Travel diary: ‘Caps touch down in Wales

Wales - indoor raining session

It’s been a long day. Or has it been two? At this point, I honestly couldn’t tell you.

Either way, the ‘Caps have touched down in Wales to kick off an 11-day training camp that will include three preseason friendlies against Bristol City FC, Cardiff City FC, and Oxford United FC.

Here’s a closer look at our journey.

Monday at 10 a.m. PT

Players arrive at UBC for training.

Travel diary: ‘Caps touch down in Wales  -

11:30 a.m. PT

Training begins.

The session starts with some fitness work and ends with a small-sided game. One matchup I particularly enjoyed watching was that between youngsters Kekuta Manneh and Alphonso Davies, who were lined up against one another on the same side of the pitch. That’s something Manneh spoke about with media after training.

“It’s a challenge – and I’m always looking forward to a challenge,” Manneh said. “It’s also good for the club, having two younger guys fighting for minutes. He’s a great kid, very talented. For me as an individual, he’s going to push me and help the team as well.”

Travel diary: ‘Caps touch down in Wales  -

1:30 p.m. PT

Time for media.

This is their opportunity to catch up with some of the returning players and meet some of the new ones, including right back Sheanon Williams. First impression: the 26-year-old comes across as grounded, engaging, and very much focused on the task at hand.

“Personally, I just want to help the team win games and help the team get back to the playoffs,” he said. “I hope I can have a big impact on the back line and hopefully we turn this defence into one of the best.”

Williams said having former teammates Giles Barnes, Jordan Harvey, and Andrew Jacobson around has made his move to Vancouver a pretty seamless one.

“They’ve made it really easy,” he said. “I’ve gone out to dinner with Giles almost every night.”

Where to?

“We’ve been to a bunch [restaurants]. We’ve been around Yaletown and around downtown. The city has a lot to offer, it’s been good so far.”

4:15 p.m. PT

Arrival time at YVR. As we enter the airport, we spot Harvey saying his goodbyes to his wife Kim and daughter Harlow, who waves at us from afar. So. Cute.

6 p.m. PT

Our flight takes off. Most players try to catch some z's. As do I. But I do not succeed.

Instead, I start writing this article.

Tuesday at 3 a.m. PT (11 a.m. GMT)

We have touched down at Heathrow Airport in London, England.

That’s where we meet up with Marco Bustos, Ben McKendry, and Marcel de Jong, who travelled from Bermuda following the Canadian senior men’s national team camp.

Turns out their journey was even longer than ours.

“We’re almost at 24 hours now,” Bustos said. “We left our hotel in Bermuda at 10:30 a.m. Then we flew to New York and had a four-hour layover. Then we flew to London, which was seven hours, and waited six hours for the team. I don’t even know where I am right now, but I’m excited for the camp. It should be good.”

8 a.m. PT (4 p.m. GMT)

At last, we arrive at The Vale in Wales – roughly 14 hours after taking off from YVR.  

The players don’t have much time for rest, however. In about 90 minutes, they have a pool session at the hotel, followed by dinner, and then a training session at 9 p.m. GMT. For now, they’re encouraged to stay awake and in the light.

The idea is to keep the players loose and help them get acclimated to the new time zone as soon as possible, thereby maximizing their training time. 

“We want to keep the guys up as late as possible tonight, and we’ll give them a chance to sleep in tomorrow morning,” said strength & conditioning coach Jon Poli. “If they nap prior to going to bed tonight, then the guys will struggle to adjust to the time difference.”

1 p.m. PT (9 p.m. GMT)

The 'Caps make a short walk over to the Welsh Rugby Union National Centre of Excellence, an indoor facility located on the hotel grounds, for an hour-long session focused primarily on cardio with the ball. And that's a wrap for the day.

Back at it tomorrow!

Travel diary: ‘Caps touch down in Wales  -