“First and foremost, it’s an honor to represent your country. And even though we are four years away from a World Cup, we must be working every minute to prepare ourselves to be a great team. That attitude can never be lost,” said Bradley. “With a team, I always start with the idea that we are all in something together, and that the work on the inside is very important. There must be a trust in terms of the goals, how we challenge each other every day, and how we interact so that every time we step on the field we represent our country and our fans at the highest level.”
After a long wait for U.S. soccer fans, the U.S. National Team officially gets back to business on Wednesday when the majority of the 28-man roster arrives in California. A meeting is scheduled for Wednesday evening, and then the team hits the field for the first time Thursday morning (Jan. 4) at U.S. Soccer's National Training Center at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The group will prepare for the USA’s first match of 2007, a friendly against Denmark on Jan. 20, at The Home Depot Center (tickets). The match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 beginning at 1:50 p.m. PT (and will be tape-delayed on Univision). Fans can also follow the game live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
Each new four-year cycle brings opportunities for new blood, and the first training camp of the campaign will have many fresh faces. There are 21 players on the Carson roster with five caps or less, with 11 in search of their first-ever appearance with the senior team. With many of the USA’s young prospects involved in leagues across Europe as well as qualifying for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, that number is sure to grow as the team building continues. The pattern of evaluating new talent is a common one; in fact, a comparison between this group and the players who began training the very same day four years ago in Bradenton, Fla., reveals a striking consistency in the way the development process begins. A quick look inside the numbers:
|Average # of Caps||7.9||8.4|
|Players from Previous World Cup||6||5|
|Players on MLS Best XI||6||5|
As in 2003, there have also been several adjustments to the training camp roster due to a variety of developments. Brian Carroll, Clint Dempsey and Alecko Eskandarian are the latest to be removed from the January list. The final roster now includes 26 players based in MLS. Despite a lack of international experience at the senior level, the roster boasts a wealth of players who earned recognition at the league level this year. Five members of the 2006 MLS Best XI have been invited, led by 2006 World Cup veteran Jimmy Conrad. Those also collecting individual accolades this year include Bobby Boswell (Defender of the Year), Troy Perkins (Goalkeeper of the Year) and Jonathan Bornstein (Rookie of the Year). Two of the top 10 scorers in MLS will be in Carson: Landon Donovan (12 goals) and Kenny Cooper (11).
The 24-year-old Donovan, a two-time World Cup veteran, is the leading capwinner on the roster, having made 84 international appearances for the senior team. He is the USA’s all-time leader in assists (22), and sits in third-place on the all-time goal scoring list with 25. Pablo Mastroeni, who played in five World Cup matches during 2002 and 2006, has collected exactly 50 caps during his six-year international career.
Player development represents the lifeblood of any national team program, and the training camp roster reflects the USA’s growing success in producing talent. Kyle Beckerman, an inaugural member of the U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., played in all six games of the USA’s fourth-place finish at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand and competed in qualifying for the 2004 Olympics. Justin Mapp, another Residency graduate and veteran of two World Youth Championships, started and played in all five matches with the U.S. U-20’s at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship in United Arab Emirates, scoring the game-winning goal against the Ivory Coast to help the squad advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament. Current MLS Cup champion Ricardo Clark has been a member of the U-20 and U-23 national teams, appearing on the USA’s 2003 World Youth Championship roster that reached the quarterfinals in the United Arab Emirates. Sacha Kljestan was a member of the U-20 side that advanced to the knockout phase of the 2005 World Youth Championship in Holland after defeating Argentina in their opening game. Altogether, 11 players on the training camp roster have been a part of a FIFA World Championship roster with the United States at the World Cup, Olympics, U-20 or U-17 level.
In advance of Thursday’s opening session, the anticipation of identifying emerging stars and currently undiscovered talent gives U.S. soccer fans a vision of renewed success on the world’s greatest stage. And for Bradley, the path he sees ahead is bright; the challenge, a welcome one.
“As we head into 2007, the program is healthy and moving forward. There is a natural transition that will take place. We all know that some experienced players – some key players – have announced their retirement from international soccer. At the same time, there are some young players ready, or close to being ready, to start helping our national team. When one looks at the work of the last eight years, it’s clear how much progress has been made. Now we must begin the work of the next four years, knowing that we will be judged by how successful we are at the next World Cup. As I’ve said over and over, I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the U.S. team as we begin 2007.”
U.S. Men's National Team Training Camp Roster
|Albright, Chris||D||6'1"||185||01/14/79||19/1||Philadelphia, Pa.||Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)|
|Beckerman, Kyle||M||5'10"||165||04/23/82||0/0||Crofton, Md.||Colorado Rapids (MLS)|
|Bornstein, Jonathan||D||5'9"||145||11/07/84||0/0||Los Alamitos, Calif.||Chivas USA (MLS)|
|Boswell, Bobby||D||6'2"||185||03/15/83||1/0||Tampa, Fla.||D.C. United (MLS)|
|Califf, Dan||D||6'1''||175||03/17/80||13/1||Orange, Calif.||Aalborg BK (Denmark)|
|Cannon, Joe||GK||6'2"||190||01/01/75||2/0||Los Altos Hills, Calif.||Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)|
|Clark, Ricardo||M||5'10"||150||05/10/83||1/0||Jonesboro, Ga.||Houston Dynamo (MLS)|
|Cooper, Kenny||F||6'3"||210||10/21/84||0/0||Dallas, Texas||FC Dallas (MLS)|
|Conrad, Jimmy||D||6'2"||185||02/12/77||17/0||Temple City, Calif.||Kansas City Wizards (MLS)|
|Donovan, Landon||F||5'8"||148||03/04/82||84/25||Redlands, Calif.||Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)|
|Dunivant, Todd||D||6'0''||174||12/26/80||2/0||Wheat Ridge, Colo.||New York Red Bulls (MLS)|
|Gros, Joshua||M||6'0"||165||06/25/82||0/0||Mechanicsburg, Pa.||D.C. United (MLS)|
|Jaqua, Nate||F||6'3"||180||10/28/81||1/0||Eugene, Ore.||Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)|
|Johnson, Eddie||F||6'0''||180||03/31/84||20/9||Palm Coast, Fla.||Kansas City Wizards (MLS)|
|Kljestan, Sacha||M||6'1"||150||09/09/85||0/0||Huntington Beach, Calif.||Chivas USA (MLS)|
|Mapp, Justin||M||5'10"||140||10/18/84||1/0||Brandon, Miss.||Chicago Fire (MLS)|
|Mastroeni, Pablo||M||5'10"||170||08/26/76||50/0||Phoenix, Ariz.||Colorado Rapids (MLS)|
|Mullan, Brian||M||5'8"||150||04/23/78||2/0||Mineola, N.Y.||Houston Dynamo (MLS)|
|Namoff, Bryan||D||5'10"||168||05/28/79||0/0||Rockford, Ill.||D.C. United (MLS)|
|Noonan, Pat||M||6'0"||170||08/02/80||13/1||Ballwin, Mo.||New England Rebolution (MLS)|
|Pearce, Heath||D||5'10"||175||08/13/84||5/0||Modesto, Calif.||FC Nordsjælland (Denmark)|
|Parkhurst, Michael||D||5'11"||155||01/24/84||0/0||Providence, R.I.||New England Revolution (MLS)|
|Perkins, Troy||GK||6'2"||190||07/29/81||0/0||Worthington, Ohio||D.C. United (MLS)|
|Pickens, Matt||GK||6'3''||200||04/05/82||0/0||Washington, Mo.||Chicago Fire (MLS)|
|Reis, Matt||GK||6'1"||196||03/28/75||1/0||Atlanta, Ga.||New England Revolution (MLS)|
|Robinson, Dasan||D||5'10"||160||06/06/84||0/0||Elyria, Ohio||Chicago Fire (MLS)|
|Robinson, Eddie||D||6'1"||195||06/19/78||0/0||Greensboro, N.C.||Houston Dynamo (MLS)|
|Rolfe, Chris||F||5'8"||145||01/17/83||4/0||Kettering, Ohio||Chicago Fire (MLS)|