Argentina embraces Men’s Soccer Team

by Scott Allison, '79

Tuesday, August 10

Match 1 - Roanoke College, 2; local club consisting of retired professionals, 1

We're convinced that if we had played these guys in their prime, they'd have scored at least 10 on us. Yet, we were able to keep them off the board with our athleticism...We have a tremendous amount of respect for how the pros play. They shield the ball so well, and their short crisp passing made them most difficult to defend. We learned a ton playing against them for sure.

Wednesday, August 11

Match 2 - Club Atlético San Miguel, 2; Roanoke College, 1
This B Division Professional Club played their young professionals against us - those whose ages corresponded closely with ours. Like all Argentinean teams, they keep the ball very well and like a controlled, short passing game. We were able to keep them in front of us for much of the first half, yet they had virtually all of the possession...We did create a great chance on a counterattack, as Cameron Travalini '14 was robbed of a goal by San Miguel's keeper. In the 35th minute, one of their midfielders took things into his own feet, so to speak, and hit a beautiful strike from 25 yards out, to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. In the second half, it was much of the same. Again, with our effective, compact defending corps, we were successful at keeping them in front of us for the most part. In the 78th minute, we scored a beautiful goal, as Jason Ryan '12 finished a perfectly delivered cross from Peyton Lambert '12. While we were disappointed in our play and in the result, we still learned a ton. The Argentineans are so incredibly composed on the ball that they never panic, even when placed under extreme pressure.

Thursday, August 12

Match 3 - Roanoke College, 1; Mapuche Country Club, 1
Since our second game loss to San Miguel, we've been extremely busy. We attended two separate two-hour clinics conducted by professional Argentinean coaches. The clinics were very beneficial. Certainly the language barrier was a bit of an obstacle, yet, with the help of Jerry, our host and translator, things went smoothly. [Assistant Men's Soccer Coach] Glenn Hayman '05 and I enjoyed the sessions as much as did the guys. After the match, the club hosted a reception, serving chorizo and bread, and drinks to our guys and theirs. Several of the Mapuche players spoke very good English, so the exchange of cultures was an experience. We're learning that the Argentinean people are much like us. They are warm and embracing, and proud of their country and, of course, their soccer.

Friday, August 13

Match 4 - Roanoke College, 0, Club Atlético River Plate (CARP) U19s, 0

We played this match on River Plate's Training Grounds adjacent to "Estadio de River Plate," CARP's home stadium. It was quite an experience. These guys were indeed the real deal. All aspiring professionals, they played us as part of their morning training session, giving the River Plate staff an opportunity to evaluate personnel...Post game, we ate in River Plate's restaurant inside the stadium. Following lunch, we toured Estadio de River Plate. It seats 80,000 and they fill it for every home game. Like most big stadiums in South America, the trophy rooms are impressive. They celebrate the rich tradition of success that River Plate enjoys.

Saturday, August 14 and Sunday, August 15

Four games in as many days, and constantly on the go from 8:30 a.m.'til late in the evening. We're tired. Saturday and Sunday will be well-deserved days off the field. On Saturday we visited Florida Street and Palermo Soho for shopping for gifts for ourselves and others. Lots of Argentina national team jerseys were bought, along with souvenir T-shirts or magnets/other items. On Sunday, we attended a professional soccer match at "Huracan's Duco" stadium, watching River Plate vs. Huracan. For many of us, this was the highlight of the trip, as we witnessed first time the passion of the Argentinean "futbol" culture. Fans for both sides sang pretty much the whole game. The noise was, at times, deafening.

Monday, August 16

Match 5 (two 45-minute matches) - Roanoke College, 1; Argentina ID Training Camp U17, 0; Roanoke College, 4; U17 team, 0

What we thought was going to be our most competitive day turned out to be less than that. We were rested as well, so perhaps that helped us gain an advantage.  For the first 45 minutes, we played Barcelona's Argentina ID Training Camp's U17 group. While they were all extremely technical and could possess very well, we simply overmatched them athletically in many ways as the age difference was indeed a factor... In the second 45, we played another local club group of 17s and overmatched them as well...Post game, it was time to shower and off to our farewell luncheon. We ate at a barbeque restaurant, one that was somewhat similar to a Brazilian "churrascaria," with an extravagant salad bar and more assorted meats than you can shake a stick at...Then off to the mall to kill some time before we hit the airport for our return flight to Dallas. All in all, what an incredible experience for each and every one of us. Not only are we a better group of players, we're a more seasoned group of individuals. Yes, we're excited to return to campus to begin our pre-season, incorporating our improved "futbol" acumen into our play. Wish us luck this season!

Editor's note: The RC Men's Soccer team finished the 2010 season 13-3-3.