NORWAY NEXT: The U.S. Men's National Team will get their final preparation session in on Saturday afternoon at The Home Depot Center with slightly less than 24 hours remaining before they host Norway on the same field in Carson, Calif. Kickoff for the USA's second match of 2006 is set for Sunday at 2 p.m. PT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Telemundo. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker. Check back tomorrow to see who U.S. boss Bruce Arena will put out against the Norwegians when the USA's Starting XI will be posted one hour before kickoff, exclusively at ussoccer.com
INJURY UPDATE: Eddie Johnson is still listed as day-to-day after suffering a right calf contusion on Jan. 22 against Canada. Steve Ralston has begun participating in exercises with the team while nursing a right quadriceps strain. Chris Rolfe has been bed-ridden for the last two days while experiencing flu-like symptoms.
PODCAST SCOUTING REPORT - MYERNICK STYLE: U.S. Assistant Coach Glenn "Mooch" Myernick pulls out his clipboard and gives U.S. Soccer fans a chalk-talk on Norway, explaining what he learned from Norway's match against Mexico last Wednesday and their striking similarities to Canada. He also takes a look back at the USA's performance last weekend, and after three-plus weeks of training camp, lays out where the U.S. team is, and more importantly, where it needs to go. Get the U.S. scouting report in this exclusive audio podcast, only at ussoccer.com.
ALL_ACCESS VIDEO OVERLOAD: Haven't had a chance to check ussoccer.com's new look and improved video capacity? We've got a load of new videos to get you started: Here's the breakdown:
Martino Jam Session: Kyle Martino displayed a different set of skills on his balcony in Manhattan Beach, this time with his hands. The former Olympic team starter broke out his guitar for the first-ever MNT Jam Session, talking about his childhood musical influences, the musicians he admires now, and his ideas for a new MNT band. He plays the first, hardest, and best song he's got in the repertoire, and adds a few surprises.
EJ On The Mend: Eddie Johnson continues to make good progress after being knocked out of the Canada game with a bruised right calf. Get an inside look at a treatment session with Eddie and U.S. trainer Jim Hashimoto, hear how treatment is as much art as science, and discover the importance of trust between player and trainer.
Meet Dave O'Brien: ESPN welcomes a new face to their soccer coverage as versatile play-by-play man Dave O'Brien joins the broadcast crew alongside Marcelo Balboa. O'Brien came to ESPN in 2002 after eight years calling games for the Florida Marlins, and has focused on Major League Baseball and college basketball. Hear Dave talk about where he developed his love for the game, why he jumped at the chance to work on the World Cup, and the advice he got from legendary broadcaster Dick Enberg.
HERE COMES THE NIKE VAPOR: Gear hounds live for these moments - especially in a World Cup year. It's the time when every player looks to see the newest, coolest, and best quality boots, balls and equipment on the market. And Nike certainly doesn't disappoint. In a session on Saturday afternoon with Landon Donovan and Eddie Johnson at the National Training Center, Nike unveiled the new Mercurial Vapor ball and Mercurial Vapor III boot, which are, quite simply, awesome. Some quick facts about the Mercurial Vapor ball, which is white and gold and matches the color pattern of the Vapor III:
• Fastest off the foot - the new high tension Vapor Core launches the ball off the foot with more speed, getting the ball from point A to point B faster than any other ball
• Carries furthest - the ball consistently carries further than any other ball when kicked with the same amount of force
• Consistent control - the ball is more accurate in a straight line when kicked. Therefore, the Mercurial Vapor more consistently flies to the intended target
• Enhanced control - best combination of drag & lift to allow players to shape shots (e.g., curving the ball around the wall)
GHANA SLIDES PAST SENEGAL 1-0 TO STAY ALIVE IN AFRICAN NATION'S CUP: A 13th minute goal by Matthew Amoah proved the decider as Ghana defeated Senegal 1-0 in game two of Group D play in the 2006 African Nation's Cup in Egypt. With the win, the Black Stars now have three points from two matches and sit in third place based on goal differential. Nigeria leads the group with six points, followed by Senegal with three points and a +1 goal differential. Ghana will face already-eliminated Zimbabwe in their final match on Jan. 31 at Ismailia Stadium.
NORWAY'S NEAR MISS: Norway narrowly missed on qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, falling 2-0 in aggregate scoring to the Czech Republic in a playoff. The Norwegians finished second in UEFA Group 5 behind Italy, and were drawn to play the Czechs in a two-leg series. The Czechs took home consecutive 1-0 wins, first on Nov. 12 in Oslo and then four days later in Prague.
'HACK' HANGING OUT: U.S. Under-17 head coach John Hackworth has spent the last week in Carson at the invitation of Bruce Arena, observing training sessions and meeting with the coaching staff. Hackworth has recently started with his new class of talent as the eighth year of Full-Time Residency kicked off at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. He’s also had a chance to catch up with five of the Bradenton alumni in MNT camp: Freddy Adu, Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, Heath Pearce, and Santino Quaranta. A few other interested parties have dropped by the sessions, including German manager Jurgen Klinsmann and former French international defender Frank Leboeuf, who was a member of the 1998 FIFA World Cup championship side.
OFF THE MARKET: Female fans of the national team will be saddened to discover that Landon Donovan is now officially off the market. While we can't report details, the two-time U.S. Soccer Player of the Year became engaged to actress and long-time girlfriend Bianca Kajlich last month in Manhattan Beach. The two are planning to tie the knot sometime next year. Everyone at U.S. Soccer congratulates the happy couple.
LANDON AND FREDDY HELP 'MAKE A WISH' COME TRUE: This weekend's game will be particularly special for one young fan. Tiffany Cedeno, 17, from Virginia will get a chance to meet her favorite soccer players, Landon Donovan and Freddy Adu, thanks to the "Make-A-Wish" Foundation. Tiffany has been diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma. She'll meet Landon and Freddy at the team's training session on Saturday afternoon, and will be a guest of the U.S. Soccer Federation at the match on Sunday.
HALL OF FAME GIVES MEDALS BACK TO NORWAY: Seven rare Norwegian soccer medals are heading home to their countrymen after the National Soccer Hall of Fame presents them to the Norwegian Football Association at Sunday’s game. The medals, brought to the U.S. by Christopher Selland who immigrated in 1925, are from Stavanger, Norway, and were awarded to Mr. Selland between 1918–1927. Mr. Selland’s soccer career continued in the U.S. where he played for the Norwegian Turn Society in the New York area and won several championships. All 21 of Mr. Selland’s medals, mostly from the 1920s, were donated to the National Soccer Archive in Oneonta, N.Y., in 1996 by Selland’s niece Carol Eriksson. Will Lund, President/CEO of the Hall, and U.S. Soccer President Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia will make the presentation to Mr. Sondre Kaafjord, President of the Norwegian FA.
• Only 18 players will dress for the game Sunday, including two goalkeepers. The maximum number of substitutions will be six
• The U.S. has only played Norway four times in a series dating back to 1916, with an overall record of 1-2-1. The teams last met Jan. 15, 1994, in Tempe, Ariz., where the U.S. posted a 2-1 victory on the strength of goals by Cobi Jones and Sunday's color analyst, Marcelo Balboa
• No players on the current roster had even one cap at the time of that meeting
• This match marks only the second appearance for the U.S. Men’s National Team at The Home Depot Center. The team opened their 2004 campaign here with a 1-1 draw against Denmark on Jan. 18, Landon Donovan hitting home from the penalty spot to account for the U.S. goal
• Landon Donovan and Eddie Pope are the leading capwinners on the roster (74). Pope served as team captain last week in the 0-0 draw against Canada
• A total of 18 players in the U.S. group have played ten games or fewer with the senior team, and five are looking for the debut appearance
• Matt Reis and Freddy Adu added their name to the capped list against Canada, with Reis becoming the eighth goalkeeper in U.S. history to record a shutout in his inaugural start for the senior team. Adu became the youngest player in U.S. history (16 years, 234 days) to get a cap when he entered in the 81st minute to replace Eddie Johnson
• Two players on the roster got new addresses in MLS, with Kansas City sending veteran midfielder Chris Klein to Real Salt Lake for a portion of an allocation and goalkeeper Zach Wells heading to Houston 1836 from the MetroStars
• All but one of the 28 are plying their trade in MLS, with young defender Heath Pearce - who made his debut against Scotland on Nov. 12, 2005 - the lone European representative
• In addition to having seven players from MLS Cup finalists Los Angeles Galaxy and the New England Revolution, the roster includes 2005 MLS MVP Taylor Twellman. The 25-year old also claimed two other prestigious awards in a historic season: the Golden Boot for leading the League with 17 goals scored during the regular season and the Most Valuable Player of the 2005 MLS All-Star Game
• The roster also boasts the 2005 MLS Defender of the Year in Jimmy Conrad, a finalist for Rookie of the Year in Chris Rolfe, and the MLS Humanitarian of the Year in Chris Klein
• Three players on the roster made the 2005 MLS Best XI – Conrad, Twellman and Clint Dempsey
On the field for the USA
January 22, 2006 – Torero Stadium, San Diego, California – International Friendly
USA: 24-Matt Reis; 6-Heath Pearce, 12-Jimmy Conrad, 23-Eddie Pope (capt.), 2-Frankie Hejduk (17-Chris Klein, 46); 14-Ben Olsen (5-Kerry Zavagnin, 46), 10-Landon Donovan, 8-Clint Dempsey; 16-Josh Wolff (7-Chris Rolfe, 73), 11-Brian Ching, 20-Taylor Twellman (9-Eddie Johnson, 56 ; 15-Freddy Adu, 81)
Subs not used: 22-Kevin Hartman; 3-Todd Dunivant
CAN: 1-Greg Sutton, 2-Adam Braz, 3-Ante Jazic, 4-Gabriel Gervais, 5-Marco Reda, 8-Adrian Serioux (17-Stephen Ademolu, 84); 5-Marco Reda, 10-Sandro Grande (7-Will Johnson, 70), 11-Patrick Bernier, 13-Atiba Hutchinson; 9-Rob Friend, 14-Dwayne De Rosario (capt.)
Subs not used: 6-Patrick Leduc, 12-Nevio Pizzolitto, 15-Chris Pozniak, 16-Adrian Hainault, 22-Kevin Stamatopoulos
On the field for Norway
January 25, 2006 - Monster Park, San Francisco, California – International Friendly
Mexico 2 Fransisco Fonseca 37, Luis Perez 87
Norway 1 Petter Vaagan 9
MEX: Jose de Jesús Corona – Duilio Davino (78: Juan Pablo Rodriguez), Oscar Rojas (75: Mario Méndez), Antonio Naelson (62: Fernando Salazar), Edgar Dueñas, Pavel Pardo, José Francisco Fonseca, José Antonio Olvera (62: Andres Guardado), Rafael Márquez Lugo (46: Luis Ernesto Pérez), Joel Huqui, Cuauhtémoc Blanco.
NOR: Espen Johnsen – Jarl André Storbaek, Bard Borgersen, Brede Hangeland, Trond Erik Bertelsen, Alex Valencia (62: Espen Olsen), Petter Rudi, Magne Hoseth (46: Henning Hauger), Petter Vaagan Moen, Ole Martin Arst, Raymond Kvsvik.
January 15, 1994 - Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona – International Friendly
USA 2 Marcelo Balboa 55, Cobi Jones 89
Norway 1 Frank Strandli 45
USA: Tony Meola, Jeff Agoos (Mike Burns 71), Desmond Armstrong (Marcelo Balboa 37'), Mike Lapper, Alexi Lalas, Mike Sorber (Fernando Clavijo 81), Thomas Dooley, Chris Henderson (Dario Brose 46), Cobi Jones, Dominic Kinnear (Claudio Reyna 61), Joe-Max Moore
NOR: Frode Grodas, Henning Berg, Ronny Johnsen, Tore Pedersen, Roger Nilsen, Jostein Flo (Jan Ove Pederson 58), Erik Mykland (Lars Bohinen 67), Oyvind Leonhardsen, Kjetil Rekdal (Runar Berg 84), Geir Frigard, Frank Strandli
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