Revolution Diary and Latest Results

August 10th 7:52PM PST
This just in via sms:
Semi Finals: New Zealand 10.4-64 defeated Revolution 5.2-32

August 8th
This just in via sms:
Round 4: Papua New Guinea 7.5-47 defeated Revolution 7.4-46

August 6th 8:09PM PST
This just in via sms:
Round 3: Revolution 5.11-41 defeated Spain 2.0-12

August 5th 3:56PM PST
A couple of videos of the revo's in Australia:
Movie 1 (MPG format - 1.34Mb)
Movie 2 (MPG format - 260k)

August 4th - 8:21PM PST:
This just in via Wheels:
Round 2:  Revolution 2.5-17 defeated Ireland 1.7-13

August 2nd - 11:28PM PST:
This just in via sms:
Round 1:  Revolution 9.8-62 defeated South Africa 4.10-34


Revolution Journal
Day 14

Flashback – You never know when you’ll learn things about people. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you have the potential for a lot of surprises.

I’ve learned a lot about my teammates, coaches and myself over the last two weeks. But the most surreal lesson I learned came on our second to last day as a team.

There we were: halftime at TEAC Oval. We’re running all over Ireland. We’re 15 minutes away from finishing third in the International Cup. We’re cruising, maybe, in the mind of our coach, cruising a little too much. He’s tense. He knows he has to keep us focused and on track. We are on the knife-edge of greatness or collapse.

All eyes are on Alan. Guys are sitting on the floor. He emphasizes the hard-work we’ve put in over the past 18 months and more recently the last two weeks.

“We’ve come too far to let it go now,” he says.

It’s true. We’ve worked hard. We’ve pulled together as a team in 14 days. That is a testament to Alan’s commitment and enthusiasm. He’s molded this team. He’s brought it this far. Our success is based largely on his plans, his vision. He’s not about to let that crumble now.

“How many guys watch wrestling?” he asks. We’re American men, so of course the answer is everybody has watched or does watch wrestling on television. It’s part of who we are. As a young boy you collect baseball cards, ride a bike, burn ants with a magnifying glass and try to cripple your siblings by imitating moves such as the Figure Four leg-lock, the suplex and the Iron Claw on them at any time, any where.

“How many guys watch wrestling?” We all do. Where is this going?

“You know in wrestling when a guy is beating the other guy all over the ring? One wrestler dominates the other for nearly the entire match and the guy who has been beaten is on one knee, hand extended. He wants mercy. He needs a break. What happens to the dominator if he shakes that hand?” His tone is rising.

Chicago’s Frank Bradley knows what happens to that guy. “You get thrown in to the ropes, clotheslined, then pinned” he said.

“That’s right,” agrees Alan. “That’s right, one, two, three, it’s over. The dominator has been beaten.  Don’t let up. Don’t relax. Don’t shake Ireland’s hand before you’ve got them on the mat.”

Who knew? Our coach, Alan Nugent, a great mind, a great surgeon, gleans insight and wisdom from the world of Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan. 

We’ve spent two weeks living by a trio of team rules: don’t get beat for effort, run hard and straight and stay disciplined. Add to that our new fourth rule: don’t shake the hand of a dominated wrestler and you’ve got a pretty good list of rules to live by.

Keep your eyes on the bookstores folks. “The Wit, Wisdom and Wrestling Ways of Alan Nugent” is sure to be a bestseller. I hear Rick Flair is writing the introduction.

Day 11 Wangaratta

We arrived in Wangaratta a little more than 24 hours ago. Five of the ten teams, Ireland, Spain, South Africa, Japan and the U.S., boarded a train in Melbourne and made the two-hour journey to rural Victoria.

Dan Kocka is leading a double life. He just moved to Des Moines but has spent a significant amount of time in St. Louis. He says he is the true Midwesterner. His home town is Lincoln, Illinois. Dan wants you to believe he’s a hick. He likes a dip. He likes a good meal. In true St. Louis style he likes anything fried. He considers himself a champion Euchre player. He has the potential to cause any number of international incidents should he choose to share some of his comments with the wider community.  On the train to Wangaratta, I discovered he’s just a poser. He’s smart, articulate and funny. As I dozed off and on I eavesdropped on Dan explaining to the other St. Louis guys the difference between unsecured and secured debt, how to spot financial fraud and any number of other heavy financial topics. I would have understood more of the conversations taking place in the carriage at the end of the train carrying the South Africans. Of course, once Dan realized he was blowing his cover he began a word game that involves substituting a word from a movie title with a word that describes a part of the female anatomy.  Say no more. Dan Kocka, Renaissance man.

Wangaratta is excited about the teams’ arrival. The International Cup poster is in all the shop windows. People are talking about today’s games. We play Papua New Guinea at 1pm. This will be our fourth game. Each game brings us one step closer to our goal. PNG, the 2002 Runners-up, stands in our way. They are a highly skilled, very fast team. We have a great challenge ahead of us.

Flashback: We played Spain two days ago. The Spanish are relatively new to Australian Rules football. Sunday’s game was wet and cold. The Spanish played with a lot of heart and gave us their best. In the end we came away with the win.

Flashback part two: Saturday as we walked to the Collingwood Football club’s training center (The Lexus Centre) Charlie Ellis talked about the team coming together. He had a conversation with someone, I don’t remember who, who told him it was tough for the team because they only had a month to come together. Charlie laughed at this. We would have loved a month.

“I introduced myself to half the team at the airport,” he said.

It’s true.  We’re from every corner of the U.S.  We’ve come together in a short time to do a great thing. I met Ben Crist from Atlanta at the airport that first Saturday. I held up my Revolution training manual as passengers left the customs area at Melbourne Airport.  I waited for someone, who I had never seen before, to approach me so I could give him a lift to the hotel. Of course, I’d recognize Ben anywhere now; he’s the guy with the broken nose. It’s a story for another time. 

Day 8

We won. Coach Alan Nugent told us the day before the game as we stood together at Windy Hill that we were on the verge of doing something no American team had done.  We would beat the Irish in Australian Rules football. We would knock off the reigning champs. We would make history. And we did. We won.  What a privilege to be a part of this team. What an honor to wear this jersey. What a feeling when the final siren pierced the air at Murphy Reserve. We won. We’ve got our work cut out for us.

“So many castles to storm, so little time.”

Winning on Friday is just the second step in our journey. Two games down, four to go. We play Spain tomorrow. The Spanish team has played tough competition in its first two games and has come away on the wrong side of lopsided games against Japan and New Zealand. An interesting tidbit: the Spanish team’s manager is from Nebraska. Go figure.

We’ve had several tremendous opportunities here in Melbourne. On Thursday we trained at Windy Hill – Essendon Football Club’s home ground. We spent the morning getting the lowdown on what the Essendon Football Club is all about. We watched a short video from the team’s 2000 Premiership season. The Bombers won all but one game that year and walked away with the Premiers’ Cup. The video showed fantastic footage from the season: amazing marks, crunching tackles and passion. The video ended with one of the players climbing into the stands, taking hold of his wife and kissing her. How cool is that?

On Friday, a few minutes after our win, I received a text message on my cell phone from my wife. “Congratulations Boyf!” it said. Michelle had to work Friday and couldn’t be at the game. Word had made it her way and from across town she could share the victory with me.  Pretty cool. It reinforced something I’ve known for a little while. We don’t live life in a vacuum. The experiences we share with others are sweeter than those we keep for ourselves.

To be able to share the big moments in our lives with family and friends is an experience that must not be missed.  As we come together as a team, we will share these moments with each other and with our nearest and dearest (and of course the not so nearest). Whether we share the games with you through a phone call, an email or an embrace at the ground, we will share them with you.

We are fortunate to have several family members here with us. Frank Bradley’s sister is here from Dublin by way of Chicago.  Darrell Butler’s parents are here. Earl Evon’s folks have made the journey to Murphy Reserve. It’s great to see them at the ground with their flag. Chris Carroll’s brother is here. Some of the guys have their kids here. Josh Loring’s young son is here. Tom Ellis’ son, Nolan, is with us every step of the way. He’s the future of this great game in the US. We’ve gone so far as to name him Captain of the US Under 13’s side. Oh, and the Under 16’s and the Under 19’s. Unfortunately, he’s the captain of a one man side. Now starting, all positions: Nolan. 

Of course, I’m the luckiest of the bunch. My wife and her family have supported my football ambitions for the last three years. They’ve been there for every dislocated finger (eight of them), bump and bruise over that period. They say your wife is your better half, Well guess what? The mob of supporters who have indulged me over the years is my better 75 percent (mom and dad account for 24 percent, with only one percent left for my shenanigans).

For every parent, brother, sister, son that is here. We know there are many more not here. Cheering us on, rooting for us. We are a better team for having you behind us. Thank you.

Day Five

Game One is in the books. The US Revolution has taken its first step toward its goal. We’ve done what we needed to do.  South Africa played well. They ran in numbers and their skills are much improved over 2002. In the end, the Revolution ran out winners by five goals. 

Flashback – Day Two:   Brad Rinklin is a hard-core addict. He developed the addiction in 2002. He’s been clean for three years, but since his arrival at Melbourne Airport he has reverted to his junkie ways.  Once he tasted his latest vice, there has been no looking back. On his first day in Melbourne it’s all he could talk about. Satisfying that craving is foremost on his mind. Feeding the monkey on his back has become an obsession. He may be past the point of no return.  

“You’re going again?” I ask him. Truth is, I can’t blame him. I live here. I know how good the local stuff is, but man, two days in a row?

“Oh yeah,” he mutters as his eyes, hazy and heavy, stare toward the horizon. In his mind he’s already there. Soon the body will follow and he will sit in Pelligrini’s kitchen devouring pesto ravioli, lasagna, perhaps the ever popular spaghetti bolognese. The man is sick.  There is no stopping him.

Should you ever decide to visit Melbourne, you too can ride the white lightning that is Pelligrini’s.   Pelligrini’s is an Italian coffee bar that serves pasta. People will tell you Lygon Street has the best, that’s crap.  Pelligrini’s at the top of Bourke Street in the CBD is the heavyweight champion in this town. I’m proud to report Brad is currently on day three of his detox; however, I’m not optimistic he’ll make it through the weekend without a relapse.

A quick update: We’ve talked a little about nicknames on this trip: Sars, Pope, Poops, Fingers, Kidney, Rinks, and Matty D to name a few. Let’s add a new one. Dustin Jones is a former Essendon – USFOOTY scholarship holder and as far as I can tell he has not had an appropriate nickname…until today. Seems seagulls have taken a fancy to the young man. I’m not sure how they do it, but during the fourth quarter of every football game at the MCG, the gulls arrive. Mornings at the beach, afternoons at the footy, what a life these seagulls lead?  They arrive in packs, circling the unsuspecting fans below. On Sunday we sat in the crowd watching Collingwood and Freemantle. On Sunday the seagulls arrived with a bit of attitude. As the birds flew over our heads and around the ground, one troublemaking seagull (well, there’s no polite way to say it) pooped on Dustin. Once is bad enough. Twice is somethin’ special. Within ten minutes another bird had taken aim and hit the target. Dustin would have been hit a third time were he not so wily.  Ladies and Gentleman, I’m pleased to introduce, Dookie: the rover formerly known as Dustin. 

The weather: Melbourne has notorious weather. You’ll hear all the clichés about the weather during your time in Melbourne. 

“If you don’t like it, wait ten minutes, it will change.”

“Melbourne has four seasons…four seasons in every day.”

I think it’s futile to attempt to pin the weather down to any particular season. In fact, how about we just stop the nonsense right now and agree there is one prevailing season: Melbourne.  “Is it summer? Nope, Melbourne.”

Since the team has arrived the weather has been very un-Melbourne for this time of year (and that sort of proves the point…it’s not winter…it’s Melbourne). 

The team has been treated to cool mornings and warm, sunny days. Today, however, Melbourne showed its true colors: cool morning, rainy and cold mid-morning, sunny at noon, windy and warm at mid-afternoon and by 430 the rain had returned.

Don’t worry…it only lasted 10 minutes.  Today’s weather is bit like how we played. Patches of intense pressure, long kicking and supreme effort, followed by a cold spell, a little rain before ending with a bit of sunshine and a spectacular rainbow.  If we can make it through the various playing patterns we’ll no doubt experience over the next 10 days, hopefully, we can make it to our own pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.


Day Four

A correction: I included a serious factual error in yesterday’s ramblings. Kyle Strenski did not use the word parallax.  In fact, Kyle had no knowledge of the word parallax prior to the real team word-smith Doug Lewis using it yesterday morning. Perhaps my confusion as to who said parallax yesterday was due to some sort of true parallax when I looked over my shoulder and thought it was Kyle.

A flashback: Melbourne loves football. A few years ago, a good friend told me football in Melbourne was like a religion. I told another friend what that friend had said, and this person corrected me. He said, “some people will have you believe football is a religion in Melbourne, when in reality, it’s much more important than that.”  Melbourne’s footy culture is on display everywhere. It is a city of culture, of sport, of the ever-present question, “Who do you barrack for?”  For the uninitiated barrack means the same thing as root. It’s just that root doesn’t mean the same thing in Australia as it does in the US.  If you don’t know what it means, don’t worry. Just ask the nearest Aussie, he or she will be happy to fill you in. If you’re lucky they might explain by way of demonstration.

Today started with the team meeting. Coach Alan Nugent has us in a routine that should serve us well for the remainder of the tournament.  This morning’s meeting is special: the team to take on South Africa is announced. Twenty-four men will line up for the United States tomorrow afternoon, some pulling on the stars and stripes for the first time.

Once the team is finalized we’re off to the oval for training. It’s our last chance to go over the game-plan. Our last chance to visualize what is going to happen after the first bounce.

After training, guys are free to spend the afternoon in the city. A few of us brave the cold water of Port Phillip Bay. It’s a bit of a homegrown footy soreness remedy: feel pain, stand in ice-cold water for 20 minutes. People say it helps. It certainly helps change the configuration of a certain piece of male anatomy. 2002 Revolution Captain Jeff Purcell has it the toughest. He’s in the water because of his sore back. That means he has to go deeper. So far, only ten guys have experienced the restorative power of the Bay, the rest get there shot tomorrow after South Africa.  Better win. Probably feels a helluva lot colder after a loss.

Day Three

“I’d like to confirm something that had only been whispered about prior to the team’s arrival. It involves the extent of a teammate’s physical prowess.

‘Dude, he’s so fast,” said one team member.

‘He’s scary fast,” said another.

The truth is, he’s spooky fast; Road-Runner fast, run-like-ya-stole-somethin’ fast.

Dan Sarbacker is the spooky one. He’s one of the new guys. Of the 35 revolution players selected for this year’s International Cup, 19 are first-timers. It’s a good mix. The new guys push the experienced guys (memo to Tom Ellis, I did not use “old” so as to not make you feel, well, old).  The experienced guys can’t wait for a chance to wipe the disappointment of 2002 from the memory banks.

That process of creating new memories begins in two days. Just two sleeps till the first bounce. Wow!

Coach Alan Nugent told us this morning we’ve trained for months for this thing, “some of you for three years,” he added. It’s been a long-time coming and in many ways I can’t really believe it’s here.

We start the day with a team meeting. This morning we learned our team rules, our plays and we learned about our teammates. Brad Pope from Phoenix by way of Madison, Wisconsin likes to sit on the floor. Kyle Strenski from Cincinnati likes to use words like “parallax” (I checked and Kyle’s correct in his definition). Jerk. Nickname suggestion: Kyle should henceforth be known as Webster’s.

(I’ve digressed a little. Let me go a little further. The subject of nicknames, ours is a varied bunch: Bluey, Fingers, DB, Pope, Luto, Kidney, Uma and Poops. That’s right. We’ve got a guy named Poops. Before the tournament finishes I will have the origins of his nickname and will print it here. In the meantime, feel free to make something up.)

After the meeting it was a quick jog to the oval in Albert Park. Charlie and Donnie lead the team through stretches and then the boots and footys arrive. Today’s training session is a bit longer and whole lot tougher. Rob Oliver from New York is helping run some of the drills. He’s a one-eyed Collingwood supporter. On Sunday, we watched his beloved Magpies lose to the Freemantle Dockers (the team with the worst club song ever).  Rob took out his frustration on us this morning. Collingwood fans are all the same: they’re not happy unless others are in pain, on fire or preferably both.

The drills he put us through will help us immensely as the tournament rolls on. We’re lucky to benefit from the group of men who have come here to help us.

Everyone is heading toward one goal. The new guys, the old guys, the coaches are all pushing toward the same thing: a date at the G, a night out with the cup and a lifetime of memories. Our goal doesn’t change no matter how you look at it, there is no parallax there.

Day 2

"Guys arrived bleary eyed and shuffling at this morning's team meeting. The conference room at the end of the hall on the second floor is filled with 35 men: the US Revolution.   This room will be USFOOTY's nerve center for the next 14 days.
The 2005 International Cup begins Wednesday.  Our first game is against South Africa. Rumour has it they are much improved. We'll see. There is a lot to learn over the next few days: how strong is the opposition? How will we remember the plays? Who is the guy sitting next to me?
Our first training at Albert Park is a chance to learn the names of those guys from the meeting and our first step toward becoming a team. The drills are short, sharp and purposeful.  The guys look good. It's clear we've done the work.
We spent the afternoon at the MCG watching Collingwood and Freemantle. An un-July-like Melbourne afternoon welcomed us to the ground. Nathan Buckley, Collingwood's captain, is playing his 250th game. Many of us are getting ready to play our first games in Australia. Some are here for the second time; a chance to improve on our fifth place finish in 2002.
We have four days to come together as a team. Four days before we pull on the boots. Four days until we find out if we've done enough."

Day 1

Touch down!

The Revolution Team finally completed the long air flight down under! With the sun shinning as the plane touch down we couldn’t have scripted a better arrival. OK, we could have had some extra warmth, about 14c, so welcome to Melbourne weather.

After clearing customs (yes they all got through, but with a few bags are transit on the next plane from LA), everyone boarded the bus and headed to South Melbourne - home for the next 17 days for the team.

The check-in process went smoothly thanks to good planning, then the team received their off field team uniforms. A quick team meeting and the boys grabbed a walk to stretch the legs and get some fresh air. Making their way to Southbank, a local river walk precinct that has some great restaurants, they grabbed a bite to eat to reload before heading over to the MCG, home of football in Australia, to watch their first Live AFL game - Melbourne Vs. St Kilda.

Watching an AFL game live kills watching it on the TV, as most sports do and the guys seemed to lap it up. Coffees came in to play at half time to keep bodies from closing down and to keep the heart rate pumping to quickly adapt to the new time zones. The team has three days before the first game and as night is day and day is night for their body clocks, it will be tough in the first few days for many. Good planning again will ease the pain of adapting. Rule one for today; keep awake until at least 7pm!

Game was played at high intensity but the Saints were way too good coming home with a big win. Melbourne have 4 big injuries from the game and a tough next four weeks, so their finals campaign may be over if they can’t preform a miracle turnaround quickly!


- Jay Mueller

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