The U.S. Men’s National Team has kept the party going since its 4-3 victory against Germany on June 2 – U.S. Soccer’s Centennial Celebration Match, which was held at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
That game marked the start of a record-breaking run that has now led the USA to the final of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup against Panama on Sunday, July 28, against Panama at Soldier Field in Chicago.
As the USA shoots for its fifth straight Gold Cup crown, here are some interesting numbers and trends by the team over this stretch:
- Altidore fuels start: Jozy Altidore scored one goal in each of the first four games of this winning streak.
- Donovan’s stellar return: Landon Donovan has scored seven goals and assisted seven others during this winning streak to lead the team in both categories in 2013. The seven assists tie for second-best in Donovan’s career, and the seven goals rank second only to his record-setting 10-goal performance in 2009. Donovan also has a chance with his next goal or assist to tie a career high for goals/assist production – he was involved in 15 goals (10 goals, 5 assists) in 2009, and he sits at 14 (7 goals, 7 assists) for 2013. Donovan now has 56 career goals and 56 career assists, comfortably holding the all-time record in each category.
- Wondolowski heats up: Entering the year with eight caps and zero goals to his name, Chris Wondolowski proved that his heavy MLS scoring arsenal is no fluke. During the streak he has scored six goals, including a first-half hat trick during the USA’s 6-1 win against Belize on July 9.
- 3.4 per game: That is the USA’s scoring average during the winning streak as the team has outscored its opponents by an impressive 34-8 margin. Thirteen different players have scored a goal during this stretch.
- Four clean sheets: The U.S. blanked Panama 2-0 on June 11, shut out Honduras 1-0 on June 18, garnered its most lopsided victory of the year with a 6-0 win against Guatemala on July 5, and topped Costa Rica 1-0 on July 16.
- Staying ahead: During this winning streak, the U.S. MNT has trailed for less than 10 minutes of regulation time. Its only deficit came when Cuba scored a 36th-minute goal to take a 1-0 lead on July 13. Donovan found the equalizer with a first-half stoppage time penalty kick and the USA would score three second-half goals en route to a 4-1 victory.
- First career goals: Four U.S. MNT players will fondly look back on this run when they notched their first career tallies. This group includes Alejandro Bedoya (1), Joe Corona (2), Brek Shea (1) and Wondolowski (6).
Ever wondered what a day in the life of a U.S. Women’s National Team player is like? We followed WNT goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris to get an inside look at a day inside WNT training camp, a day that included a weight session and on-field practice.
After a grabbing a quick coffee, the busy day starts early for Harris and the WNT, as they are headed to a weight lifting, the first of two trainings sessions that day.
“The bus ride is always total shenanigans with the people I sit around with. Usually that group is Allie Long, Megan Rapinoe and Ali Krieger. It’s just fun and good vibes heading into our workout.”
First stop of the day: weightlifting. The WNT usually spends about 90 minutes at the gym, and each player has a specialized workout sheet that is tailored to their needs.
“At lifting I usually spend time on my shoulders and continue to strengthen my back; things I need as goalkeeper. Every day I hit the ground, so I have to make sure my arms are strong. Shoulder strength and shoulder stability are key to make sure my arms are moving well and to prevent any injuries.”
As the team exits the gym, several fans await them by the bus and most players, including Harris, stop to sign a few autographs and pose for a few selfies.
“It’s always just really cool to stop and have a chat with the younger generation after or before training sessions. They’re just awesome.”
“Our van leaves the hotel about 45 minutes before the field players whenever we go to the training. I always have a pre-training and pre-game routine of taping my fingers and hands. It’s a personal preference and to be honest, I’ve always done it. Being at training earlier helps us get some good stretching in, stay focused and it allows us to nail down techniques and work individually and collectively as a small group before we jump in with everyone else.”
For afternoon training, Harris, along with Alyssa Naeher and Jane Campbell, as well as goalkeeper coach Graeme Abel, all pile into a team van and head to training earlier than the field players to spend some time working on their technique and specific areas before the rest of the team arrives.
“Alyssa and I have very good communication and no one has a better view or can critique one another better than each other. If we see something we tell each other and help each other out.”
After training, the players all cool down, chat with each other, hydrate and reflect on the session they just completed.
“We tend to immediately grab our protein shakes. We talk about the day, what we saw on the field, what we can fix, what wasn’t good, what was good and we just overall critique the game in every way we can to become better.”
“Once we’re back in the hotel, it’s all about treatment. Like true professionals, we must take care of our bodies and be responsible to get the treatment we need. Our bodies take a beating from all the impact at training so we take care of it to do it all over again the day after.”