MNT athlete shares stories of sweeping pool play and dinner plates at Pan Am Cup

April 10, 2014, 11:24 a.m. (ET)
U.S. Men's National Team athlete Ajai Dhadwal reports from the 2014 Pan American Cup in Uruguay. 

A food coma is always a good ending to an awesome day and an even better start to an awesome blog, but we’ll get to that later. Today started as usual with a nice rejuvenating breakfast at the hotel and a light stretch afterwards. Meetings were organized, more meals were eaten, and treatments were given all in preparation for the big game against the Argies. A win against our Pan American rival would put us in the final of the tournament and everybody managed to stay disciplined yet relaxed throughout the day to get in the right state of mind. One memorable instance was during the jog/stretch around 1:30 p.m. under a beautiful sunny sky when a local, whom some of us are convinced was an ex-Uruguayan soccer star, demanded our soccer ball from our trainer, Goku, and proceeded to juggle while sitting down. He juggled it like 50 times (no joke) after he watched us try to collectively get to about 13. So the dude pretty much showed us up and then took off.

We departed the hotel around 7 p.m. for the British School tournament venue. The bus ride to a big game is always interesting. Everybody has there own way to get ready: some were silently listening to their iPods; others enjoyed a game of cards, but all in all it was game time. The game was difficult as expected. The Argies struck the first two goals in the first half, but we managed to stay resolute and get a goal before halftime through the hands of Moritz. We came out in the second half on fire and scored two within the first 5 minutes through Rob and Basti. The Argies tied it up again but Basti had some other plans when he scored an unbelievable no angle backhand from the baseline. The Argies tried to press for the game in the last minutes but our defense was disciplined. It was a solid win. We were happy and even happier when we were treated to a delicious steak dinner that has put me in the state that I am in right now…zzzzzz. More work to do against Canada tomorrow. But for now we are all going to pass out after a good day. Peace.

 - Ajai Dhadwal