Day 1: Thursday, Feb. 28 – Friday, March 1

“Great things don’t come from comfort zones.” – Roy T. Bennet

On Thursday, February 28, we flew from Minneapolis/St. Paul airport to Dallas where we boarded our international flight to Frankfurt, Germany. Thanks to strong tail winds, we arrived at Frankfurt am Main Airport a little ahead of schedule on Friday, March 1.

We received many compliments from the flight attendants for how courteously our group behaved. When we landed at 8:00 a.m., the flight captain surprised us by announcing to the entire plane the arrival of Minnesota ODP to Germany. After we passed through Bundeszollverwaltung, aka Zoll (Germany’s Federal Customs Service), we were welcomed by our local guide and former player, Martin. He allowed us time to visit restrooms and grab a quick bite to eat which we enjoyed from a lounge area with great views overlooking the runway. It had been raining for much of the morning in Frankfurt, but luckily the drizzle stopped just before we boarded out coach bus.

Light rains stayed with us for most of our three-hour ride through the German countryside to Duisburg’s Wedau Complex. Our bus did not have Wi-Fi, that coupled with gray overcast skies, made it easy for many to catch a few more hours of rest. For those who stayed awake, the scenery was pleasant; curved highways through wooded hillsides, grassy valleys, manicured farm fields with modern windmills contrasted with more industrial pockets featuring large warehouses and various manufacturing complexes. We saw a few ancient villages with hilltop castles or cathedrals. Overall the landscape is still mostly brown; the trees have not begun to bud, but fields are at various stages of greening up. At one point during the ride, the sleek ICE highspeed train sped past on tracks that ran parallel to us a few hundred meters from the highway. The train, which travels at speeds of up to 300 km/hr., was an impressive sight as it disappeared quickly into the distance. The ICE train takes 90 minutes to travel the same distance we traveled by bus in three hours.

When we arrived at the complex, we checked-in and received our room assignments. Most rooms were set for double occupancy with a few larger rooms accommodating three. The hotel is entirely soccer themed. In one hall, unique lighting casts an upward glow of green light along the lower edge of white corridor to mimic turf. Fathead style wall appliques featuring photographic images of players in poses create dynamic visual accents. Blown-up black board coaching schematics from pivotal games pepper the halls as art. Our rooms are tidy and impeccably clean with comfortable, crisp white linens, two desk areas, a wardrobe and a generously sized, modern bathroom with a nice glass shower enclosure and heated towel rack.

We quickly dropped our luggage in our rooms before heading back downstairs to meet the team for lunch. We were hungry, and the food did not disappoint; roasted chicken, pasta, potato dumplings, potato soup, salad bar, cold cuts and delicious breads. We ate well. After lunch, we settled into our rooms before we met in the locker rooms to prepare for our first training.

Due to the rain we trained on the turf field. We were on the field for about 60 minutes. After our flights and bus ride, this was a nice opportunity for us to stretch our legs and burn off whatever energy we had pent up from the long day of travel. From there we cleaned up had dinner and free-time until lights out at 10:00 p.m.

2002 Age Group

2003 Age Group

2004 Age Group