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Chicago Training Session Report


After greeting the team's arrival at the Four Season's hotel in Chicago, I managed to make it into Soldier's Field for the training session. For TLO members and lurkers, the training session is definitely worth the time and effort. I did the same in Toronto two years ago. You see the players closer, see them interact with Brendan, see them laugh with joy when someone pulls something awesome, and thus it likely far surpasses the level of the pre-season game you'll see the next day. In Chicago, for bizarre reasons I cannot fathom, the tour operator only allowed 250 people to get a on list through the Chicago supporters club. But about 50 or 100 of us took the chance of getting to the gate anyway and they eventually let everyone who waited in. Stupid.

A word on the hotel arrival: it was cool to take over a Chicago street. Great to join in singing and chanting while awaiting the delayed arrival. Especially nice was hearing the old L-I-V, E-R-P, Double O L, Liverpool FC chant (Jesus Christ Superstar melody).

A bunch of notables from the training session itself.

* Pepe was not ebullient. But he graciously acknowledged shouts of his name and sort of smiled and downplayed it. The four keeps, (Waffles, Brad, and the other guy) spent the whole session with the keeper's coach. Pepe and Waffles were paired together in drills as often as any other combination. No apparent discomfort. But no laughs either.

* Waffles. What a joy. So he's walking over to the corner to take his turn sending in crosses to be gathered, punched, etc. On his way a guy near me shouts out Hey Simon and he gives a little wave. As he gets to the corner, where my seat was a few yards away, I shout out (on our collective behalf) "Can we call you 'Waffles'"? In only wish I had a camera to share with you all the absolutely delightful smile/grin/laugh that brought from him as he looked back up at the stands. The whole crowd in earshot loved it.

* 10 v 10. The main part of the session (after long bits of stretching, and the two sets of keep away with two in the middle of a circle) was 10 v. 10 played in the middle third of the field four goals (2 north, 2 south). No keepers. Standouts were the link up and goals between Raheem and Sturridge. And the goals and speed of Laser. Yes he's fast enough for that name. And his hair is like Aquilani's.

Now I'm back on the road to get to the match this evening.

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