By Mike Petri
Week two here in Abergele, North Wales following a big win last weekend against Russia. It wasn't by any means a flawless performance but it was certainly exactly the way we needed to start this fall series. The energy level has been up this week as we lead in to our game with Tonga tomorrow night. We've been working hard preparing on and off the field to put Russia behind us and build on that performance.
It's not been all work and no play here though. There isn't much around our hotel except fields and cows but we spent our day off on Wednesday in Chester, which is a small city about 45 minutes away in England. It was great to be out of the hotel for a while but it was definitely strange to walk into stores with Christmas music playing in mid-November. In America we have Thanksgiving to keep most of the Christmas activities at bay until at least late November or early December. Of course here in the UK they don't celebrate Thanksgiving so they just kick off Christmas activities and campaigns right after Halloween.
However, we didn't really spend our afternoon Christmas shopping. Rather we walked around to take in some of the scenic Tudor-style buildings in Chester before heading to see the new James Bond movie. A small group of guys also played some laser tag before the movie. Robbie Shaw was the sharp-shooter of the group just edging out Luke Hume for that title while Chris Chapman struggled to get his laser skills up and going or at least find cover during the battle. He managed to not hit Robbie a single time but was hit himself by Robbie 40+ times. Well done, Chappo!
Thursday morning it was back to action for our last full session before the game. It was good to get back out there feeling fresh after a full day off and put together some final pieces of our preparation. That night we went to Romeo's Italian restaurant to get a change of pace from the hotel dinners we've been eating for the past two weeks. Paul Emerick and Lou Stanfill used their Italian skills from having spent time playing there to have a chat with the restaurant owner while everyone enjoyed some good old fashioned penne with meatballs. It was a great night out and helped to bring a fresh experience just when we needed it.
All that's left now is a team run tonight at the stadium! Then we kickoff our second game of the series and final game here in North Wales tomorrow night at 6pm local time (1pm EST) against Tonga. It will be a huge test as Tonga is coming off a great performance against Italy but the USA squad is ready and up for the challenge.
Until next time...