Former Wolverine forward Peri Marosevic, a member of FC Dallas of the MLS, will be penning a Under-20 World Cup Diary of his experiences with the USA U-20 National Team at the upcoming World Cup being held Sept. 24-Oct.16 in Egypt. Peri has spent time with the Under-20 national team at the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Under-20 Championship in March in Trinidad & Tobago.
Monday, Oct. 5
I’m sorry to break it to everyone, but unfortunately this will be my last world Cup entry. As most of you already know our journey in the U-20 World Cup has come to an end. The loss to the Republic of Korea put us in a difficult situation ending the group phase of the tournament with only three points and a goal difference of -3. Even though we only ended up with three points we actually still had a chance to advance to the next round. We just needed some other games to go our way and the biggest of those matches was the Costa Rica vs. Czech Republic game. We needed the Czech Republic to beat Costa Rica, but it also needed to be a specific score line--nerve racking and frustrating at the same time.
Since the loss against Korea brought a lot of us down, feeling disappointed with both the result and our performance this was tough to take, but at least we had one more chance of hope to move on. The day of the Czech vs. Costa Rica game was excruciating for everyone, not to mention the game wasn't being played until 9:30PM so we had to simply wait and wait and wait. I must have looked at my watch a thousand times and every time I looked it was only five minutes past the last time I checked it, so let's just say it was a long and painful day.
Once the game did start though some hope lifted amongst the players realizing we might still have a chance at this. Remember how I said the time leading up to the game was painful, that didn’t even compare to what it felt like once the game was on. Every Costa Rica chance my heart would race faster and faster, cheering for the Czechs every time they had the ball. The Czechs did give us some hope by putting one in the back of the net in the first half and if this result stayed for the second we would be going on, but unfortunately the Costa Ricans did not have the same plan in mind.
They came out and scored two goals in the second half as did the Czechs, but a 3-2 Czech win would still not put us through. It was tough to take and so many emotions went through us once we realized the tournament had come to a conclusion--disbelief, anger, sadness to name a few, but most of all disappointment. We are all headed back to our respected clubs or schools now.
All in all I have to say this was one of the best experiences I have ever been a part of. Playing in a World Cup with the world watching you is simply incredible and something you will cherish for the rest of your life. Even though this adventure ended a little earlier than we all would have liked, it is an adventure that I will never forget.
I hope you all enjoyed the entries.
Wednesday, Sept. 30
4-1--USA Wins! Now those were the words we have been waiting for! It was an unbelievable game and an outstanding performance. We definitely learned from our previous game against Germany. We came out more aggressive with more passion and matched Cameroon's physical style of play. We simply realized as a team that we needed to come together, play for one another, and learn from our previous mistakes.
I have to say it was a great feeling once the referee called the game. After the game, the locker room was filled with joy, laughter, and even some singing. It was just the perfect environment to be a part of. Winning a college game is one thing, winning a MLS match is one thing, but winning a World Cup game is something else, something more special as it’s not only a win for the USA team, but a win for the country.
This win vs. Cameroon puts us in a great position with three points with an even goal difference which places us second in the group behind Germany with one more game to play vs. Korea. A win will get us in for sure with a possibility of winning the group depending how Germany plays. A tie will get us in to the next round as well putting us in the top two spots. We need to carry the attitude we had vs. Cameroon into the match vs. Korea. It will be a challenge, but one I know we are ready to face.
Go USA and as always Go Blue!!
Keep you posted
Sunday, Sept. 27
What would this tournament be if it didn’t present us with challenges to overcome? It was a tough game against a good German side. Of course, we were a bit down and disappointed afterwards, knowing we did not have our best game and performance. We simply have to forget about the Germany game and move on and focus on Cameroon.
This is a long tournament and we still have two games to play with a possibility of grabbing 6 points to get us to the next round. I’m not saying that the games against Cameroon and Korea are going to be easy, far from it, but I think the boys and I have realized what it will take to win. We are all still in good spirits and that’s the way it should be. We have two more games to play in the group stage so this is far from over for us and we know this.
The day after the game the guys who played more than 45 min enjoyed ice baths and a relaxing pool work out to get their legs back. For those who didn’t play or played less than 45 min we had ourselves a good training session to make sure we stay fit and ready to play against Cameroon. We started off with a good warm up held by our assistant coach Dave Dir who got a good mood going right away with some laughter and jokes. This got us right into it and I could tell everyone was motivated with a lot of energy.
We went straight into a shooting drill with two teams and I must say at times I felt bad for our keepers, because we came ready. After the shooting drill, which the blue team won (yes I was on the Blue team), we played small-sided games to goals. It was intense and everybody showed drive and passion knowing we need to be ready for the next game and that our spirits were far from being shattered. After the small sided games, which the blue team won again, but the red team claims we cheated… of course. Sore losers I say (j/k), but it’s good to see we hate to lose even if its small-sided games. For the remainder of the day we are free and have some time to relax, watch some of the other group games going on and some ping pong must be played.
More to come… Peri
Wednesday, Sept. 23
EGYPT!!! After a good week of training in Cyprus, we have finally made it to Egypt. Now that we are here it's as real as ever and it's an unbelievable feeling. Once we landed at Cairo International Airport, it hit us that the World Cup was near. Posters and signs of the World Cup were posted everywhere. After getting all of our 100 bags of luggage, we headed over to Suez where our hotel was located at-- and by the way that is an hour and a half from Cairo so on the way there I popped in The Dark Knight and time flew.
Once we got to the hotel it was around 11 p.m., but we were still greeted by all the workers at the hotel. I have to say it was a nice welcome. The hotel/resort we are staying at is truly beautiful and magnificent--palm trees, pools, the beach by the Red Sea, water fountains, shops, oh and of course Hookah bars. Egyptians sure love their Hookah!
Since we have been in Suez, we have had three training sessions. One to get our legs back, which included a 30-minute run with some ball work and stretching, another to work a little bit on fitness, and the third was more of a tactical and technical session to get us ready for Germany. We also had our FIFA meetings which included meeting the commissioner, an identity check (we all passed!), head shots (one word: eventful), and a meeting with the referees to clarify rules.
WOW, this is really happening! Sometimes, I have to remind myself. Opening game for us is two days away and that's all the motivation you need.
Keep you posted.
Saturday, Sept. 19
After a couple of days of getting adjusted to the time, surroundings and food it was time for us to get into our deeper phases of preparation for the World Cup. During our time in Cyprus we are scheduled to play two matches to get us ready for the tournament which will give us a chance to work on our tactics, set pieces, as well as fitness. Yesterday we played Trinidad and Tobago in our first match.
We played Trinidad and Tobago during our qualifying phase in Trinidad. We beat them on PK's to get into the finals of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football). It was exciting getting on the pitch again with the national team and I could tell everyone was into it. Everyone was motivated to play. The game was very physical from the beginning with Trinidad and Tobago making it known that they were not happy with their last result against us. We did not let that get in the way of playing our game. The game resulted in a 2-0 win for us getting one goal in each half. It was definitely a good way to start for us. This will help us continue to grow as a team and build the confidence that we need not only for the next game vs. Australia but more importantly vs. Germany.
Today we had more of a recovery day. We went to the pool after breakfast for a cool down and stretch followed by a not so relaxed game of water volleyball. What do you expect when you have 21 guys who hate to lose... let's just say it quite intense. There was pushing, shoving, yelling, screaming, complaining about calls and taunting, all in good fun of course. Then after our "calm" game of volleyball it was time for contrast treatment which is three minutes of the cold tub and three minutes of the hot tub. Now that's more of what I call relaxing.
I'll keep you posted...
Wednesday, Sept. 16
We arrived in Cyprus yesterday after a long travel day and no sleep at all on the flights for me. It was brutal, but now that we are here it feels UNBELEIVABLE. The World Cup is closer than ever now and everyone is starting to realize it. Before we left it didn't click in my head where we were headed to and for what, it just felt like we were going to another training camp and not the World Cup, but as soon as we got here everything felt real and more realistic. Simply talking to all the guys and sharing our excitement it has made me realize that we are finally here after a two-year wait.
Of course, because of the time difference I was not able to sleep very much and woke up at 6am realizing I had three hours until breakfast so I had to fill my time with something. My roommate and I (Brian Perk) decided to go for a walk and check out what our hotel and this place was all about. We were not disappointed--more like AMAZED. Our hotel (Atlantica) is right by the water with such a wonderful atmosphere around it. The beach and the Greek-like structures are truly exhilarating. I have never been to Cyprus before, but I heard it was paradise and they were not lying.
We had a good hour walk around the hotel and beaches enjoying and taking every bit of it in but our topic of conversation never seemed to change. The World Cup and the first game vs. Germany were constantly on our minds. After a delightful breakfast with a variety of food to choose from it was time to train. We had two training sessions today and in the morning we just held a light session to get our legs back, did some technical work with the ball and some running to get our legs going. The second session was more intense consisting of a good hard warm up followed by 5x10 min sessions of playing full field. After training we hit up one of the three enormous pools in the hotel for a cool down and stretch. I have to say the first day was pretty good and I can't wait for another tomorrow.
I'll keep you guys posted throughout my World Cup adventure.