The Rapids started the day today with a 10:30am training session at Athletic Bilbao's official training facility located in the town of Lezama only 15 minutes from the official team hotel in downtown Bilbao. Athletic Bilbao are serving as the Rapids' host club on this preseason trip.
The Spanish club's facility which holds five natural grass fields two turf fields an indoor soccer facility as well as the main offices of the soccer operations of the club and the first team’s day-to-day locker rooms received the Rapids with open arms.
An army of 40 reporters and photographers gathered around the field as the Rapids ran their first practice session of the trip. The main topics of conversation during the training session among Spanish local and national media members were the structure of MLS the salary cap restrictions of the league and Team Captain Pablo Mastroeni’s role both with the club and the US national team for the upcoming World Cup.
The training session was followed by a combined press conference where representatives from both clubs expressed their expectations for the trip. Rapids Head Coach Fernando Clavijo Team Captain Pablo Mastroeni and Senior Director of Communications Jurgen Mainka represented the Rapids while Txema Noriega Director of Soccer and Jon Berasategi Director of Marketing and Public Relations were there in representation of Athletic Bilbao.
The intent to utilize this trip as the cornerstone of the start of a relationship between the two clubs was clear as the topics of conversation switched between the different philosophies of the teams to the possibility of having Athletic Bilbao visit Colorado for a preseason trip and a friendly game at the new Rapids soccer complex in 2007.
The multitude of questions directed towards the Rapids representatives also focused on the friendly match against Athletic Bilbao that the Rapids will play tomorrow (Wednesday March 15) at 7:30pm at a small town by the name of Llodio just 30 minutes from Bilbao. Athletic which is going through one of their most difficult times in club history as they are facing potential relegation will take the game very seriously as they know that every win counts in the eyes of their fans.
The splash that the Rapids have created in their short stay in the Basque country has also resounded in other cities in Spain such as Victoria Malaga and Sevilla. All these locations have expressed an interest in the Rapids' preseason and they are all locales where EU STudy Tours who helped arrange the Rapids' current trip has a strong relationship with local teams and government authorities.
During the second Rapids training session of the day Fernando Clavijo separated the potential starters for the Athletic match from the reserves as he reviewed set pieces and strategy.
The probable starters for the Rapids for tomorrow's match are:
Goalkeeper: Joe Cannon
Defenders: Chris Wingert Mike Petke Pablo Mastroeni Eric Denton
Midfielders: Terry Cooke Kyle Beckerman Clint Mathis Dedi Ben-Dayan
Forwards: Jovan Kirovski and Jean Philippe Peguero.
That's it for this edition of the Rapids' Spanish Diary....check back soon to ColoradoRapids.com for updates from the club's preseason trip across the pond!