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Texas Pro Soccer Fest Journal: Days Three and Four



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While I’m here in San Antonio, my main task is covering the Texas Pro Soccer Fest from all angles, not only for SL, but also one of the event’s main organizers, Ziga-Zoga, and for MLSNet.com.

So, it’s been a very busy week, to say the least. But on Wednesday, I was a little sidetracked by another matter.

Though I was able to go through the day without a hitch, my mind was elsewhere for much of the time, since Iris (my fiancee, for those who haven’t been following along) had been getting sick over the last couple of days, and was feeling downright terrible yesterday. I hated having to leave her at the hotel, simply because I don’t like being away from her when she’s not well, but her well-being is much more important to me than needing her to snap some pictures and videos.

So, I loaded her up with medications and orange juice, and flew solo to the Wednesday morning practices, hoping I’d see a livelier Iris when I got back to the hotel.

Houston and Toronto took the morning off ahead of their evening match, but D.C. United and Chivas USA played a game before the game at the practice facility.

It was a pretty intense scrimmage, with expletives flying quite regularly, and even though fouling was kept at a minimum, that didn’t stop the players from going 100% from start to finish. Towards the end, things got a little dicey, as a small scuffle broke out. It was nothing big though, and given how hard everyone was going the whole way through, it wasn’t too surprising either. It ended 2-1 in favor of D.C., by the way.

After the match, I interviewed Chivas USA’s Ante Razov, and a couple of tidbits from it are available at the Ziga-Zoga blog, along with a video from Tuesday, when I interviewed D.C. coach Tom Soehn and Jaime Moreno.

Since Iris still wasn’t feeling well enough to go to the night’s doubleheader, I took on the duties of photgrapher and videographer for the evening. While she’s a top-notch photographer and videographer, my amateurism shines through rather glaringly.

I tried to get what I could for both matches, but I don’t know how much of it is actually usable, since I couldn’t do as much behind the camera as I would have liked. Note to self: Learn how to use a video camera, just for future reference.

The film may not have gotten everything, but there was a lot to report from the two matches. There were ten goals in 180 minutes of action, as Houston Dynamo beat Toronto FC 4-3 in the opener, and D.C. beat Chivas 2-1 for the second time in the day.

Since it was a mid-week thing, attendance wasn’t as high as it is expected to be for today and Sunday, but as I walked around before the first match, I was impressed by the amount of kids I saw with jerseys and other gear representing their favorite teams – while soccer isn’t nearly as popular in the U.S. as it is many other places, there are quite a few people here who are passionate about the game, and maybe a couple of those kids will be inspired by what they see in person or on TV. Even if they don’t end up being the next big thing, just picking up a ball and playing for the love of the game is plenty good enough, and if their involvement paves the way for others to get involved, it’s a big help for the sport’s potential here.

During the second half of the D.C.-Chivas match, I talked to Ethan Zohn, a former winner of Survivor and former pro soccer player. Zohn’s doing a celebrity charity match on Saturday, featuring several other reality show and television stars and some former MLS stars like Marcelo Balboa, Marco Etcheverry, and Preki, and the proceeds will benefit his charity, Grassroot Soccer, which uses the beautiful game to provide valuable AIDS education in Africa.

It’s a great thing that his foundation is doing, and if you’d like to know more or to donate, visit http://www.grassrootsoccer.org (corrected: I put .com by habit, but it’s .org). I’ll be posting up the interview with Ethan on SL and Ziga-Zoga, so you can find out more about his foundation and him.

Towards the end of the night, I checked on Iris, and thanks to a nice lady at the hotel service desk providing her with some high-quality flu meds, she was all better, which took a load off of my mind, to say the least.

Right after, I got stung by a yellowjacket, so the index finger of my writing hand (the left) is pretty swollen. It’s not pretty, but I’ll live. I usually don’t bother with offing critters, but given how it assaulted me for absolutely no reason, he (or she) got to feel the same pain via my notebook.

Wednesday night ended up being a late night for me, since I had a lot to get done, and Thursday ended up being a pretty long day as well. I didn’t go to the practices, simply because I knew I’d get a lot more accomplished all around by staying in, working, and re-energizing for the last few days. As it turned out, the weather wasn’t too good (it shouldn’t be this cold in Texas in March!), and with me not having a jacket of any sort, it a smart decision to stay in.

Today, I’ll be back out at the practice fields – unless the weather is a repeat of yesterday – but I’ll certainly be on hand to cover the second doubleheader of the week. In the first match, Toronto will play D.C. United at 6 p.m. here, and in the 8:30 game, Houston Dynamo and Chivas USA face off.

The Houston-Chivas match should be a cracking one – their sets of supporters made the most noise on Wednesday, and with the seats sure to be packed, the two sides will hopefully want to put on a good display in front of the fans.

Oh, and the food’s still very, very good. Hea-ven-ly!

I’ll be checking in tomorrow with a look back at the day, and next time around, I’ll have pictures. I haven’t had a mind to take many thus far, but I don’t want to let the week go by without snapping as many shots as possible.