The Puget Sound men's soccer team is in England, Aug. 8-18, when it is playing in friendly matches against local teams, training with local coaches, and touring the country. Incoming senior Dane Schatz reflects on a few days of the trip.
On Tuesday we checked out of our hotel in London and headed north to play Tranmere Rovers FC's U18 team. First we stopped in a town called Stratford-upon-Avon, which is the most British sounding town I've ever heard. It's also the birthplace of William Shakespeare. We visited his house and went into the gift shops around the town, including a Harry Potter store for some reason.
After spending some time in Stratford-upon-Avon, it was time for our game. Although our opponents were between the ages of 16 and 18, they were all full professionals, with contracts and an income. Some were even members of the Tranmere Rovers first team. These kids were some of the best players I've ever played against and it was an amazing learning experience. We lost 1-0, but everybody felt that we had chances to win the game. After our game, we headed to our new hotel called Carden Park, a hotel and spa on 1,000 acres of countryside. It was a big change from the city of West London.
The next day we traveled to Liverpool for a little sightseeing. We had lunch in the city and then went exploring. Some of us went to the Beatles museum and others went to the boatyards. After a couple hours we went to Anfield, the home stadium of Liverpool FC - Champions of Europe after winning the Champions League final in May.
The next day we had a light training session conducted by one of our tour guides. Then we had another game against Lichfield City FC. This game was far different from the one on Tuesday, we won 9-2. After the game we had to quickly get back on the bus so we could watch Wolverhampton Wanderers face FC Pyunik, a team from Armenia, in a Europa League qualifying match. We were sitting about five rows from the field and it was an insane atmosphere. We saw the home team score four goals, including an amazing bicycle kick late in the game.
We've been in England for seven days and I don't have a British accent yet, a little disappointing but that's ok. One thing I've learned about this country is that it seems like every town has to have a ferris wheel. I've also learned that a Liverpool accent is my least favorite accent I've ever heard.