Much of these trips are spent on the bus and as you can see above, everyone finds different ways to pass the time.
Following this morning's press conference (which we will show you later), we were straight on to the bus for training at the stadium. Today's session was a bit more strenuous, but the guys still seemed to enjoy themselves with a series of good-natured ribbing going back and forth, especially between the goalkeepers and the attacking players.
After the opening runs and stretches, the team was split in two, with attacking players at one end and defenders at the other, working on functionality, tactics and movements. They spent about 30 minutes working on that before the two sides got together for a small game using half of the field. Julian Valentin scored the only goal of that game, a disputed strike from about 20 yards out that beat Josh Wicks.
Why was it disputed you ask. With Mt. Smart being a rugby stadium, there are no portable goals available to us, so our Equipment Manager of the Year Raul Vargas made a goal using two poles that we travel with. However, as good as Raul is, he was unable to create a crossbar, leaving the guys to question whether or not Julian's goal would have been under the bar. But at the end of the day, both Bruce and Dave signalled it a goal, so it stood.
Following the game, the session closed with more finishing drills, which included some great finishes might we add, and Dave Sarachan taking on Bryan Jordan, Leo Griffin and Josh Tudela in a short game of two-touch juggling... a game which the wily Sarachan pulled out in the end.
The team will be back here at the hotel tonight for a VIP Meet and Greet with many local luminaries, including the Prime Minister of New Zealand and the Mayor of Auckland. After that, it is off to a special event called adiCouture, which is an adidas inspired fashion show with local designers. All of the models will be local athletes and celebrities and all funds raised during the event will go to a charity called KidsCan Stand Tall, which helps underprivileged children achieve their full potential by giving them the means to succeed in all walks of life.
Suffice to say, it should be fun, and since it is for a good cause, it's even better.