During the World Cup, you’ll be able to watch the U.S. Men’s National Team on ussoccer.com’s Studio 90 daily webcast, you’ll be able to hear the players and coaches on our various podcasts and you’ll even get to read features about certain guys in our revamped daily Center Circle. But even with all that, we figured some of those slight everyday details, those little tantalizing nuggets most people usually never find out, would continue to fall through the cracks.
We can’t have that during a World Cup. So, to bring you the most comprehensive coverage, we’ve encamped ourselves within the team at all times and we’re writing down all we see and hear in our 24-hour-a-day blog, right here on ussoccer.com. We’re on the bus, in the meal room, at training, in the locker room, at the hotel and in the showe….er…wait, okay, not that far. We’re bringing you everything, just not EVERYTHING.
We never know when something interesting, outlandish or hilarious will happen, so check back every so often to get the latest update about the MNT’s journey through the World Cup.
Entry #80: June 17, 3:45 p.m. (9:45 a.m. ET)
The friends and family charter landed at Ramstein Air Base around 3 p.m. local. The 350-plus people headed to the Officer's Club for a nice spread, and got a huge surprise when members of the team dropped by to say
hello before the team meal. What an unbelievable scene to see so many of the family members and their loved ones bonding before such a big moment in everyone's lives. People sometimes forget the sacrifices that wives, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and friends make so these players can focus on the task at hand. When the families gathered outside the team meal room to sing and chant their support before heading to the stadium, the moment crystalized for everyone that we are all in this together. ..
Entry #79: June 17, 10:33 a.m. (4:33 a.m. ET)
Pretty cool scene in downtown K-Town last night. The K-Town 'Fan Fest' runs through the center of town, culminating in a square with a big stage and speakers. The DJ apparently is a big Queen fan, 'cause he ran through the greatest hits, along with some good ole' Bruce Springsteen. Fun watching loads of U.S. supporters waving flags and signing 'Born in the U.S.A.'. There were Italians, Angolans, Germans ... all singing and
exchanging t-shirts, scarves, and whatever else bore their nation's colors. We saw one Italian guy struggling mightily to get on his buddy's shoulders - let's just say the resulting crash didn't look like it felt too good... Point is, there are tons of Americans buzzing through the city, sporting U.S. jerseys and really creating a buzz. Should be a fantastic atmosphere inside Fritz-Walter tonight ...
Entry #78: June 17, 10:25 a.m. (4:25 a.m. ET)
Fritz-Walter-Stadion has undergone some nice improvements since we played Poland here in March. Most substantial is the pitch, which looks simply marvelous. You can also tell that sound bounces around the stadium quite a bit, which will translate into an electric atmosphere when the house is packed tonight...
Entry #77: June 16, 2:32 p.m. (8:32 a.m. ET)
After lunch today, the players and staff took a photo with a unique group of soldiers soldiers outside the Officer's Club on Ramstein Air Base (check it out in today’s photo gallery). The players talked with some of the soldiers for awhile, including Marcus Hahnemann and Brian McBride. Hahnemann discovered one of the guys was from Washington and they talked about the Pacific Northwest for a beat or two. Overall, the atmosphere here at the base has been an incredibly enjoyable experience for the team. People have stopped by the bus before and after practices and meals, but everyone has been very cordial and constantly provides the players with support, telling them they can beat Italy and they’ll be there cheering them on.
Entry #76: June 15, 10:00 p.m. (4:00 p.m. ET)
While watching the Sweden-Paraguay match (halftime right now), we looked outside and saw a scene right out of a Hollywood script. As dusk sets in here in Kaiserslautern, four kids (three boys and one girl) around the ages of 8-12 are kicking around a soccer ball in a field adjacent to the Ramstein Inn. The biggest kid is wearing Ronaldinho's #10 Barcelona jersey and he's kind of running the show, passing to the ball to the younger ones. One of the younger guys just took a big swing, connecting well, but losing his shoe in the process. Maybe some of the players caught the scene...a little reminder that they too were once those kids dreaming of playing in a World Cup. Okay, okay...kind of cheesy, but hey, whatever gets us three points against Italy, right!?
Entry #75: June 15, 8:03 p.m. (2:03 p.m. ET)
A bit of snooping in the kitchen and to our surprise we found coffee packets and a box stocked full of individually packaged gummi bears (or gummibärchen in German). Only about five actually bears a package, but a nice little snack when we're hungry.
Entry #74: June 15, 7:41 p.m. (1:41 p.m. ET)
We arrived at Ramstein Air Base around 6:15 p.m., and were welcomed with open arms. After being greeted by military personnel immediately after we stepped off the runway, we boarded the bus for the quick three-minute drive to our accommodations. Along the way there were hundreds of Americans lined along the streets, draped in red, white and blue, waving the Stars and Stripes and cheering the team’s arrival. No doubt the best reception we will receive during our time in Germany.
While the buildings we are staying in could probably technically be called barracks (they do house airmen!), it’s nothing like what you might picture. The players and staff will be more than comfortable in the large apartments of Ramstein Inn (part of Air Force Inns), which is the community lodging military personnel and families occupy on the base and call home during their time in Germany. The players still have roommates, but there’s an abundance of room compared to any hotel we might stay at during the tournament. There’s a family room (or living room??…we’re not asking Landon) with a couch, lazy boy and TV, a dining table, a kitchen (fully equipped with a full-sized refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker) and individual rooms for each player. With all the Americans around (Americans = speaking English…yeah!) and the cozy accommodations, it will definitely feel like home.
Entry #73: June 15, 6:26 p.m. (12:26 p.m. ET)
Thirty-four years ago today, Art and Helga Hahnemann brought young Marcus into the world. The special occasion was recognized at lunch today, with a cake that can rightly be described as artwork that was topped by a a lit sparkler (great job again, Ollie!). No surprise when Marcus huffed and puffed and actually blew it out! OK, he didn't, but we're sure if he tried he could have. During the typically stirring rendition of 'Happy Birthday,' it was funny to hear all the different names people had for the birthday boy: 'Boomer,' 'Red Bird,' Marcus, and something in German we're pretty sure we can't repeat. Marcus has to be the first guy in history to get a doggie bag for his cake. OK, he didn't do that either...
So we're on the charter to K-Town and the flight attendants hand out these little boxes that open to reveal a little soccer field with a goal that has two holes cut out. Also included are two soccer balls made of chocolate that I guess you are supposed to 'shoot' into the goals. Not sure who thought that was a good idea, but we can tell you little chocolate soccer balls were flying around the plane for 20 minutes. At least you can tell the team is in good spirits, even if it costs you getting hit in the back of the noggin'. Perils of sitting close to the front of the plane...
And if you sat on the left hand side, you could see the stadium in Kaiserslautern as we descended onto Ramstein Airforce Base. Good memories of that stadium. We'll certainly take another 1-0 USA win ...
Entry #72: June 15, 3:16 p.m. (9:16 a.m. ET)
Costa Rica and Ecuador are playing right now in Hamburg -- a beautiful stadium located about a 15-20 minute drive from downtown (Ecuador is up 1-0 20 minutes in). As the Argentina and Ivory Coast fans did last week, the Ticos and Ecuador fans were all the shopping district by our hotels around lunch time. Ecuador fans seemed to have the edge in number, but two bus loads of Costa Rican fans did almost run us over (there's no real crosswalks or jaywalking rules on the street outside of the hotel). In addition to the Costa Rica and Ecuador shirts we also saw: Argentina, Brazil (of course - it seems there are a lot of German bandwagon fans), Germany, Italy, Mexico. Netherlands. Spain and Sweden.
Entry #71: June 14, 11:36 p.m. (5:36 p.m. ET)
This is a long entry, and NO we are not going to be putting up every email we get...but, we did get another one we couldn't keep to ourselves. This one coming from Ali Nagle who teaches a six grade class in the projects of Alphabet City in New York. Ali informs us that even though her kids had never seen a soccer game or kicked a soccer ball, she got them to start studying the U.S. Men’s National Team and all of the countries involved in the World Cup over the past few weeks.
“Studying soccer has helped my kids become more knowledgeable, worldly students. They understand how the game of soccer and its national teams are a metaphor for nation's identity and role within the global community. Now they are beginning to understand the game that captivates the world, defines cultures and honestly thinking about professional athletes in the United States who aren't overpaid and overexposed—all while living in one of the most unforgiving neighborhoods in New York City.”
How great is that!? In addition, we all know kids say some funny stuff and Ali let us in on some “highlights.” Here are some of the students’ comments on their favorite players:
Carlos Bocanegra: "He's the opposite of a mullet--all business in the back."
John O'Brien: "He's the one who had to learn how to run again!" "And he wears hair accessories." "I like him because he has long hair and is scared of needles like me"
Brian McBride: "Anyone who breaks their face and still plays soccer is mad hot"
Steve Cherundolo: "He plays in Germany and speaks German. I remember it because when you say certain things in German, it sounds like you're spitting not talking, and the same thing happens when you say Cherundolo."
Ben Olsen: "I would like to see Ben Olsen and see if his hair is really crazy!"
Thanks for the email, Ali! And keep learning kids!
Entry #71: June 14, 8:54 p.m. (2:54 p.m. ET)
Sorry if you've been starved for updates: it's been a rather hectic day here. The media interest continues to be incredible, with everyone gearing up for the Italy game this Saturday. What's been gratifying to hear - along with the coverage of the team, positive or negative - is the amount of support the team is receiving back home. Despite the loss, we continue to have a mailbox full of e-mails offering support for the players and the coach, and telling stories of packed pubs and viewing parties across the country. Here's one e-mail that stuck out:
My son Alex (six years old), who loves soccer and the U.S. MNT, was devastated after the loss. After crying alone for awhile, he apparently sat down and wrote a letter which I found after he went to sleep. He is entering first grade, so he's just learning to spell. Below is what he wrote verbatim.
TO: U.S. Team
Play good. have fun - it will make yuo play good. From: Alex
Thanks, Alex. Pretty sound advice. And thanks to everyone who has chimed in. We keep reading 'em, so please keep sending 'em.
Entry #70: June 14, 8:43 p.m. (2:43 p.m. ET)
Five players got scanned this afternoon and will soon be shrinking. Huh? Don’t worry, they’re all be fine for the match against Italy. Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Pablo Mastroeni, Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey each had their face scanned to obtain a 3-D image that will be used to create small, yet realistic action figurines. The scanning process was pretty painless as the players sat in a chair before a lot of flashing lights and clicking noises started going off around them to capture the 3-D image on a computer. A sculptor will add a body to the small, life-like faces and there will be three different size figurines – three inches, six inches and 12 inches. So, where can you get yours? Well, soon enough they’ll be available at ussoccerstore.com. Also, check out “Extra Time” on the June 14 edition of Studio 90 to see the scanning in progress.
Entry #69: June 14, 4:37 p.m. (10:37 a.m. ET)
Jimmy Conrad’s wife, Lyndsey, has finally arrived in Hamburg, and she was give a quick tour of Studio 90 as Jimmy brought her by this afternoon. Lyndsey is just as nice as Jimmy – just better looking, and when they left, the only girl on the production staff commented how they’re “such a great couple.” As men, we usually don’t comment on such matters…but this time we had to agree. We’re not sure if this was Lyndsey’s first look at a TV set (or a makeshift one), but we’re guessing she’ll probably be seeing more down the road as her husband has a career in front of the camera when his ball-kicking days are done.
Entry #68: June 14, 2:58 p.m. (8:58 a.m. ET)
There’s no doubt that Hamburg has World Cup fever. We just walked from the friends and family hotel to the players hotel (a distance of 1 kilometer) and we saw no less than nine different jerseys. There was the obvious in Germany, but we also saw Angola, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine. That’s almost a jersey per hectometer!
Entry #67: June 13, 11:10 p.m. (5:10 p.m. ET)
Former U-17 goalkeeper Diego Restrepo stopped by Studio 90 with his dad and brother, Alfonso (or maybe Alonso??), as the three are staying here in Hamburg not far from the team’s hotel. They went to the USA’s first match and said they had a great time with the American fans, but it seemed Diego’s brother might have been more excited to get the chance to sit on the sofa on the set of Studio 90. Alfonso was downright giddy. He said he had checked out all the episodes of Studio 90 before he made his way over to Germany and that all his friends are watching daily as well. We shot the breeze for about 15 minutes and took some photos of all three getting comfy on the guest couch. By the way, they’re looking for tickets to the Italy game, so if anyone’s got some extra, let us know.
Entry #66: June 13, 3:35 p.m. (9:35 a.m. ET)
In search of a little comic relief? We've found the best translation website ever! http://www.dict.cc/ is an English-German translation website that has just about any word in English or German that you can think of, along with a host of possible variations. Wondering why this seems so great? They have a voice recording for every word so you know how to pronounce them! No disrespect to our excellent German hosts, but we listened to the German word for 'deliriously happy' - it's überglücklich - and, well ... it doesn't sound ... so ... happy. But remember, "It's a time to make friends!"
Entry #65: June 13, 2:35 a.m. (June 12, 8:35 p.m.)
The Friends & Family buses just rolled into Hamburg after a five-hour trip back from Gelsenkirchen and we were informed that one lucky lady actually had some excitement in an otherwise depressing day. Mary Hopfinger (mother of one of the diligent U.S. Soccer staff members) ended up sitting next to the drummer from Hootie & the Blowfish. We're actually trying to figure out how that's exactly exciting, but we did kind of like that one song, "Hold My Hand," even if we don't admit it (wait, we just did, doh!). Wasn't the drummer the tall guy with the long, blong hair? (and yes we are trying to pretend we don't know...darn Blowfish being so popular in high school). But, we must admit it is cool he's a soccer fan and we're loving that he made the trip to Germany. Not as cool if Hootie himself (aka Darius Rucker) had made the trip...but still cool. Kidding...kind of.
Entry #64: June 13, 2:15 a.m. (June 12, 8:15 p.m.)
One shining light in an otherwise dim evening in Gelsenkirchen - the performance of the U.S. fans. Having been to matches all over Europe, and having seen the small but boisterous support for the team in 2002, tonight's crowd was without a doubt the best ever on foreign soil. Estimated by the local organizing committee between 16,000-20,000, the U.S. fans were well-dressed, loud, organized and savvy. Players remarked after the game how they felt like a true team in the World Cup because of the support they received. Obviously with that comes a disappointment with not doing better for the fans; nonetheless, tonight's match demonstrated that U.S. supporters have arrived on the world stage. We were both proud and honored to be a part of it, and U.S. Soccer offers a heart-felt thank you.
Entry #63: June 12, 5:02 p.m. (11:02 a.m. ET)
Team is settled at the stadium. MatchTracker will pick up the updates during the match.
Entry #62: June 12, 4:52 p.m. (10:52 a.m. ET)
Just spotted a fan in an Oguchi Onyewu jersey. That's not a surprise, except that it was the jersey auctioned off for charity that he work in the U.S. vs. Latvia Send-Off Series match ... Elsewhere, U.S. fans were up on stage near the media center singing and just generally carrying on.
Entry #61: June 12, 4:12 p.m. (10:12 a.m. ET)
We're already at the exit for the stadium, and it seems traffic is pretty heavy. First, we pass a group of Czech supporters who, by their gestures, seemed excited to see the us. Shortly down the way, the first group of U.S. fans is spotted as one fan immediately drops to his knees and starts bowing to the bus.