What a great day for soccer. After a nice WC Draw event at 810 Zone on the Plaza, we have now have our opponents and even though Ravi Ubha from ESPN.com predicts that the U.S. will not advance, I am very content with our group.
When Portugal came up on the board (unlucky for them), I thought of a funny story back in 1999. In that (dreadful) season, we played a game in LA on ESPN. Wizards forward Alex Bunbury was so excited for his friends and family to be able to watch him play. Midway through the first half he hit an absolute bomb and celebrated accordingly. At halftime he was so thrilled that so many people got to see his goal that I almost did not have the heart to tell him that George Brett's Hall of Fame acceptance speech ran so long that ESPN had not yet switched to our game. Insult to injury being a lifelong Kansas City resident (and former ball boy in 1985 for the Royals), Bunbury then asked solemnly who George Brett was.
What does everyone think about Preki and Mo being reunited in Toronto? I know one thing they had in common; they both had unbelievable Rolex watches while in KC. Every practice I was responsible for wearing Preki's watch on my left wrist and Mo's on my right during training. Mo had always instructed that if I was ever in the line of fire of a ball to make sure to lead with my left arm first. Back then we did a lot of shooting drills and we had some players who might have sprayed a few balls around. One day Ryan Tinsley struck an errant ball and it was screaming right at me. Without thinking I threw up an arm and deflected the missle, thankful I did not take one on the chin. After practice when I went to my car, there was a $20 bill tucked in my windshield wiper. Looking at the ball mark on my left arm, I was pretty certain Mo left it there.
Mike has claimed that he is very close to winning the Peter Byaruhanga jersey, which reminded me about the old training facility at Swope Park. After each practice, the veterans would get first crack at the shower, because the longer you waited, the higher the water level rose. Peter B was always the last one to shower, which ended up being a bath as the level was at least lower-thigh high. Does anyone remember the furniture in there? Van seats were the couches. Our equipment manager Joey Becera used to have to arrive an extra hour earlier to scurry all of the mice out each morning. We have truly come a long way.
That same time, our front offices were at 706 Broadway. One afternoon someone walked through my office door (which was upstairs in the far, back corner) put a gun to my head and asked me to step outside. The rest of the office was laying face down in a row and we were then told to count to 1,000. We only had one copy machine, so some of the people downstairs came up to see us "resting" there. GM Doug Newman, who had his office door shut and did not know what had been happening, was called downstairs where the staff complained that we had nap time and they didn't.
On a lighter note, while in Colorado the night before a game, Chris Brown (who is still the all-time leader in practice goals for the Wizards) was walking back from dinner with Brandon Prideaux. They cut down a little alley right by the team hotel and Chris tripped and landed on a homeless couple in the midst of "trying to stay warm." He actually recorded his first MLS assist the next day, but would give it all back to have not experienced "the alley."
OK, we need your advice. We are planning a 15-year celebration next year, inviting back former players and coaches. In your opinion, who are the top-15 Wizards players of all-time? Does Molnar's one year make the cut? Does Burciaga get the nod over Diego - or both or neither? How much impact did Uche have for the Wizards? Did Jim Moorhouse racking up goal mouth blocks for Tower have any influence? Hmmmmm.