Confederations Cup Comments From Bruce Arena; One-on-One with U.S. MNT Strength and Conditioning Coach Pierre Barrieu
THREE DAYS AWAY: The USA's first match against Turkey on June 19 (7 p.m. local, 1 p.m. ET) will be broadcast via same-day delay on Galavision beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Fans can follow the match live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
FIRST LOOK: The U.S. MNT will get their first look at the Stade Gerland on Tuesday, site of the team’s second and third games against Brazil (June 21) and Cameroon (June 23), when they conduct a training session on the stadium field. FIFA rules usually allow each team the opportunity to train in the stadium the day before the game, but the Group A matchup between Colombia and New Zealand will be played at the downtown stadium on Wednesday evening, rendering the field unavailable for both the U.S. and Brazil before their Thursday match-up.
HEAR TAYLOR TWELLMAN:MNT forward Taylor Twellman talked with ussoccer.com about his first few days here in Lyon, France and his outlook on the Confederatons Cup. To hear the Q&A, go to the Sights and Sounds section of www.ussoccer.com. And while you're there check out photos of the MNT training in France.
COMMENTS FROM BRUCE ARENA:
On his impressions of Turkey, the USA's first opponent in the Confederations Cup.
Arena: My impressions of Turkey are mostly from the last World Cup. Obviously, finishing third in the World Cup speaks for itself. They had a center back and goalkeeper on the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team, and both are part of the Confederations Cup team, so we know they have some quality right down the center of the field. Their whole back four and their goalkeeper are here. At the attacking end, Basturk of Bayer Leverkusen is a very good player. The other combinations we aren’t quite aware of at this point. We know there are two players on their roster, Tayfun and Nihat, that are playing with Real Sociedad, so there is a possibility they won’t be available on Thursday. We don’t quite have a grip on their top six field players, with the exception of Basturk.
On how the team has developed since training camp started on June 1.
It’s been less than a perfect operation because of the fact that we needed to send half of our team back last weekend, but that’s fine. If this was before the World Cup we obviously would not have been doing that, but it only made sense to do it. The combinations we are going to see and make observations and judgements about are the ones that end up on the field over the next three games. We have no real game plan at this point on how we’re going to break our team up to be able to play three games in five days. We’ll deal with it one game at a time.
On the strengths of the squads in the Confederations Cup.
This is a tournament that involves all the champions of all their confederations around the world, so the competition is – in theory – very good. It’s teams that I think will take pride in their performance in this competition. I think it will be great. It will be a great test for us in an environment that is not quite as tense as World Cup qualifying or the World Cup. You can’t argue the fact that there are some teams here with some pretty good pedigrees. Anytime you have the opportunity to play against Turkey, Brazil and Cameroon, I think you have to take advantage of that.
On how he will use this tournament to evaluate players.
There’s not one thing you look at. Obviously, every player is a little different in terms of what they have to offer. You just look at it in the big picture. The way I view it at this point is: which players are going to put us in position to qualify for the next World Cup and then after that which players are going to put us in position to be successful at the next World Cup.
ONE-ON-ONE WITH PIERRE BARRIEU:
Pierre Barrieu is the U.S. MNT strength and conditioning coach, and the team's unofficial translator for the Confederations Cup. Joining the technical staff in January of last year, he led the fitness preparations for the 2002 World Cup and the 2002 Gold Cup. Board certified and holding a Master' Degree in Sports Science from the University of Nancy in France, he was a professional team handball player and a member of the French National Team. Originally from Thionville, France, he lives in Charlottesville, Va., where he served as the strength and conditioning coach for the University of Virginia men's soccer team prior to joining the U.S. staff. ussoccer.com talked to Barrieu about the unique elements of preparing a team for this type of tournament, and what it is like returning to his homeland as a member of the U.S. team.
ussoccer.com: How has the team adjusted to the difficulties of travel, time change, etc.
Pierre Barrieu: It was tough to start with. By now, we are pretty well adjusted and looking forward to the first game. We are now in the resting phase to make sure we are sharp by the time kickoff comes Thursday night.
ussoccer.com: Were you expecting the conditions to be so hot and humid? How has that affected the preparation plans in terms of fitness?
PB: We didn't expect it at all. This weather is highly unusual for Lyon. We are right in the middle of the heat wave. The first thing I did when we arrived was check the forecast and we found out the heat was meant to last until Thursday. In terms of adjusting the volume of running in practice, we did pretty much what was originally planned, knowing that these conditions might exist for our first game.
ussoccer.com: How would you gauge the level of fitness of the team heading into the tournament?
PB: I think we are where we're supposed to be. It's certainly a different approach than the World Cup. Last year, we had had five weeks and could really plan to make sure the players peaked at the right time. For the Confederations Cup, you have players from MLS and Europe who are in different stages of their seasons, fitness, etc., so you have to adjust. Overall, the fitness level is good.
ussoccer.com: What adjustments do you have to make in training knowing that we have to play three games in five days?
PB: There is one physiological factor that helps you recover as quickly as possible, and that's called aerobic power. It measures how much oxygen you are able to breathe. Basically, it's the size of your 'oxygen tank,' and we are working on making the size of their tanks bigger. There's only one way to increase your aerobic power, and that is to sustain runs at a good pace for a medium to long duration. My main concern is to make sure we have 23 guys able to be really intense for 90 minutes.
ussoccer.com: How is it for your personally returning to your native country as a member of the U.S. organization?
PB: It's pretty special. If there was anywhere in the world for I would want this tournament to be, it's France. I haven't gotten too much grief from my French friends, but I'm expecting it. I'm hoping that if we make it to the next round, we get to play France. If we could beat them, that would be even better.