U.S. Men in South Florida Preparing to Face Haiti Saturday at The Orange Bowl
NEARLY COMPLETE: The U.S. Men's National Team entered it's second day of training in Miami, with 18 of 19 players having reported for the week-long camp. D.C. United midfielder Bobby Convey will complete the complement, arriving in South Florida later today. U.S. Manager Bruce Arena put the men through the paces of two sessions Monday, with the team spending nearly two hours on the training field under increasingly muggy conditions this morning.
HE'S BACK: Tony Sanneh looked positively jovial in his first full training sessions with the national team since the 2002 World Cup. The 32-year-old defender has battled a back injury for almost 15 months, and appears ready to resume his place on the field. After turning in one of the heralded performances in the USA's run to the quarterfinals in Korea/Japan, Sanneh is back nearing full fitness and looking comfortable and confident. Check ussoccer.com for a special interview with the "Big Cat" later this week.
FLORIDA FLAVOR: The Sunshine State is well represented, with several players registering time in Florida on their soccer résumés. New England midfielder Steve Ralston earned 1997 MLS Rookie of the Year honors as a member of the Tampa Bay Mutiny, after attending Florida International University. Rapids defender Ritchie Kotschau spent two seasons with the Mutiny, one of only seven players in the league to appear in all 32 regular season matches in 2000. Dallas Burn defender Cory Gibbs is a Plantation, Florida, native.
MEMORIES OF MIAMI, PART ONE: The date: July 26, 2003. With the U.S. charging back to a 2-2 scoreline late in the second half of the 2003 Gold Cup third place match against Costa Rica, it was time for Bobby Convey, who was playing in his team-leading 15th game for the MNT in 2003, to shine. After Carlos Bocanegra scored his fourth goal of the year and Earnie Stewart pounded home the highlight reel equalizer, the stage was set for a dramatic finale. A free-kick by Walter Centeno in the 67th minute was collected by Keller, who quickly found Landon Donovan on a breakout. Donovan turned defender Mauricio Wright before slotting a ball to the 20-year-old Convey, who was making a run all the way from the U.S. penalty area, slicing behind the Costa Rican defense. Just one step inside the area, Convey tucked a curling, left-footed strike just inside the near post for his first full international goal and delivered the USA's 3-2 victory.
MEMORIES OF MIAMI, PART TWO: The date: July 23, 2003. After leading Brazil in the Gold Cup semifinal until an 88th minute equalizer, the teams' headed into the dreaded "golden goal" extra time period. Eight minutes into the first period, U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller came off his line to stop a shot off his chest from Kaka. Unable to hold on to the rebound, the ball bounded forward to the Brazilian forward who knocked a pass to his left, past Keller, to Diego waiting unmarked for a chance to shoot on goal with only Cory Gibbs in his way. Gibbs was making his seventh period for the MNT, all in 2003. Despite collecting the ball in an offside position, the flag stayed down and Gibbs was forced to swing his right arm into the path of Diego’s shot, resulting in the game-winning penalty for Brazil and a red card for the deflated defender.
"SURVIVOR" ON THE SET: The MNT got a visit from an old friend at training yesterday, as "Survivor: Africa" winner Ethan Zohn made an appearance at the afternoon session. It was a reunion of sorts for veterans of Korea/Japan, as Zohn, a former professional soccer player, was a roving reporter for Philips Electronics during the 2002 World Cup. Despite repeated attempts, Zohn refused to divulge the inside scoop on the current season of "Survivor: All-Stars."
--Forward John Wolyniec, describing the play of Tony Sanneh in training so far.