Feb. 11, 2008
BRADENTON, Fla. -
Former Aztec four-time letterwinner and current director of soccer operations Andrew DiCicco recently began a try-out period with Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards. DiCicco, a 2006 all-Pac-10 selection, will write his thoughts on playing soccer at the professional level in an ongoing blog that will be featured here on GoAztecs.com.
Feb. 11 - Hello again. After a frigid week in Kansas City I'm back in tropical weather with sunny skies. We just completed our second week of preseason (our first week in Bradenton, Fla.). Being with the team for 24 hours a day for three weeks straight has allowed me to quickly and smoothly integrate myself with the guys, which I find to be crucial for team chemistry both on and off the field. This team has a great group of guys willing to work, sweat, and fight for one another during training sessions and games. It reminds me a lot of my former team at San Diego State where my teammates and I acted as a band of brothers on and off the field. The ideologies and values instilled in us at San Diego State helped us bond and come together in the face of adversities or in the wake of our triumphs. Either way, we approached everything as one team, one family.
Coincidentally, my Aztec teammate Tally Hall was also in Bradenton with the U-23 National team training for the Olympics in Beijing. Being able to spend a few days with Tally did a lot for my confidence because last year he endured similar trials and tribulations on his way to becoming a professional soccer player in the top flight Danish League. We reflected on our time at San Diego State and reminisced about some of our great moments and some not so great moments, both on and off the field. All in all, our talk really revitalized my spirit and helped me prepare mentally for my game the following day against the U-18 National Team.
In the game against the U-18s I got 45 minutes of playing time, which is the maximum allowed for any player at this point in the preseason (fitness purposes). As I warmed up to go into the game my nerves faded and I knew I had properly prepared myself for the game. I felt anxious to step onto the field and prove myself to my coaches, my teammates, and anyone else that happened to be watching the match. In my first 25 minutes of playing time with the Wizards I found the back of the net after I redirected a driven ball into the upper corner of the far post from about 3 yards out. Five minutes later I combined with several teammates and helped set up another goal. Despite the exhilarating feeling of scoring a goal and getting the monkey off my back in my first game I knew that I had a long road ahead of me and that there were many lessons to learn from the game so that I could improve in future trainings and matches. I was already looking forward to our next game two days later, an inter-squad match between the reserves and the first team.
In the inter-squad game I started at forward for the reserve team. We stayed organized and weathered an early barrage of attacking play from the first team. Once we gained our composure, it didn't take long for the reserves to create a chance. As our left back received the ball I recognized that the back 3 of the first team were holding a high line. Matt, our left back, recognized the same thing because as soon as I called for the ball and started darting on a bent run Matt delivered a perfect through ball that I ran onto. I stayed onside (confirmed by the linesman's flag staying down and several players on the bench) and approached (goalkeeper) Kevin Hartman in a 1-v-1 situation. I stayed composed and slotted the ball into the left side of the goal giving the reserves a 1-0 lead. We stayed organized and eventually edged the first team, 1-0, despite surviving a few narrow escapes in our defensive third. Two goals in as many games, not a bad way to make a name for yourself as a rookie. We play Columbus Crew and DC United next week, but there is a lot of work and preparation to take care of prior to those matches. All in all, the first two weeks have been a difficult challenge but I'm continuing to piece the puzzle together and hopefully have the attention of the Wizards Coaching Staff. I'll check in again after our final week in Florida.