Wednesday, June 20 @ 1:43 p.m. ET
The players and coaches are currently in a film session, going over some past wins and losses as they look ahead to Chile, and then to South Korea. We were a little bit worried about the sanity of assistant coach Tim Mulqueen as he prepared the film session. After going through two hard drives and two trips to the local office supply store, Tim was preparing to look for work at McDonald's. Thanks to our trusty videographers, however, we were able to get everything running smoothly, and talk Tim out of running away. He is a New Jersey native, so he knows his way around these parts, but this team would be a little too quiet without him.
Tuesday, June 19 @ 11 p.m. ET
We were just handed the first edition in the return of Jules' Journal, a insider's look at training camp from a player's perspective. Jules Valentin, defender and senior at Wake Forest, will be checking in throughout the pre-World Cup camp as well as the team's journey in Canada, providing unique analysis of what really happens when the team is together. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, June 19 @ 9:30 p.m. ET
A few hours post dinner and the guys are settling into their relaxation routines. A few of the guys are gathered in the lobby playing poker, while others settle in to watch television or movies. The highlight of being down in the lobby is, of course, people watching. The Under-15 Boys came in after a win in a scrimmage and the women's team was gathered to go catch a movie. Perhaps the highlight of the lobby is one of the friendliest women we have ever met - an employee of the hotel. She makes it a point to smile at every single person who passes by (even people that don't smile back). She even extended the curfew that she put us on until 11 p.m. since the younger guys won! We're still not supposed to be on our cell phones after 10 p.m., but when we think about it, it's really for our own good.
Tuesday, June 19 @ 3 p.m. ET
We just got back from a video shoot that involved all of the players. When this team says they have chemistry, they mean it. While this is a great quality that will help them succeed at the World Cup, it makes it VERY DIFFICULT to get through a shoot. All the players had to do was say their name and club on camera, and even that was hard because of the inside jokes and cameraderie going on. We know, we know.... team chemistry is a good thing! We just knew that being in studio was keeping us from other important things..... like blogging.
Tuesday, June 19 @ 11:15 a.m. ET
The team took advantage of our surroundings and ran through a fairly relaxed fitness session this morning on the grounds of the hotel. Some of the cross training included a work out in the outdoor pool and some time shooting hoops on the basketball courts. The team will get back to the soccer field this afternoon, but everyone seemed to enjoy the break from the training facility. The best players on the court: Chris Seitz and Anthony Wallace. The worst: Johann Smith, who seems to have forgotten about other sports since he moved to England.
Monday, June 18 @ 9 p.m. ET
With the exception of Michael Bradley, who is still helping the senior MNT in their quest to repeat as Gold Cup Champions, all the players are in and accounted for in New Jersey. Freddy Adu, Chris Seitz and Nathan Sturgis are currently working on a light fitness session after a long day of flying, arriving from L.A. during dinner. A couple of the guys are on a Wal-Mart run trying to find an attachment for a Wii machine. Most of the other guys are relaxing in their rooms or down in the lobby trying to find internet (internet problems seem to be a trend with this team). Two tough sessions on a hot day tend to lead to a quiet night.
Monday, June 18 @ 4 p.m. ET
We haven't mentioned it yet, but it has been much more difficult to pick out Columbus teammates/roomates Danny Szetela and Tim Ward are both sporting new 'dos. Szetela shed his golden locks for a mohawk - yes we said mohawk, not faux hawk. Ward has rid himself of his longer blonde hair as well in favor of a closer cut. Some of you may have gotten a peak of their new styles during Saturday's Crew game, but be prepare for two completely different looks from the players.
Monday, June 18 @ 12:30 p.m. ET
All we can say about the first official training session, outdoors on turf, is that New Jersey is hot! We tried to take the temperature of the turf, but the thermometer broke after it got to 106 degrees. The guys drank a lot of water, but they also used it to soak their feet to keep them from burning. After a lively session, the players and moved over to a beautiful grass field for the cool down.... without their shoes on. Their shoes were still so hot that it was a better option to remove them and run a lap in just socks.
Post-practice, team cordinator Alfonso Cerda hopped on the back of a four-wheeler being driven by... a 9-year-old girl?? Only in New Jersey. Don't worry he's came away unharmed.
Sunday, June 17 @ 9:00 p.m. ET
Our first night in New Jersey is going smoothly ... well, with the exception of forgetting to pick up assistant coach Dave Dir for practice, that is. I mean how do we forget Dir? Geez. Think our mad dash to avoid the crazed kids forced us to take a head count. All was restored though, as we went back to the hotel to pick him up, but we have to admit, we did feel a little bad for leaving him behind. He'll get over it. The Columbus Crew contingent arrived in time for dinner tonight, with the rest of the Major League Soccer clan coming in tomorrow from L.A., where Real Salt Lake’s Freddy Adu and Chris Seitz are taking on Nathan Sturgis and the Galaxy as we write (Ouch, 3-1 in favor of LA...c'mon RSL send off Fredua and Seitz on the right note!). U.S. Soccer has literally taken over the hotel as the Under-15 boys training camp and the Women’s National Team are settling in tonight as well. Don't forget...the Women’s team will be a part of a double-header with the Under-20s on Saturday at Giant’s Stadium.
Sunday, June 17 @ 4:45 p.m. ET
Ahhh...our first of many blogs as the U-20s get set for the World Cup. Where to start? Well, this story is as good as any. This afternoon when we left for practice there was a large contingent of kids at the hotel for some kind of convention and when they saw the eight U.S. players heading to tonight's first practice, they went berserk, fanatical, animalistic, loopy, chicken-with-head-cut-off crazy. It was nuts. And when they found out Freddy was on the team, it went up a notch higher. “Where’s Freddy!” “We want Freddy!” “We love Freddy!” Thankfully, Freddy isn’t here yet. You might think we’re joking about how crazy it was, but we literally had kids chasing our fans and pounding on the windows as we drove away. Mind you, we’re in the middle of NOWHERE. One of the strangest sights we’ve seen in some time. And we are hoping they are not staying at the hotel.