%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%U.S. vs. ITALY LIVE TODAY AT 12 p.m ET: Watching television in Toulon, and one can't help but come across a commercial for the Toulon Festival. Eurosport will be broadcasting the game throughout the continent, and the matches will be broadcast in 18 different languages. The tournament, regarded as the top annual youth tournament in the world, is being shown live in the United States on Fox Sports World and Fox Sports World Espanol. All three of the USA's first round matches will be shown live in the United States. The U.S. television schedule is as follows for the first round, but please visit www.foxsportsworld.com for a full television tournament schedule.
- May 24: U.S. vs. Italy - 12:00 p.m. ET (FSW & FSWE)
- May 26: U.S. vs. Colombia - 10:00 a.m. ET (FSW & FSWE)
- May 28: U.S. vs. Netherlands - 1:00 p.m. ET (FSW & FSWE)
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%BAYERN MUNICH vs. VALENCIA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL: Following Wednesday night's dinner, the U.S. staff ventured into a sports café in the mall next to the team hotel to take in the Champions League final between Valencia and Bayern Munich. Wolfgang Suhnholz watched the game with a vested interest in the outcome, as he spent some of most productive time on the soccer field wearing Bayern's colors. Suhnholz joined Munich in 1971, and spent three years there, winning two league titles. Suhnholz played with German legends Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller and Paul Breitner while at Munich. Suhnholz was also called into the German National Team during his time at Munich, before bad luck struck with a broken leg that temporarily set back his brilliant career. Needless to say, Suhnholz walked home happy after Bayern won on penalty kicks Wednesday night.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%SEEING THE STADE: Wolfgang Suhnholz and his coaching staff got their first opportunity to see the Stade Mayol Wednesday afternoon, spending five minutes walking on the turf and gazing at the stadium. The wide field is surrounded by seating on all four sides, and two covered grandstands frame the sidelines. The team will see the interior of the stadium for the first time Thursday morning, before Thursday evening's match.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%HOTEL FOES: The U.S. is staying at the Hotel Mercure, yards away from the Stade Mayol. Colombia and Japan have also moved in to the Mercure, and it is rare to walk in the lobby without seeing a member of at least one of the teams. The U.S. will face the two-time defending champion Colombia on May 26, in both team's second match. Japan will play in Group B of the tournament, where they will face Portugal, Poland and France in group play matches.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%U.S. UNDER-20S IN MLS ACTION: The U.S. team in Toulon is missing four of its key players, who stayed in the U.S. to play with their MLS teams. Two of those players will be in action Wednesday night, as Bobby Convey and D.C. United take on Bayer Leverkusen, and Landon Donovan and his San Jose Earthquakes travel to Dallas to play the Burn. D.C. takes on the German Bundesliga power in an international friendly at 8:00 p.m. ET at RFK Stadium, and the Earthquakes kick off against the Burn at 8:30 p.m. ET at the Cotton Bowl.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%WEDNESDAY TRAINING: After two solid training sessions Tuesday, Wolfgang Suhnholz ran the team through a morning practice on Wednesday before giving them the afternoon off. After the team's usual warm-up and stretches led by captain Nelson Akwari, the U.S. team split into two teams and played 8 v 8 on a small field. With the offenses clicking, goalkeepers D.J. Countess and Doug Warren were tested often. The training session ended with the players splitting up into two-man teams for a variation of long distance soccer-volleyball. No word on which team was the official winner, and rumors are spreading throughout the team that the competition will continue later this week.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%THURSDAY PLAN: Suhnholz will give his players an easy day Thursday, before opening the tournament against Italy at 6:00 p.m. local time. The team will go for a walk and stretch Thursday morning, and then will have the remainder of the day to prepare for the tournament opener. The U.S. will only have to open the front door of the hotel and they will nearly already be in the Stade Mayol. The Stade Mayol is the venue where the semifinals and final take place, and the U.S. is hoping they will get to make a return to the Stade on May 31 and again on June 2.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%OPENING AGAINST THE ITALIANS: Italy is coached by Francesco Rocca, who has experienced a mixed bag of results from the Italian side in the past two years. Italy fell to European powers Germany and the Czech Republic, two teams that qualified for Argentina '01, and topped rivals Portugal. The team in Toulon is expected to be led by Brighi (Juventus), Vicari (Reggina), Cardinale (Salernitana), Capezzuto (Salernitana), Maggio (Vicenza) and Stendardo (Sampdoria). Italy took third in the 2000 Toulon Festival, topping the Ivory Coast in the third place match. Prior to 2000, Italy had not played in the festival since 1987, when they finished last among eight teams.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%STAT OF THE DAY: On Saturday, the U.S. will face Colombia, the two-time defending champions. As the only team from South America in this year's festival, Colombia will not only be playing for its country pride, but they will also be playing for their continent's pride and recent record. After 17 of the first 22 Toulon Festivals were won by European teams, five of the last six tournaments have been won by South American squads.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"We did it! Way to go, Oliver-baby! It feels sooo good! It feels sooo good!"