On Monday I found out that Fire defender Jalil Anibaba would extend his training stay with Atletico Madrid and with us having not spoken to Austin Berry since his arrival at the Calderon, I caught up with the team's young defensive duo to find out how things are going, what the experience of attending Saturday’s Madrid derby was like and how they helped Atletico prepare for the match.
Jeff Crandall: Jalil, there’s news today that you’ll be extending your stay in Madrid. What transpired for that to happen?
Jalil Anibaba: The club asked if I was enjoying my time here and if I thought I was making the most of the trip. I thought I had and so they offered for me to stay another week. I definitely said yes to the chance.
JC: Austin, is this your first trip abroad for playing purposes? How’ve you settled in to your stay in Madrid.
Austin Berry: I was in Sweden for 10 days a couple years ago to train with Orebro. I’ve settled in well. It’s been easy to have someone that I know here and speak English with. It’s been good, all the guys here are really cool, really nice and I can’t complain so far.
JC: When the Fire delegation of Frank Klopas, Mike Matkovich and other members of the technical staff came through over the past week, was there any additional pressure in training or were you just happy to see familiar faces?
AB: It was just cool to see those guys again. Even in the offseason in Madrid, you can’t get rid of those guys – they just follow us over here. It was cool to see them and hear the things they had to say.
JC: Jalil, last we spoke you said your Spanish was passable… How’s it grown in two weeks?
JA: I’ve gotten a little bit better. I’m just more comfortable with what I’ve learned in the past. More and more is coming back to me. It’s good practice talking to the guys every day.
JC: Who has the better Spanish skills you or Austin?
AB: *crickets* Jalil. I have Jalil around all the time to speak Spanish for me so I haven’t really been pressured to use it.
JC: Austin, after a full season of badgering, I came to find out that you took the plunge on Twitter last week (Follow @ABerr22). What caused you to finally do it?
AB: I have to start building my empire.
JC: The Team for the World alliance that was struck last year has started to show benefits. What are your thoughts on it?
JA: Obviously I don’t know much about what the business relationships are like but just going off of how they treat us here you can tell the partnership is legitimate. I can honestly say they treat us like we’re part of the club here. As far as everything is concerned on a day-to-day basis, its been an experience that I doubt that’s found with other partnerships.
JC: You guys have taken in a few games, one of which was the Madrid derby on Saturday. Talk about the experience at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
AB: That was amazing. That’s such a fantastic stadium, it’s a great environment to see two teams of such high caliber play against each other. I think we were both in awe when we walked into that stadium…its just unbelievable.
JC: The game sort of overlapped with MLS Cup… How did you keep up with that match?
JA: Frank and Matko were giving us updates on MLS Cup when we were watching the game so we were up to speed.
JC: We saw a photo of the two of you marking Falcao in a training session last week. Talk about that experience.
JA: It was more of a functional session. We were more or less helping the first team prepare for the game against Real Madrid. There was a lot of stop and start and set pieces. We were just trying to do our part.
JC: Having spent this time in Madrid, if you were to play abroad at some point in your career, would you want it to be in Spain?
NOTE: interruption as a teammate walks into the room and passes out candy…. Austin becomes enthralled and then aptly leaves the room.
JA: This is one of the best leagues in the world, so it would be an honor to play here at some point in my career. You never really know what the future holds, so if I were to head abroad, I’d be open to playing in a lot of places.
JC: Thanks for the time guys!