Since the U.S. Men’s National Team finished off the 2007 season with a 1-0 win against South Africa last weekend, all the players and staff will happily get the chance to spend Thanksgiving with friends and family.
But, as is well known, that’s not always the case for every holiday. Over the years, there have been many times where national teams (men, women and youth) have been on trips during holidays had to celebrate a special day among each other.
So, that got us thinking. WHAT IF there was a match overseas this week, instead of last, and the U.S. Men had to have their Thanksgiving feast together? What would that scene be like?
We could never know for sure, but discussing it was pretty entertaining. As we shared ideas, we realized if a Thanksgiving dinner with the MNT were to have happened, there’s no doubt the MNT Blog would have provided fans with a behind-the-scenes look. So, why not blog about our imaginary dinner?
We’ve broken it down by which players would be most likely doing what, from carving the turkey to just watching football. Here’s the way we see it going down:
An MNT Thanksgiving
There aren’t a ton of families that go out and actually CATCH their Thanksgiving turkey. Zipping down to the local grocery store and pulling one out of the freezer doesn’t count – even if you’re crazy Uncle Ted decides to throw it to you down the aisle. We’re talking about actually heading out into the woods in full hunter orange, tracking a wild turkey and then finally shooting the fowl (hopefully in one shot…poor guy).
Player: Marcus Hahnemann.
The Reading goalkeeper is known to be an avid hunter and knows how to handle a gun. No one wants to go hungry on Thanksgiving, and Marcus will make sure no one does.
(We also feel we must add that while one turkey’s life would be sacrificed for the hungry bellies of the MNT players, one would be saved as well. A week before the team would leave for the match, we see U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati pardoning a turkey in a ceremony held either at Soccer House or The Home Depot Center.)
Cooking the Turkey
To eat the turkey, someone has to cook the turkey. We imagined this fact being brought up to the team, and getting blank looks from players to staff. I mean, you think Landon Donovan or Oguchi Onyewu has cooked a turkey before? Who knows, maybe they have, but we’re thinking most of the players have a mom, sister, girlfriend or wife that has happily done the dirty work. Still, we have to pick somebody.
Player: Jimmy Conrad
Why Jimmy? He’s a giving kind of guy, willing to help out on and off the field. He wouldn’t mind wearing an apron; heck, he’d embrace it. An ultra-competitive guy, he’d make sure he did a great job. He’d be open and would listen to suggestions, say, if Brian Ching offered up the Hawaiian tradition of coffee-rubbed turkey. And most importantly, he’d have fun doing it. A happy cook will provide good food.
Carving the Turkey
Not a job everyone wants because it’s not as easy as it looks. Carving the turkey takes an experienced hand and a bit of skill. If you don’t do it right, you won’t preserve the flavor and texture of the meat, which will make everyone unhappy.
Player: Carlos Bocanegra
We could also see Bob Bradley carving the turkey, but knowing the coach he’d probably think it would be better coming from the captain. Makes sense too. Carlos has the experience, and this year has really shown his ability to be a leader at the highest level. A humble guy, he knows he couldn’t get to where he is without his teammates, so helping them out so they could get some good eating would be something he’d be up for.
Everyone family has a main table and the kiddies table at Thanksgiving. The MNT would be no different. So, who’s sitting at the kiddies table?
Player(s): Maurice Edu, Brad Guzan, Sacha Kljestan, Danny Szetela and plenty of others that could be on this list - so just fill in the other seats with your imagination. We had to chuckle thinking about all these guys sitting at the small, fold-up table off to the corner. They’re definitely part of the team, but they need a few more caps until they can sit at the adult table. Wonder who’s the most likely to start a food fight?
Possibly the biggest tradition after eating turkey is plopping down in front of the TV and taking in the two NFL games.
Player(s): Landon Donovan, Jay DeMerit, Taylor Twellman
We picked a couple of what would be many players taking in the games. So, why did we pick these three? Landon held a Super Bowl party at his house this year so we know he’s into the games, and DeMerit is from Green Bay and you CANNOT be a from Green Bay without loving the Pack and the NFL. As for Taylor, after seeing him going crazy at the World Series rooting for the Red Sox, you know he's all about all sports New England, which includes the Patriots who just don't know how to lose this season.
Looking Forward to the Dessert
There’s always someone who’s looking forward to the pies (apple, pumpkin, etc.) than the turkey.
Staff: Peter Nowak.
You might not know it, but Peter has a pretty good sweet tooth. We’re guessing he’d be all over the dessert.
Snapping the Wishbone
The tradition of snapping the dried turkey wishbone is supposed to bring grant a wish to the person who ends up with the bigger piece.
Players: The guys are competitive, but when they’re in camp they don’t want to talk too much trash about facing each other at the club level…well, OK, some. Without pitting guys head-to-head, we figured Tim Howard and DaMarcus Beasley could each take an end of the wishbone with each wishing their team good luck during their Cup competitions (Timmy in UEFA Cup and Beas in Champions League).
First to Take a Nap – On the road, guys normally like to nap on their downtime, so there’s no denying when the tryptophan hits somebody will be out quick.
Player: Bobby Convey.
We saw it in 2003 in the United Arab Emirates when we really did have Thanksgiving dinner as a team, and our guess is it would be the same. Known as one of the guys who likes to nap the most, there’d be no stopping Bobby’s eyes from slow…ly…clo…s…i..n..g.
Doing the Dishes
Someone has to clean up after the mess.
Player(s): No one really fit well into this spot. We could have done the play on words and went with a guy known for “getting dirty” or doing the “dirty work,” but that sounded lame. Or maybe the young guys are forced to get out the sponges. Again, not great. The truth is nobody would want to clean the dishes…so, we’re seeing them coming together and doing it as a team. (OK, so that’s a lame ending, too. Listen, we’re not telling one of the guys he has to clean the dishes. Especially not Gooch.)
So, there you have it – Our imaginary MNT Thanksgiving dinner. What do you think? Got any other thoughts? Let us know!