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Irish in Canada: Part Deux

Mar 11, 2013, 10:48 AM EDT

Irish Fútbol in the Great White North: Part Deux


Following our second day in the Queen City, I figured that I should give “The Big Man” a day off from the blog writing. Not to mention it’s probably for the best for you readers to keep business majors like Sophomore Vince Cicciarelli, away from the keyboard.


But without any further ado, the Notre Dame Men’s Soccer Team started off the day with a bit of an altered sleep schedule thanks to Mr. Benjamin Franklin.  We were all required to spring our clocks forward an hour Saturday night as Daylight Savings Time struck the northern hemisphere at 0200 Sunday morning.  However, following a 0930 team breakfast at the hotel (everyone wearing the proper footwear this time), most of the team was able to get the feet up for a quick nap to grab back that hour that Mr. Franklin stole away.


After a bit of a delayed start to the day, the team loaded up the bus at 1230 to head over to the Toronto FC training facility.  If Toronto’s goal was to hide a beautiful, state of the art facility in a place where nobody would ever accidentally stumble upon it, they succeeded. After a five-minute drive off the main road, past an old, rundown airplane hangar complex, we came upon the training ground of Toronto’s MLS Club and their Academy program.


We were given a tour through the complex and, if I do say so myself, it was very impressive. The building is divided up between the Academy teams and First Team, and we were fortunate enough to get a look at it all.  The First Team was supposed to be in to train today, but they were given the day off after their big 2-1 victory over Sporting KC yesterday (their first MLS win since July 18, 2012 when they beat the Colorado Rapids 2-1).  The tour went through the First Team locker room, through their training room, weight room, lounge, and dining room. Then down to the sparser Academy locker room, which is where we changed prior to heading out to the pitch.  The final stop in the tour was the large indoor turf field that Toronto FC graciously lent out to us for the weekend to train on.  The turf is some of the most state of the art in the world, and plays the most like grass out of any other style available.


Today’s training session was sharp and we put in some good work as we are still a day away from our matches against the Toronto FC Reserves and Senior Academy teams. Everyone seemed to love the new surface, and Junior Andrew O’Malley could have easily been mistaken for a kid at Christmas (or Freshman Connor Klekota on any given day) as he was running around with a giddy smile on his face yelling “the ball actually rolls!!!” (meaning the turf is flat and the ball wasn’t bouncing up).  After a quick shower, we all got dressed up in our Sunday best (jeans and a polo) and headed into downtown Toronto for dinner and a show.


For dinner we ate at a world renown sports bar, Real Sports Bar & Grill.  Many of us were questioning what it took for a sports bar to be “world renown,” but once we stepped inside we soon found out.  This bar was filled wall to wall with televisions, and on the first of three levels was a bar that stretched about a hundred feet.  This was also the first time that a lot of the guys had been in a sports bar when the USA was playing (in any sport), and we were in the minority by cheering for Uncle Sam. It was probably because the USA was playing Canada in the World Baseball Classic.



Following a nice quick meal, we walked across the street to the Air Canada Centre where we were to watch the Toronto Raptors take on the Cleveland Cavaliers.  On behalf of the entire team I’d like to take a quick moment to thank the Notre Dame Monogram Club for sponsoring this trip and providing us with the opportunity to attend awesome events like the MLS game yesterday and the NBA game tonight.  The game started off a little slow, but apparently nobody told that to Klekota.  Being from Ohio, Klekota feels that it his duty to live and die by Ohio sports, and trust me when I say, he takes his job seriously.  Once we found out last week that we were going to see the Cavaliers play, I would venture to say that Kyrie and Irving were the two most common words heard in our locker room for days.  He was riding high as the Cavs took an early lead.  But once Irving went out with a shoulder contusion with two minutes to go in the third quarter, the Raptors turned it around and made it a game, only to end up winning by four points, 100-96.  Kelkota was heartbroken, but Boss was proud, as he told Harry Shipp (Junior) at halftime that the Raptors were going to come back and win.


After a quick meeting at the hotel, everyone went back to their respective rooms and our second day north of the border came to an end.


Since Brian stole my sign-off last night, and I’m not creative enough to come up with another one, I’ll just go with old faithful… Go Irish!


Adam LaPlaca

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