Day 1: Academy Update from abroad

Galaxy Academy players trained at Finch Farm for the day before taking in West Ham vs Everton a

Their first full day in
England was surely a
day that
the Galaxy

Academy players
will never
forget. Despite the jet lag that was sure to exist, the players pushed
through
to get a first hand experience of the life of a footballer in England.

After a hearty breakfast at the
hotel, the teams boarded the bus for the ride over to Everton’s training
ground
at Finch Farm, the same site at which Landon Donovan was first
introduced as an
Everton player three-months ago, for an extensive training session under
the
watchful eyes of Everton
Academy coaches
Paul Harris and Mick
O’Brien.

Shortly after arriving at the
facility, the players were led down the hall from the locker rooms to
the
fields, walking past a series of poster-sized photos of all the past
graduates
of the Everton Academy to have played for the club, including current
Toffees
Leon Osman, Jack Rodwell and Victor Anichebe (who is currently injured
and
actually stopped by the lunch room after the team’s sessions), Aston
Villa
captain Richard Dunne and many more. But there was no doubt about which
picture
the players were in awe of the most – current Manchester United and England

forward Wayne Rooney, who made his Everton debut at the age of
16.  

Once out on the fields, the key word
in both the U-16 and U-18 training sessions was quicker. The coaches
tried to
instill in all the boys the importance of receiving the ball cleanly and
then
distributing it quickly so as to keep the ball moving and the defense
chasing.
In order to illustrate that point, the teams did a series of progression
drills,
beginning with something that seemed simple, but then making it more and
more
difficult as the drill went on, challenging not only the player’s skill,
but
their ability to think out the game and adapt to difficult
situations.

After the conclusion of the nearly
two hour session, which saw a number of great saves, goals, passes and
tackles
between the two teams, much to the delight of the Everton coaches, the
players
made their way inside for a hot lunch in the Academy dining room, while
the
staff were given a complete tour of the facilities, seeing everything
from the
classrooms to the locker rooms and everything in between, including
video rooms,
recruitment offices and much, much more.

As much fun as the players had at
the Everton training ground, it was nothing compared to what they would
soon
witness – a live Premier League game at Goodison Park.

It was West Ham v Everton, giving
the kids a pair of Americans to cheer for in Tim Howard and Jonathan
Spector.
Both would play the full 90 minutes for their team and Howard produced a

sensational penalty save on Mido late in the first half, eliciting the
now
famous USA!,
USA!, USA!

chants from the Everton faithful.

Yakubu scored late to give the home
side a 2-1 lead and sending Goodison Park
into hysterics, but Ilan equalized
two minutes later for West Ham to send the game to a final 2-2
scoreline.

For most of the kids it was their
first chance to see a Premier League game in person cheering along
throughout,
except of course when West Ham, whose travelling fans were seated just
below our
teams, twice equalized in the second half.

The final score may not have gone
the way that the kids wanted but even that could not put a damper on
their
day.

On Monday they will get the chance
to put all of their lessons into action when they take on Blackburn
Rovers.

We’ll have all the news
and updates from those games tomorrow
night.