SCRIMMAGE vs. RICHMOND KICKERS OPEN TO PUBLIC AT 5 p.m. ET on MAY 8: The U.S. Men’s National Team will face the A-League’s Richmond Kickers on Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET at SAS Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. The match will be free and open to the media and the public. All training sessions in North Carolina are CLOSED to fans and media, except the May 8 exhibition game.
MONDAY’S TRAINING: After receiving a day off on Sunday, Bruce Arena put his troops through the paces on Monday morning. The U.S. team went through a two-hour training session that gave the team their toughest workout yet in Cary, N.C. The goalkeepers were worked out by George Gelnovatch and Milutin Soskic, while the field players worked on possession on the other side of the field. The team then joined together for a game of 5 v 5 with goalkeepers. Two teams of five played to goal, while the other five-member team did fitness work on the sideline. While Josh Wolff singed the nets early on, the goal of the day came during the scrimmage when Landon Donovan ripped a ball out of the air square across the six-yard box to Clint Mathis, who volleyed the ball into the net without letting the ball touch the ground. The session was especially intense, with Jeff Agoos, Gregg Berhalter and Eddie Pope leading the way with strong defense and doling out rough tackles. Continuing the fine tradition of this training camp, the session ended with fitness work led by Strength and Conditioning Coach Pierre Barrieu.
COMING AND GOING: Training camp will have a slightly different appearance this week after a bit of a personnel shuffle. U.S. captain Claudio Reyna departed Saturday evening in advance of Sunderland's final league match against Derby this weekend, while Greg Vanney skipped town a day later, returning to F.C. Bastia as they prepare for the French Cup final. Kasey Keller heads back to England tomorrow evening. All three players are expected to rejoin the team in New Jersey, prior to the May 16 match against Jamaica. Meantime, defender David Regis arrived Sunday evening from France after F.C. Metz suffered relegation to the French Second Division following a 1-1 draw with Lorient on the final matchday.
WEEKEND WRAP: Saturday completed the first stretch of work for the USMNT in Cary, N.C., the team running through a single session in less than ideal conditions. The only change in the routine was the presence of moderate rainfall; otherwise, the players went through a familiar pattern of fitness, finishing, and a 9 v. 9 scrimmage. The U.S. technical staff has focused the early part of camp on improving overall team fitness and the sharpening of group play. The team got an early a.m. wake-up call, heading to the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry for full dental evaluations. Following the side throughout the day was a film crew from ESPN's "The Life," completing hooting for an upcoming episode featuring Landon Donovan and the rest of the U.S. team. Sunday was a welcome day off, with most of the group enjoying a trip to a local golf course. No word on the low score.
“NIKE ROAD TO KOREA” HEADS UP EAST COAST ON MAY 10: After concluding the 10-day training camp in Cary, N.C., the U.S. World Cup Team will head to Washington, D.C., on May 10 to prepare for Sunday’s match versus Uruguay at RFK Stadium live on ABC at 2 p.m. ET. The U.S. holds a 1-2-2 all-time record against the South Americans, with the last meeting coming in 1995, a 2-2 tie at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The first ever meeting between the two nations came as far back as the second round of the 1924 Olympics, when the U.S. lost 3-0 in Paris, France. Uruguay surprised some by finishing tied for fifth in CONMEBOL Qualifying (just three points behind Brazil and ahead of past participants Colombia and Chile) and then besting Australia in a two-game series to sneak into the 2002 World Cup. Uruguay, placed in Group A with France, Denmark and Senegal in Korea, will be the eighth World Cup team that the U.S. has met in 2002 in preparing for Korea/Japan.
EUROPEAN UPDATES: Although the U.S. entered camp almost one week ago, the top leagues in Europe have rumbled on, some team released their U.S. World Cup players early, others did not. Here is a quick recap of how those teams did with and without their MNT players this past weekend:
-F.C. Metz drew 1-1 to Lorient, with David Regis playing 90 minutes before joining the U.S. in Cary, N.C. Metz’s draw, coupled with Guingamp’s 1-0 win over Troyes spelled doom for Metz. Metz will drop down to the second division after finishing two points behind Guingamp.
-Greg Vanney, a World Cup alternate, missed Bastia’s weekend 2-0 win against Sedan. The win settles Bastia at 11th place in France, topping Rennes (both 41 points) on goal differential. Bastia face Lorient, who will be relegated, in the French Cup final on May 11.
-Earnie Stewart’s NAC Breda finished the Dutch season in sixth place with a scoreless draw against FC Utrecht.
-John O’Brien played all 90 minutes as Ajax topped NEC 2-0. The win gave Ajax their first title in four years, as they finished five points clear of PSV. O’Brien and his teammates will now try for the domestic double against F.C. Utrecht, coincidentally the team that the U.S. midfielder was loaned to start his professional career in Holland, in the championship of the Amstel Cup on Sunday (May 12).
-Frankie Hejduk’s Bayer Leverkusen topped Hertha Berlin 2-1, but it wasn’t enough for the Bundesliga title. Leverkusen finished the domestic season in second place, one point behind Borussia Dortmund. Leverkusen lost two of their last three league matches, while Dortmund won their last three to steal the title away from Leverkusen.
-Tony Sanneh missed F.C. Nurnberg’s 3-2 win against F.C. St. Pauli this weekend. With the win, Nurnberg finishes in 15th place, even with Hansa Rostock on 34 points from 34 games. Nurnberg finished four points clear of the relegation zone.
THEY SAID IT:
"There is no training ground in the world for this job. You can be the best club coach in the world, but you start from the ground up when you take the national team."
- U.S. head coach Bruce Arena.