U.S. Under-20s Men's National Team Arrives in Port of Spain, Trinidad
%=macroPart|arialBlue2=%U.S. TEAM ARRIVES IN PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD: The USA's travel day (Wednesday) started out less than perfect, but eventually ended the following morning (Thursday) with the team safely in their hotel. The bus that was taking the team from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami was delayed five minutes as the trainers sweated out the last-minute delivery of a massage table. With the table placed in the bus, the charter took off on the 50-minute drive to Miami International Airport. The team unloaded the bus and then went through the laborious process of checking in all of the personal bags and the team gear. Shortly after arriving at the gate, the team learned that their plane was late on its way to Miami and would be delayed taking off out of Miami. When the plane finally arrived, the U.S. boarded and quickly took over the back third of the jet. Seats were quickly reshuffled as the team grouped into foursomes to play hearts. The card game gained some competitive flair when it was decided that the various foursomes would play together and include promotion and relegation within the groups. The three-and a-half hours on the plane passed quickly as Robert DeNiro's "Meet the Parents" was shown on the flight and was a hit among the players. The U.S. finally landed in Trinidad at 11:30 p.m. local time, and after gathering all of the personal bags and team gear, loaded up two buses and took a 45-minute ride to the Cascadia Hotel. Fifteen minutes into the ride, one of the team buses pulled to the side of the road. No one understood why until the doors opened and onto the bus stepped the team doctor, Dr. Mel Hayashi. It seems that "Doc" had stepped in to use the bathroom and the buses took off without him. Hayashi stopped the first car he saw and asked the driver to "Follow those buses!" When he boarded the bus, Doc was greeted with a round of applause and just a few chiding remarks from the staff.
%=macroPart|arialBlue2=%MEMORIES OF FT. LAUDERDALE: Although the team spent an hour and a half longer in Florida than was expected, the team's eight days in Florida were very productive. The team played three matches in five days, posting two wins and one loss. The U.S. went through a light training session on Wednesday, playing soccer tennis and stretching the legs before departing for Trinidad. The buses were loaded and after a last-minute delivery by UPS, the team bus was ready to roll.
%=macroPart|arialBlue2=%BRAVING THE HEAT: The U.S. braved the heat for their first training session in Trinidad on Thursday afternoon. The training consisted of running and short passing drills before the team broke up into offense v. defense for a small-sided match. The offense broke out to an early 5-0 lead with five quick, early goals, pouring ball after ball past a helpless Doug Warren. After some quick words of encouragement, the defense came out much stronger and jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the rematch. The offense stormed back to tie the match at 3-3. Even a tremendous strike from defebder Oguchi Onyewu was not enough and the offense won the rematch.
%=macroPart|arialBlue2=%STAYIN' AT THE TOP OF TRINIDAD: When the U.S. caravan finally pulled into the Cascadia Hotel late Wednesday night, one thing became clear: They were sitting on a mountain well above the city of Port of Spain. The Hotel is one of the newest in the region and also houses a large water slide that no players have tried yet. The players did dip into the pool Thursday for a training session in the water.
%=macroPart|arialBlue2=%THE FACTS. JUST THE FACTS: Trinidad lies at the southern part of the Caribbean archipelago, just seven miles from Venezuela. Port of Spain and Tunapuna are in the Northwest corner of the island. The population of Trinidad & Tobago is 1.3 million, with 500,000 residing in Trinidad. T&T gained independence from Britain in 1962, became a republic in 1976 and remains a member of the British Commonwealth.
%=macroPart|arialBlue2=%DR. JOAO HAVELANGE CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE: The coaching staff woke up Thursday morning and took a 40-minute trip into Tunapuna to inspect the Dr. Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence, the venue where the CONCACAF youth tournament is being held. The centre had just been finished when the U.S. played there in 1998, and head coach Wolfgang Suhnholz, who was an assistant on the team in 1998, seemed to be pleasantly surprised by some of the improvements made in the last three years. What used to be the training field has become a parking lot. The stadium portion of the center was receiving final touches Thursday as new coats of paint were being applied and final touch-ups were being put to the seating area. Three sides of the filed are surrounded by bleachers, while one side has covered seating, including a three-tiered section in one corner. As the U.S. staff arrived, Trinidad & Tobago's full Men's National Team was finishing up training. The four U.S. staffers were greeted by T&T coach Ian Porterfield, whose team is preparing for their next World Cup qualifier on March 28. The T&T full team fell to Jamaica 1-0 in Jamaica on the first matchday of CONCACAF final round qualifying.
%=macroPart|arialBlue2=%TRAFFIC IN TRINIDAD? When one thinks of Trinidad, the picture that likely pops up is that of barren, white beaches, or maybe Dwight Yorke. But definitely not traffic. As four members of the U.S. staff found out Thursday morning, there is also a heap of traffic on the island. While venturing back from the Centre of Excellence, the staff and their driver were one of more than 30 cars sitting at one stop light for more than six minutes before it changed to green.
%=macroPart|arialBlue2=%EATING WITH THE ENEMY: The U.S. and Costa Rica will face each other on the final match day, March 22, at 5:00 p.m. Until they meet then, the two teams meet every day at the Cascadia Hotel, where they are both staying. The teams shared the dining room for dinner tonight, with the noticeably smaller Costa Rica team eyeing the U.S. as the North American squad entered the room for dinner.
%=macroPart|arialBlue2=%SEEN AND HEARD:
"I should just do that everytime."