Greetings from Denver
These are words you definitely do not want to hear on the eve of the MLS season opener:
"This is your captain speaking. We're scheduled for an on-time arrival in Denver, where right now it is 23 degrees with snow and freezing rain. Thanks for flying the friendly skies."
Yes, it's cold here, and it's going to be cold on Saturday. The precipitation has let up and there's nothing on the ground, but more is expected throughout the day tomorrow.
By coincidence, United will be wearing their white jerseys and white shorts in snowy weather. "We're going with the camouflage look. You can't beat what you can't see," team spokesman Doug Hicks said. Speaking of the unis, United has been gone so long (Guadalajara and then Denver), equipment dudes Francisco Tobar and David Brauzer had to spend the day at a heat press applying names and numbers to the jerseys. Also of note, every team in the league will wear patches in tribute to the late Lamar Hunt.
The entire DCU delegation is looking forward to getting home, especially Coach Tom Soehn, whose wife is expecting their fourth child in the next couple days.
As for the team, they have practiced the last two days on fields outside the new Rapids stadium. As you already know from reading the Insider, Josh Gros is not here after suffering a Grade I (minor) concussion from the ball hitting him in the back of the head during the Chivas match.
I bumped into several of the players at Mendelsons deli here in downtown Denver. Bryan Namoff reports that the French dip was superb. Ben Olsen and Brian Carroll were huddled in a corner working on the USA Today crossword puzzle (isn't that for third-graders??). Olsen, Jamil Walker and Hicks are the big crossword nuts. (Speaking of which, I highly recommend "Wordplay" on DVD, a documentary about the NY Times crossword).
Commish Don Garber just walked into the team's hotel lobby. Ohhhhhh.......
For some pregame thoughts from Soehn, please continue reading...
On the weather's impact tomorrow: "You always hope for ideal conditions, and when you don't have them, you just deal with it. Both teams will be affected. It probably won't be as clean of a game as it would on a good day."
On his team's transition from the heat of Guadalajara to wintry Denver: "I don't think it matters too much. You get it out of your head and it's still all about performing."
What about the Brazilian Fred? "We may not need to find out or it could be very important" -- playfully hinting that Fred won't play at all. (It was a joke -- I think.)
On whether Tuesday's loss is still bothering the team: "It's not forgotten. I want them to remember it. I want us to learn from it and make sure we don't make the same mistakes. But in the same respect, we need to grow from it and move on."
On who replaces Gros in the lineup: "We're still going to decide that and come up with the right scenario."
On Gros: "Normally with concussions, you can tell the next day what you are in for, and he felt really good. It was more precautionary" for him not to travel to Denver.
On Perkins's state of mind after giving up the bad goal at Chivas: "In a lot of respects, it's better to play again so quickly. The great thing about our job is that, if things don't go the way you want, you can correct them immediately by getting on the field again. Troy is a good professional and he's looking forward to the next challenge."
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