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U.S. Under-23 MNT Arrives in Mexico, Begins Training

U.S. IS FIRST OF EIGHT CONCACAF TEAMS TO ARRIVE IN GUADALAJARA: The majority of the U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team contingent arrived in Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city behind Mexico City, on Thursday night (Jan. 22) after meeting and connecting in Houston. Forward Edson Buddle (Columbus Crew) arrived late Thursday evening, while defender Zak Whitbread (Liverpool -- England) and forward Landon Donovan (San Jose Earthquakes) were the last of the 22 players to arrive, coming in Friday night.  U.S. U-23 MNT head coach Glenn Myernick will pare the roster to 20 players by the end of the week in advance of CONCACAF's Jan. 31 deadline. The full 22-player roster is below:
GOALKEEPERS (2): D.J. Countess, Doug Warren; DEFENDERS (8): Nat Borchers, Jose Luis Burciaga, Ricky Lewis, Chad Marshall, Logan Pause, David Stokes, Zak Whitbread, Chris Wingert; MIDFIELDERS (7): DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Brian Carroll, Bobby Convey, Brad Davis, Eddie Gaven, Kyle Martino; FORWARDS (5): Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan, Alecko Eskandarian, Ed Johnson, David Testo.

DOUBLE, DOUBLE...: As they did at their two-week camp in Carson, the U-23s began camp with a double dose of two-a-day training sessions. After spending their first session at a private field that is maintained by  the owner of Mexican club Tecos, the team switched to using a pair of fields that are right next to Estadio 3 de Marzo, the site of all three Group A matches. As the first team in town, the U.S. U-23s are attracting a large number of media, who have tracked down the team at both training sites. With Donovan not yet in camp on Friday, defender Jose Luis Burciaga (Kansas City Wizards) was forced into the spotlight to field questions from a group of a dozen reporters at the team's first training session as the only player on the team who can speak Spanish fluently. Also attending the first U.S. practice was a group of players, coaches and staff from the Under-15 Boys National Team, who had been training outside of the city and broke camp today. The U-15's favorite player was DaMarcus Beasley, whose new white Nike's were a big hit with the kids. Donovan took over interview duty on
Saturday, brushing off his knowledge of the language with a smaller group of "periodistas."

...AND A WELL-DESERVED DAY OFF: After looking sharp in all four training sessions over the first two days, Myernick rewarded the team with all of Sunday off, allowing players time to visit a nearby pool (the pool at the Fiesta Americana is currently being remodeled), shop at a big mall down the road from the hotel, catch up on Mexican soccer, and/or continue exchanging poker chips via an onrunning game of "Texas Hold 'em." Goalkeeper D.J. Countess and midfielder Brad Davis (both of the Dallas Burn) have been the two biggest competitors so far, repeatedly squaring off in the "best-hand-out-of-seven-cards" version of poker recently popularized on ESPN2's "World Series of Poker" tour and Bravo's "Celebrity Poker." The jury is still out on whether their success is due to the fact that they both currently reside in the state of Texas. Other players navigated through some poor television offerings to discover "The Graduate" on A&E. Many had never seen the movie before and were
suprised to find out that the Simon & Garfunkel song "Mrs. Robinson" is in fact about Anne Bancroft's character in the movie. To cap the day off, the team is being treated to a taste of American food with Domino's Pizza being delivered for a late dinner.

AIRLINE GOES PETE TOWNSHEND ON MARTINO'S ACOUSTIC: In a tragedy that robbed the entire 31-person U.S. contingent of several hours of sloppy strumming and flat vocals, midfielder Kyle Martino's acoustic guitar was rendered useless during the team's flight from Houston to Guadalajara. Martino had just received the $800 classic wooden Tacoma from his parents for Christmas and brought it along as a carry-on to jam with a staff member who also brough his axe to get through the down time of the three-week trip. Unfortunately, despite being tucked away snugly in a hard shell case, either the turbulence from the flight on the "puddle jumper" or baggage mishandling caused the neck to snap from the base of the instrument. Martino immediately filed a claim with the airline and is awaiting word on some kind of monetary compensation for his--and the team's--huge loss. "I think someone took it out of the case and just snapped it," said the disgruntled Columbus Crew midfielder. "Someone had to have opened the case, because my picks were out of the little compartment and strewn everywhere. This sucks." In the meantime, Martino has had to make due with a staffer's guitar of lesser quality, which Martino was overheard comparing to a "Fisher-Price" model.

"REVANCHA EN LA CANCHA," PART TWO? THAT'S NEWS TO US: Unbeknownst to the team, one of the bigger story angles in the papers and on the radio since the U.S. U-23's arrival has dealt with revenge that has to do with another sport. Apparently, the USA Soccer team has come down to Guadalajara with one mission: to keep Mexico from qualifying for Athens in order to make up for the shocking loss that they handed to USA Baseball several months ago. This news was quite a surprise to the players, who figured Mexico would be the ones with revenge on their mind after last year's volatile 3-1 loss to the U.S. U-23s on May 14 in Guadalajara in the same stadium that Group A teams will play their first round matches. The U.S. can only hope that the fans of Guadalajara have forgotten the image of one of their defenders laying in the goal with his foot caught in the net after an 85-yard fluke goal by forward David Testo (Richmond Kickers -- A-League) in the 92nd minute. In the original match dubbed "Revancha en la Cancha," Mexico was supposedly out for blood in their first match with the full Men's National Team since the 2-0 loss at the 2002 World Cup, but the mix of fans in sold-out Reliant Stadium had to settle for a well-mannered 0-0 scoreless draw on May 8 in Houston.

TIME CHANGE FOR FEB. 7 MATCHES: The U-23s have learned that the kickoff time of their third and final Group A match on Saturday, February 7 versus Honduras has been changed from 8 p.m. to 1 p.m. (local/CT). Panama and Canada will square off at 11 a.m. in the first match of the day at Estadio 3 de Marzo. The U.S. team's first two matches -- Tuesday, Feb. 3 vs. Panama and Thursday, Feb. 5 vs. Canada -- will still be played at 8 p.m. Fans can follow all three matches live via's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

D.C., NOT COLUMBUS, LEADS THE WAY WITH FIVE PLAYERS IN CURRENT CAMP: Although incorrectly reported in the U-23 roster release on Jan. 22 that the Columbus Crew lead the roster with five players, it's actually D.C. United who provides almost a quarter of the total players with goalkeeper Doug Warren, defender David Stokes, midfielders Brian Carroll and Bobby Convey, and forward Alecko Eskandarian. The Crew have midfielder Kyle Martino, forward Edson Buddle and recently drafted defenders Chad Marshall and Chris Wingert. The Crew are interested in forward David Testo as a possible Discovery Player, but no contract has been signed nor a loan been arranged with his A-League club.

U-23s FEATURED PROMINENTLY IN CURRENT ISSUE OF "CENTER CIRCLE": The U.S. Under-23s are the subject of over half of the current issue of "Center Circle," U.S. Soccer's online magazine, including a "Where Are They Now?" kind of piece about the 2000 Olympic Qualifying team, a Q&A with forward Conor Casey, a first-hand account of his rookie season in the A-League by Testo and some trivia on U-23 history. To read the full issue or any of these individual pieces, click on the link below: /articles/centerCircle/index.jsp

"When in Mexico, do as the Mexicans do."
        --Defender Nat Borchers (Colorado Rapids), on shaving his beard and leaving long side burns and a stylishly thin moustache.