ALL ACCOUNTED FOR: The 18-man contingent assembled by Bruce Arena for Monday's match against Wales (May 26, 7 p.m. PT on ESPN2 and Radio Unica, delayed on Telemundo) completed their second day of training in San Jose, with FC Bastia-based defender Greg Vanney becoming the final arrival. The former Los Angeles Galaxy defender was forced to spend Wednesday night in Paris awaiting his luggage. The team trained for a little over an hour Wednesday evening, capped by a small-field scrimmage. San Jose forward Brian Ching wasted little time in leaving an impression on the coaching staff, netting two goals. Under balmy conditions typical of the Bay Area, Arena put the team through the paces of a 90-minute session Thursday, with U.S. captain Claudio Reyna able to participate as a 'neutral' throughout the exercises. The team resumes training this afternoon.
UNCAPPED: Four players on the U.S. roster will be seeking their first appearance with the full national team. In addition to Ching, former Quakes goalkeeper Joe Cannon comes to camp after a six-month spell with RC Lens in the French First Division. While playing several matches with Lens reserves, Cannon impressed manager Joël Muller with both his ability and work-rate. The 2002 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year participated in the MNT training camp in Bradenton in January, prior to signing with the French club. MLS number one draft pick Alecko Eskandarian gets his first call up to the senior team. The D.C. United forward led the U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team in scoring with seven goals and two assists in just eight games in 2002, while being named the first recipient of the unified M.A.C. Hermann Trophy as the nation's college Player of the Year. Dallas defender Ryan Suarez, a San Jose State alum, rounds out the rookie club.
DO YOU KNOW THE WAY? Eddie Lewis is making a return to San Jose and Spartan Stadium for the first time since departing for England three years ago. An original member of the then-San Jose Clash, Lewis played 115 games over four years from 1996-99, collecting nine goals and 35 assists. His assist mark still stands at number two all-time for San Jose, behind Ronald Cerritos. Lewis posted four goals and 14 assists in 1999, earning a spot on the MLS All-Star team and the season-ending Best XI. The Cerritos, California, native had his most productive season of his three years in England, scoring five goals in 33 appearance in league play for Preston North End.
MAIDEN VOYAGE: U.S. Manager Bruce Arena will feel a bit of nostalgia Monday night, returning to the stadium where his career as head of the U.S. national team took its first step. On November 6, 1998, Arena coached his first game as the U.S. drew 0-0 with Australia at Spartan Stadium. Four players on the current roster were on the field that day (Jeff Agoos, Ben Olsen, Eddie Lewis, C.J. Brown). During the next four years, the enigmatic Arena would become the winningest coach in U.S. history, collecting 37 victories and leading the United States to its highest-ever ranking (# 8) in the world.
CALIFORNIA CONNECTION: Half of the players on the 18-man roster list cities in California as their hometowns. Closest to home is Fire defender C.J. Brown, who grew up just north of San Jose in Hayward, and played his college ball at San Jose State on the friendly confines of Spartan Stadium. While the split between SoCal and NoCal is almost evenly dispersed, the influence of the West Coast in both MLS and the U.S. MNT has steadily risen. Look for a segment on the "California Kids" at halftime of this Monday's telecast on ESPN2.
THEY SAID IT:
San Jose Earthquakes captain JEFF AGOOS, on his first match with the MNT since the 2002 World Cup:
"It's always an honor to play for your country. As long as I'm playing my goal is to play at the highest level, which is the national team."
On the satisfaction of having so many San Jose players on the roster:
"I think it's long overdue. We've had players who have flown under the radar level, and this gives us a great opportunity for exposure at the international level."
San Jose Earthquakes defender RAMIRO CORRALES, on returning to the national team after a six-year absence:
"It's a little different this time, since I'm older and I know the players much better. It's definitely more intense, with everyone trying to make the team. I'm getting to know Bruce [Arena], and finding what his expectations are. Hopefully, I play a little bit on Monday, but I'm just happy to be here."
Chicago Fire defender C.J. BROWN, on returning to play at Spartan Stadium at his alma mater, San Jose State University:
"It's great to be back home. My first game with the full national team was here in 1998, and getting to play in my home area with my parents able to come watch was something special. I loved my time at San Jose State. I got to go to school, and my parents could come watch me play. MLS had just started back then, and having the San Jose Clash close by kept me motivated to keep pursuing soccer."
On getting the call-up for the first time in almost two years: "This is probably the one time I didn't mind getting a red card (in the Fire's 3-1 loss to New England last weekend). I know what the national team has done in the past few years, and I want to make a good impression. It's always a different speed when you come to the national team, so it takes a bit of adjusting. You have to be on your game every day."