Belated Gold Cup reflections
Before our games out in L.A. at the Home Depot Center, and before every game, Frankie would write a Bob Marley quote on the white board, "You are a big tree, I am a small axe, and I'm coming to cut you down." Great little things to get that energy going before big games.
Now I didn't play a whole lot during the Gold Cup, but I used the time to try and soak in as much of what tournaments like this were all about. We had a saying throughout the tournament that seemed to get everyone in the mood and it was simple, "Let's go get the cup!" We would chant that phrase in the huddles after every win, and before training sessions to keep us in the mind frame.At night, groups of us would go out together for dinners, just to get away from the hotel, and share some banter with the guys. Kasey Keller took us to some really nice restaurants in LA, exclusive ones with paparazzi outside -- although it wasn't that cool when six of us pulled up to the front of this hot spot to valet, and we all got out of a Ford Windstar rental minivan. We also got approached in Boston by a group of people that thought Pablo (Mastroeni), Frankie (Hejduk), Michael (Bradley), Landon (Donovan), Carlos (Bocanegra) and I were a boy band. We played along so well until Frankie ruined it by trying to sing. It was all just a blast, and it was good times like these off the field that made us work harder for each other on the field. The Gold Cup semis were in Chicago, so I was happy to be back there. It was fantastic to see some old faces and the U.S. team even practiced at UIC where I went to college. Of course the guys made fun of me calling me "rags to riches" and asked the coaches there why they hadn't changed the name to Jay DeMerit field. With Frankie out for the final against Mexico after picking up a yellow against Canada, he had to settle for a role as "Chief of Enthusiasm". He was buzzing around the locker room before the game making sure everyone was ready, and of course wrote his Marley quote to put it all into perspective. We had another theme throughout the tournament based on the 311 song "Amber", the refrain of which goes "Wooooah, amber is the color of my energy." So we constantly sang this to each other as well. As a bonus before the final, 311 had heard about our motivational chants in their honor, and they wrote an email to the team saying to keep the energy going and best of luck in the final. Our theory was right, positive energy spreads when at use. We needed all of it against Mexico, but we prevailed in the end and won the game. It was awesome seeing my roomie for the trip, Carlos, lift the cup as captain (albeit not too high because of his alligator arms). Frankie, who was in the stands, came onto the field with his shades on, took off his shirt and started waving it over his head as we took the victory lap. He hadn't even played, but he was happiest guy in the whole entire stadium. We celebrated all through the night, but the best part was when we were at this restaurant, and Frankie and his wife showed up with the Gold Cup. We had all talked about how if we won it, the cup was coming out to celebrate, and Frankie made it happen. He had taken the cup from the hotel and took his new best friend in a cab out for the celebration of a lifetime. It was the icing on the cake, and we all enjoyed our final night together as a winning team, taking sips out of our new prize.