SO Sounders

2013 Central American and Caribbean Unified Soccer Invitational

The Central America Unified Soccer Invitational will take place in San Jose, Costa Rica from May 9-17 in regional professional soccer stadiums (Cuty Monge and Coleya Fonseca). Team USA is made up entirely of Washington and Oregon Special Olympics Athletes as well as Unified Partners from the Sounders FC Development Team.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Closing Ceremonies

Wow. That's all I can really say. Wow. The Closing Ceremonies were awesome! There were multiple speeches and awards were presented. Team USA placed 6th in the tournament. Much higher than I think many anticipated we'd rank, since soccer seems to be a newer sport to the states. (At least, compared to the other countries that were there.)  Our own RJ Noll was presented with a Best Unified Partner award, which was well deserved and he should be immensely proud of it! There was tons of confetti when the 1st place winners, Ecuador, were presented with their medals and trophies.  Afterwards, a Latin band played and there was TONS of dancing! All the players had an amazing time! After the ceremonies, Biz took us a an awesome Costa Rican restaurant, overlooking the city. It was beautiful and the food was so good!  Then it was off to the hotel for a mass swag swap! The Sounders kits were a HIT! Everyone from every team was trying to swap for our gear! It was insane! 

Team USA at the Closing Ceremonies

Our view from the restaurant.

Daniel, from Guatemala. We gave him a full kit because he had the biggest smile and biggest heart out of everyone at the tournament.

Team Honduras, signing a shirt for Scott to bring back to Mario Martinez. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

USA v. El Salvador

8:06 CR Time- Team USA is at a new stadium today, Cuty Monge.  Match starts at 9:00 am, Costa Rica time. :) (8 am, Pacific Time)

Team USA starting 11: RJ Noll (38 - Keeper), Christian Freitas (9 - Forward), Levi Arthur (7 - Defense), John Emmitt (6 - Defense), Dionte McGrew (3 - Mid), Jowell Figueras (12 - Mid), Joe Hill (8 - Forward), Kasey French (34 - Mid), Ivory Randle IV (21 - Defense), Daniel Espeleta (32 - Mid), and Alex Ptachik (18 - Defense).

9:00 CR - Kickoff!

9:08 CR - GOOOOOOOAALLLLL!!! Kasey French heads one in over the El Salvador goalie! 

9:28 CR - Yellow card for Ivory Randle IV.

9:33 CR - Halftime whistle. USA ahead 1-0.

9:47 CR - 2nd half starting. Final 30 minutes of the tournament! If USA wins, we take 5th place out of 11 teams. Much higher than I'm sure we were anticipated.

9:50 CR - El Saladpr makes a couple subs during half.

9:50 CR - 2 awesome back-to-back goal attempts made by Kasey French. Both saved by El Salvador.

9:53 CR - Great goal attempt by Joe Hill, but it ends up slightly wide.

9:55 CR - Goal by El Salvador. 1-1.

9:55 CR - El Salvador substitution.

10:01 CR - Team USA substitution: Miles Sanchez (16 - Mid) for Daniel Espeleta.

10:07 CR - Penalty kick given to El Salvador.  They score, making it 1-2.

10:09 CR - Cody Peterson (10 - Defense) going in for Levi Arthur.

10:14 CR - Peace Drevitch (4 - Forward) going in for Kasey French.

10:18 CR - El Salvador scores but its called offsides and taken back. Score still 1-2, El Salvador.

10:22 CR - Final whistle. El Salvador takes it, 1-2. Team USA ends the tournament in 6th place.

Team USA after the final match! (And me!) 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

More Pictures!!!

Make sure to check out the picassa album with more pictures on it! The wifi is slow at the hotel, so I'll be loading a lot more once I get home. :)

USA v Nicaragua, Part Two!

9:04 CR Time - Team USA heading to Colleya Fonseca for our 11:00 a.m. CR time match against Nicaragua. 

10:30 CR - Team USA on the pitch and warming up! 

Team USA Starting 11: RJ Noll (38 - Keeper), Christian Freitas (9 - Forward), Dionte McGrew (3 - Forward), Cody Peterson (10 - Mid), Kasey French (34 - Mid),  Miles Sanchez (16 - Mid), Jowell Figueras (12 - Mid), Captain Peace Drevitch (4 - Defense), Levi Arthur (7 - Defense), Alex Ptachick (18 - Defense), and Ali Hilowli (5 - Mid)

11:01 CR - GOOOOOOALLLLL! Peace Drevitch with USA's first goal of the match!

From the sidelines:

11:12 CR - Free kick for Miles Sanchez ends up just barely over the net. Great try though! 

11:19 CR - Substitution for Nicaragua.

11:20 CR - Great shot attempt for Cody Peterson, but it's caught by the keeper.

11:20 CR - Yellow card for Dionte McGrew. 

11:28 CR - Halftime. USA up 1-0!

11:33 CR - Halftime pep talk from Coach Dennis.

11:45 CR - 2nd half starts!

11:56 CR - USA substitution: Daniel Espeleta (34 - Mid) in for Kasey French.

12:05 CR - USA substitutions: John Emmott (6 - Mid) in for Jowell Figueras,  Ivory Randle IV (21 - Mid) in for Miles Sanchez, and Joe Hill (8 - Forward) in for Christian Freitas.

12:20 CR - Final whistle! Team USA takes it! 1-0!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

USA v Paraguay

10:57 CR Time - Kickoff! Starting 11: Dionte McGrew (3 - Forward), Levi Arthur (7 - Forward), Jowell Figueras (12 - Mid), Cody Peterson (10 - Mid), Kasey French (34 - Mid), Miles Sanchez (16 - Mid), John Emmitt (6 - Defense), Captain Peace Drevitch (4 - Defense) Ivory Randle IV (21 - Defense), Ali Hilowli (5 - Defense) RJ Noll (38 - Keeper)

11:04 CR - Yellow card to Peace Drevitch.

11:14 CR - Paraguay shoots and RJ Noll makes a great save!

11:16 CR - Paraguay clips Dionte McGrew at the ankle and he goes down.  After a minute, he's back up and in the game.

11:23 CR - Paraguay given a free kick and misses. Score still 0-0. Halftime coming soon!

11:27 CR - With less than a minute left before halftime, Paraguay scores! 0-1.

11:42 CR - 2nd half begins! Paraguay makes a keeper substitution.

11:47 CR - Paraguay scores again. 0-2.

11:52 CR - USA's first substitution: Christian Freitas (9 -Forward ) in for Jowell Figueras.

11:54 CR - Second substitution for Team USA: Jaeger Skifstad (11 - Mid) in for Miles Sanchez.

11:58 CR - Third substitution for Team USA: Alex Ptachik (18- Mid) going in for Kasey French. 

11:59 CR - 2 amazing back to back saves by RJ Noll! 

12:03 CR - Paraguay substitution.

12:05 CR - Paraguay is making a lot of shot attempts, but most have been high or wide. Team USA is fighting hard!

12:08 CR - RJ goes for a wide block, ball bounces off and back to Paraguay. They shoot and it's SAVED by Alex Ptachik! 

12:12 CR - Paraguay scores their third goal and promptly gets a yellow for excessive celebration. (Pulling his shirt up.) 0-3.

12:13 CR - Paraguay scored their fourth. 0-4.

12:15 CR - Paraguay scores a 5th.

12:16 CR - Final whistle. Paraguay wins 0-5. Team USA played hard though and should be very proud!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Our Day Off!

I'd like to start by saying thank you for all the comments that you've left on the blog! I'm thrilled to hear that you are all enjoying our updates!

Today was considered a day off for all the teams in the tournament, so Team USA took the opportunity to do some sightseeing.  They started the day with some soccer tennis, in order to keep their focus on why we're here and to have some bonding time.  Afterwards, we all met in the lobby and hopped on the shuttle to Avenida Central, in the center of San Jose and where there is tons of shopping!  Biz (our nickname for our guide, Bismark) directed us through blocks of central San Jose.  There was even an area where they'll give you corn to feed the pigeons and let me tell you, those pigeons are not shy!  You'll understand when you see the pictures below!  Our tour ended with a local market, where the guys got to browse and pick up souvenirs for themselves and their families.  The market was awesome.  It was a tight walkthrough, but wasn't crowded.  Each little store was filled with dresses, beautiful painted feathers, magnets, coffee products, and anything Costa Rican you could think of.  The guys loved it and were able to go off on their own and explore at their leisure because the set up was perfect for coaches and staff to keep an eye on everyone.  I fell in love with one item I couldn't take with me!  A stray kitten that was insanely adorable.  (What can I say, I have a very soft spot for animals! See picture below.)  Once everyone got some shopping it, Biz took us across the street to an amazing Costa Rican restaurant, where we had one of the best meals I've had this whole trip!  Seasoned chicken with rice and beans, along with fried plantains and followed with rice pudding.  (Great restaurant, Bismark!)  Once we got back to the hotel, the guys were directed to relax and meet for dinner at 7.  Tomorrow, we begin the second round of the tournament and we play Portugal , which I believe is ranked third.  (I will have to confirm that.)  Make sure to send good vibes down for the team, it will be a challenging match, but our boys have proven that they have the skills, talent, and the heart to play along side every one of the teams down here! Go Team USA!!!

(Pictures are slightly out of order.  Some are from my iPhone and others are from Norm's camera.)

Soccer Tennis
Walking through town

 Beautiful local flowers
 Norm and I with some local K9 officers

The Biz! 

Andrew and Levi

Ali, Norm, and Levi

Jowell's sister with the pigeons! (Told you they weren't shy!)

Peace with the pigeons

Now it's Ali's turn!

Norm and Jowell

Brian with Jowell and his grandmother

At the amazing restaurant

Jowell and Ali

The stray kitten that I wanted to take with me so bad! (We got her some chicken to eat.)

The inside of the restaurant

Biz and Norm with Biz's friend who worked at the restaurant

Our amazing food!
 The coaches ordered coffee and this is how it's served! Brewed right in front of you. Scott said it was amazing.

USA ranks 4th!

Team USA ranks 4th in the tournament! Awesome news! We'll be playing Portugal tomorrow at 11:00 am, CR Time!

After our match yesterday, we all piled into the bus and traveled to Jaco beach, on the Pacific Ocean side of Costa Rica. On the way, we stopped and walked across a bridge, where meters below us, there were the largest crocodiles I've ever seen! Apparently, the crocs stick around because tourists throw food down to them. They were very fun to watch when raw meat (which they sell on the road there) was tossed down.

(The pictures don't do their size justice!)

About 20 minutes after the croc bridge, we arrived at the Best Western in Jaco Beach, where Bismarck (or Biz, as we've nicknamed him) had arranged it so we could use their facilities while we were there.  The boys had a blast playing in the ocean for hours!  We even got surfboards and boogie boards for them to play with.  Even with the overcast, the air was warm and the ocean was warmer! 

The ride back was quite, with all the guys wiped out from swimming.  Dinner awaited them, followed promptly by bed! It was a good day! 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

USA v Honduras

9:07 CR - Team USA is at the stadium early. Match starts at 11 CR time.  Honduras is also undefeated and has been running up the scores on their matches (9-0 & 13-0)! But our keeper, RJ, is spot on, so I have faith! It'll be a tough match, but our boys are ready! Levi got some much needed rest yesterday and will be getting a massage before the match. We're fairly positive he'll be ready to play today.  Stay tuned for match updates.

Levi getting checked out by Scott

10:44 CR - Team USA on the pitch, warming up!  (They've been warming up, but I had to make a Walmart run for food! 16 teenage boys eat a LOT!) 

11:00 CR - Kickoff. Starting 11: Jowell  (12 - Forward), Christian Freitas (9 - Forward), Levi Arthur (7 - Mid), Miles Sanchez (16 - Mid), Kasey French (34 - Mid), Dionte McGrew (3 - Mid), Ali Hilowli (5 - Defense), Ivory Randle IV (21 - Defense), John Emmitt (6 - Defense), and Captain Peace Drevitch (4 - Defense).

11:00 CR - Early penalty kick for Miles Sanchez, blocked by Honduras' keeper. 

11:08 CR - Honduras knocks Kasey French down in the box, giving USA a free penalty kick. Miles Sanchez takes the kick and scores! GOOOOOOALLLL!!!! Honduras gives up their first goal of the tournament!

11:12 CR - Honduras allowed a penalty kick and it's SAVED BY RJ NOLL!!!! 

11:18 CR - Honduras already making 2 substitutions. 

11:21 CR - Yellow card for Miles Sanchez.

11:22 CR - Another amazing save by RJ Noll! Followed quickly by ANOTHER one! RJ is really earning his keep! (Hehe, see what I did there?) :)

11:30 CR - Halftime. USA up 1-0 against a challenging team!

Halftime pep talk by Coach Dennis

11:45 CR - 3 substitutions for Team USA.  Jaeger Skifstad (11 - Mid) in for Miles Sanchez, Daniel Espeleta (32 - Mid) in for Kasey French, and Cody Peterson (10 - Forward) in for Christian Freitas.

11:45 CR - Penalty kick allowed for Hondurus. They score an equalizer. 1-1.  

11:52 CR - USA substitution. Alex Ptachik (18 - Defense) in for Ivory Randle IV.

12:02 CT - USA last substitution: Joe Hill (8 - Forward) in for Jowell Figueras. 

12:03 CT - Honduras scores to get ahead 1-2. 

12:06 CT - Honduras scores again to make it 1-3.

12:12 CT - Honduras scores again to make it 1-4, as Alex Ptachik picks up a yellow card.

12:20 CT - Final whistle. Honduras takes this match, 1-4.

Group photo with both teams