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U.S. U-23 Men Close Out Japan Tour on Friday, Feb. 23 vs. Rosso Kumamoto

U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team
Training Camp Update from Kumamoto, Japan
February 22, 2007

ONE DOWN, ONE TO GO: The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team will complete its two-match tour of Japan with a friendly against JFL side Rosso Kumamoto on Friday (Feb. 23) at the KKWing Stadium. The match, set for 7 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET), is part of the celebration of the 400-year anniversary of the construction of the prefecture’s symbol, the Kumamoto Castle. The U23s are coming off a 0-0 draw against the Japan U-22 Men’s National Team Wednesday night, their first match under new head coach Bob Bradley.

STATUS REPORT: Real Salt Lake forward Jamie Watson suffered a separated right shoulder in the draw against Japan, sidelining the striker for approximately four to six weeks. Colorado Rapids forward Jacob Peterson has been hampered by Achilles tendonitis since before his arrival into camp, and is likely not available for selection Friday night. New England Revolution rookie Ryan Solle has been battling flu-like symptoms and was unable to dress Wednesday. His availability will be a game-time decision.

USA-JAPAN REWIND: The U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team stood behind the stellar play of Sierra Mist Man of the Match Chris Seitz to earn a deserved 0-0 draw against the Japan U-22 National Team on Wednesday. The more than 14,000 fans gathered at the KKWing Stadium witnessed a much-improved performance in the second half from the U.S. that earned the team a share of the spoils in the Kirin Challenge Cup. Seitz made several key saves throughout the contest on a crisp evening in Kumamoto, twice getting help from the woodwork as well.

February 21, 2007 – KKWing Stadium, Kumamoto, Japan – Kirin Challenge Cup
USA   0
JPN   0
Att: 14,007

USA: 1-Chris Seitz; 15-Sean Franklin, 3-Rob Valentino, 5-Nathan Sturgis, 12-Tim Ward; 6-Quavas Kirk (11-Sal Zizzo, 46’) 17-Sacha Kljestan (capt.), 7-Peter Lowry, 9-Arturo Alvarez; 16-Adam Cristman (13-Jacob Peterson, 69’), 10-Jamie Watson (20-Michael Harrington, 83’)
Subs not used: 24-Justin Hughes, 2-Ryan Solle, 4-Patrick Ianni, 14-Hunter Freeman

JPN: 1-Kenya Matsui; 3-Naoaki Aoyama, 4-Hiroki Mizumoto, 5-Masahiko Inoha (capt.), 8-Keisuke Honda (14-Akihiro Ienaga, 72’), 10-Yohei Kajiyama, 16-Takuya Honda (13-Hiroyuki Mizumoto, 77’), 18-Koki Mizuno, 24-Tadanari Lee (11-Takuya Kokeguchi,72’), 9-Sota Hirayama (20-Yasuhito Morishima, 87’), 22-Robert Cullen (7-Chikashi Masuda, 60’)
Subs not used: 12-Kaito Yamamoto, 2-Yugo Ichiyanagi, 15-Kota Ueda, 17-Atsuto Uchida, 19-Kazuhiko Chiba, 21-Yohei Fukumoto, 23-Akihiro Hayashi

PODCAST – IANNI READY FOR ACTION: In terms of experience on this first U-23 roster, Houston Dynamo defender Patrick Ianni stands amongst the top of the heap. A starter in central defense during all four of the USA's matches in their quarterfinal run in the 2005 World Youth Championship, he is the only player on the squad to boast an MLS Cup championship, earning a ring in his debut season as a professional. With experience comes responsibility, a fact that Ianni is keenly aware of. He spoke with about his role with this group, his ambitions for 2007, and also threw in some pre-season predictions for the upcoming MLS season (listen).

JUMPED THE GUN: There has certainly been a lot of down time for the players here in Kumamoto, and after trips to Kumamoto Castle and the shopping arcade, there is little left for entertainment (particularly with only one TV station in English – CNN. These guys have never been more informed in world affairs in their lives!) So a couple decided to pass the time by receiving professional massages from the hotel masseuses. In addition to employing a different style – think acupressure – there is also a fee for their services. Had they been paying attention at lunch, they would have heard that following tonight’s dinner will be a regeneration session involving sauna, cold pools, and you guessed it – massages.

ABOUT ROSSO KUMAMOTO: Re-named and under new ownership since 2005, Rosso (Red) Kumamoto are members of the JFL, equivalent to the Third Division. With a modern stadium and strong financial backing, they already meet the criteria for entrance into the J-League. Results are what now stand in the way, and the side has turned to former Kashiwa Reysol manager Tomoyoshi Ikeya to guide the ship. With good contacts throughout Japan, he has recruited several former J-League players to assist in the promotion efforts. The side finished in fifth place in 2006, but is poised to make a run for the top spot and gain the prized entrance into Japan’s top flight.

LOST IN TRANSLATION: Santa Clara midfielder Peter Lowry intended to be very diligent about sending post cards to friends and family back home, but has become especially prolific thanks to a mix up in the gift shop. Instead of getting the three postcards he wanted, he wound up receiving three packages with 12 cards in each. He’s been pawning them off amongst the group, but if you’re feeling lonely he’ll be happy to send you greetings from Japan. He’s also on a first-name basis - as far as he can tell - with the woman at the post office next door.

TRAVEL DAY (AGAIN): Saturday will once again be a lengthy journey for members of the group as they head back east towards points across the United States. The team departs the hotel at 9 a.m. for the airport in Kumamoto, taking a 90-minute flight to Haneda Airport outside of Tokyo. A one hour bus ride will transfer the team to the more famous Narita Airport, where a (hopefully) quick turnaround will see the U.S. team off for Los Angeles at 4:10 p.m. local time. The 9.5 hour hop to LAX is mercifully nearly two hours shorter than the trip coming over. That’s when the breaking of the fellowship takes place. The long-distance travel award for the day belongs to Hunter Freeman, who must sit out a three-hour layover before flying to Philadelphia and changing planes en route to Charlotte. We’ve done the math, and it’s not pretty.

PBJ = MVP: While the food at the hotel has been simply outstanding, everyone enjoys a little taste of home now and again. While the group has largely avoided trips to the ‘Golden Arches’, no one could resist when equipment manager Travis Schultz showed up at lunch Thursday with peanut butter and jelly in hand. Twice the waiters had to head back to the kitchen for more bread.

THEY SAID IT: “The two biggest myths about Japan are that you can find great sushi and electronics stores on every street corner.”

- A mildly disappointed assistant coach Thomas Rongen, who was clearly looking forward to experiencing both on this trip.