June 3, 2005
EURO TRIP: The entire U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team (21 players plus staff) arrived in Mierlo, Holland, the team’s home base for the first part of their final preparations for the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship. The players and staff (well, minus a few – see next graph) met at the Newark International Airport on Wednesday (June 1) and boarded their seven-hour flight to Amsterdam. Upon arrival, the players loaded all their gear onto a bus and settled in for an hour drive to the Carlton de Brug Hotel in Mierlo. The team will be staying in Mierlo until Monday (June 6) before moving on to their tournament venue of Enschede.
A FEW HOURS BEHIND: Defender Jonathan Spector hasn’t been with the U.S. U-20s since February of 2004 due to club commitments with Manchester United so, what’s a few more hours? Spector, along with team doctor Adam Bennett and trainer Jeff Thomas were delayed leaving Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport en route to Newark to meet up with the rest of the team and ended up missing the connection to Amsterdam. After pulling out of their gate at O’Hare, their flight was stuck on the runway for a little more than an hour due to traffic congestion before finally taking off. Despite the delay, the threesome was still on track to make their Amsterdam connection…until the smoke. About 40 minutes into their flight, the pilot announced that they would be making an emergency landing in Cleveland due to a problem in the cockpit, that was later explained to be smoke rising from one of the instruments (most likely due to wiring). After landing in Cleveland, the passengers were transferred to another airplane to finish their trip to Newark. On arrival, Spector, Thomas and Dr. Bennett were put on a flight to Paris a few hours later where caught a connection to Amsterdam, and then finally took a taxi van two hours to their final destination in Mierlo.
GETTING READY FOR GROUP D: The U.S. is eight days away from their opening match of the FIFA World Youth Championship against Argentina on June 11 at 5:30 p.m. local time/ 11:30 a.m. ET. The team will then face Germany on June 14 (8:30 p.m. local time/ 2:30 p.m. ET) and conclude group play on June 18 (1:30 p.m. local time/ 7:30 a.m. ET) against Egypt. The U.S. will play all three of their first round games at the 13,500-seat Arke Stadium in Enschede, Holland. Every U.S. match at the World Youth Championship can be followed live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. In the United States, matches from the FIFA World Youth Championship will mostly be televised on Galavision, with selected games on Telefutura and Univision. Check ussoccer.com for the latest television schedule information.
U.S. Under-20 MNT - FIFA Youth World Championship Schedule
Date Opponent Venue Kickoff Television (Galavison)
June 11 Argentina Enschede 5:30 p.m. local (11:30 a.m. ET) TBD
June 14 Germany Enschede 8:30 p.m. local (2:30 p.m. ET) TBD
June 18 Egypt Enschede 1:30 p.m. local (7:30 p.m. ET) TBD
June 21, 22 Round of 16* TBD TBD TBD
June 24 Quarterfinals* TBD TBD TBD
June 28 Semifinals* TBD TBD TBD
July 2 Third Place Match* TBD TBD TBD
July 2 Final* TBD TBD TBD
EASY ACCESS: The location of the training fields the U.S. is using during its stay in Mierlo is extremely convenient as they sit just a few hundred yards from the front door of the hotel. The U.S. has already taken advantage of the close proximity, conducting three training sessions since arriving in Holland with one on Thursday and two on Friday. The complex is home to a small local club, Straatvoetbal Mierlo, and some curious local supporters have been out during the U-20’s first three practices, sitting in the nearby clubhouse to get a drink and watch the action.
ALL_ACCESS VIDEO FROM HOLLAND: ussoccer.com’s All_Access Video is back with the U-20s as they begin preparing for their opening match against Argentina in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in Holland. In the upcoming segment, see the team try to get over their jetlag as they conduct their first couple practices in Mierlo, see the special cake Freddy Adu got from the hotel staff to celebrate his 16th birthday on Thursday (June2) and find out who the surprise visitor was that greeted the team on Friday (video).
NEEDING A BIT MORE REST: Eddie Gaven might have been the most exhausted player on the team after arriving in Mierlo as he played a full 90 minutes for the MetroStars in their 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire on Tuesday (May 31), a day before making the trip. Three other U-20 players, Tim Ward (MetroStars) and Chicago Fire rookies Chad Barrett and Will John did not play in the match-up.
CHINA WARM-UP: The U.S. Under-20s will play a scrimmage against the China Under-20 Men’s National Team on Sunday, June 5, in what will most likely be their final preparation match before they kick off the tournament against Argentina. China advanced to the FIFA World Youth Championship with a second-place finish in the Asian Youth Championship, falling to South Korea 2-0 in the final. China is in Group B with Turkey, Ukraine and Panama and will play their games in Utrecht.
YOU LOOK FAMILIAR: The players and coaches have been catching up with the Carlton de Burg Hotel staff as the team stayed here during their Holland tour in April. One of the staff members, Rocky, helps prepare the team’s food in the kitchen, and is also trying to help in the meal room as he has been explaining Dutch phrases for the players and answering any questions they have had in the first couple days.
DRIVERS BEWARE: Freddy Adu has been considered a phenom due to his impressive soccer skills at such a young age, but we’re assuming he’ll be just like any other 16-year-old teenager when he gets behind the wheel – so watch out! Adu didn’t have the best birthday he could have hoped for on Thursday (June 2) as it was a bit shortened as he lost about six hours due to the time change and spent most of it on a plane or in a bus. But he still got the chance to celebrate a bit as the hotel staff presented him with an ice cream cake, that he sliced up for the entire team and staff. The D.C. United midfielder said he is looking forward to getting rid of his learners permit and getting an actual driver’s license when he gets home. But most of all, he’s excited for his brand new car. So, what’s he looking to tool around in with the windows down and the radio blasting? A black 2006 330I BMW with Zenetti Five chrome 20-inch rims. “Man, it’s awesome,” he said.
STEWART CHECKS IN: The U.S. got a surprise this afternoon when former U.S. MNT midfielder Earnie Stewart stopped by to check in on practice. Stewart, who is currently working with his former club team VVV Venlo, came by and talked to some of his former teammates, which span a few generations. Not only did Stewart play with assistant coaches Peter Vermes, John Harkes and Mike Lapper on the U.S. MNT during the early 90s, he was teammates with 16-year-old Freddy Adu at D.C. United during their championship campaign last year. Stewart told the team he would be around during the tournament and is expecting to be at all their games.
G’DAY MATE!: The U.S. isn’t the only team that is training in Mierlo before moving on to their venue for the FIFA World Youth Championship. The Australia Under-20 Men’s National Team is also staying at the Carlton de Brug Hotel, as they prepare for Japan, Benin and the host Netherlands in Group A, which will be played in Kerkrade. In an interesting note, the U.S. and Australia Under-17 Men’s National Teams also stayed at the same hotel in Manchester, England, while conducting final preparations for the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland.