We earned a day off...YAHOO!!! The team is working extremely hard so the reward is a day without soccer to relax and recover because we get right back into things tomorrow. The last few days were jam packed, as you can imagine, the team is here for a purpose and that is to make the world cup qualification roster. Monday morning we did lactic acid testing, which consisted of running laps at a set pace, pricking your finger for a blood sample and monitoring your heart rate. The end result will be to find out how far into playing/training does your body produce lactic acid. Based on this information, the staff can determine what type of fitness is needed to help those athletes who have an earlier spike.
Yesterday afternoon, we finished the day with an intra-squad scrimmage. We played two 30-minute halves to give us an idea of personalities and where they would best benefit the team. It was fun to watch, but equally fun to coach. The players were waiting for this scrimmage, as this was the first 11v11 session this camp. They were dynamic the entire game! It will be very difficult to select a qualification roster because all the players are enormously talented.
The U18 national team is also here this week. It is a great staff, with familiar faces. We all sit and chat between sessions, they are on the same training schedule as the U20's, so there is quite a bit of soccer dialogue going on inside the cafeteria at the Olympic Training Center.
On the day off, we are heading to tour a Navy ship. We will get to see the close quarters of the ship and hear how they depend and/trust each other to be safe and successful, an important lesson for where the U20's are in this World Cup process. We will finish the day at PF Chang's for dinner. When the team coordinator announced that, the players erupted like it was Christmas. Looking from the eyes of a 19-year old...free food gets them excited.
Our first game against Shanghai is Thursday. I will have more after our game on Thursday.