The players and staff of 1.FSV Mainz 05 arrived in Colorado Springs Saturday after a long ten-hour flight from Frankfurt to Denver following their second preseason match Friday. Though worn down by their trip across the Atlantic (and two-thirds of the United States), the players have already had three training sessions since arrival — one on Saturday and two on Sunday sandwiched around the 2016 Euro finals. It is the club’s first-ever visit to the States, part of an exciting summer that sees the club also do training in Italy and play friendlies against Europa League finalists Liverpool FC and champions Sevilla.
The training sessions focused on working with weights and fitness. I arrived just in time for the end of the Sunday afternoon session, after a twelve-hour drive to Colorado Springs that left me worn down. Unlike the Mainz players, at least I didn’t have to run afterwards.
Mainz are training at the United States Air Force Academy, and one could hardly imagine a more impressive complex. It is huge, nestled in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains towering in the background, and was full of active children and adults playing tennis, baseball and soccer. Colorado Springs is also the home of U.S. Olympic Complex, the flagship training center for American Olympians, so it’s little wonder that Mainz chose this area to train in.
I reached Colorado Springs just about the time that Mainz’ practice was beginning, so instead of checking in to my hotel I went directly to find the 05ers. I mean, c’mon, a man must have his priorities straight. But finding the Mainzmen wasn’t easy. I had difficulty locating the soccer fields. I found the indoor athletic complex, the tennis courts, the baseball fields, the Air Force Academy’s football stadium, but, again, the size of the Academy grounds is mind-boggling. Finally I gave up on my dignity and asked directions to the soccer fields, and a polite cadet helped me out.
But I didn’t see any players. I did, though, run into Jason Rose, who along with his brother Justin is organizing Mainz’ visit and the friendlies Mainz will play against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks (Tues the 12th) and UDG Leones Negros (Wed the 13th). Justin invited the Bundesliga Fanatic to get involved with Mainz trip to Colorado, which also includes Mainz youth coaches training local players, and of course, we agreed — after all, one of the Fanatic’s main reasons for existence is to help the Bundesliga grow overseas.
Jason told me that the Mainz players were indoors, working with weights. I just wanted a few photos after a long day, but players lifting weights didn’t quite seem like a great photo opportunity. I was about to leave, when in the distance, I saw players dressed in red walking onto the pitch. Could it be the 05ers?
I hopped in the car (this is a big place) and drove to the distant field, and yes, it was Mainz. I got a few photos as players were just basically getting some running in on a very hot day. But it was great to see Yoshinori Muto, sidelined much of last season by injury, participating as Mainz supporters will be looking to him for goals and more goals during the upcoming season. I also got to talk to the Mainz staff a bit, and then saw another fan wearing a Mainz jersey and what looked to be a St. Louis Cardinals cap.
So I went and introduced myself…to Dennis, as it turned out. Dennis is from Mainz and moved just several weeks ago to Colorado Springs. We chatted a bit, and I asked about his really cool limited edition Mainz carnival jersey…and about that Cardinals cap. Well, it seems that Dennis is married, and his wife is from St. Louis, my hometown and the home of Cardinals Nation. So Dennis wears a Cardinals cap and his wife wears a Mainz jersey. Sounds like a perfect marriage to me.
But ….. what are the odds of a person moving halfway across the world, and his beloved old hometown club coming to his new hometown for a weeklong visit? And what are the odds of his wife being from my hometown, 900 miles away??? Amazing, but this is our beautiful game, and it always offers surprises, bridging nations, spanning oceans and continents.
So after a longggg drive (I never knew there was so much Kansas), I have to say that it all ended well. And onto tomorrow.
See Colorado Cup 2016 for more information on the friendlies and youth training sessions in Vail and Colorado Springs.
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