By Christian Alvarado
Our second day here in Costa Rica was pretty fun to say the least. After a great night's rest from all the traveling we woke up to a wonderful breakfast. We went to our practice and trained on a nice field. It wasn't like the fields we were used to back home, but it wasn't horrible either. We had a nice practice and came back for lunch. Our pregame meal was delicious. It was now time to get mentally prepared for the game. A couple hours later it was off to the game. We weren't sure what to expect from the team we were playing. They had a nice stadium, the team seemed fairly young, and the wind started to pick up before the game. From the start of the game you could'tell they were used to the field and the way the ball bounced. It the game was pretty good, we had chances to score, but unfortunately we ended up scoreless. The other team was very friendly after the game and they seemed very interested to come to the United States. We came back to the hotel after and the team hung out together in the casino. Its kind of weird that the team was bonding at the casino, but everyone seemed to be having fun there. Overall today was a great day and we are all looking forward to what else Costa Rica has in store for us.
By Akio Ohtake-Gordon
Today marked our first official day in Tico land. We have enjoyed our stay so far, but it seemed that our thirst for the game was quenched today with a practice, and most importantly, a game at 5! The game was against a professional second division team, Liberia FC about and hour and a half bus drive away from our hotel. The team got mentally prepared in the bus.
(Connor Hunsicker and Jack McCracken listening to music and getting pumped up while looking "tico-suavÃ¨").
After the bus ride, the team got prepared in the locker room, changing into our game jerseys, and lacing the boots up. Warm up gave us the news that the field conditions would not be very comparable to Sullivan field, with the dry, hard surface underneath a thick bushel of crab grass. After stretching, a few games of possession, and shots on goal, the whistle blew for kick off.
(Estadio de Liberia F.C.)
I sat the bench for the first 40 minutes, anticipating the opportunity of being able to finally play on international soil.
(Christian Alvarado game ready and Luc Brubaker candid photo extraordinaire)
While observing the game, I noticed the opposing Ticos were very technical, much like our team, but lacked one thing in their game against us, and that was physicality. We dominated balls in the air and 50/50 balls were claimed as Lion territory. Yet, our team was not able to adjust very well to the dry and crab-grass turf of the stadium, hitting the post twice consecutively in the same play. The opposing team did not seem as affected to the field conditions, as this was home soil to them, and strung some very good give and goes across different areas of the field.
(Juan Sebastian De Rada made a big impact in the first half (don't worry coach Mennell I wasn't taking these photos).)
I got the chance to come into the game at around the 43-minute mark, and the whistle blew for half-time before I was able to make a great impact in the game. My hunger was abstained until the next whistle. Once the second whistle blew, I was flying, hungry on the right-wing and ambitious for any type of contribution to a goal, whether scoring or assisting. Throughout the second half, I was able to distribute a few crosses, and attempts on goal. One play particularly sticks out where I beat Liberia's left back with a quick step-over and slipped a quick ball to Trent Clifton. His shot was unfortunately smacked over the goal, as well as many of our chances throughout the second half. We created many openings to goal with great technique and bursts of great speed, but unfortunately the ball would not go in the back of the net. The game ended in a 0-0 tie. This was a disappointing result for our team, because we had a good 70% of the ball possession throughout the game, and outshot our opponent but a vast amount. Yet, considering how this is our first game in a very different atmosphere, it is not a terrible loss. Reviewing my personal performance, I found that I made a positive impact on the game, but I probably could have made a greater one if I demanded the ball a little more from my teammates. I need to get into some of my teammates, and show my passion and my tenacity for the ball is not to be taken for granted. This is definitely something that I will do in our next game in two days.
(Akio Ohtake-Gordon observing my next move;) )
After the game, we were able to express our gratitude for the opportunity to play the Liberian side, as well as get a picture with the team. The experience of meeting some of the opposing players even though they did not speak English was very humbling as they were very respectful of our culture, and even conveyed their intentions and ambitions of one day coming to our own country!
By Bryce Bacic
Our second day in Costa Rica proved to be paradise. Now that we were somewhat recovered from travel, we could fully enjoy the day's activities.
We started out today with an early breakfast at 9:00am. Everyone agrees that the food at our hotel, the Flamingo, is very good After breakfast we left for a light training. The field we played at was about 30 minutes away and was slightly different than what we were used to due to the different type of grass and people burning their garbage in the corner of the field.
In the early after afternoon we had some down time we were allowed to relax and enjoy some free time, but had to stay out of the sun so we were not tired for our game later that day.
Around 4 we departed to play Liberia. The 1 hour drive took us into a part of Costa Rica that was much different than what we had seen. So far we have only been exposed to an area that is spread out, less developed, and has much vegetation. The stadium we played at was in the middle of a small city that reminded me of a smaller town in the United States, with smaller shops lining the streets and some venders on the street corner. Our game with Liberia was well played and ended with 0-0 being the result. Overall today was a good day and I look forward to tomorrow.