Be sure to periodically check the Santa Clara Broncos athletics website for updates from the trip.
Denmark - June 27th, 2018
Day 1 - The Journey Begins
In 1999 it was Spain, 2003, England, then Japan in 2007 and today we depart for Denmark. The 11 days we will be out of country will be a great test for this new group and critically important for this season and its success. Most were here at SCU following finals to train and prepare. Incoming players filtered in during the two week preparation, building numbers and strength into this year's squad. The preparation phase was helpful; useful to introduce our system of play but more importantly to institute a stronger mentality and culture. To this point the staff and I couldn't be more pleased.
Training has consisted of functional repetition and tactical organization. Positional knowledge and overall conceptual application allow us to build a working framework to apply what we know and what we have learned. We are inspired by much of what we see in the World Cup and look to apply many of those lessons. There will be six games to divide up much valuable playing time. Between elite tier reserve teams and top young sides we will have a great test of quality. HB Køge is our hosting club in the Copenhagen area and we are grateful for their support of our trip. Valdemar Anderson, last year's captain, is on trial with this pro club looking to make his way further in the game. His first test will be that of his former collegiate side.
Much preparation went into getting us here. Most importantly the commitment from our University and Athletic Department boss, Renee Baumgartner, on sponsoring the foreign tour. Huge thanks to Staci Gustafson for University level logistics and Global Engagement support, Carl Reed for housing and food, Ryan Holleman and Zach Sherwood for medical clearances, Kyle Eisenmann and Josh Gray for NCAA Compliance and academics respectively and last, but surely not least our accounting gals, Alisa, Cheryl and Tiff for helping figure out the money side of things.
For now, as we begin to board the bus, we look to travel safe and enjoy the journey. Stay tuned, more to come from the other side of the pond.
Denmark - June 28th, 2018
The 18 hours of travel and our transfer through London's Gatwick International Airport and into Denmark's Kastrup Lufthavn was without event. Guys slept as much as they could on the flights, some more than others. They occupied their time with in-flight trivia, movies and music. Even a coach got into their trivia challenge before falling asleep. The motor coach was there to meet us, always a good sign for the start of the trip. Forty-five minutes west and we arrived at our final destination, the coastal city of Køge. Needless to say by the time we pulled in there was an air of excitement tempered mostly by travel fatigue. All to be expected.
Ajay had them checked in at Køge Danshostel upon arrival and after a jog, stretch and a lengthy roll out with Zach it was time for dinner. Spaghetti was on tap and the guys were famished. They ate through nearly all the kitchen could bring. A quick meeting to set the stage for the next 10 days and the guys were ready for rest. Sleep was intermittent and most were awake by the early morning. Day one is always the toughest to deal with but for all intents and purposes the guys adjusted quickly.
The Danshostel is a traditional stay for players and travelers alike in Denmark. By no means is it fancy accommodations but gives our guys a real look into life as a young aspiring foreign player. Becoming self-reliant is an important part in their development and this provides a great forum to grow in this area. If nothing else it should give us all a sense of how blessed we are to have so much.
On a player note, the young guys are starting to settle in, which is always fun to watch. Some have found their voice while others are navigating their station in the group. RJ and Presten have found their stride and provide a comical banter, giving us all periodic levity. Alan, Barajas and Julian's modesty and Lalo's kind nature give an important temperament and balance to the group. Martin, Saku, Bishop and Perez are quiet but bring a strong competitive presence. By all accounts it is a good group.
Training starts tomorrow and games are only a day away. Can't wait.
Denmark - June 29th, 2018
The morning session was focused on loosening the bodies and getting on the ball. They were fairly sharp in the ball movement exercises and for all the jet lag, they came through it quite well. An hour and 15 minutes later and we had accomplished what we needed.
The afternoon session was all about organization. We met as a group prior to training and went over attacking schemes and defending shape, set pieces and situational tactics.... and throw ins. The difference is in the details. We spent much needed time reviewing the parts of the game on the field which make such a huge impact in the results.
Following training there was a moment to rest and get into downtown Køge for the evening. A chance to feel the culture in Europe during the World Cup is like nothing else. There is a buzz and an energy that connects the worldwide soccer fan. They take so much pride in their country and Denmark's success in the World Cup will be great to enjoy two days from now when they take on Croatia. Go Danish Dynamite!
Ajay, Arthur and Zach have been fantastic with all their support of the trip. They have put in many hours behind the scenes to ensure the guys have what we need. Snacks, clean gear, stretching, taping... you name it. The jobs are before and after all the playing takes place so it goes mostly unseen. It is critical to have these guys and they have gone above and beyond the call. Much appreciated.
Tomorrow ... Game Day 1.
Denmark - June 30th, 2018
The host club HB Køge (1st Division) invited us to play in their stadium on our first match day. We are to play two games, one with the full professional side and the second with their U23 team. This will give nearly every player much anticipated game time. They are in their preseason and need quality matches to prepare for their domestic league, so the timing works well for our group to play high level opponents. To best describe the level, it is a mix of experienced professionals with talented youth players searching for a contract. Last year Bronco captain, Valdemar Andersen happened to be on trial for HB Køge which was important for us to see and measure ourselves against this standard. Of note, I think the guys were pleased with the stadium and overall facility as it was a higher standard than the training center.
The first match took on an urgency from the opening whistle. They pressed us up high and it took us nearly the whole half to find our legs and settle into some quality play. Both teams had looks, HB Køge a few more. The score line was even 0-0 at half and I was impressed with the fight and resilience in our group to compete. The second half started about the same and we were exchanging stretches of play and shifts in momentum. A loss of concentration at the back post and we were the first to blink. Before the afternoon was finished we had dropped in our quality and would learn the lesson about sustaining the standard from the first half over 90 minutes. To sum it up, it was slap in the neck as a warning from a long time veteran.... we have to get better.
The second game had a mix of younger professionals from the first fixture and those in a development phase for HB Køge. Most of the starting group for us for this match were first time Broncos. It was a good chance to see them out on the field competing. The quality was fine at times with continuity our biggest challenge. Playing quickly, moving off the ball, defending as a group especially the press was inconsistent. Still they battled and there were some bright spots. The score line at the end would be 0-0.
These games are to learn about the group, build strength into the quality of our play while finding combinations that will help us win games. The consternation from the first match was tempered later on that day. Both Messi's Argentina and reigning European Champion Ronaldo's Portugal go out of the World Cup in the first knock out phase. It reminds us there are no guarantees in this game and it is about the level we hold ourselves to as a group that will make the difference.... just ask France and Uruguay.
Tomorrow will be about recovery and a chance to spend the afternoon in Copenhagen. All the fanfare for our country of residence should help us move forward as we head toward Match Day 2.
Enough for tonight... and Go Broncos!
Denmark - July 1st, 2018
Yesterday's matches gave a first look at some guys and we will make some adjustments as we head into the next couple of games. The film will be important as a teaching tool and a great chance for the guys to self-evaluate. For now our recovery is the most important part of the process. A large majority of the guys headed for the local pool for an unloading of the legs with some resistance. Others will have an impactful training to make progress toward return to play.
What was supposed to be a short easy jog turned into a lengthy, high paced affair. Henning was thrilled and took it out on a tree at the end of the run. Once at the pool the spirit in the group improved. It could have been the large, inflatable alligator or the post work out turn on the water slide, too tough to tell.
Now done with the heavy lifting for the day we could turn our sights on the two knock out matches from the World Cup; Spain/Russia and Croatia/Denmark. The plan was to head into Copenhagen for dinner and a viewing party at the National Stadium. Over 25,000 people had been at the previous group stage matches and we wanted to be right in the middle of it.
We decide we would take the train into the city as public transportation is easy and efficient to use. It would drop us at Central Station, near Tivoli gardens. Once the guys got off the train they headed off into the bustling shopping/restaurant area. It is quite a tourist destination but fun for the guys to explore the capital city. They would eat and meet at the FC Copenhagen / National Stadium at 7:30p local time. This would give us time to corral the group and find a good viewing spot.
What happened next was completely unexpected. They cancelled the viewing at the stadium and we were sent scattering to the local restaurants and pubs to find the game. Some guys got back into the middle of town and met up with the home crowd. Others stayed local and would take the charter bus back to Køge. Such a bummer. The game was fantastic but a tough day for the Danish Dynamite.
Such is life.
Tomorrow we get back to work.
Denmark - July 2nd, 2018
Blog by Tennyson Stevens: "Tenny" is a rising sophomore on the men's soccer team from Highlands Ranch, Colo.
On the sixth day of our trip and our fifth in Denmark the team woke up and had an early breakfast at our hostel in Køge before our 10 a.m. training session at HB Køge. The club was gracious enough to allow us to use their facilities during our stay in Denmark such as access to their fields, locker rooms, and cafeteria for post training meals. The club was a massive help to making this trip a possibility. After training we had to hurry and shower, eat at the club, and get back to the hostel so that we could catch a bus to Copenhagen to take a canal tour of the city on a boat.
Before the tour we had an hour to explore Copenhagen as a team. The canal tour was an amazing experience for the boys. It was definitely something new and unique that all of us were excited for. We saw and learned about unique and historic sites in Copenhagen such as the Danish royal palace, national bank, and the Denmark opera. As soon as the tour ended the majority of the guys caught the second half of the Brazil and Mexico round of 16 World Cup match in a local bar. After another eventful day in Copenhagen we headed back to HB Køge's facilities for our last meal of the day. We finished off our day by watching the Belgium and Japan match as a team and getting rest at the hostel before turning in for the night in preparation of our big upcoming match tomorrow.
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