Sunderland on tour: Chris Young’s diary

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A six-year-old scamp made headline news on Wearside last week when he was force-fed a bar of soap in response to his unsavoury language.

With a guilty conscience, I concede that I should face the same Imperial Leather treatment.

I uttered that deplorable, unforgiveable, nauseating word... ‘soccer’.

During the 18-hour journey out here to California, I did the unthinkable. Twice.

Yes, I uttered that deplorable, unforgiveable, nauseating word... ‘soccer’.

In mitigation, the first offence occurred under the stone-cold gaze of the American border guard at passport control when he unflinchingly asked the reasons behind my journey across the Atlantic.

They don’t mess about those chaps. While you’ve got your hand on the fingerprint reader, you’d confess to poisoning Elvis under the bombardment of their humourless questions.

But the second occasion? Yep, I can’t begin to mount a defence case after describing myself as a ‘soccer journalist’ to the middle-aged Californian hippy on the plane.

Perhaps it was jet lag, your honour.

Interestingly, the response from both though was to point to the USA lifting the Women’s World Cup last month.

Football is clearly growing over here. On the drive from San Francisco to Sacramento, you pass a couple of complex of pitches which would be welcomed with open arms on our shores.

But nothing makes its mark on the national conscience as much as the sweet taste of victory. And the chance to brag about it.

From this side of the Atlantic, I can’t quite hear the collective sound of violins sympathising with the difficulties of following Sunderland halfway across the world.

Come on, let’s be ‘aving you.

It was a planes, airport trains and automobile job to get out here, and then you’ve got to deal with the rabbit punch of shifting your body clock back eight hours.

I even had to eat waffles for breakfast.

Of course, I don’t have to do any running while I’m out here (well, I might if the pattern of using cheese as a seasoning continues in the local cuisine) and that’s where it becomes tough for Dick Advocaat’s squad.

First, they have to overcome the underestimated effects of jet lag.

And then, there’s the heat to combat for the two friendlies in the Californian capital Sacramento.

At Sunderland’s training base just south of San Francisco, the climate is perfect - pretty similar to the one at the Academy of Light on a (very) good day.

But 90 miles or so inland, it’s a different story, with the temperature well into the 90s here in Sacramento.

It’s a good job none of Sunderland’s players reported back with an Andy Reid-esque paunch, or they’d be in trouble.

The intricacies of the US visa system make it improbable that any new signings will link up with Sunderland in time for their second friendly in California against Club de Futbol Pachuca on Friday.

But there are no such problems to get into Canada, where Sunderland head in the early hours of Saturday morning ahead of their clash against MLS outfit Toronto.

In fairness, that’s the most serious test of this North American trip, with the two games in California against lesser opposition merely centring on the importance of getting minutes on the pitch.

With a week to go before that Toronto clash, Dick Advocaat would love to have a few new faces on board to see how they fare in that one.