McAllen _PSFirst of all, no matter where your journey begins, you will need a loooot of patience. Maybe even some food for the way. McAllen is close to the Mexican border, only about a 15 minute drive away, to be exact. If you don’t live in Texas, you should probably fly into McAllen International Airport. Don’t be surprised when you arrive at the International Airport and realize that there’s not many flights to or from places outside of Texas, let alone outside the United States. The term “international” is a bit deceptive. Once you get out of the airport, try to find a rental car somewhere. Public transportation is existent, but it’ll most likely take you an hour until you find a bus or train station. So, once you get to the rental car facility at McAllen International Airport, be prepared for an “abundance” of cars. There’s at least 10 different vehicles to choose from. Now that I think about it, you should probably reserve a car in advance to make sure not all 10 of them are gone. Or was it 11?! I’m not very good with large numbers, I might have miscounted them. Anyways…

20151029_163449_PSSince it’d take too long to mention all of the hotels available for an overnight stay, I’m just going to tell you which one we chose. So, after a long, exhausting travel day, we made a pit stop at the Casa de Palmas Renaissance Hotel in McAllen and went out for dinner in the evening. But finding a place in McAllen that’s open at 7 p.m. on a Thursday night turned out to be much harder than expected. For almost an hour, we were wondering around a city that seemed anything but vibrant and exciting. We finally found a place to eat. Although being still in America, the waitress, unfortunately, didn’t speak English. Luckily we had some Spanish-speaking teammates in our group, so we could order food. Yet it seems like everything takes a little longer in McAllen. 20151030_121106_PSOr maybe the restaurant we went to just wasn’t prepared for an army of seven! hungry soccer players. Half an hour after we ordered, we saw a car stopping next to the place, and a guy carrying a bunch of grocery bags with what appeared to be the ingredients for our orders. Another half hour later, we finally got our food. I’m not going to lie: it was extraordinarily delicious! And definitely farm fresh, that’s for sure. I doubt there’s much else to do in McAllen besides farming…

20151031_140133_PSFollowing a restful night in a comfortable hotel bed, we got up bright and early to prepare for our match against UTRGV. We spent some time in “downtown” McAllen, had some legitimate Mexican ice cream, and then went back to the hotel for a pre-game meal. Chicken and pasta, yummie! And then off to the game. Our bus driver had some trouble finding the university. I don’t know if it was because UTRGV is in the middle of nowhere or if he just got lost in the suburbs of McAllen. When we arrived at the field, the winds were stronger than the strength and conditioning head coach at SJSU. I tried to take a goal kick in the warm-up – and the ball stopped moving in the air and then came back towards me. One of my former coaches once said: expect the best, prepare for the worst. (I’m sure he had that quote from some famous person). I expected nothing, really. But I was definitely not prepared for conditions that bad. Eventually, we did beat UTRGV 3:1. With a little more focus from the entire team, it could have been a shutout. Rumors are that Manny told the players to let one through so I wouldn’t get a second shutout on the season, but he never admitted to it. So I don’t know for sure.

20151101_151531_PSSaturday brought us to Houston, Texas, for a Sunday game against Houston Baptist. A little reminder: two years ago, when we played HBU, the field was in a condition as bad as I had never seen before. Soaked in water, we weren’t running across the field; we were sliding. Actually, I was neither running nor sliding. While running is not one of my specialties, I wasn’t sliding because I spent most of that season on the bench. However, when I saw that field before this year’s game against HBU, it had gone from really, really bad to worse.
There were puddles all over the field. The six-yard box was one big swimming pool. Or should I say sliding pool?! In the warm-up, it took me one dive to be completely covered in water and mud. I hate playing on fields like that for multiple reasons. Not only is it tough to anticipate how the ball is going to move, when or where it will stop. 20151101_120957It is extremely difficult to estimate the extra amount of energy your body will need to cope with the surface – the softer the field, the more energy you will need to stay on your feet, move them from one side of the goal to another, and so on. As a diabetic, it can easily become a guessing game. All I can tell you is that I ended up using more than twice the amount of sports carbs I had used in previous matches under normal conditions. We lost the game 1:2 in overtime. Which meant we couldn’t begin to plan our trip to the conference tournament yet. In fact, we will need a win in our regular season final on Saturday to certainly be in the tournament. With a little help from other teams, a tie or even a loss could be enough, but who wants to rely on others when you control your own fate?

The game reports from the UTRGV and HBU games are available at sjsuspartans.com

Follow the action for tomorrow’s final regular season and senior day match against the Bakersfield Roadrunners. GO SPARTANS!

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