The Spartan Brand

Ed Brand is a fourth-year member of the San Jose State University men’s soccer program. The native of London, England, is a team captain for a third time in his final season of college soccer in 2008. As a three-time All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation selection, Brand is vying to become just the third known Spartan men’s soccer player to earn all-conference recognition in all four years. It took the central defensive anchor just two seasons to be named to the MPSF’s 15th-Year Anniversary Men’s Soccer Third Team prior to his junior campaign in 2007.

In the classroom, the journalism major with a minor in political science was an Academic All-MPSF honoree in 2007 and a San Jose State University Scholar-Athlete for 2006-07. Brand is one of two men’s soccer representatives on the Spartan Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

His athletic, academic and leadership credentials, as well as his journalism background, made Brand a natural choice for’s first in-season student-athlete blog.

Blog Entry #16 (Tuesday, December 16)
Final Edition - Time To Reflect

Hello everybody, and welcome to the last ever edition of The Spartan Brand.

It’s been a while since I wrote to you last, and a lot of things have happened. First of all, I want to talk about our last game of the season. We beat Sacramento State, 4-1. It was a sweet victory, and one the team deserved for a season where we had been competing in every game, and should have had more success than we ultimately did.

From a personal point of view, I was disappointed with getting sent off. I honestly did not feel my actions warranted a red card, but the referee lacked common sense and thought differently. I am not one to harp on about referees. They have a very difficult job. However, this particular referee was terrible, and was more concerned about making the game about him, rather than the two teams.

Anyway, moving on, that game was also Senior Night, and it brought to an end many Spartan soccer careers. Gavin Wenyon, Sam Shore, Richard Mann, Hiroki Akiyama, Lewis Sweeney and I were all playing our last game for the Spartans, and it was a sad moment. I know I can speak for everyone when I say we have loved our time here at State, and we have made some great friends along the way.

Nick Cukar has had a fantastic season. He scored nine goals, was selected to the national team of the week, named to the Far West All-Region second team, All-MPSF first team, and at our annual team awards, won Offensive MVP. It capped a brilliant year for The Goose, and as a good friend, I am very proud of him!

The team awards banquet was a very nice evening. As I mentioned, Nick won the Offensive MVP award, Gavin deservedly won the Defensive MVP award, Josh Boemecke won the best newcomer, and Colby Moore won the coaches’ award. Each and every one of those guys really deserved their awards. They all had great seasons. I was very humbled by being voted the overall MVP. I did not expect it, and it was a great honour to receive the trophy. These awards are voted on by the players, so it means even more to me to be respected by my peers! Cheers lads!!

Another set of awards handed out recently have been from our conference. Nick and I received first-team honours, while Colby, Hiroki, Sam and Josh all received honours as well!

Overall, looking back on the year, it was definitely a season of what might have been. I have no doubt in my mind that we were the best team in our conference, but the results at the beginning of conference hurt us. It showed our character as a side and as individuals, however, to go on a six-game unbeaten run to end conference and claim third from being cut adrift at the bottom after four games.

Finally, I just want to say thank you to all the players I have played with over my four years here, all the coaching staff, and all the fans that come to our games.

It has always been my intention to represent the University in the best way I can, and although there have been ups and downs, hopefully I have achieved that. As a captain, I am very proud of the team and this university as a whole. These last four years have been a fantastic time, and I have loved every minute of it. I am going to miss practice, the games, and having banter with the lads. But life has new challenges for me now, and the program will continue to thrive and develop. I am sure of that.

So on that note, thank you and I hope you have enjoyed The Spartan Brand. I have enjoyed writing it.

Go Spartans!

Ed Brand

Editor’s Note: I wanted to say a sincere thank you to Ed for doing such a fantastic job with the blog, providing great content on a consistent basis all season long, whether the team was winning or not. I was very happy with my choice. Thanks to Coach St. Clair as well, for allowing us to do this.

Like Ed indicated, the boys had a fine season, and all credit goes to them for turning it around and finishing strong when they could have folded it up after opening the conference season with four tough defeats. They deserved better with the way they were playing at the end, but with a 48-team NCAA Championship field, the rally fell a little short.

A special congratulations goes out to Nick Cukar, who truly had a remarkable year. Seven game-winning goals, out of nine goals, and nine victories, from an outside midfield position, is pretty unheard of.

It was a pleasure covering the team and bringing you The Spartan Brand in 2008. The six seniors, Ed, Gavin, Rich, Hiroki, Sam and Lewis, will definitely be missed. My first year here at San Jose State, was the first year that Ed, Gavin, Rich and Hiroki were on the field, so I saw them plenty in action. I really enjoyed watching all six of them. Good luck, gentlemen, and thank you again, Ed.

Happy Holidays to all.

Go Spartans!

Doga Gur

Blog Entry #15 (Saturday, November 8)
Chasing Down Second

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of The Spartan Brand. Since I last wrote to you, we have accumulated seven points out of nine. We should have achieved nine out of nine, but those seven points have seen us rise to third in our conference. It is not where we would choose to be, or where our talent should be, but like I have said before, the table never lies, and we are where we deserve to be due to many different factors.
We’re playing some good stuff right now, and special mention has to go to Nick Cukar, who has scored three goals in three games. He has been a consistent goal-scorer on our side for two years now, and we need his goals from midfield.

This week as a whole has been a very difficult week for the team. Issues have occurred that I will not discuss in this blog, as they are internal. I can say that they have been resolved, and it’s something that everybody wants to put behind us and look forward.

Looking forward, and it is New Mexico, then Sacramento State who we conclude our season against. We are gunning down second-place, and I feel that would be the least we deserve. New Mexico is a very talented side, and I have a lot of respect for the coach, who has done a very good job there. I have only beat New Mexico once here at San Jose State, and would love nothing more than in my penultimate game, to get a second win.

Away from soccer, it was my mum and dad’s 27th wedding anniversary the other week, and I just want to say congratulations to my mum and dad again. They are great parents, and everything I have achieved is because of them, so thanks mum and dad!

Moving back to soccer, my beloved Arsenal won 2-1 today against Manchester United, so obviously, I am a very happy young man and life is good. My roommate’s sister is in town, and she supports Chelsea. She was convinced Arsenal would lose, so it was nice to see her shut up! Haha.

Go Spartans!

Ed Brand

Blog Entry # 14 (Wednesday, October 29)
Time to Right Some Wrongs

Hello everybody, and welcome to the latest installment of all things men’s soccer.

I apologize for the time between this blog and my last one. School has been working me pretty hard of late and finding time to sleep is becoming an achievement. But anyway, enough of that whining. Let’s talk soccer.

As I write this, we have just come off a bye week, and travel to Denver tomorrow to play Denver and Air Force. The bye week, I believe, came at a good time for us. We just beat Air Force, and I feel we needed as a team a bit of time to recharge our batteries and put our feet up. We have done that and now we’re back. We want to finish conference 6-4. To me, there is no other motivation. We want to have 18 points and hey, who knows where that will take us.

Denver is a place I like playing. The city has a very European feel to it with the weather and the architecture. It’s a nice place to play, but an even nicer place when you win there, and that’s what we are going to get, a win.

Denver are top of the conference right now and they’re there because they deserve to be. I am not one of those guys who looks for excuses. The table never lies and although I believe without a shadow of a doubt in my mind we are a better side than Denver, we sit bottom, they sit top. That’s the reality. It’s up to us starting Friday afternoon to right the wrongs of our season.

I am not mentioning the Air Force game because right now, it’s important we focus on one game at a time, and the most important game is always the next game. That’s Denver.

Go Spartans!

Ed Brand

Blog Entry #13 (Tuesday, October 21)
A Platform From Which to Build

Hello and it’s a much more appeased Spartan Brand that writes to you today. I am more content with life because of the simple fact we have got a deserved and long overdue win under our belt.

Once again it was the goose (Nick Cukar) who notched the only goal in a 1-0 win against Air Force. In reality, the game should have had more goals. We had 28 shots to Air Force’s nine. However, Air Force, due to our own ineptitude at times, did have some decent chances. They failed to take them, and perhaps this is when the fortune of our season changes. Sadly, it might prove too little too late in our aim of reaching the NCAA’s.

Nonetheless, that does not mean our season is not without incentive and motivation. First of all, we want a winning record, secondly, we want 18 points, and finally, I am not prepared for my last five games at San Jose State to be non-events.

I am a very proud man. Losing four out of four games hurt me, and it hurt the side. I had massive aspirations for this year, for myself and more importantly for the team. I am not going to let these five games drift. We as a team need to show our true colours. It would be very easy for everyone to lie down and just let this year pass us by. To me, that is the easy option, the weak option, and it’s not an option for this team.

I want us to finish with 18 points and to finish as high up the conference table as we can, and hopefully disrupt a few teams’ chances on the way. After all, it’s a competitive business we’re in.

We have a bye week this week and have a couple of days off. It is nice to have a few extra days to rest the legs and focus the mind again. I am raring to go this Wednesday.

On another note, my major is broadcasting and on our trip to New Mexico and Las Vegas, I shot the team travelling for my class. My professor liked what I did and it got aired on TV late on Friday night on Update News. If you would like to watch it, I have left the link at the bottom of this blog. Just go to the link and click on a separate link which says most recent Update News WebCast. It’s the last story on the sports! Enjoy!

Go Spartans!

Ed Brand

Link for Update News men’s soccer report:

Blog Entry #12 (Friday, October 17)
Time To Show Our True Selves

It’s been three games since I last wrote to you. Those three games have been some of the hardest results to take in my whole career. We have lost our first four games in conference and sit firmly at the bottom of the table. It was not meant to go this way. All games have been lost by one goal. All have either been very late goals or overtime goals. Quite frankly it just seems that this year is not meant to be our year. Are we the worst team in the conference? The table says yes...reality says no. We have had our opportunities in all four games and have not taken them. We have paid the highest price for that.

So where do we go from here? It’s quite simple. We go back to the training ground, work harder than we have done before, and prove to the conference in the next six games that we are a very good side and not the worst. To be honest with you I am cut up, as we all are. However, things happen in life that are not fair and this is one of them. It will sort the men from the boys and I am certain that our team has a lot of men, with strong characters. We will bounce back from this.

Our first chance to do so is on Sunday against Air Force. We will approach the game with the same mentality as usual, with a hunger and desire to win.

Go Spartans

Ed Brand

Blog Entry #11 (Thursday, October 9)
Moving On...

Hello and welcome to my latest blog.

It’s been a few days since I have written to you all, and if you know me, you probably know why.

We very disappointingly lost our first conference game of the year, 1-0 away to Sacramento State. I use the word disappointingly, not because we played poorly, but because we had worked so hard in preparation for this game. We dominated the first 20 minutes, but failed to convert that dominance into a lead. Their confidence rose because of that fact, and we got punished by a late goal. Disappointing.

Sac State, however, will beat teams at home. They are organized, and they seem to have something about them this year that you can’t really put your finger on, but they are getting results, so you have to congratulate them.

After such a defeat, it’s my job, along with the coaching staff, and other senior members of the side, to give the rest of the squad perspective. One game does not break a season. As I write this blog I am sitting in my hotel room in New Mexico on the eve of our game with the Lobos. New Mexico are historically the best team in our conference, and have good players. So there is not a better game to help re-focus the mind and put the disappointment of last Sunday behind us. We fully believe we can win this game, and if we do, Sacramento will be forgotten about. That’s the beauty about this game, and sport in general. There is always the next game.

For this trip to New Mexico and Las Vegas, I am shooting a story that could be aired on Update News (the live news show produced on campus and aired locally). It’s a fun project to do, and will hopefully provide a small insight to the pressures of traveling, with school and soccer. I, along with Doga Gur, will try to do our best to get something uploaded on this page for you guys to watch at home, so keep checking in!!

Go Spartans!

Ed Brand

Blog Entry #10 (Wednesday, October 1)
Playing in a Furnace

Hello one and all! Welcome to the tenth installment of The Spartan Brand!

I am writing to you again as I sit in class. Don’t worry, my education is not suffering. I can multi-task!

Well, as I alluded to in my last blog, on Saturday we traveled to Bakersfield. It was my first visit to Bakersfield, and I don’t want to offend anyone here, but hopefully it’s my last! The town is nice enough, but it’s literally in the middle of nowhere, and bloody hell is it hot there!

We played at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, and I reckon I got sunstroke after about 15 minutes. It must have been over 100 degrees. It was hot.

The game went to plan though. We won 2-0 and kept up our impressive record of only losing once in ten games so far. Nick The Goose’ Cukar popped up again and scored another typical Goose goal, and Junior got himself on the score sheet again to seal the win.

We had other chances we failed to convert and for about a 15-minute spell in the second half, Bakersfield put us under pressure. We defended very well. Gavin Wenyon at right back was excellent. Anyway, a win’s a win and we’re happy to move on and look forward to our conference opener against Sacramento State on Sunday.

Moving away form SJSU, my beloved Arsenal, who rather embarrassingly got beat on Saturday to little Hull City, bounced back with a 4-0 win over Porto! Come on the Gunners!

In Bakersfield, I roomed with Lewis Sweeney. Lewis is a Manchester United fan. I am not, but despite this, we get on very well, and although I killed him in Jeopardy, we had a good time. Just for you guys who might be interested, Lewis got one question right on Jeopardy. I got seven. So it just goes to prove that Arsenal fans are smarter than Manchester United fans!

Go Spartans!

Ed Brand

Blog Entry #9 (Saturday, September 27)
The One That Got Away

Hello and welcome to another blog. As you probably already know, we tied Santa Clara 1-1 on Wednesday night. It was a game that has left me with a sense of a missed opportunity. After a non-eventful first half where perhaps Santa Clara just shaded, the second half came to light. Junior (Burgos) set the tone by scoring a goal of pure awareness, superb execution, and great quality. After chasing back and winning a tackle, Junior proceeded to nutmeg a Santa Clara player before chipping the goalkeeper from the half-way line. I have been fortunate enough in my career playing with players at Chelsea and England to witness some great goals, but Junior’s was right up there with anything I have seen. It also shut the Santa Clara fans up!

After that we played a classic counter-attack game and had two or three great chances to add to our lead and get the win we deserved. Unfortunately, we failed to take those chances and were punished on a long throw we did not deal with. We played out overtime and got the 1-1. On reflection it’s not a bad result but leaving the field I was gutted. We deserved to have won that game and should have won that game.

There were a lot of positives to come out of the game though. Bobby Jackson’s performance on the left gave us an extra dimension with his pace. With him and Nick (Cukar) rotating on that side, we have great strength. And even though everybody performed well, I would like to single out Boyah’s (Kaar) performance at left back. Boyah has the unenviable job of replacing Fishie (Oscar Monjaras). We are hoping (Oscar) will be back soon. Boyah though, after a difficult couple of moments against Cal Poly, showed great character, and I thought he was excellent on Wednesday night. He is a popular member of the squad, so we’re delighted he is doing well.

On Thursday, we had a day off from practice. I, along with my central defensive partner, Sammie (Shore), went to Santa Cruz. We went with my roomie, former Spartan Ben Saunders. We just relaxed, played American footie (which I am not very good at) and got awesome burgers from this 60’s caf. It’s nice to relax and get away during the season when we can, and the beaches in Santa Cruz are awesome.

Well, thanks for reading another blog. As I write this, we are traveling to Bakersfield. We’re watching Sky Sports News on the bus, which is letting me know how my beloved Arsenal got beat today. Lewis (Sweeney) has the bragging rights now! I hate my life...ha-ha. I will be fine as long as we beat Bakersfield!

Go Spartans

Ed Brand

Blog Entry #8 (Monday, September 22)
A Very Proud Captain

Hello and welcome to another blog!

Well since I last wrote to you we have played two games. We played against Cal Poly and Seattle.

I will begin with the game against Cal Poly. They were a side coming into the game probably tipped as favourites. Nonetheless, Spartan Stadium thanks to our great support is turning into somewhat of a fortress for us. We deservedly took the lead with the Goose (Nick Cukar) notching another goal. We proceeded to be the better team until two set-piece goals either side of halftime put us 2-1 down. Many teams would have felt sorry for themselves. However, I have noticed something with this side and this set of lads; they are incredibly resilient. As a captain that makes me very proud because we never know when we’re beaten. We continued to have chance after chance until we got a penalty kick from Stevie’s (Cordova) persistence and it was left to me to slot home the PK with 50 or so seconds left.

I am the designated penalty kick taker and I have been in that position once or twice before so I was confident I would score. I did and it was a great feeling not for me but for the team as a whole. We ended up tying the game and it was the very least we deserved from a good performance.

On Sunday afternoon we got a win. We beat Seattle 2-1 and it was a tough game and one we are glad to get behind us. Hiroki and Junior scored two superb individual goals and we are delighted for them both. We had other chances to add to the lead but found the post and their keeper too hard to avoid. Seattle was a competitive side who took the game to us and we needed to be concentrated for the full 90.

Moving away from college soccer, to English soccer for a bit, I am a very happy chappy right now. Arsenal sit top of the table and the team I hate the most, Tottenham, sit bottom. Life could not be much better!! This also means that me and Tyler Newman, the only other proper Arsenal fan in the locker room, have the bragging rights right now! Ha!

Finally, we play Santa Clara at Santa Clara on Wednesday night. This is a fixture I love and I know the boys do. We’re very confident we can get a result and we would love it if you guys and girls could make the short trip to support us!

Go Spartans!


Blog Entry #7 (Wednesday, September 17)
Highs and Lows

Hello and welcome to my latest blog.

Last Wednesday night we played USF at Spartan Stadium. I am a senior now and have played in many games at Spartan Stadium. Last Wednesday’s game was one of the most exciting to be involved in. We won the game, 1-0. However, that only tells a fraction of the story. We played an hour with 10 men, had penalty shouts turned down, missed chances, and had overtime to endure. Nonetheless, we prevailed, and it was a very, very sweet moment. Nick “The Goose” Cukar scored the winner with a trademark finish. The celebrations that followed were amazing to be in. Everybody was so happy and the adrenaline rush was awesome. I just want to say on behalf of myself and the team the support you gave us in Spartan Stadium that night was exceptional and really gave us a lift. We thank you very much and hope there are many more nights like that to come!! It was a great night!

That was the high. Now comes the low.

On Sunday afternoon, we traveled to 29th-ranked UC Davis. We went there with a belief we could not only compete, that was a given, but that we could win. Well we lost, 2-0. We made two mistakes on two separate plays and got punished. UC Davis are a strong, well-organized team who play to their strengths. We had a game when things just did not go right for us. However, we walked away from that game with our belief very much intact. We knew we were just as good as them if not better. What we have to do now is prove that statement to be true. That is down to us.

We have the best opportunity to do this tomorrow night in Spartan Stadium again. We play Cal Poly. They have had a good start to their season and will prove a real test, but a test I believe without any shadow of a doubt we can pass. Tomorrow is when we need to step up to the plate and show how good we can be!

Go Spartans!


Blog Entry #6 (Monday, September 8)
Six For Blog 6!

Hello and welcome to another edition of The Spartan Brand. Since I last wrote to you, we had another exhibition game against Cal State East Bay. We were victorious, 6-1, and it was a good, solid and productive run-out for us.

Little Ricky (Dorrego) scored a double and has four (goals) in four (games) for the season, so he is on fire!

I nearly scored...agghh! I don’t know how the keeper saved it but fair play. It was a great save, and we scored from the rebound, so it’s all good!

On Wednesday night, the important stuff really begins. We play USF; they are always an athletic and highly-competitive side, with talented players. It will be a good test for us, but a test I know we’re up for and I know we’re ready for.

It begins a procession of important games for us that involve USF, UC Davis and Cal Poly. All good sides, and we can’t wait to get stuck into this part of the schedule.

The lads have been so professional all season so far. We had tough practices this past weekend, and the professionalism did not wane. We are ready to make an impact this year.

Moving away from SJSU soccer for a moment, to even more things soccer-related. England began their World Cup qualifying campaign on Saturday. My nation played a tiny little country called Andorra, and we struggled to beat them. We pathetically overcame them, 2-0, and it was depressing to say the least.

On Wednesday, we play Croatia, who are a good side; we need to improve if we want to get anything out of it. Nick Cukar has Croatian ties but to be fair, he is about as Croatian as Nelson Mandela!! But we all love Nick!

Our game is on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m., so make sure you come out and support us a lot! We love it when we see a big crowd, and it’s a local derby, so come out and support us!!

Thanks for reading!!!

Ed Brand

Go Spartans!

Blog Entry #5 (Tuesday, September 2)
Undefeated Start to the Season!

So the season has officially begun! The boys have done great, too. On Friday, we had our season opener against Notre Dame de Namur.

It was played on Spartan Field, and that always makes it that little bit more difficult. The weather was also another major factor. The temperature must have been over 100, and the game could have proved very testing. Thankfully, though, the team did not let those factors become excuses, and we won quite comfortably, 3-0.

It was a game we controlled throughout, and although Notre Dame provided more of a test than UCSC, we were never in real danger of slipping up, and could have won by more goals. Congratulations go to Hiroki, Gavin (who scored a great goal) and Steve (Cordova), who scored his first goal for the Spartans. Stevie has blistering pace and he has proved a real asset so far to the team, and I can only see him going from strength to strength.

On Saturday, we had a light practice session as we prepared for our match against Stanford on Sunday evening.

The match against Stanford was a competitive contest that I am sure was very entertaining to watch. There were two goals in the first five minutes, one for either side (little Ricky making it two in three games for us!!) and two sending offs (red cards). So several talking points! If you don’t know by now, we tied, 1-1 after overtime.

On the whole, we were disappointed not to have won the game. We played a solid game, but we can all individually and collectively play better. However, being a senior and having that experience, I have learned to gain perspective. We drew 1-1 against a very good side and on the balance of play we should have won. We are also only two games into our season and we are in a very good position right now because I can only see this side getting better and better, as long as we keep our heads on the ground and keep working as hard as we have been. Hey, it shows something about the mentality of this side that we’re disappointed with a tie against Stanford!! We respect every side we play, but we fear no one.

On a personal perspective, I am happy where my game is at the moment. My fitness is very good and I am enjoying leading and playing with this set of lads, and like the team, I can see myself getting stronger with every game!

On a lighter note, Sam (Shore), my roommate (former Spartan) Ben (Saunders) and I, went and bought an awesome basketball hoop that is now in my backyard. I would like to think I am a Steve Nash sort of basketball player. However, if anybody actually watches me play, I could not be further from Steve Nash if I tried!! Ben is not bad though! We plan to get a table tennis table as well. It’s nice to relax and wind down sometimes, and these are great ways to do so!

Thanks for reading! And thanks again for your support!


Go Spartans!

Blog Entry #4 (Monday, August 25)
One Game, One Win!

Hello everybody and welcome to another blog!

Well, as you probably know, we had our first game on Friday evening in Spartan Stadium against the Banana Slugs of UC Santa Cruz. It turned out to be a very useful exercise and good preparation for our season, which officially kicks off on Friday against Notre Dame de Namur.

We won the game 5-0; Junior Burgos scored two terrific goals. His second especially was a great goal. Junior is an excellent talent and we are hoping for a huge season from him this year! Little Ricky, or Ricky Dorrego as you will know him by, scored his first Spartan goal and it was well worth the wait, a great left-footed strike and his celebration showed how much it meant to him!!

Colby Moore grabbed a goal for himself. Colbs was my roommate in 2006. He is a great lad, and as our number-one striker this year, it was good to see him open his account the first time of asking. Completing the scoring was Bobby Jackson, who raised to head home his first ever goal for the Spartans also, in his first game ever in Spartan Stadium- well done Bob!

On a personal note, coach kept me in for the whole 90 minutes, and I loved every minute of being back playing in the stadium again with my boys! I was satisfied with my performance. I am my own worst critic, and I always want to play the perfect game, but that’s very difficult to do, so overall I was happy with my game, second half especially.

We trained through the game, and on Saturday and Sunday, we had double days. I can officially say we are meeting our aim of being the fittest team in our conference this year. My sore calves are testament to that!!

Sunday evening was athlete orientation. Athlete orientation is an annual event where all the Spartan athletes come together to welcome new Spartans and welcome back old Spartans like myself. This year it was held at Spartan Stadium, and we enjoyed a barbecue and seeing friends we have not seen for a while.

As I write this, I am waiting for my Anthropology 160 class to begin. So yes, you have guessed it, school has begun! Oh joy behold! I have a busy schedule this year, but I enjoy school. It acts as a release away from soccer at times, and that is essential, especially during a long season! The first day of school also means a day off from practice, which once again, my calves are delighted with!

Well, I just want to finish by saying thank you to everybody that came to our game on Friday evening. Your support is always appreciated, and I hope you enjoyed us getting our season off in great style! Speak to you soon!


Go Spartans!

Blog Entry #3 (Thursday, August 21)
Game Time!

It’s finally here after 19 sessions in nine days. Our first match of the season is finally upon us. It may be an exhibition match in name, but that does not mean it is any less important in terms of our season. I have been raised throughout my soccer career that the next game is the most important game, so as the lads take a look at our schedule and see the names of Stanford, Santa Clara and New Mexico, it would be easy to dismiss this game. However, I can assure you that the boys are so up for this game and we are taking Santa Cruz just as seriously as if we were about to play Stanford or New Mexico. We have worked so hard over the last week or so, and tomorrow evening’s game in Spartan Stadium is our reward for all the hard work. We want to win.

For some of the guys, it will be their debuts for this programme, and that is always a special moment, so as a senior, I wish all those boys the best and I know they will do a great job tomorrow and for years to come!

Moving away from tomorrow’s game for a moment. Last night was our annual soccer kick-off night. Hosted at the exclusive Knight Ridder building in downtown San Jose, this year’s event was different to my three previous kick-off nights. Last night for the first time we were joined by the women’s soccer team! It was a great evening. All of the boys looked very smart and did the team proud. (The girls scrubbed up pretty well as well!!)

Keeping with the lighter theme, I am currently looking after a kitten for a friend of mine. It is the cutest little thing, but it just got netted today, so it’s not at its happiest let’s say! My sister will be jealous, as all she wants is a little kitten and if you’re reading this Row, I hope you’re jealous!!

Before I say goodbye, I would like to end by talking about tomorrow’s game a little bit more. As I mentioned earlier, the team has worked very hard so far and this game is very important in our development and progress throughout the season, as we set about our aim of winning conference and reaching the NCAA playoffs. So if you are free tomorrow at 5pm, come along to Spartan Stadium and give us your support! It will be appreciated!



P.S. I just wanted to give a special recognition for Hiroki (Akiyama), my fellow captain. He took a ball to the face today in a practice drill. It drew blood, but it was very funny! Hiroki’s a legend and he is raring to go tomorrow! Like all of us!

Blog Entry #2 (Monday, August 18)
Kicking On...

Hello everybody, and welcome to my second blog! I hope you enjoyed the first one!

Triple days ended on Friday and after cramming nine sessions into three days, I, along with the rest of the team, was looking forward to our single session on Saturday morning! Saturday’s session was another tough one. We did a lot of fitness, but once again, it will prove to be very beneficial and all the boys did a great, professional job!

Moving away from practice for a bit, Saturday saw the beginning of the English Premier League, the main league in English soccer. Those who know me know I am a die-hard Arsenal fan, and there is always a bit of banter between the lads as most of the guys are Chelsea or Manchester United supporters. I am delighted to report that Arsenal won their first game, and Manchester United only managed a tie! Unlucky, Mr. Lewis Sweeney!

Saturday also enabled the team a bit of downtime as we had the whole day off after our morning session. Rest and recovery is an important part of any athlete’s life, and Saturday’s rest was welcome. I spent the time hanging out with Sam (Shore), Rich (Mann) and Gavin (Wenyon) at their pool, then going back home to watch the Olympics.

The Olympics have been awesome so far. Michael Phelps’ performances have been amazing to watch, and I know all the boys have been watching the Games. On a personal note, Great Britain won 17 medals over the weekend, including eight golds!! Well done the Brits! That moved us into third-place overall in the medal table!

Sunday was the first day of double days. Both sessions were focused on team defense. We looked at the tactical side of defending as a side, as well as executing those tactics. We want to be a very organized unit this year, and defending starts from the front. It’s infectious. As a central defender, there is nothing more inspiring than to see your striker working his socks off to try and win the ball back. As a team, we are looking to make team defense a point of pride!

Well, hope you enjoyed my latest update on all that is Men’s Soccer here at San Jose State! My next post will be on Thursday, a day before our first game of the season. I will be writing about our soccer Kick-Off Night at Knight Ridder (Silicon Valley Capital Club) this Wednesday! So be sure to check in again!


Go Spartans!

Blog Entry #1 (Friday, August 15)
Training Camp Under Way

Hello and welcome to my first blog of the semester! Over the next three and a half months or so, I hope to provide an interesting insight into hopefully a very enjoyable but ultimately successful season for Spartan Men’s Soccer!

To be successful, however, you need to put the work in, and over the last two days since camp opened, that’s what all of the lads have been doing.

We started at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning with a Cooper test. A Cooper test is a fitness test where we have to run two miles in only 12 minutes!! Welcome back! A daunting task on paper, but I am pleased to report that well over 90% of the boys passed with flying colors (even if some were worse for ware afterwards).

After that initial test, we officially began the first of our three triple days. Over 40 guys were out on Spartan Field. They varied from walk-ons trying out, a new freshman class, transfers, and returning sophomores, juniors and seniors. The first day is mostly used as a playing day so our coaching staff can asses the lads trying out. However, it is also an essential session to iron out a few cobwebs and get back into the swing of things. On a personal note, it was great to be back out on the field with the guys to begin our preparations to win conference and qualify for the NCAA Championship.

Thursday was a very proactive day. The numbers in the group were cut down to the squad that will be together for the whole season, and as a player, that always is an indication that it’s time to really get down to business. Getting down to business is exactly what the lads did on Thursday in searing heat. The boys showed great professionalism and went about what we had to do with a great attitude.

Triple days really test you physically and mentally, so I am really pleased both from a personal point of view regarding my own fitness level, as well as from the whole team’s perspective. Nonetheless, these first two days are just laying the foundations, and everybody is aware that to be successful, we all need to improve as the season progresses.

Our first match is against UC Santa Cruz in Spartan Stadium next Friday and I know all the boys are eager to play and kick off the season in style!

Thanks for checking in and I will continue to keep you posted all season long!


Go Spartans!