Bird’s Blog: Pumas players are a little different

In the second week of preseason, we finally got a chance to kick somebody other than ourselves by playing a couple of real-life games. We won one and tied one.

While it would have been nice to get two wins, it would feel kind of strange to have an overly successful preseason with the Pumas because the team hasn’t had a great record in any preseason so far. But last year, the team did OK despite the slow start, so we’re not ready to hit the panic button just yet.

Preseason games give teams two real benefits above all others: Chances to play together and get to know one another as players, and opportunities to get up to game fitness. Now is the time to put in the hard work so that we are still going strong in late July and early August.

It’s a little different on this team than it is on any other team we’ve played on before. Yes, we’re a professional club, but it’s no secret that nobody on the team makes Mario Balotelli’s salary. Everybody has second (and sometimes third) jobs.

In college, teams often report to training camp before school even starts. At Seattle Pacific, we go to camp around Aug. 15 every year, and school doesn’t start until Sept. 25 or so. That allows us to have two sessions a day for a couple weeks. The school pays for room and board during that time, so we just focus on playing.

Here, two-a-days are out of the question. We train once a day, but we can go 100 percent in that session because we don’t have to worry about saving ourselves for a second session in one day, which is nice. So our schedule has its benefits as well as its drawbacks.

This is real life now. For some of the guys on the Pumas, college soccer was years ago. We have to support ourselves somehow.

However, we still get to play the game and earn a paycheck for it. Even though times can get tough financially, we still love it. It takes a different sort of passion to play for fractions of the money the Lionel Messis of the world earn — and most players (especially in USL and NASL, and, to a lesser extent, MLS) will never get above this level.

Still, it’s hard to complain.

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