A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
RECAPS
EXTRA TIME
Friday, November 30, 2007
Since the last time we spoke, my team and I traveled to Holland to face Dutch second flight team FC Emmen in a friendly. I started the match and managed to score a with a cheeky lob over the keeper from outside the 18-yard box and help my team to a 4-1 victory.

This week I spent a lot more time in the gym working on core and lower body strength. I did alot of stretching and yoga style aerobics with a personal trainer. Luckily my apartment is very central in the town. I live about a minute from the gym and grocery store, five from the town center and ten from the stadium, all of which I get to on bicycle.

Meppen is I would say, is a bicycle friendly town. Many people, even those with cars, use bicycles for short journeys. Even more interesting is many people save taxi money by riding bicycles to bars and nightclubs on nights out. Before coming to Meppen I hadn't ridden a bicycle in some amount of years, but I'd say it is ideal travel at the moment. A good form of exercise and saves money (the planet too apparently!).

We were scheduled to play an away game with Eintracht Nordhorn. Nordhorn is a fairly close journey so is considered a derby. We traveled after having a pre-match dinner of pasta at the stadium. I also had pasta earlier that day for lunch with Daniel Wasson who agreed to stay another week in training.

So we ate, the coach gave a small speech and we left for Nordhorn shortly after. On the way the coach called up players to the front of the bus via intercom, to go over certain things. I wasn't called and could only assume I wouldn't start, as was the case.

I warmed up, Meppen fans turned up and were in full voice as usual. The atmosphere was quite good considering Nordhorn are a smaller club with a smaller fan base, but this was a derby. We played a not so convincing first half, though I don't think our fans have seen very convincing performances all season.

We went behind through a great strike from outside the box and I was eventually called upon in the second half to help turn things around. I was given about 30 minutes and immediately I caused the Nordhorn defense problems on the wings but Nordhorn got behind our defense yet again to take the lead to 2-0.

With 10 minutes to go we got a free kick and I signaled to the taker, Sebastian Shepers, that I wanted the ball near post. He did so and I connected with my head to help get a goal back. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to take anything from the match and Nordhorn came out with a win. The drive back to Meppen seemed so long and down. Just another day really.

I can only ask myself, with more time to play and initially, more chances at goal, would we be in this situation? Since my natural job on the field is to put balls in the back of the net, maybe some of those games we lost or tied would have been different, had I played more. Who knows? The SV Meppen management haven't been so patient with my lack of German, something I think has played a big part in my lack of time on the field this season.

I can safely say that this is the hardest obstacle in my career thus far. Not being understood and equally not understanding. But more frustrating than not understanding, are the people who lack the patience to help you understand. I feel that along with people that have special circumstances, come special ways of dealing with them. Though I don't speak the language, I am a worthy addition to a team and I hope to prove this to the coach this week in training.

We face first place Holstein Kiel in a home game that coincides with SV Meppen's 95th anniversary in which fans will have a festival and march together to the stadium. It should be a large crowd and I look forward to a surprise victory to reward them with. The SV Meppen fans have been behind me since I came to the club. They chant my name when I warm up and when I am called to go on. I would love to start the game and help the team win this weekend for the fans and give them something to really sing for.

Until next time,

Max
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A big question for U.S. fans heading into the World Cup is surely on Jozy Altidore and just what is plaguing the young striker at Sunderland.
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