Saturday, August 10
This morning, we started off our day with a scenic rooftop breakfast at our hotel. Once again, we were treated to a traditional English breakfast. We took a quick bus ride to London Stadium, the home of West Ham United F.C. There, we saw the Hammers take on reigning premier league champion Manchester City. We got an exciting game as well as witnessing the first use of VAR in the Premier League. It was especially cool to see the traditional West Ham bubbles and "Forever Blowing Bubbles" chant. Manchester City started off their season strong with a 5-0 victory.
After the game, we traveled to the Thames River for an interesting boat tour that started at the London Tower Bridge and took us past famous architecture and statues. Our tour guide kept everyone involved with timely jokes and facts along the way. We saw the London Eye and got off in Westminster where we could see more famous landmarks and buildings like Buckingham Palace, where Queen Elizabeth lives.
After a quick visit to Trafalgar Square, we concluded the day in Piccadilly Circus' Lillywhite's athletic shop. The team enjoyed the lively street performers around Piccadilly Circus, which reminded us all of Times Square. From there, we walked to dinner for some fine Italian dining at Carluccio's to conclude the night.
Friday, August 9
On Friday, the Catholic University men's soccer team had the privilege of waking up from a well-deserved nights sleep at St. George's Park, England's National Training Centre. After eating breakfast, the team packed their bags and hopped on the bus en route to play their final game of the trip against Lichfield FC.
Upon arriving at the Lichfield FC grounds, the team laced up its boots, eager to play its last game against European opposition. The Cardinals battled to the final whistle and were able to finish unbeaten on their trip to London with a 1-0 victory.
Following a hard-fought game, the team packed the bus and prepared for its trip back to London. With a long ride ahead of them, the Cards stopped at a rest stop half way through the ride where they were able to eat and relax before finishing their journey back to the heart of London.
After the long bus ride, the team arrived at the luxurious Novotel and headed to a nearby restaurant to indulge in American cuisine while watching the premier league match between Liverpool and Norwich. After many laughs and enjoying the delicious food the team headed back to the hotel and went to a skydeck 38 stories high. There, the team was fully able to embrace the scenic skyline of London, taking pictures and embracing this once in a lifetime experience.
Thursday, August 8
We started our day very early. We had our last breakfast at the Carden Park Hotel. We took a bus ride to Old Trafford, home of the Manchester United Red Devils. The tour was extensive and we saw the home and away dressing rooms, walked out of the tunnel to the Man Utd team song, looked at the perfect pitch and sat in the official Chevrolet Racing seats where the players sit.
After walking around the stadium, we visited the Man United's team store where many of us purchased shirts from our favorite players. Then, we went to downtown Manchester and walked around, went site seeing, grabbed lunch and visited the Classic Football Shirts Store. The store had a plethora of retro jerseys from all clubs and international teams.
After a couple of hours, we got back on the bus and headed to St. George's Park, home of England's international training center. We had a few hours to rest from the long day and in the evening, we started the tour of the world class facility. We saw the locker rooms, hydrotherapy room, indoor turf field and futsal court. After the detailed tour, we had a training session on one of the 15 fields with two fantastic coaches.
Finally, the team had a great nutritious meal after a long and eventful day in England.
Wednesday, August 7
Following another delicious breakfast at the Carden Park Hotel, the team gathered in the hotel lobby to embark on a 1-mile run to the beautiful grass field located near the front of the hotel grounds. There, the lads had their third training session of the trip led by renowned coach, Tosh Farrell. Tosh is a former Premier League coach of Everton FC and has coached players such as Wayne Rooney of DC United.
Throughout the practice, there was a lot of positive energy and even some laughs that the lads shared together. All jokes aside though, the team got a lot out of the training session and even learned some more valuable lessons about the game of football (soccer).
After the training session came to an end, the team headed back to the hotel where they got ready to depart for the famous Royal Albert Docks in Liverpool. There, many of the lads walked around the waterfront to soak in the wonderful views and find a place to eat. Many of the players enjoyed a nice fish and chips meal along the waterfront.
After exploring the surrounding area for a couple of hours, the team hopped back on the bus for a 20-minute drive to see the famous Anfield, home of European champions, Liverpool FC. When the lads arrived, they enjoyed their second stadium tour of the trip.
Following the stadium tour, everyone headed back to the hotel where they all enjoyed another tasty dinner provided by the hotel.
To conclude the night, the lads enjoyed some of the many amenities that the hotel had to offer such as the heated seats, pool, hot tub, sauna and steam room.
More updates to come tomorrow. Cheers!
Tuesday, August 6
The lads started off their Tuesday morning with a delicious breakfast buffet courtesy of the Carden Park Hotel. Some of the boys headed out early to the links at the resort where they finished a solid nine holes. A little later on, the rest of the crew participated in a highly competitive round of mini golf.
At noon, the team headed off to the country of Wales to compete in their second match of the trip. Fresh off an 8-0 victory, the team came out a bit sluggish and conceded an early goal, causing them to go down at the half. In the second half, the game started to get a little bit chippy between the two sides. Nevertheless, after some tactical changes, the lads were able to prevail 2-1 and secure their second victory of the trip.
Following the match, the lads headed off to the Roman city of Chester, the oldest city in England. Everyone was able to enjoy a late lunch while also taking in the beauty of this old town which included authentic cobblestone streets and very intricately detailed buildings and churches.
The lads then headed back to the resort for dinner. Afterwards, the team was able to take advantage of some of the amenities of the resort. Whether is was swimming in the pool, enduring the heat of the sauna or just sitting outside and taking in the open countryside, the lads were able to enjoy a relaxing evening.
More updates to come. Cheers!
Monday, August 5
The lads woke up early again this morning at the Doubletree to enjoy their complimentary British breakfast and then headed out on the bus to their first game.
Although the United Select, located just outside of London, was a little younger, our boys jumped all over them like hounds on hash and netted five goals in the first 30 minutes. We then added two more in the second 30 minutes and one in the last 30 minutes for an 8-0 victory.
The boys were in good spirits as they hit the changing rooms and jumped back onto the bus for a drive to Stratford. There, the lads enjoyed a little tourist time to grab lunch and explore the streets surrounded by historical colonial housing where William Shakespeare lived.
After some quick lunch and pictures, there was some team singing of a joyous rendition of happy birthday to Coach Beauchamp in the streets in honor of his "24th" birthday. Many passing tourists stopped to listen and then joined in the clapping.
Later, the boys hopped on the bus and rode up to Manchester to finish out the evening where they consumed a delicious and nourishing buffet at the De Vere Carden Park Hotel. There, they sang another beautiful rendition of happy birthday, this time to Nick Battaglia who turned 20. Cake was served and the evening was complete.
Cheers and stay tuned for another update tomorrow.
Sunday, August 4
Today, we had an early start and had a team breakfast at the hotel. Shortly after, we headed out for the day to train at the prestigious Tottenham Hotspur training ground in North London.
At training, we were put through a series of drills that are used throughout the youth academy as well as in the first team by members of the academy staff.
After training, we headed off to Wembley stadium, home of the English National Team, for the Community Shield match between Liverpool and Manchester City. These two teams finished in the top two of the English Premier League last season and the match today certainly did not disappoint as it was decided by a penalty shootout in which Manchester City won.
After the match, we grabbed some traditional English pub food as a team and headed back to the hotel to settle in and prepare for a match of our own tomorrow morning.
Cheers to day 3 in London!
Saturday, August 3
The trip began with a flight from Dulles airport to London. The flight was about 6.5 hours. Shortly after landing in London, we went to the Queens Park Rangers Academy where we had the privilege of training on a beautiful grass pitch. Naturally, we had to play baseball. We were then dropped off in the city after that to explore London and grab some lunch.
Saturday. Oh what a day the lads had. We began with a small stroll through London and we found ourselves at Stamford Bridge. We hit the shop and got our official Chelsea merch. From there, we met our tour guide and we were taken to the press room, then the away locker room, followed by the home locker room.
After that, we were sorted into two lines and we walked out to the specially engineered pitch, just like the pros do. We even got to sit in the very comfortable benches of the home and away teams.
After that, the lads strolled back to the hotel and grouped up for lunch. From lunch, we hopped onto the bus and arrived at Millwall Stadium. When we got there, it was evident we were amongst some die-hard fans. Needless to say, we learned some new words and gestures. The boys experienced the true rowdiness of Millwall soccer fans.
Millwall went up 1-0 in the first half and were able to hold its lead through the end. At the end, the Millwall fan base went crazy and continued to show their hate towards the opposing fans.
From the Millwall game, we took a rest back at the hotel and shortly after headed out for a nice Italian dinner. Lots of garlic bread, pizza and fresh tomatoes. After dinner, the lads were free to explore for a short time.
We are looking forward to training tomorrow morning followed by the Community Shield match at Wembley Stadium.
Stay tuned for updates. Cheers!