Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
University of Chicago Department of Athletics & Recreation

Men's Soccer: Brazil 2005 blog


August 24

Hola from Brazil!

Well, we arrived in Sao Paolo a little late from a flight delay in Miami and moved into Oscar's Inn which is in the city of Aguas de Lindoia, about 90 minutes outside of Sao Paolo. It is a resort founded by the Brazilian Soccer great Oscar who played with the great Brazilian teams of the 70's and early 80's. It houses a soccer academy, professional preseason training ground, as well as a hotel and resort. It is a great facility to train in as the training and game fields are outside our door as well as a pool, weight room, and meeting rooms for film and team meetings. The people are very nice, but curious, and the food has been outstanding.

We have been training hard and got to put our practice to work in our first match on Wednesday against the house team Oscars FC. It was an eye-opener as these players ranging from 16-18 were skillful, never rattled on the ball, and had tremendous team speed. We were down 2-0 on two counterattacks off our own free kicks, and it was amazing to see the proficiency of their play. We settled down and although they scored two more times before we did on an own goal on which first-year central defender Ross Fedenia played and the goalkeeper made a mistake. It was a great experience.

After our game last night we had a demonstration of Brazilian "Capoeira" which is a mixture of dance and martial arts. The boys watched as well as joined in on some movements they learned. This morning we went on a jeep excursion around the area which is agricultural in nature.

We visited the highest peak in the region as well as a recreation area where the guys went on "zip line" which stretched 300 yards or so. It was fun and a nice break from the hard training we were doing.

We train this afternoon and then play our second match against a local under-20 first-division team from Aguas de Lindoia named Gaudani FC. We saw their stadium today so the boys are excited to play. I am confident we will have learned from the first game and will put to work the adjustments we have made and have a better overall performance.


August 26

"Bon Dia" ("Good Day") from Chicago men's soccer. Game two in our Brazil 2005 Tour was an important step in the development of the squad in preparation for the 2005 season. This morning we traveled to Aguas de Lindoia where drew 1-1 with Guadani FC U-20's in their home stadium. After a slow start during which Guadani dominated play, the Maroon 11 settled down and in the second half began creating chances including hitting the post and crossbar.

Finally in the 70th minute their hard work and perseverance paid off when substitute midfielder Stuart Phelps '08 received a ball wide, beat his defender to the end line, and fed Alex Chinco '07, who was six yards out, to take the lead. Continuing their organized defending and ability to absorb the Guanani FC pressure, it looked as though the Maroons were destined for victory until the 90th minute when Guanani equalized with a shot from 18 yards out which beat goalkeeper Keith Crum '07. In extra time the UC boys almost snuck away with the win when Chinco and Giordano Palloni '06 found themselves in front of the home team's net but could not connect the pass which would have won it for our team.

Although disappointed, the whole team was encouraged with the result and the effort put forth to produce it. Tomorrow the reserves and selected starters will take on an Oscars FC team made up of South Korean players who were sent to Oscars Youth Academy for training. The following day it's then off to Santos for the last game, to see a pro game, and have some fun on the beaches of Brazil before coming home. We miss the gold old USA, but it's been a lot of fun so far.


August 27

What a difference a day makes! After a hard game and a 1-1 draw against Guadani FC on Friday, the Maroon offense shifted into high gear scoring three second half goals to beat Oscars FC-Korea 4-1. This Oscars Academy squad was made up players from Korea who have been here together in residence and training for from anywhere from six months to a year. The lineup for the UC squad showed the depth of the team as seven players who had seen little or no time in the game against Guadani FC started and played in most cases 90 minutes.

The field was slick at the start of the match as a torrential downpour overnight made the conditions cautious at the start. The squad began well, keeping good defensive shape and creating several good scoring chances. Senior forward Ryan Ehle opened the scoring with his first goal on the tour after an Oscars' foul in the attacking corner. Co-captain Giordano Palloni '06 served a ball in which first-year midfielder Tom Lobell headed across the goal to a wide open Ehle who tucked it away. Goalkeeper Tom Bailey '07 played well, handling all Oscars' shots with ease. Unfortunately, Oscars was able to equalize when a long range shot deflected off a Maroon defender and away from Bailey was going to handle the shot. The halftime whistle kept the game at a stalemate.

In the second stanza the Maroons picked up the pace and their determination paid off when Ehle scored his second after Eric Floyd '09 shot and the deflection was handled easily by Ehle. The boy's were like sharks smelling blood in the water with central defender James Dagonas '07 placing a well directed clearance over the Oscars defense that Eric Kirkenmeir '08 ran onto, dribbled toward the goalie, and passed into an open goal. Floyd then put the nail in the coffin when he converted a Brian Standerfer pass for the final 4-1. It was a much deserved result for a well-played game.

Following the game Coach O'Connor continued his ritual of getting the guys in Oscars' outdoor pool (even though it is winter here, and it was raining) in order to get the legs treated in preparation for the remainder of the tour. The players, although complaining at the start, handled it well and even broke into some singing led by Giordano Palloni. The remainder of the afternoon was spent in Serra Negra, a local tourist city known for its clothing and leather goods. Rumor has it there is a picture bouncing around of Assistant Coach Avi Stopper trying on some leather pants. Groovy, Baby?

Tomorrow the boys get a much deserved day off which will include leaving Oscars and traveling to Sao Paolo for some sightseeing and a professional game pitting Corinthians FC (our guide Alex's favorite team) versus Butafogo FC. After the match it's on to Santos and preparations for the final game of the tour on Monday morning. Unfortunately due to a scheduling change in the Sao Paolo state championships the Maroons will play Litoral FC instead of Santos FC as originally scheduled. The bonus is that Litoral is a team which is owned by the Brazilian great Pele so the players can't be disappointed in that. Ciao!


August 29

Sunday was a well-deserved day off, and the boys were certainly happy with the down time after training so hard. It was a busy day, though, as we checked out of our home base of Oscar's Inn and headed to Sao Paolo. On the way we stopped in Capinas at the largest Mall in Brazil to do some souvenir shopping and have lunch. It was like most malls in the America except for the fact that the guys were able to get some great soccer gear at the numerous stores that sell it.

After the shopping frenzy (which trainer Amanda Ely won on most number of gifts for the least amount of money, and freshmen Gabe Iatarola won on sheer volume) we were off to see a match between Corinthians FC and Botafogo FC. Corinthians is the team our guide Alex supports so his excitement was passed on to the guys. It was quite an experience as we arrived about an hour before the game and most of the squad bought some replica jerseys, flags, and hats outside the stadium. There were throngs of supporters selling, BBQing, and just having fun in preparation for the match.

Once inside we sat in season ticket holders section which was arranged by Professor Emilio Miranda from the University of Sao Paolo who works SoccerFuturo and is an icon in the Sao Paolo soccer community. It was a great match which saw Corinthians, who were tied at the top of the table in the Brazilian League with Sao Paolo, go up 2-0. The supporters called the "Faithful Hawks" were singing and dancing there way to victory. Botafogo fought back and found the net twice to equalize. The Corinthian fans never let down their support and their team responded by scoring again. But soccer is a funny game, as Botafogo equalized again and the game ended a draw.

After the match we headed to dinner at "Baby Beef" which, regardless of the name, is a traditional Brazilian restaurant which the guys loved! If you have ever been to a Foga de Chao in the states you would know what I mean. Not only was there a large pasta, salad and sushi bar, but the waiters brought to the table various meats which they cut right off the skewer onto your plate. It just kept coming! Needless the say the bus ride to Santos was quiet because most of us were in food coma like after a good Thanksgiving Day turkey.

The bus came alive as we approached Santos because we suddenly were traversing a mountain road down to this beautiful seaside resort city. It was an amazing site at night so it should be even more breathtaking during the day when we go up and return to Sao Paolo that way. We settled in and got a good nights rest for our last game of the tour.
Monday we woke for a good breakfast in preparation for the last game versus Litoral FC. As mentioned before, Litoral is owned by Edson Arantes do Nasciamento, better known as the Brazilian great Pele.

We were hoping to get a glimpse of him as he had been in the area at his old club Santos' game the day before, but alas he wasn't there to see the University of Chicago play. But we were certainly there and made our presence felt. We dominated the game from start to finish in hot, humid, as well as difficult field conditions. We had been a little spoiled by the fields at Oscars so when we arrived at a field typical of most clubs like this (it was small, only lightly lined and 2/3 of it was dirt) we now knew what it was like to play like true Brazilians. It was a great challenge and the guy's took to it. A lone Brian Standerfer '06 goal in the first half held up for a 1-0 win with junior classmates Keith Crum and Tom Bailey sharing the shutout.

The whole team played well and put together a final product they should be proud. Interestingly enough the boys met up with an American from Queens, New York, who has been in Santos with Litoral training for the past two years. He had previously attended IMG Soccer Academy (home of the US youth national team) in Florida and was returning to the states soon.

After lunch, Alex took us on a tour of the Conquistadores Memorial (about Santos FC) and their stadium. We were able to see and read about the history and glory of Santos FC including that of its favorite sons Pele and young Robinho who had just recently been sold to Real Madrid for nearly $50 million dollars. A video of Santos' first championships in 2002 & 2004 was followed by a tour of the team room (including Pele's old locker) and a walk out onto the field of which we were asked NOT to step over the lines onto the pitch. It was quite a site to be on the same surface that all the Santos greats played. When we returned most of the team headed to the beach for the rest of the afternoon. Coach Stopper reported that the water was beautiful and seeing two or three games of pickup sand soccer games raging on was proof that soccer is the "world's game".

Tomorrow is the final day in Brazil and it should be a fun one. Some training on the beach in the morning, check out and then a trip to Corinthians Football & Social Club which Alex has been waiting anxiously to take us to since coming back into the Sao Paolo area. Our flight takes off at 10:00 pm and we hope that we miss the remnants of Hurricane Katrina during our stop over in Miami so we get home on time.

The last day of the tour is finished and all we have in front of us is a long plane trip back to Chicago. The last hours in Santos was spent mostly on the beach. Last night our guide Alex took us out for Brazilian pizza which he call "sweet pizza". Although it wasn't like the traditional pizza we are all used to (meaning there is no tomato sauce), it was quite good. Being that it was all you can eat, everyone got there fill and needed a long walk along the beach to work it off before bed time.

This morning we headed to the beach for a short training session. The team was the point of curiosity to everyone there especially since we played as traditional Brazilian sand soccer should be played...barefoot. People were turning their chairs to watch, asking who we were, why we were there and were even curious about the equipment we were using. It was like being in a fishbowl, but one which those looking from the outside were pleased with what was inside. It's amazing how this game of soccer attracts such attention. There was even a little boy there who, every time the ball rolled toward him darted out of his chair to track it down for the boys. When we finished we gave one of the balls to him and he just beamed with joy. We found out through Alex that he had been mentioning to his mother how badly he wanted a ball from America. Well, his dream came true and we made his day with one simple gesture. It was priceless. Afterwards we spent a good amount of time in the water which was cool and refreshing. Lunch and then a picturesque trek up the mountainside out of the Santos and into Sao Paolo.


August 31

The last day of the tour is finished and all we have in front of us is a long plane trip back to Chicago. The last hours in Santos was spent mostly on the beach. Last night our guide Alex took us out for Brazilian pizza which he call "sweet pizza". Although it wasn't like the traditional pizza we are all used to (meaning there is no tomato sauce), it was quite good. Being that it was all you can eat, everyone got there fill and needed a long walk along the beach to work it off before bed time.

This morning we headed to the beach for a short training session. The team was the point of curiosity to everyone there especially since we played as traditional Brazilian sand soccer should be played...barefoot. People were turning their chairs to watch, asking who we were, why we were there and were even curious about the equipment we were using. It was like being in a fishbowl, but one which those looking from the outside were pleased with what was inside.

It's amazing how this game of soccer attracts such attention. There was even a little boy there who, every time the ball rolled toward him darted out of his chair to track it down for the boys. When we finished we gave one of the balls to him and he just beamed with joy. We found out through Alex that he had been mentioning to his mother how badly he wanted a ball from America. Well, his dream came true and we made his day with one simple gesture. It was priceless. Afterwards we spent a good amount of time in the water which was cool and refreshing. Lunch and then a picturesque trek up the mountainside out of the Santos and into Sao Paolo.

Before we arrived at the airport we had one last stop, to the home of Corinthians FC & Social Club. As I had mentioned before, Corinthians was the club which our guide Alex supports. So, he was very excited to take us there to see "The Mother." "The Mother" is what Corinthians supporters call the ground which the club stands on. Not only because this is where soccer originated in Brazil but also because this is where many families spend there spare time. According to Alex professional clubs in Brazil are not all about soccer, they also support other sports like swimming, tennis, basketball, and team handball.

Kids spend there mornings in school and then afternoons in their social home which is the club. This is why fans have such a deep rooted passion for their team, one which doesn't wane with age. We were very lucky as while we were visiting the club, the pros were training and we were able to watch. It was impressive and strange at the same time as we realized that these professionals practice many of the same things we do and also make mistakes like we all do. As we were leaving co-captain Giordano Palloni was stopped and interviewed by a local television station as again we were a curious oddity to those who were there watching too.

When we arrived at the airport we were ready to get on the plane although not looking forward to the long trek through Miami. It was funny though that you can't get too far away from Chicago as the boys met a former University of Chicago class advisor (who retired in 2003) in line to get on the plane. She and her husband were heading back to the states after visiting their son in Chile who had been there in the Peace Corps, married, had three children, and never left.

Anyway, this trip has been a wonderful experience for everyone as the team has really come together and learned a tremendous amount about the game and each other. I know the boys have had a great time but are anxious to get home and start the regular season on September 2 versus Ripon College. We hope you will come by and see what the 2005 version of Maroon soccer is all about.