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MNT Training Camp Blog from Carson, Calif. - Week Three

More Blog: Week One | Two | Three | Four

Wednesday, Jan. 31 @ 3:38 p.m. PT
Although our coaching staff feels it is important to be able to sometimes conduct private trainings (and for the record, we agree), we also know that closed sessions frustrates many of our fans who are hungry for information about what's happening inside the team. So we've decided to compromise. In addition to the highlights from today's scrimmage that will be posted later, here's a play-by-play, if you will, from the session against Hammarby. Enjoy.

Wednesday, Jan. 31 @ 12:47 p.m. PT
3-0 to the good guys in today's closed-door scrimmage with Swedish first division side Hammarby. You may recognize the name from last year, since the AEG-owned club comes to Carson annually for their winter break. Once again, head coach Bob Bradley gave 22 players a half each, with Justin Mapp (sore hamstring) and Dasan Robinson (illness) sitting out. Now to the action. Chris Rolfe opened the scoring the 41st minute, tapping home a tee-ball from Landon Donovan who had slalomed through two defenders before unselfishly laying off to the onrushing midfielder. Ricardo Clark was next on the scoring sheet, unleashing a dipping bomb from 35-plus that found thea left side netting. Just two minutes later, Eddie Robinson played a nice flat pass to Nate Jaqua, who was straddling the line of the Hammarby defense (looked a lot like the Pearce-Cooper connection from the Denmark game, minus the breakaway.) Jaqua did turn on his defender at the top right corner of the box, cutting inside before unleashing a bender to the upper left corner. Another shutout for the Cannon-Reis combination, and the U.S. walked off the field with a good result from a good exercise. "It was good to give the players a run against some different faces," said Bradley. "We got the opportunity to work on some of the ideas we talk about in training, and to continue to build fitness as we prepare for the Mexico game next week." all_access video will have exclusive highlights a bit later tonight (watch).

Tuesday, Jan. 30 @ 12:15 p.m. PT
It's a bit of a ghost town in the meal room since lunch became optional after the regeneration session. Our guess is that lunch for many of the guys will consist of popcorn and candy - the healthy kind, of course - at the movie theater across the street, especially Bobby Boswell. You can read about his movie going habits in "At the Movies w/Bobby Boswell". For now, they are free until dinner.

Tuesday, Jan. 30 @ 9:52 a.m. PT
Word got to camp early this morning that Gooch had signed the loan deal with Newcastle United. A rather big birdie told us he is heading to England tomorrow, and will be available for selection this weekend. At least he could see some friendly faces for his debut, as the Magpies travel to London to take on Fulham and the American trio of Bocanegra, McBride and Dempsey. With Gooch's move, there are now 13 Americans currently playing in the English Premier League, nine of whom have started at least one game. Of the remaining four, one just signed, another who arrived two weeks ago and is already getting minutes, and a third who has been injured all season long.) Bonus points if you can name all 13. Unfortunately, bonus points are all we have to offer ...

Monday, Jan. 29 @ 5:19 p.m. PT
The drive back from the gym session at the HDC was frickin' hilarious. Clearly some of the guys have been working on their Bob Bradley and Peter Nowak impressions, because they have them nailed already. In the interest of them ever speaking to us again, they shall remain anonymous. Falling into the category of 'we can make a game out of anything,' the back page of USA Today turned into 'Guess the temperature in this international city'. Who knew they listed the forecast for Suva? 

Monday, Jan. 29 @ 12:55 p.m PT
First of all, we admit to being easily impressed. With that disclaimer, you have got to see what Todd Dunivant can do with bottle caps. With some type of snap-flicking motion, he can launch a Gatorade cap up to 30 yards on a rope and put through 'uprights' that are a foot apart. He's also got a curve ball in the arsenal that he can land in your hands from either direction. On second thought, maybe we've just been in camp too long ...

Sunday, Jan. 28 @ 1 p.m. PT
Talk at the lunch tables focused on the news about the weekend results for the lads in Europe. So in case you haven't been following, here's some highlights:

  • Beas nabbed his second goal in a Man-City uniform, netting an insurance goal in their 3-1 win against Southampton in the fourth round of the FA Cup
  • Brian McBride continued his lightning scoring pace, tallying his sixth goal in 12 matches as Fulham powered past Stoke City, 3-0. Carlos Bocanegra went the distance, while Clint Dempsey got in a
    half hour's work
  • Bobby Convey put in another 90-minute performance as he works his way back into match fitness and a place in the Reading lineup, helping the Royals snatch a 3-2 win against Birmingham. Marcus Hahnemann was given the night off
  • Josh Wolff got his first start and first goal for 1860 Munich. Unfortunately the effort went for naught, his side dropping their second straight with a 2-1 loss to Kickers Offenbach
  • Steve Cherundolo served a one-match ban while Hannover got rocked 3-0 by league leaders Werder Bremen
  • As transfer rumors continue to swirl around Oguchi Onyewu, he and his club took care of business by whupping up on SC Charleroi, pouring in five goals while surrendering two while extending their
    unbeaten run in the Jupiler League to six matches

Sunday, Jan. 28 @ 12:25 p.m. PT
Several players are taking time out this afternoon to attend the memorial service for former World Cup and Olympic goalkeeper David Vanole, who passed away Jan. 17 at the age of 43. Matt Reis, in particular, was especially close with Vanole, who coached Reis at both UCLA and the New England Revolution.

Sunday, Jan. 28 @ 11:30 a.m. PT
A relatively short yet intense this morning. The team went from a 25-minute warmup straight into the 'gate game', which consists of 11 sets of sticks placed throughout a half-field grid. Goals are scored when teammates pass to each other through a gate. The game's unofficial MVP was assistant coach Peter Nowak, who recorded six goals and four assists on 12 total goals scored. A few points that he didn't want us to mention:

  1. He played as a neutral, so he could score for both teams
  2. He helped keep score (trust us, the gate game can create some serious controversy)
  3. The MVP selection committee had a single member, a certain former Polish international

Another game and a 12-minute run closed out training on a near-perfect SoCal morning. 'Bout time the weather went our way. Yes, we know, you don't feel bad for us, particularly when it's 24 fun-loving degrees in our home base of Chicago. Miss you guys!

Saturday, Jan. 27 @ 1:09 p.m. PT
Good exercise this morning with the scrimmage against UCLA. After a tough double session yesterday, the guys were given 45 minutes each against the Bruins. Landon Donovan, Sascha Kljestan and Jimmy Conrad scored first-half goals for the U.S., while a penalty conversion from Mike Zaher and free-kick finish from Kyle Nakazawa rounded out the scoring. Lots of the UCLA friends and family brought out lawn chairs, while the U-15 Girls National Team delayed their training session to take in the action. Thanks to UCLA head coach Jorge Salcedo and the entire group.

Saturday, Jan. 27 @ 8:18 a.m. PT 
Jimmy Conrad Has a Posse. So says the poster-card size sticker that Jimmy handed us at breakfast this morning (along with a package of dried blueberries - he's all about the brain food). Apparently before the World Cup, he received a box of 500 or so stickers from a fan. Along with a cool drawn illustration of him looking rather focused, it lists his height, weight and proclaims that he has a big following. We'll see if we can get an image scanned and posted for all of you that want to hop on the bandwagon.

Friday, Jan. 26 @ 6:45 p.m. PT
A very interesting exercise at training this afternoon. The team played 11 v. 11 with the goals pulled up to the six-yard box. The only twist was the entire game was two-touch, which is a bit unusual on a field that size and when going to goal. You really got to see how they players moved, passed, and thought at the clearly quicker pace, and you know what? It was fantastic. The ball was really pinging around, lots of good combinations, and some great scoring opportunities.

Friday, Jan. 26 @ 3:48 p.m. PT
We were wrapping up the content for the 2007 MNT Yearbook - coming soon to a near you - and one of the elements were Q & A's with the players in the book. A feature we called 'soccer-not soccer', which meant one question about the sport and the next about something else. Again, we don't like to spoil, but you really have to look forward to the answers to the question: "Which actor would you choose to play you in a movie about your life?" Just to give you a taste, google a picture of Ralph Hinkley. You'll know right away who gave that answer. 

Friday, Jan. 26 @ 11:59 a.m. PT
The first session of January Camp - Part Deux - is in the books. After a 25-minute warm-up, the group split in thirds with two playing a 4v4 plus 4 to big goals, with the last group playing 7v3. After two rotations, it was on to 11v11 from 18 to 18 with wing players in channels six yards from each touchline. They ended with a six-minute interval run of :30 on, :30 off.  ... How's that for some soccer short-hand? 

Thursday, Jan. 25 @ 7:48 p.m. PT
Nothing like steamed veggies, a chicken dish and pasta at dinner to remind you that you are back in training camp. Such was the scene at tonight's first gathering of the group, which was fully loaded minus the later arrival of Kenny Cooper. A lot of handshakes and 'what did you do with you days off?' conversations, and then it was back to usual evening routine of treatments, watching t.v, free wireless internet in the lobby and a couple impromptu jam sessions on the guitar. You know by now who those guys are. Everyone is in good spirits and ready to get back to business, which they will starting tomorrow ...

Saturday, Jan. 20 @ 1 p.m. PT -- Today's lineup: 4-4-2
In goal Matt Reis ... the back line from left to right: Jonathan Bornstein, captain Jimmy Conrad, Bobby Boswell, Chris Albright ... the midfielders from left to right are Chris Rolfe, Ricardo Clark, Pablo Mastroeni and Landon Donovan, with Clark and Mastroeni tucked inside and behind the attacking midfielders ... The forwards are Nate Jaqua and Eddie Johnson ... Denmark has just submitted their lineup.

Saturday, Jan. 20 @ 12:42 p.m. PT
The U.S. just rolled into The Home Depot Center and down the tunnel to the locker room. Not a lot of guys were wearing headphones, and the mood was a pretty calm on the bus. The ESPN cameras were waiting to shoot Bob Bradley coming off the bus. A few guys took a walk around the field, and now the team is in the locker room getting ready for warmups - coaches marking up the chalkboard and players lacing up the boots to take the field at 1:17 p.m. 

Friday, Jan. 19 @ 9:38 a.m. PT
Be sure to check back on later today when Bradley is expected to announce the 18-man game day roster.

Friday, Jan. 19 @ 9:19 a.m. PT
Late breakfast this morning since training isn't until 2 p.m. at The Home Depot Center. Day-before-game training sessions always have a different feel to them. The rhythm of the day often changes because we typically train at the same time as the match will be so the players can get a feel for what the conditions will be like - field, lighting, temperature, etc.  Essentially all the heavy lifting has been done, so the one hour sessions are as much about getting comfortable as they are getting work in. The practice is closed until the last 15 minutes for press, so it's like auditioning in an empty theater.  Most of the media that will be attending has arrived, so it is usually the busiest day for interviews until post-game. The broadcast crew is on site setting cameras, running cables, etc., while the announcers are getting private time with the head coach and players. If it hadn't already felt like it, this session really puts it in your mind that it's game time. Speaking of which, late for breakfast!

Thursday, Jan. 18 @ 11:59 p.m. PT
Sorry for the delay in posting for your committed blog readers; it's been a quite a hectic day for the ussoccer.commers. (Is that a word?) Here's the Thursday recap: One last 11 v. 11 exercise to keep putting the finishing touches on the group. No, you won't be getting sneak-peak here at a possible first XI. That'll have to wait for 2 p.m. PT on Saturday. If you check out Friday's 'USA Today', you might pick up a nugget or two, but you didn't hear that from us... The boys cleaned themselves up for a photo session in and around lunch, which were essentially headshots for 2007. Plenty of hamming it up for the camera, as you can imagine, particularly since we had them all wearing a size too small for the shoot - something to do with the sweatshirts bunching up and making for bad photos. Perhaps there are one or two 'extra' shots we can post. We'll see what we get back from our official photographer John Todd ( Quick team meeting, then rushed Bob off to a studio in L.A. for his appearance on ESPNews 'The Hot List' where he did a great job along with host Steve Bunin. Anybody else have Mexico on the back of their mind? Team dinner and film session in the early evening, and then it was quiet time for the players as they really start to get focused with less than 48 hours to kickoff.

More Blog: Week One | TwoThreeFour