our guys went hard at the ball but we struggled to keep our feet and to keep spacing between players. We played hard for all four quarters and never gave up, but the Irish just kept running down the field in waves and scoring goals. I was frozen by the fourth quarter and I could not feel my arms. I dont understand why the Aussies came up with the sleeveless jumper for a game played in the winter? The players had a team meeting after the game to reflect on what happened and what we want to accomplish over the next two games. It was a disappointing loss and day.

Ireland 4.2 4.2 8.3 9.9 63
USA 2.0 2.3 4.3 4.5 29
GOALS: Ireland: J.Cunnane 3; S.Brennan, S.O'Laughlin 2; A.Coomey, D.Cotter.
USA: M.Dainauski 3; G.Narleski.
BEST: Ireland: M.Johnston, D.Reedy, F.Bradshaw, J.Cunnane, D.Cotter.
USA: -.

Monday, October 08, 2001
Started the day with the usual English breakfast of tomato, egg, and bacon and checked the weather forecast. As usual, cloudy with scattered showers, but that is a much better forecast then yesterday with buckets of water coming down from the clouds. We were to play the English team today and our team was pumped up to put in a big effort. The organizers had to find a new field for the tournament because the Trailfinders S.C. field was torn up from the previous day. We ended up at another beautiful and lush park. The field was the biggest ground so far. Gary, the coach, gave us a pep talk in the showers before we ran onto the field. He spoke to us about winning respect for U.S. Footy and that we were playing for our clubs back home. Because we struggled with the rain the day before he had the team jump in the showers and get wet in our uniforms before going out for our warm-up. A few of the guys thought he may be kidding but when Gary jumped under the showers first, they realized how serious he was about the tactic. When we ran out of the clubhouse he then had us run and dive in the wet and muddy grass. This really helped the team forget about the field conditions and play some hard nosed footy. The team stuck to the goals and tactics we spoke of yesterday and we took it to the Brits. The team really worked together today. We kept spacing between players so we had options, we kept running, and going hard for the ball. The guys had so much desire and fight in them today; it felt great to come up with our first victory of the tournament.

USA 4.3 6.6 8.8 10.8 68
Great Britain 1.1 1.1 1.2 3.3 21
GOALS: USA: M.Dainauski 4; J.Amstutz, D.Jones, John Loring, Josh Loring, G.Narleski, D.Thurmond.
Great Britain: P.Chaplin, T.Hallam, B.Rees.
BEST: USA: T.Ellis, J.Hunter, J.Amstutz, R.Beyersdorf, B.Furr, D.Thurmond.
Great Britain: -.

Tuesday, October 09, 2001
Our final match was against the Canadians. They have not won a game so far but today will be different because this will be the battle for North American supremacy. The day was a perfect fall day; the air was crisp, the leaves starting to come off their branches and a blue sky with pillow like clouds. Gary had each player go into the changing room to receive his jumper. Gary asked each member what the jumper meant to him and what each of us would do against Canada today? There was some extra intensity today during warm-up; the team knew what was on the line. We started fast, the tap came down two players touched it and we kicked a goal. Our guys in the middle did a fantastic job of roving the packs and pushing the ball forward. The defense held strong punching the ball from the Canadian forwards and delivering the ball to the U.S. midfielders. It was a great effort and the team looked forward to some time off after a long week of football.

USA 4.3 4.7 6.9 8.9 57
Canada 1.1 2.4 3.5 5.5 35
GOALS: USA:M.Dainauski 3; J.Baldwin, J.Becker, Josh Loring, R.Miller, D.Narleski.
Canada: D.Simnett 3; A.Korpela, M.McFarlane.
BEST: USA: T.Ellis, J.Hunter, D.Thurmond, D.Jones, J.Becker, J.Amstutz.
Canada: -.

Thursday, October 11, 2001
On the flight back to the U.S., I was able to reflect on my experience. It is always wonderful how a group of unfamiliar people can come together for a common goal and end up having success. I think we accomplished something very special as a team and though our record was not the outcome we expected or strove to reach, the team had a successful trip to London. We came together as a unit in a very short time and we tested our footy skills against some pretty strong teams and we ended in second place. It was a very intense week of footy and every person learned something about themselves as footy players and as people and we made some new friends along the way. The players made the commitment and dedicated themselves to honor the tragic events of September 11 by representing our country in this event. It was a fantastic experience; one I will look back upon and I will remember the hours of hard work to reach this achievement with pride.

Thank you to Paul OKeeffe, Rich Mann, Gary Hill, Denis Ryan, and the Revolution players. As a Boston club member I would like to thanks Scott Nicholas, Doc Cheffers, and the Boston Demons players and supporters.

- Greg Narleski

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