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MNT Training Camp Blog from Carson, Calif. - Week One

A lot has changed since the last time the U.S. Men's National Team took the field, most notably at the top of the program where Bob Bradley takes over as head coach. Additionally, there are a slew of new faces throughout the player pool, and Bradley and his staff have their work cut out to find the right combination of players for a busy year ahead. Following their upcoming friendlies vs. Denmark (Jan. 20) and Mexico (Feb. 7), the U.S. will look to defend their CONCACAF Gold Cup title this summer. Just a few days later, it's off to CONMEBOL's signature event, the Copa America. So while there's tremendous excitement about the coming weeks and months, Bradley and his staff are taking it one day at a time. To give fans an inside look as this process unfolds, presents this exclusive Training Camp Blog from Carson, Calif., as the 2010 World Cup cycle officially gets underway.

More Blog: Week One | Two Three | Four

Wednesday, Jan. 10 @ 12:21 p.m. - Anatomy of the training session:

1. Warm up and dynamic stretching (10 minutes)
2. Rotation of 5v5 plus one keep away in a 40x30 grid for five minutes, with the third group doing short running exercises (15 minutes total)
3. Group splits in half; each using half-field. Group 1 goes 2v1 to big goal with keepers. Group 2 plays 7v3 to big goal, with offense working on combining through the middle of the field as well as crossing, and defenders working on staying connected. Groups switch after 12 minutes (24 minutes total)
4. 10v10 to big goals, each goal sitting on the six-yard line and using full width. (20 minutes)
5. Two groups starting at either endline. Running from endline to opposite 18 and back. After five repetitions, a four-minute jog maintaining elevated heart rate. One minute rest, then second cycle (10 minutes)
6. Cool down and stretching (6 minutes)

Whew. You think you got what it takes?

Wednesday, Jan. 10 @ 9: 33 a.m. PT
Impromptu interview #2 - Danny Califf, on the ride to training What was the transition like going to a club in such a faraway land?

Danny: The club has been outstanding, and the players have been very cool and welcoming. They go out of their way to include me in things they're doing off the field, like dinners, movies, and stuff like that.
Whenever I'm around they switch from Danish to English so I don't feel out of place. The club takes care of so many little things, like helping you through the work permit process, finding a place to live ...
whatever you need, they look after it for you.

us: Tell us one cool thing about the town of Aalborg.

DC: It's a university town, so every weekend the main strip in town is really buzzing. There's a street called Jom Fro Ane Gading where all the bars and clubs are located, and it's got a great vibe.

us: and the Danish food you like the most?

DC: I'm not big on Danish food per se, but I love what they do with burgers. They serve them on a bun open-faced and eat them with a knife and fork. Toppings include beets, pickled cabbage and some type of brown sauce. Fantastic.

us: Being a SoCal guy your whole life and moving to a rather different environment - on so many levels -, what have you found surprising about living in Denmark?

DC: There's a tremendous amount of trust and respect amongst the people. You always feel really safe, and you don't have to worry if you don't lock your garage door or leave a bike outside. Here's a great example: families like to stroll around with their kids in these big 'buggies'. Most of the restaurants are really small, and there's really no where to put them. So people will leave their kids outside with a baby monitor in the buggy, and go in and enjoy their meal. It wouldn't even cross their mind that someone would cause a problem with their children, because it doesn't happen. Living in that kind of environment of trust and security is very refreshing.

us: What's your favorite Danish word to say?

DC: "Tak." It means 'thank you'. Really easy to say, and very versatile.

Tuesday, Jan. 9 @ 9:58 p.m. PT
Wandering down the players' hallway and heard some acoustic music coming from a room. Popped in to find Pablo Mastroeni practicing 'Warning Signs' by Cold Play. It's amazing to hear how far he's come with his guitar playing since he composed the 'tribute' to Landon Donovan that appeared on ESPN just before the 2002 World Cup (anyone remember the bobblehead?). Pablo's got a ton of great tunes in the repertoire, and his partner Chris Albright is still belting out the vocals, so stay tuned for another concert from Carson...

Tuesday, Jan. 9 @ 6:46 p.m. PT
See if you can picture this one. At the dinner table tonight, Eddie Johnson sits down holding a plate with a pile of tuna fish topped with mayo, mustard and thousand island dressing. Eddie and a couple of the guys swear by it. Feel free to e-mail us and let us know how it tastes if you decide to 'train like the pros do'...

Tuesday, Jan. 9 @ 5:10 p.m. PT
The afternoon session served as both recovery and strength training. Assistant coach Peter Nowak set up 14 different stations that covered abdominal training, agility, upper body strength and leg exercises. Players worked in pairs and performed at each station in 30 second intervals, going through two rotations. Combined with warm up and cool down runs, it was just over an hour before the players drove off into the California sunset and back to the hotel for more well-earned rest.

Tuesday, Jan. 9 @ 1 p.m. PT
ESPN set up shop in the hotel this morning to shoot a series of interviews to be used throughout the first two games. In addition to their usual requests for Landon Donovan, Pablo Mastroeni and Jimmy Conrad, a few of the rookies got their first taste of being in the ESPN spotlight: Jonathan Bornstein, Michael Parkhurst and Kenny Cooper all showed a lot of poise when the red light went on...

Tuesday, Jan. 9 @ 11:28 a.m. PT
Chivas USA striker Ante Razov strolled out to watch the end of training and say hello to his former boss and teammates. Ante was as stylin' as ever, and said he is looking forward to getting back to business.

Tuesday, Jan. 9 @ 9:51 a.m. PT
As the second phase of training camp begins, the players are strapped with heart monitors for the first time. They'll be wearing the devices for the duration of the morning session, and the information is being transmitted and monitored in real time. Picture a guy carrying a laptop with a hood around the field with a serious look on his face. Sadly for those who like to keep score, no fitness competitions so far. But the soccer sharpness is steadily returning. This was probably the toughest session of the camp so far...

Monday, Jan. 8 @ 10:41 p.m. PT
Some fun and not so useful stats from camp so far:

7 - cases of gatorade energy shakes consumed
10 - cases of water consumed
12 - cases of gatorade consumed
12 - hours of training in four days
19 - hours of video shot between training, meetings and coaching education lectures
256 - nike swooshes on the field at any one time adorning clothing, balls and equipment
390 - pounds of laundry washed in four days
684 - number of photos taken by photographers at training

Monday, Jan. 8 @ 12:02 p.m. PT
Landon Donovan sighting. The two-time U.S. Soccer Player of the Year joined camp last night, to the delight of everyone except Joe Cannon, who had been enjoying a single room for the first several days of camp. Landon hits the field with the rest of the team starting tomorrow morning.

Monday, Jan. 8 @ 10:18 a.m. PT
While the players go through their 'regeneration day' - more on that later - the coaches in the 'A' audit class are filing into the tennis bubble to listen to a presentation from U.S. women's national team head coach Greg Ryan. Today is the culmination of a week-long course for the group that has included, amongst many other activities, lectures covering a variety of areas including coaching, media, sports psychology and team administration. Speakers have included U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, former U-20 MNT head coach Sigi Schmid, and later today, U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley. is here to capture all the action, so stay tuned ...

Sunday, Jan. 7 @ 12:45 p.m. PT
Well, today the boys finally got to get after full tilt, with the first 11 v. 11 scrimmage of the camp. While only 30 minutes long, you could already see the progress made in the first four days. Pablo Mastroeni took a back pass from Eddie Johnson and curled a low-bender to the far right post to hand the 'yellow team' a 1-0 victory. It's amazing that no matter how hard they work in training exercises, they always take it up a level when it's full field. Unfortunately, our video guru Trent Davol had to be on a different assignment this morning, so you'll just have to imagine this one ...

Sunday, Jan. 7 @  12:13 p.m. PT
Another intense morning session. Without trying to sound obvious, the guys have been playing a lot of soccer. That is to say that there hasn't been as much pure fitness as in the past, with more focus on training exercises that incorporate both playing and getting in shape. This morning's activities included six v. six to big goals, a finishing exercise, and a version of 11 v. 11 that involved a shortened field and wing players who forced to stay outside the touchlines until they received a pass. You can watch some of the action on our all_access videos...

Photographers from ESPN the Magazine were on hand for a photo shoot with Bob, getting images for the upcoming issue in which Bradley will be featured in the 'Crosshairs' section of the mag.

Saturday, Jan. 6 @ 7:15 p.m.
Tonight is the first night since the camp began that players have dinner on their own. While the food in the hotel has been outstanding, a change of pace is most welcome. With this being the fourth year in a row the team has wintered in California and with several locals on the squad, there is a solid understanding of the best local joints to hit. While sushi, PF Changs and the Daily Grill are common choices, the smart money for player sightings is on Mama D's...

Friday, Jan. 5 @ 8:58 p.m. - Just had a brief conversation with Bryan Namoff in the training room as he was finishing up his daily vitamin regiment.
- Best thing about being in national team training camp so far? 
Bryan Namoff - Actually being here. Putting on a shirt that has 'USA' on it every day is really a special feeling. Being able to make peanut butter and jelly at 9 p.m at night is a close second.

us - Something people don't know about Rockford, Illinois?
BN - Magic Waters. It's a water park with a lazy river, slides, and a mushroom-looking thing that dumps water on you at random moments. In the summer time it's the place to be - if you are 14 years old...

us -Favorite monument in Washington, D.C.? 
BN - Iwo Jima Memorial at night, hands down. Not a better site to see. I have relatives who are buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.

us - Best moment in your professional career so far?
BN -
Winning the 2004 MLS Cup. Right after we won, I took off my jersey and threw it to my dad.

us - Looking for love in LA or spoken for?
BN - I just got engaged Dec. 30 to my girlfriend Nadine. I proposed in the private lounge of The Everest, a restaurant on the 40th floor above the Chicago Stock Exchange. There was an unbelievable view of the Sears Tower and the whole skyline of Chicago. I had a whole scheme going with the maitre d'. I must say I was quite proud of the performance. And even more honored that she said yes.

us - What will make this camp a success for you?
BN - Suiting up for the game against Denmark. To get a chance to see that all the hard work from now until Jan. 20 be rewarded would be a great payoff

Friday, Jan. 5 @ 8:37 p.m. PT
Update from the training room: no news is good news. Aside from the usual soreness from getting back to high intensity training, the medical staff is reporting no injuries. The only interesting events in the room tonight have been Eddie Robinson challenging the staff to a Tiger Woods duel and trainer Mike Overturf (didn't make that up) recalling that his high school's nickname is the Pretzels. If that's not odd enough, the mascot dressed up not as a tasty snack, but as the San Diego Chicken. See how long it will take you to Google that one ...

Friday, Jan. 5 @ 6:01 p.m. PT
The players got their first look at the gym at The Home Depot Center this afternoon, the second session taking place exclusively in the weight room. A series of tests were followed by core strength and balance training, the followed by the strangely popular dip in the cold tank. If you've ever stepped foot in one, you'll know why it seems nuts they would like it so much. By the way, the trainers told us the person who spends the most time in the gym at the HDC outside of the athletes - Bob Bradley. Watching him do the exercises alongside the players, got no trouble believing that ...

Friday, Jan. 5 @ 12:57 p.m. PT
Bob Bradley has supplemented his coaching staff for this camp with two faces very familiar to him. Former U.S. international midfielder Mike Sorber has joined the group in Carson and will stay throughout the month. The current Saint Louis University assistant coach earned 68 caps for the USA, starting every game of the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Sorber played for Bradley in Chicago during their U.S. Open Cup winning season in 2000.  Chivas USA goalkeeper coach Zak Abdel will train the goalkeepers, the ex-Egyptian national team goalkeeper having previously assisted Sigi Schmid with the U.S. U-20 MNT that participated in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in Holland.

Thursday, Jan. 4 @ 9:08 p.m. PT
Following tonight's dinner came the physicals. Not of the 'turn and cough' variety, mind you, but still a thorough examination of the player's physical status by a team of doctors. Headed by team physician Bert Mandelbaum, each player went through eight stations that included a general practitioner, an orthopedist, a podiatrist, a dentist and a chiropractor. Matt Reis, harkening back to his college days, described the tests as "pass/fail." Matt, along with the rest of his teammates, passed.

Thursday, Jan. 4 @ 6:20 p.m. PT
The afternoon session came faster than most players would have liked - they are notoriously proficient at getting as much sleep as possible between sessions - and it was straight back to work. Even the coaches showed just how committed they are to performing. Peter Nowak, who in his playing days was famous for his tireless work rate, literally broke off the bottom of a boot during a possession game. Fortunately, the diminutive coach is the same size as the equally diminutive equipment manager Ryan Maxfield, so a quick boot exchange took place at the water break. After examining the discarded equipment, which had three or four studs hanging like a chad off the bottom of the sole, Maxfield commented quite incredulously that he had never seen anything like it. After the first finishing exercise of the camp, the group played 11 v. 11 from 18 to 18 to four big goals. Follow that? We could draw a diagram; it's just that we don't draw so well.

Thursday, Jan. 4 @ 1:08 p.m. PT
The morning session began with a palpable sense of excitement and anticipation from everyone in the group - players, coaches, staff and the sizeable contingent of onlookers including a coaching course and the media. [watch all_access highlights] With the first new coaching staff in over eight years, both rookies and veterans alike didn't know what to expect their work on the field to be like. They found out quickly that it was to be all business from the get-go. Bob Bradley wasted no time in putting the group through a series of exercises and fitness runs to begin shaking off the rust, and the effort was spirited to say the least. One of the things that was evident was how confident and focused Bradley is on the field. Offering instruction and guidance throughout, his commanding voice was clearly audible to the group surrounding the field. The crowd consisted mostly of the 84 coaches involved in the USSF 'A' license course either as candidates or license holders auditing the course. There was no shortage of media either, with Associated Press and The Los Angeles Times leading the print journalists. Cameras were aplenty as well, with ESPN, Fox Soccer Channel, Reuters TV, and a few local networks capturing footage from day one. The hottest contestants for media attention were Bradley, Pablo Mastroeni, as the elder statesmen and resident Spanish speaker of the group , and Jonathan Bornstein as one of the few players in camp who has played for Bob. Overall, a very productive start ...

Thursday, Jan. 4 @ 8:38 a.m. PT
The first full day of the U.S. Men's National Team camp got started with ... breakfast. That's not to say the team had previously skipped the 'most important meal of the day,' but in the past, players would eat in the hotel restaurant on their own. Team breakfasts are now promptly at 8 a.m. and as a group. So anyone trying to figure out just how different things are going to be with a new staff, there's your first small example ...

More Blog: Week One | Two Three | Four