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Closing in on the "Clash"

CLOSING IN ON THE ‘CLASH’ WITH BRAZIL: The U.S. team training is full speed ahead as hump day hits in preparation for the meeting with five-time World Champions Brazil on Sept. 9 in Chicago. More than 30,000 tickets have been sold for the “Clash of Champions” at historic Soldier Field (tickets). Kickoff for the match against the No. 1 ranked team in the world is set for 3 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Univision. Fans can also follow the match live via’s MatchTracker.

KERRY CALLED IN: U.S. head coach Bob Bradley has called in Kansas City Wizards midfielder
Kerry Zavagnin, who arrived in Chicago in time for the USA's training session Wednesday morning. Zavagnin replaces Pablo Mastroeni, who is still recovering from an illness that forced him out at halftime of the Rapids 1-1 draw at Columbus this past Sunday. Zavagnin has made 21 appearances for the United States, having played in six matches during the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign. An alternate for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the 33-year-old last played for the U.S. in the 4-1 loss to Germany on March 22, 2006 in Dortmund.

Goalkeepers (2): Tim Howard (Everton FC), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders (7): Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
Midfielders (6): DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Bobby Convey (Reading FC), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Kerry Zavagnin (Kansas City Wizards)
Forwards (4): Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Eddie Johnson (Kansas City Wizards), Josh Wolff (1860 Munich)

BRAZILIAN SCORING MACHINE IN HIGH GEAR: While the Brazilian team doesn’t assemble until Friday, their players have already seen plenty of action with their clubs and early on have shown why they are amongst the best attacking players in the world. Kaká, who last week was voted UEFA Club Footballer of the Year, already has four goals in three matches for AC Milan, including a pair in their opening day victory against Genoa and a goal in the UEFA Super Cup final victory against Sevilla. Ronaldinho, the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year, notched a pair in Barcelona’s comprehensive 3-1 win against Athletic Bilbao this past weekend. bagged this exclusive interview with Kaká last week on the eve of the UEFA Super Cup Final.

Goalkeepers (2): Doni (Roma), Julio Cesar (Inter Milan)
Defenders (8): Maicon (Inter Milan), Daniel Alves (Sevilla), Alex Silva (São Paulo), Lúcio (Bayern Munich), Juan (Roma), Alex (Chelsea), Kleber (Santos), Gilberto (Hertha Berlin),
Midfielders (8): Gilberto Silva (Arsenal), Mineiro (Hertha Berlin), Josué (VfL Wolfsburg), Fernando (Bordeaux), Elano (Manchester City), Kaká (AC Milan), Julio Baptista (Real Madrid), Diego (Werder Bremen)
Forwards (4): Ronaldinho (Barcelona), Robinho (Real Madrid), Vagner Love (CSKA Moscow), Afonso (SC Heerenveen)

ALL_ACCESS VIDEO X 2:’s all_access video is back on the job to bring you the latest from inside the Chicago camp. Get caught up with team as they get reacquainted and back down to business in this “Back in Camp” clip. Later on Wednesday we’ll post another video where you’ll get the chance head out to dinner with the ‘next generation’ as Brazilian-born midfielder Benny Feilhaber gives the young lads a taste of his native cuisine at a Brazilian churrascaria.

PODDING WITH WOLFF: For 30-year-old Josh Wolff, the last year has been a time of transition. Probably most famous to national team fans for his flawless pass to set up Brian McBride’s game-winning goal against Mexico in the 2002 World Cup, he’s back with the national team for the first time since Germany last June, carrying a new club and a new perspective. Confident and fit from his time with 1860 Munich, he is reunited with former coach Bob Bradley and his old Chicago teammates with the goal of once again making an impact at the international level. Listen to his exclusive interview with

BLOGGING AWAY: It’s got a new home and a new look, but the MNT blog is still packed with the latest news, trivia, stats, and anything else we can think of that will give you the inside scoop of what is happening in and around the national team. We’ve even added a place for you to tell us what you think. And no, you won’t hurt our feelings, so fire away! In case you haven’t begun your blog adventure, we’ll get you started with today’s trivia question:

There is one player on the U.S. roster who got his first start with the national team in a game against Brazil. You're not getting date or result, but we will tell you that it wasn't his first appearance for the full team.

We'll post the answer - and a little history – in the blog on Wednesday evening...

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME: What's a trip to Chicago without a trip to Wrigley Field? Better still, what about a trip to the mound? That's where Landon Donovan is headed Wednesday night when he tosses out the first pitch at the Cubs-Dodgers game. He'll be joined in the dugout by Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo and Bobby Convey. It's ESPN's Wednesday Night Baseball game of the week, so Landon will also head to the booth to join Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser and Steve Phillips. Probably shouldn't say this (yet), but Landon and Carlos are huge Dodgers fans. They're hoping to catch up with Nomar Garciaparra during BP...

THEY SAID IT: “Soccer wasn’t the most important sport in town, but it was something I fell in love with. I’ve hit home runs, made three pointers, scored touchdowns, but nothing was better than scoring a goal.”

--Clint Dempsey, explaining why he chose to play soccer (Chicago Tribune, Sept. 5)