The matches have been set. Who will you be cheering for, and which groups do you think have the toughest road to the second round?
As D.C. United prepares for its first match in Indonesia (Friday, December 6, 6:30 a.m. ET), we look back at another offseason trip to an Asian nation. In 1997, as winners of the 1996 MLS Cup, the Black-and-Red was invited to the Sanwa Bank Cup. The Cup, which ran from 1994-1997 was a single-match in which the champions of the J League would go head-to-head with the champions of a foreign league.
United lost to Nagoya Grampus Eight with a final score of 1-3 on March 2, 1997, but the trip marked a historic visit to the J League by the first-ever MLS Cup Champion.
Ahead of our match against Persib Bandung tomorrow t 6:30 pm local time (6:30 am here in the states), let's take a look back at the Black-and-Red's first stop on the Indonesia tour-- Jakarta.
While you were sleeping, the team departed from Jakarta and headed towards Bandung, where they will play their first friendly tomorrow morning (our time). Here are some of the tweets and Instagram posts coming from the squad as they arrived and checked out the view.
— Collin Martin (@martcw12) December 5, 2013
Left Jakarta and just got to Bandung, Indonesia.
— Ethan White (@EthanWhite15) December 5, 2013
I consider myself part of a new trend in the District of Columbia. I am a young professional living in the heart of the town, ushering in an urban revitalization of the federal city. While it has been amazing to see street car tracks laid down, new bars and restaurants opening their doors and even a craft beer revolution taking place inside the city’s boarders, it is impossible to look past the crowds of homeless individuals crowding the Starburst Plaza near H St. or the Martin Luther King Library on G St.
Yesterday, I had the chance to help those in need while volunteering through United Builds at DC Central Kitchen on 2nd St. NW.
A motley crew of D.C. United staff members including the Assistant Equipment Manager, Box Office Manager, and Director of Information Technology toiled in the massive kitchen preparing meals that would feed over 2,000 individuals.
How can 2,000 meals be prepared in less than three hours? Well, it certainly wasn’t easy.
I personally cut over 500 pieces of bread that would be used to make sandwiches to distribute through DC Central Kitchen’s various outlets. When the bread was all prepared we moved our efforts to pressing turkey patties. For over an hour I kept my hands wrist-deep in ground turkey, pressing over 400 patties on my own! After we finished our responsibilities, the group from D.C. United had prepared the elements for over 2,000 meals which would be distributed within a 24 hour period. While the work was tiring, it was rewarding to leave the facility knowing thousands in need would have a warm meal to eat because of our efforts.
DC Central Kitchen prepares over 10,000 meals per day and is open 365 days a year as “hunger takes no off days.” The facility relies on a base of volunteers to cut bread, chop vegetables, pound turkey patties and everything else that goes with feeding the masses. I highly recommend the experience to those looking to effectively donate their time. For more information visit http://www.dccentralkitchen.org/.
Day 2 in Jakarta has been anything but uneventful. After having our first night’s rest in a bed in three days, we woke up to a mid morning breakfast in the hotel. Shortly thereafter, we headed to the hotel pool for a regen session.
This session consisted of everything you’d expect it to, from stretching to water jogging, but it ended with a little fun and games. The group was split into two teams for a relay race. There was some impressive, and equally unimpressive, swimming on display. Many were capable of sporting a relatively decent free stroke, while some brought more entertainment than ability to the swimming pool. We witnessed everything from sharp diagonal turns, to uncoordinated arm splashing, to pure abandonment of swimming and just running on the bottom of the pool. There are swimmers, and then there are not. D.C. United has both.
After lunch we left for training at a local turf field. Many abandoned their cleats for running shoes and practice began. About 15 minutes into the session the floodgates opened. It rained like I’ve never seen before. I’m not talking about some Maryland/DC/Virginia rain, this was Indonesian rain. This rain is a whole different breed than anything we’ve ever seen. It was thick, fast, heavy, and unwavering. For 10 minutes we endured the onslaught before Ben finally called it a day and we started setting up for our coaching clinic. But wait, if it’s raining so hard, how can we have this coaching clinic? Great question.
So, we’re setting up cones and goals for the clinic looking around and everyone’s eyes are asking the same thing, is this for real? And yes, it is. We are having this clinic because the kids waiting under the covered patio are looking out like nothing is happening out of the ordinary. Apparently, this is a daily occurrence during the wet season in Indonesia. Apparently, every day, the force of God is unleashed through rain upon the people of Indonesia. And no way is that going to stop them from playing some soccer. They ran around like it was 70 and sunny while we all looked around for Noah’s Ark.
In the end the clinic went well, and it concluded with some pictures and autographs.
Our day ended at the United States embassy. Ambassador Blake and his family welcomed us in where we were greeted with handshakes and introductions. We quickly made our way to the buffet and ate some of the best food we’ve had thus far on the trip. After talking with some of the numerous guests we took pictures with owners Erick Thohir and Will Chang with the US Open cup trophy (still unsure if this was the real trophy or an imposter). ** Editors Note: I am pretty sure the Open Cup trophy is NOT in Indonesia** As the night drew on, the previous days of travel began hitting everyone once again. Eyes were beginning to glaze, and it was clear we had to head back to the hotel before someone took refuge on the couch.
3 Things I’ve learned thus far in Jakarta:
- For any trip expected to be around a 30 minute drive, plan a minimum 5 hour cushion
- Driving is not for the weak of heart, there are no lanes, no rules, no courtesies…Survival of the fittest
- Goat crossings are to be expected
Here are some photos from Day 2:
After leaving RFK Stadium at 5:30 p.m. Sunday night, we finally made it to our hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia at 4:30 p.m. TUESDAY evening, but not before a 12-hour flight to Abu Dhabi, a seven hour layover where Michael Seaton reassured the fact that he is still a teenager, showers in an Abu Dhabi airport lounge that brought life back to those I thought we lost, that eight hour flight to Indonesia where you ran out of the good movies to watch, so you settled for Monsters University (don’t knock it until you try it) and that lovely rush hour drive in Jakarta. All-in-all, we are still in one piece and happy to finally be here.
You learn a lot about a team when you spend every second together on a trip like this. So far, I have learned that Joe Willis is tall, and you should try to avoid sitting next to him on any flights over five hours. I know, most people already had that figured out, but I also realized what kind of guys we have on this team— ones with great character.
It was pretty obvious when we initiated the “I-haven’t-seen-you-in-a-few-weeks” hugs and handshakes in the locker room before we left, but it really hit when we arrived at our hotel and everyone had an equipment bag on their shoulder, a smile for the camera and a gracious thank you for owners Will Chang and Erick Thoir as they were there to meet us off the bus. And yes, I even got a few of them to talk to media after a day like that. It must be the holiday season!
No day is riddled with down time in this trip, but tomorrow may take the cake for a non-travel day. We start with breakfast and a pool session (not to shabby on the eyes), which is then followed up by a press conference with several members of D.C. United and the Indonesian media, a coaching clinic in Jakarta, a trip to the U.S. Embassy for several players to work with youth from the area and it finishes with dinner with the U.S. Ambassador. Not bad for day one. Actually, that’s not bad for any day.
We will make sure to keep you updated, but now it’s time for us to catch up on some much needed sleep as we prepare to go to bed at 10 p.m. Tuesday night, a.k.a. Tuesday morning for all you back in the states.
Now that Taylor Kemp has taken us all the way to Jakarta, let's check in with the rest of team. While you were sleeping and/or waking up this morning, they arrived in Indonesia.
Only took two days of travel but finally here in Indonesia! #DCU
— Kyle Neville Porter (@KylePorter19) December 3, 2013
Loving Indonesia right now .
— Michael Seaton (@MikeeySeaton) December 3, 2013
Ahhh Indonesia! Finally made it. Exhausted
— Conor Doyle (@ConorDoyle14) December 3, 2013
— Kyle Neville Porter (@KylePorter19) December 3, 2013
Finally made it to Indonesia...time to rest up and put in the work!
— Shane Johnson (@shanejohnson_) December 3, 2013
Arrived safely in Indonesia with @dcunited.Now time to focus on the task a head. God be with us:)
— Henry Kalungi (@HenryKalungi) December 3, 2013
Make sure you follow all the guys on both Twitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date on all the excitement in Indonesia!