The UC San Diego men's soccer team was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from Aug. 4-14. The Tritons played their first game on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at the training facility of Club Atlético Boca Juniors, one of the country’s top professional clubs. The opposition was made up primarily of U-20 players from the Boca Juniors youth academy, with UCSD dropping a 1-0 decision. The Tritons contested their second game on Thursday, Aug. 8, and came away 3-0 winners on goals from Padraig Buckley, Elan Gefen and Tsuk Haroush. UCSD left the Boca Juniors facilities following breakfast on Thursday after spending its first four nights there. The Tritons won their remaining two matches in Argentina, 1-0 against Yupanqui on Sunday, Aug. 11, on a second-half Cory Wolfrom strike, and 2-0 on Tuesday, Aug. 13, with Wolfrom and Haroush doing the scoring.
During their stay, the Tritons took in a trio of Argentine Primera División matches in Argentinos Juniors-Colón (2-0), River Plate-Rosario Central (1-0) and Boca Juniors-Newell’s Old Boys (2-3). They arrived back in La Jolla on Thursday, Aug. 15.
Please read below for several blog entries, as well as a tour preview. Click on the link above to access the Facebook photo gallery.
Junior Midfielder Elan Gefen
Sunday, Aug. 11 and Monday, Aug. 12
On Day 8, we were able to finally get a long-awaited break and were allowed to sleep in until 10 a.m., which is late for us. After breakfast at the hotel, we departed to another artisan market nestled between busy streets in Buenos Aires. It was a truly spectacular place. You could practically buy anything there! We were given a couple of hours to explore on our own and it was a great chance for the players to buy jerseys and other souvenirs for family members and ourselves! In addition, it was a great chance for us to work on our bargaining skills and practice our Spanish. After a couple hours in the market, we sat down at a café for lunch and returned back to the hotel. After a much-needed nap, we embarked again for our third game of the trip against a fourth-division professional team named Yupanqui. They were a very talented team, and UCSD was able to keep the game at a stalemate at halftime. In the second half, senior Cory Wolfrom scored a great goal from a ball played behind the opposition’s defense, giving us the game-winning goal and a great win and experience for the team. After the game, we headed back to the hotel for some steak dinner and went to sleep soon after.
On Day 9, we had to wake up at 6:30 a.m. to eat breakfast and get out of the hotel as soon as possible to make it to the boatyard in Puerto Madero for our day trip to Uruguay. After checking through customs, we boarded a ferry and after only a short hourlong ride, we arrived in the historic town of Colonia (del Sacramento). Right when we got off the boat, we met up with our tour guide, who showed us around the old city, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. This small town traded hands between Spain and Portugal five times, before eventually becoming a Spanish-speaking and controlled town. The remnants of the two cultures were very apparent as our tour guide showed us the different types of streets and houses that were built by the Spaniards and the Portuguese. It was incredible to see such a historic and beautiful town. After the tour, we had a quick lunch and then were given some free time to explore. Many players decided to rent gas golf carts and drive around the city. We were able to explore the incredible beaches of Uruguay and cruise along the coastline. As our explorations came to a close, we headed back to the ferry to return to Buenos Aires. Later that evening, we went out to a nice Italian restaurant and had a great “family style” last meal to conclude the day!
Senior Midfielder Cory Wolfrom
Friday, Aug. 9 and Saturday, Aug. 10
On Day 6, we took a visit to Estancia Santa Susana, an Argentine ranch. Once we arrived there, empanadas and juice were handed out instantly. Horses and other farm animals were visible from the start with numerous amounts of other groups also taking a tour. The first thing we did as a team was to ride the horses on a small trail around the ranch. This ended up being quite exhilarating as well as comical. Some of the horses ran into our legs and startled us as well as some of the horses moving faster than others. After the horseback riding, lunch was served to us at the dining area. The workers brought out barbecued meat one at a time, from different cuts of steak to chicken. The food was delicious and all of us really enjoyed it. During the feast, a show was put on by the ranch involving tango dancers, guitar players, and an accordion player. After the lunch and ranch visit, we were super excited to go to the River Plate game. It was incredible. We walked down the roadblocked streets and purchased hot dogs and hamburgers, then entered the heavily secured stadium (El Monumental). Our seats ended up being around 4-5 rows from the track-surrounded field. River Plate scored in the 80th minute to win the game from a young substitute (1-0 over Rosario Central). The cheers and songs from the crowd were indescribable. They all sing in unison and every fan knows every single word to every song. I have never been in an atmosphere quite like that. Overall, I had a great day.
On Day 7, we visited the San Telmo Artisan Market. At first sight, it looked like an American swap meet, with the only difference being a more beautiful setting. All the stores set up by the merchants were scattered around this park close to one of the main Argentine streets. In addition to visiting the markets, we walked through a cemetery that was extremely sacred and very large. Most of the tombs looked like shrines that contained up to four coffins in one. It was an interesting site and we were able to see the uniqueness in all the different shrines. Our tour guide showed us some of the famous Argentines buried there. After the visit to the markets, we had our first and only training session with Rubén Bruno, a former River Plate footballer. After first meeting him and his assistant, we were all extremely excited to train with him. The first drill involved playing soccer with a rugby ball, followed by playing with our hands, and finally playing normally with our feet. His motto was that if you can focus on playing with a difficult ball, then a soccer ball would be way easier. Another interesting yet peculiar exercise was juggling a tennis ball with your feet. It was an entertaining practice that had a Latin flavor because of the upbeat tempo. We have learned a great amount from these coaches, and we will take a lot back to the States with us.
Redshirt Freshman Defender Brett Sampiere
Wednesday, Aug. 7 and Thursday, Aug. 8
On Day 4, we had our third and final training session at Boca and received certificates from our hosts. After we left Boca, we went to see an Argentinos Juniors game, and the atmosphere was great. Argentinos ended up winning, 2-0 over Colón, and when they scored, the crowd went crazy. The next day, we went on a sailing tour along a river and on the way, we stopped and got some amazing food. After we got back, we quickly prepared for our friendly game against Milionairios (River Plate affiliate), which we won, 3-0. We ate dinner with the kids on River Plate, and then hung out and went to sleep looking forward to the rest of our trip.
Senior Defender Gavin Lamming
Tuesday, Aug. 6
After an early morning, we were off to the Boca youth training center for our first game. As we entered the compound, we were blown away by the high quality of facilities, fields and friendliness of the staff and players. Despite the result (a 1-0 loss), the game was an incredible experience played at a very high level against crafty players. Later that afternoon, we went on a bus tour through Buenos Aires and Palermo, where we learned about the history of the city. When the tour was over, we headed to a local bakery where we tried a variety of different desserts that were incredible. That evening, we had the privilege of watching a tango performance that was followed by the world-famous Argentine BBQ. We finished the night hanging out as a team playing games together until it was time to go to bed to get some rest for the next day.
Senior Defender Alec Arsht
Monday, Aug. 5
Our first full day began with a quick walk across the street to watch the (Boca Juniors) first team in training. Due to their season opener being two days away, the training session was fairly light, but it was still enjoyable to watch. Following that, we got a tour of the Boca Juniors museum that is located inside La Bombonera. The museum highlights many of the club’s most revered seasons, as well as what it means to be a Boca Juniors player. In the afternoon, we had our first full training session with our Boca instructors, and even though many of the guys seemed to have heavy legs from the traveling, it was important that we got a full session in before our game against Boca. That evening, we walked to the affluent part of the city called Puerto Madero, a place full of modern high-rises overlooking the river. The remainder of our night was spent with our hosts at Casa Amarilla, having dinner and hanging out as a team, looking forward to our first game on Argentinian soil. Our best wishes to our friends and families back in the States.
Junior Midfielder Jacob Valadez
Saturday, Aug. 3
UCSD Men’s Soccer gathered at LAX in the early hours of the morning to say hello to each other after a month separated and say goodbye to the United States. Our first stop on our trip, the four-hour flight to Mexico City. Following a three-hour layover in the storming city, we were on the plane heading to Buenos Aires.
Sunday, Aug. 4
UCSD Men’s Soccer arrived in Argentina to gorgeous weather. Breezing through customs and meeting our tour guides, Anna, Sol and Chris, we piled onto a sweet double-decker bus and began our trip into the heart of Buenos Aires. The airport is actually about a half-hour outside of the city itself, and we made our way to the Boca Juniors training facility in style.
We were welcomed to the Casa Amarilla by the members of the Boca family and were given our very own training gear to wear. It didn’t take long until we were watching the professional women’s team win a championship match, 8-0, and heading into La Bombonera to train. A light training in the Boca warm-up facilities was followed by the sweet reward of getting to tour the Boca locker room and walk out the home team tunnel onto the field.
The feeling was incredible. We were awestruck walking out onto that field, imagining the roar of over 55,000 fans screaming, “Dale Boca!,” as if we were the stars making the Argentinian people’s dreams come true. We never wanted to leave, and kept asking for more pictures just so we could lengthen our time on that field.
Eventually, we were forced to leave, and made our way to downtown La Boca. Packed with street fair, food and performers, La Boca was a colorful representation of Argentinian culture that does not stop celebrating in the face of winter or poverty. Still dressed in our Boca training gear, we were seen by the locals and tourists alike as people of curiosity. Some knew we were American and asked for pictures. Some thought we were actual Boca players and asked for pictures. Either way, we were pretty popular on our first day in Argentina; so popular that one of our players was even called on to perform some tango moves with one of the local dancers.
After a long day of new experiences, we returned to the Casa Amarilla to eat and sleep, still excited for the remainder of our trip but definitely ready for a good rest.
LA JOLLA, Calif. - The UC San Diego men’s soccer program is off to Argentina for a preseason tour.
The Tritons’ travel party, consisting of 19 players and two coaches, will depart from Los Angeles International Airport on Saturday, Aug. 3, headed for Argentina’s capital city of Buenos Aires.
For the next 11 days, the UCSD contingent will roll through a full, diverse itinerary. The Tritons first visit the home of famed professional club Boca Juniors, staying, dining, touring and practicing in their training facility. They will have the chance to observe the top-division side in a session and learn from their coaching staff.
In the following days, UCSD will enjoy lessons in tango, Argentina’s national dance, go sailing in the northern town of Tigre, take a day trip to Estancia Santa Susana in the Buenos Aires countryside, and also participate in community service in the form of a youth soccer clinic.
The Tritons are scheduled to have four training sessions of their own and play four matches during their time in Argentina. The first contest is slated for Aug. 6 against a Boca Juniors youth academy side. They are subsequently set to face lower-division outfit Yupanqui on Aug. 11 in between two other opponents.
Additionally on the itinerary, UCSD intends to take in a pair of Argentine Primera División matches. The nation’s top professional league kicked off the new season (Torneo Inicial) on Aug. 2, and the Tritons will be present for the meeting between Argentinos Juniors and Colón on Aug. 7. Argentinos Juniors, based in the La Paternal district of Buenos Aires, plays its games at the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona, named after the Argentinian footballing legend who began his career in the Argentinos youth team.
A second match that UCSD plans to attend pits River Plate, another famous Buenos Aires side and bitter rival to Boca Juniors, versus Rosario Central at historic El Monumental on Aug. 9. The Tritons will tour El Monumental, the largest stadium in the country (67,664 capacity) and venue for the final of the 1978 FIFA World Cup, later in their stay. UCSD’s schedules for games played and games attended are subject to change.
Nearing the end of their tour, the Tritons will dip across the border for an afternoon to Colonia in southwestern Uruguay.
“This trip is going to provide an invaluable experience for our guys,” said Jon Pascale, who heads toward his sixth season in charge. “From a pure performance aspect, getting 10 days to get together and train, with four games and four training sessions while we’re down there, will give us a great head start going into the season, which is shaping up to be our most competitive in the six that I’ve been here.
“It’s going to be an amazing opportunity for the guys to experience a different culture, a different soccer culture. Argentina as a country, bleeds soccer. It’s going to be great for the guys to experience that, not to mention the team bonding that comes along with traveling to a foreign country and being around your teammates for 10 days. I think it’s really going to be something that the guys look back on as the best time they had here at UCSD.
“We have some really neat things planned, including a day for community service, which always provides great perspective. Then some other fun things like rodeos, tango shows, stuff like that. It’s going to be a really unique opportunity for the team. We expect them to come back not only sharper on the field, but as a close-knit group as well.”
After returning home late on Wednesday, Aug. 14, UCSD will have just two short days before players report to North Campus on Aug. 17. The Tritons hold their first session of preseason training camp on Monday, Aug. 19. The 2013 campaign begins in Riverside on Thursday, Sept. 5, at Cal Baptist. The home opener is then set for 4:30 p.m. against crosstown rival Point Loma Nazarene on Saturday, Sept. 7, to kick off a doubleheader with the UCSD women’s team.
Follow UCSD men’s soccer on its South American adventure through photo galleries at Triton Athletics’ official Facebook page: facebook.com/UCSDtritons