While their countrymen battle for advancement in the Olympic Games over in China, two young Americans are preparing themselves for the upcoming Italian soccer season.
Gabriel Ferrari, on loan from Sampdoria to Perugia, seems to be settling in well already seeing 75 minutes of playing time in this week's 3-2 preseason win over Serie A side Catania. A week earlier, he started and scored a 45th minute goal in a 4-2 win over Castel Rigone.
Perugia was a former Serie A/Serie B regular until a series of financial irregularities led to the club's collapse and re-founding in 2005, starting the 2006 season in Serie C2 (4th division). They've now found their way to the new Lega Pro (3rd division) with their sights on returning to Serie B, and eventually Serie A. Its a good situation for Ferrari; a club with aspirations where he can see plenty of playing time. If all goes well, he can either return to Sampdoria or stay on if Perugia earns promotion to Serie B.
Down south in Naples, Vincenzo Bernardo has returned from playing for the US U-20 team in the Milk Cup, an experience he called "very rewarding." Vincenzo came back to SSC Napoli to learn that 20 of the players he worked with last year had been chopped, leaving only seven, including Bernardo, to form the nucleus of the primavera (reserve) team. With preseason training starting in two weeks, Bernardo is keeping himself fit running up and down the mountains surrounding Naples in the oven-like heat of southern Italy. "Its a good way to prepare myself and get even more fit for the season" said Bernardo today after returning from a long run in the scorching heat.