Cappelletti shows well, gets first cap with Guam
By Keeler McJunkin
13 hours. A long time to let butterflies and nervousness set in on the flight from the west coast of the United States to Hong Kong before your first showing at the national team level.
Lane United assistant coach Conner Cappelletti experienced that on his way to play with the Guam men’s national team at the EAFF E-1 Football Championship Round 2.
It was a whirlwind of a month for Cappelletti as the Matao played three games in seven days during the first week of November, only weeks after he found out he was called up to the team.
On October 11 Cappelletti found out he was cleared to play, giving him three weeks to prepare for international play against the national teams of North Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Hong Kong. A level of competition that he had no prior playing experience.
“When I got subbed in at the half of the first game it was a feeling I’ve never felt before,” Cappelletti said. “You watch movies and pro games growing up and try to imagine yourself there. That’s exactly what it felt like.”
Adding to that feeling, Cappelletti was the only new addition on Guam’s team for the EAFF Round 2. All the other players had either been teammates for years before or had experience playing with each other at some point during their careers.
Cappelletti was on the field for the entire second half of Guam’s first matchup with Hong Kong, started against North Korea while logging 67 minutes and substituted in for 56 minutes of play in the final match against Chinese Taipei.
“With the short notice I had to prepare before the tournament and unfamiliarity with my teammates I thought it went very well,” Cappelletti said. “I’m going to keep my training up and hopefully I’ll have more notice before the next events. I want to be more fit and a little sharper out there so I can show even better next time around.”
Seeing how a professional player and fellow Guamanian, A.J. DeLaGarza, of the Los Angeles Galaxy carries himself on and off the pitch was another experience Cappelletti will be able to take with him as he continues to grow as a professional.
“You could definitely tell his experience by the way he carried himself on the field,” Cappelletti said. “He wasn’t always vocal, but very calm and composed on the ball. It didn’t seem like it was anything crazy to him. That mentality was cool to see.”
The soccer aspect of the trip wasn’t the only thing Cappelletti will remember about his first time in Hong Kong, a place that was a bucket list location he’s now able to cross of the list.
From walking up and down the area around the hotel, checking out the scenery in downtown Hong Kong, including a stop at a rooftop bar, to seeing a building used in the filming of the Dark Knight, they were all memories he’ll never forget.
Looking back on his experience during that long flight to Oregon after an intense 30 days of training, travel and culture, the trip itself is something Cappelletti said he’ll never forget about his first three matches at the national team level.
“The feeling of being on the plane knowing I was flying in to Hong Kong to play international soccer for Guam was hard to explain,” Cappelletti said. “Playing with guys from the MLS, USL and other leagues was great and everyone treated me well. I’m looking forward to taking what I learned from this and using in both my playing and coaching career moving forward.”
This week Cappelletti travels to Florida with Managing Director Dave Galas, where they’ll represent Lane United at the PDL winter summit to set the 2017 schedule and reunite with Guam interim head coach Darren Sawatzky who also coaches the Seattle Sounders U-23 team.