MNT Summer Blog: One Last Game
Friday, July 6 @ 11:28 a.m.
Believe it or not, by the time you read this most of the team will be nearing touchdown on the continental United States. The bus for the airport in Barquisimeto left at 4 a.m., with the charter wheels up at 5:30. A 40-minute flight to Caracas, and the first players and coaches were on the 8:45 a.m. to Atlanta. There's a full slate of games in MLS this weekend, and many of the Copa America vets will be suiting up for their sides.
We've had quite a journey together these past six weeks, you of the MNT Summer Blog faithful. Plenty of highs and lows, some (hopefully) interesting facts, a few guest bloggers, loads of e-mails, and the little behind-the-scenes details that help paint a picture of what it's like on the road for the Men's National Team. In many ways it was mission accomplished, highlighted by hoisting the Gold Cup trophy in our own back yard in Chicago. Venezuela brought different results despite a lot of quality efforts. All in all, these six weeks presented a task unlike any other taken on by the national team before. In 28 days the team played in nine confederation championship matches spanning two continents, from Los Angeles to Boston, Chicago to Maracaibo. For the first time in their history, the U.S. went a perfect 6-0 in the Gold Cup, achieving their first ever come from behind win against Mexico to capture their fourth Gold Cup title and a berth in the 2009 Confederation's Cup in South Africa. Since the team convened in Los Angeles on May 27, there have been 40 different players on three rosters. Between the Gold Cup and Copa America, 24 players got their first taste of competition in a confederation championship. During the past seven months, the coaching staff has gotten to see a plethora of players in a variety of circumstances, accumulating a 10-3-1 record along the way and putting themselves in an excellent position to full understanding of the status of the player pool. It’s been a great ride so far, and it’s only going to get better. And if you keep reading, we'll keep writing...
Thursday, July 5 @ 5:28 p.m.
On this, Venezuela's Independence Day, here is the USA's starting XI against Colombia for their final match of the tournament.
Brad Guzan gets his first start in goal, and will anchor a defensive unit that sees several changes to the quarter. Drew Moor reprises his role as the right back, with a central pairing of Bobby Boswell and captain Danny Califf. Heath Pearce replaces Jonathan Bornstein at left back. In the midfield, Ricardo Clark and Kyle Beckerman hold down the fort in the center of the park, while Justin Mapp and Sacha Kljestan will be the
two-way players on the left and right flank, respectively. Up top, it's Eddie Johnson partnering with Herculez Gomez.
Thursday, July 5 @ 3:48 p.m.
It's a gorgeous afternoon in Barquisimeto. Stadium is sold out, we are playing the first-ever game in what will be the future home of the local club. The coach of Colombia is under heavy pressure from the media and fans because of high expectations for his team prior to the tournament. There were will be a few new faces in both lineups, but each side is after a victory and vindication. Moral to the story: it's a great day for football.
Thursday, July 5 @ 11:18 a.m.
Obviously there is a lot of disappointment after last night's results ended the team's chances of advancing. Nonetheless, the game-day routine is well underway and the clear message from the coaching staff is that this team wants to leave Venezuela with a positive result. No question the situation presents a mental challenge, but it's all part of the experience.
Wednesday, July 4 @ 4:55 p.m.
We just arrived at the El Stadio Metropolitano de Lara, site of tomorrow’s match against Columbia here in Barquisimeto. A fantastic venue, minus one thing: it’s not finished. Driving into the stadium, we literally passed hundreds of construction workers outside and inside, and while we type we can hear hammers hammering and drills drilling due to those workers who are scattered all over the place putting…well, we were going to say finishing touches on the stadium, but that’s just not happening. It appears the majority of the planned 39,275 seats are in place, but there are numerous other areas that are glaringly unfinished (it definitely doesn’t look like the picture shown in the tournament brochure). There are supposed to be overhangs on all four sides of the stadium, but there are only two built (and those aren’t even 100 percent done). Elevators at this moment don’t work. Lots of bolts, screws, wiring and other objects sticking out of wall. We could go on, but you get the picture. Despite all of its short comings, though, the stadium has great potential. The field is pristine and the players were all saying this is the best stadium of the three we’ve played in during the tournament. It has a definite European feel with no track around the stadium allowing the fans to be right on top of the action and even includes 20 cushy individual bench seats for the coaches and substitutes. Locker rooms are excellent, with wooden panel lockers, a sauna, an office for the coaches and even a room for the equipment manager. And, look at that, they just turned on the scoreboard…so at least we know that works.
Tuesday, July 3 @ 10:58 p.m.
Not so good a result in the Venezuela-Uruguay match. From the looks of it, those teams could have played 900 minutes and not shown a desire to go forward. The lifeless 0-0 draw gave each team the point they needed, Venezuela winning Group A and Uruguay qualifying for the knockout phase. So much for hospitality. It now falls to the results in Group B, and fans, we're going to have to suck it up for one day big time. That's right - we have to root for Mexico.
C'mon amigos, si se puede!
Tuesday, July 3 @ 10:58 p.m.
Not so good a result in the Venezuela-Uruguay match. From the looks of it, those teams could have played 900 minutes and not shown a desire to go forward. The lifeless 0-0 draw gave each team the point they needed, Venezuela winning Group A and Uruguay qualifying for the knockout phase. So much for hospitality. It now falls to the results in Group B, and fans, we're going to have to suck it up for one day big time. That's right - we have to root for Mexico. C'mon amigos, si se puede!
Tuesday, July 3 @ 8:41 p.m.
Huge result for us in the Peru-Bolivia game. Claudio Pizarro scored the equalizer for Peru in the 84th minute, salvaging a 2-2 draw for Peru and a ticket to the quarterfinals. Had
Bolivia won, Peru would have been assured the third place spot in Group A, at the very least equal on points with Uruguay but holding vastly superior goal differential. At this stage, a Uruguay loss to Venezuela would leave them with three points and at least a minus-3 goal differential, meaning a 2-0 win against Colombia for the U.S. would all but guarantee passage to the next round. Hope that makes sense. Meantime, come on vinotintos!
Tuesday, July 3 @ 8:05 p.m.
Bob and the rest of the team were once again unable to catch the U.S. Under-20’s match against Poland on TV here in Venezuela this evening, but we were able to download the goals right after the game and brought our computer down for all to enjoy at dinner. The laptop made a couple rounds, with the first stop being the coaches’ table before moving on for some of the players that were interested in seeing just how the U.S. tallied six. Some dropped jaws when they saw a couple of the well-struck goals by Freddy Adu and Danny Szetela. Talking about the 6-1 victory, Eddie Gaven, who played with both Adu and Szetela in the last U-20 World Cup, simply stated, “It’s awesome.” That it is Eddie.
Tuesday, July 3 @ 4:35 p.m.
Traveling for this long there’s always the problem of trying to wear clean clothes every day. The team is supplied with a load of Nike gear, but after a week, you start to notice the shirts you’ve worn for days at a time might be a bit funky. There’s obviously laundry at times (thanks Jesse!) but usually when they roll out of bed the players just do the smell test – give it a sniff and if it doesn’t make your head jerk back in disgust, put it on. With the limited supply to choose from guys also tend to end up wearing the same thing, and after awhile they want to change it up. Well, that’s wear the free handouts come in handy. In Maracaibo we got a great orange shirt from the hotel, but even that got to be pretty popular within the group. Today, there were a few guys standing out from the crowd on the flight as Jimmy Conrad was sporting his free Copa America t-shirt, Heath Pearce the Copa America hat and the best of the bunch was Eddie Johnson rocking the brown hat we also got from the hotel in Maracaibo. We’re pretty sure Eddie was the only one who didn’t leave it at the hotel, but we must say the guy can pull off almost anything and look good – even free ugly brown hotel hats. When we arrived to the hotel here in Baraquisimeto there was another free t-shirt (this one red) laid out on the bed for each member of the team. Within 15 seconds, Heath Pearce was seen wearing his.
On a side note, undoubtedly the best dressed member of our traveling entourage is assistant coach Peter Nowak. Today he was in his traditional travel day outfit: Jeans and black sport coat, black dress shoes and dark (like really dark) designer sunglasses. In true movie star fashion, Peter hates having the camera’s turned on him but when dressed to impress how can the flashbulbs stay away?
Tuesday, July 3 @ 3:38 p.m.
We are now ensconced in Barquisimeto, and had something at lunch today that we haven't seen anywhere since we arrived - cold cuts! Sub rolls, pickles, ketchup and mustard, the works! When you've been away from home for this long, little things mean a lot. The hotel is great, with spacious rooms and some great views of the area. It's a light day for the team, with a regeneration session scheduled for later this afternoon. You can still sense the frustration from last night's result, but the group is pressing on and focusing on Colombia. There's still a decent chance this game is going to mean something beyond getting more experience, and for sure the coaching staff will have the players prepared.
Tuesday, July 3 @ 2:35 p.m.
After landing in Barquisimeto, members of the staff along instituted the assembly line system on the tarmac and had the plane unloaded in less than 20 minutes. For those that have been following the blog closely, such a streamlined moving of our gear was truly unprecedented. It was due in large part to the help that we received from the Venezuelan troops whose level of Propel has reached record heights. When we let them know that we were giving away a few cases of Propel and Gatorade Rain they jumped right in.
Tuesday, July 3 @ 10:59 a.m.
From the desk of Jimmy Conrad:
To the powers that be at U.S. Soccer:
It has come to my attention that a tiny band of rogue whippersnappers have been disparaging the fine work of my colleague and friend Neil Buethe. Having those small minds criticize Neil's outstanding performance is like poop telling vomit it stinks. But I digress. Neil is nothing but pure class, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. A diamond in the rough. A saint amongst sinners. An Oreo DoubleStuff in a world of plum nut fruitcakes. So I'm here to shout from the highest mountain top (or the second floor of our hotel): Let the word go forth from this time and place that if Neil goes, I go!
Tuesday, July 3 @ 10:28 a.m.
It's hurry up and wait time here in Barinas as the charter plane has yet to arrive. The team came downstairs a half hour ago to take pictures and sign autographs for the hotel staff who have been extraordinarily kind and helpful. Who knew there would be so many camera phones? Lots of smiles and thank you's in two languages, then back upstairs to wait for word on departure time. Could be worse. Our equipment manager and trainer have been at the airport since 8 a.m. waiting...
Monday, July 2 @ 7:40 p.m.
Listened in on a small bit of Bob's halftime speech. All we caught was him telling the guys they were doing well pushing forward and to keep it up as Paraguay could be getting tired.
Monday, July 2 @ 5:30 p.m.
Just arrived at the stadium, but for a moment it was touch and go on whether we’d actually get in. The stadium here in Barinas is brand new and they built garages for the team buses to pull into, but they obviously should have made the entrance a bit larger as our driver had a heck of time trying to maneuver the tight turn and small opening. So what was the driver’s solution? Well, go in backwards of course. With some help from the security personal outside the driver only scrapped the inside of the garage wall once with the back right corner, leaving a nice red streak for all that pass through to remember the U.S. played the first game ever at Football Stadium Agustin Tovar (nicknamed “La Carolina, by the way…why? We have no idea).
Monday, July 2 @ 5:10 p.m.
Made our way up to our seat in the press tribune, and now we are deaf. There’s a pre-game extravaganza going on and they have the speakers turned up way, way too loud. Sitting near to our videographer, Mark, as he sets up the camera to film the match and he can not hear a single thing we’re saying from two feet away. Lots going on that you’d expect in a pre-game show, just on a smaller scale than you typically see in the States. Well, in terms of the production that is, but if you’re talking just singers, this one blows anything in the U.S. out of the water. At the Super Bowl or other events you have a handful of singers sharing the load, but here, well it’s just one after another. They keep popping out of the center tunnel, and its guys, girls, kids, parrots…OK, not parrots, but Guaky, the tournament mascot, was on the field. We counted and there were a total of 36 people that came out to sing (just sing, we’re not counting the dancers!). The crowd loves it, and from what we here, there were about 5,000 people here about three hours ago. The stadium is 90 percent full now (capacity about 25,000), and we’re still an hour out. The locals are muy entusiasmados. As we finish this entry, they have started doing the wave. What an atmosphere.
Monday, July 2 @ 5:28 p.m.
The USA's lineup for the Paraguay showdown is in, with Bob Bradley making two changes to the starting XI that took on Argentina in Maracaibo. Kasey Keller returns to man the nets, having captained the U.S. to a 2-0 win in their last meeting against Paraguay in 2003 in Columbus. Drew Moor slots into the right back spot, becoming the 50th different player to earn a cap in 13 games for the United States in 2007. The rest of the back line remains unchanged, with Jay DeMerit and Jimmy Conrad pairing in the middle and Jonathan Bornstein patrolling the left. In midfield, Ricardo Clark and Benny Feilhaber mind the middle of the park, while Ben Olsen handles the right and Sacha Kljestan moves in to replace Justin Mapp on the left. Taylor Twellman and Eddie Johnson will handle the attacking duties up top. Bornstein and Feilhaber each earn their 10th cap this year, becoming the first U.S. player since Claudio Reyna in 1994 to make at least 10 appearances in his first calendar year with the full team. Also, Moor is the 16th player to earn his first cap this year, the most since 1992 when players including Thomas Dooley, Mike Burns, Cobi Jones, Brad Friedel and assistant coach Mike Sorber debuted.
Monday, July 2 @ 3:38 p.m.
We were sitting in the restaurant for our pre-game meal, and team GM Pam Perkins noticed that there were a group of people across the street from the hotel who appeared to be sporting U.S. soccer gear. As the police were shooing them away, we made it outside in time to find out the gang of five were Americans who had traveled down to Venezuela just to support the U.S. team. There were guys from all across the country, from Sacramento to D.C., Dallas to Minneapolis. They met online, and have been crashing in hotels together, scaring up tickets, and hitting the adventure sports scene while hopping from city to city. The group was rewarded for their efforts when Bob Bradley walked across the street past security to introduce himself and thank them for their support. Clearly these guys are die-hard U.S. Soccer fans, and while the team spends its time sequestered in a hotel and without a whole lot of people cheering them on, it's nice to see U.S. fans whose passion for the sport measures up to anyone's in the world. Have fun tonight guys. We'll be looking for you.
Monday, July 2 @ 12:28 p.m.
While you have read many times how tedious game days can be, today is particularly quiet since the Governor of Barinas has declared July 2 to be a state holiday in honor of the USA-Paraguay match. This is the biggest sporting event that Barinas has ever hosted. The town is completely shut down and the stadium sold-out. Even the five v. five field across the street from the hotel is empty. Perhaps the coaches are up for a little staff game ...
Meantime, check out today's Studio 90. Despite being named, the named author of this blog denies being the source of any of Mr. Conrad's information.
Monday, July 2 @ 9:08 a.m.
Coming to you live from inside the match commissioner's meeting for tonight's game. Got a tour of the facility first, where you can smell the fresh paint and they are literally still rolling out the carpet. The stadium looks great so far. The design is similiar to European stadiums with a center tunnel and the locker rooms on either side. The grass is in good shape, and the field is surrounded by a track. We have been told now that the USA is the 'A' team for the match, which affects little details like bench location and which team walks to shake the hands of the other team during the pre-game ceremony. Other agenda items include jersey colors, match timelines (which are almost the exact same all over the world), bus departure schedules, and other organizational items that help make the event run smoothly and let the teams - and the fans- just focus on the game.
Sunday, July 1 @ 8:50 p.m.
And the Xbox is out. We set it up in our training room and immediately dove into FIFA 07. The first game saw Reading take on European Cup finalists Liverpool. Though U.S. MNT player Bobby Convery was red carded early on for a heinous challenge on Liverpool’s captain Steven Gerrard (we think that his leg was broken due to the appearance of an ambulance icon after the tackle), Reading was spurred on by the stunning goalkeeping play of Marcus Hahnemann, who made a number of improbable saves en route to keeping a clean sheet. In another game, former champion Taylor Twellman saw his crown threatened, but managed to eek out a victory in PKs over one of our videographers. Later on, while the team awaited a massive pizza order from the restaurant downstairs, Kasey Keller took his turn to fire up Burnout Revenge. Needless to say, Kasey immediately took to the prospect of wreaking havoc on the road and knocked out a good three hours on the game with Jonathan Bornstein as his driving advisor.
Sunday, July 1 @ 4:15 p.m.
Far be it from the MNT Summer Blog to critique the high-culture world of painting, but we have to point out the art selection in our otherwise lovely hotel. In our dining room, canvases portraying horses frolicking were placed side by side with an equally large canvas of a naked woman posing with an alligator...yes, you read that correctly. And it's not just in our meal room as we're surrounded by nakes women (never thought we'd ever get to write that and mean it). Walking up the stairs, one is treated to a series of acrylic paintings depicting the silhouettes of undressed ladies. At the top of the stairs: a gigantic naked woman, surrounded by naked children, while in the background there is an oil well. Pretty bizarre. But maybe, after a few days of contemplation in the hotel, the greater significance of this body of artwork will dawn upon us.
Sunday, July 1 @ 2:45 p.m.
We checked into our hotel, and immediately went to the meal room, anxious for a new dining room setting and we we’re not disappointed - but not due to the food. As we walked in, the sweet sounds of Foreigner blared over the speaker system, which galvanized Jimmy Conrad into his own rendition of “I Want to Know What Love Is” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9OGfBGOCpk). Meanwhile, the food spread was great with a specific shout out going to the fruit platters delivered at the end of the meal. Eating mangoes is a tough endeavor, and one has to ask: “does the effort of peeling such a fickle fruit outweigh the satisfaction gleaned from its consumption?” Well, when the mangoes are peeled for you, this is not something you have to even think about – you just eat them. And they were great. As we filtered out of the dining room to get our luggage, the radio came back with an equally fine tune in Scorpions’ “Winds of Change,” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5muLIq9PqUk ) which Peter Nowak could be heard whistling while he carried his suitcase up the stairs.
Sunday, July 1 @ 3:10 p.m.
Our transfer to Barinas is complete, and we only had a few minor bumps along the way. The flight was delayed for about 45 minutes while the plane was re-loaded with gear. Apparently, we travel with a lot of stuff and they needed to redistribute the weight so we could actually take off. Once we landed, one thing that got a bit lighter were the cases of Gatorade as they were appropriated by some airport workers during the packing process. Our equipment manager Jesse Bignami and David Lagow caught the Venezuelans red-handed. Guess they didn't like all the flavors as there were numerous bottles out with just a few sips gone. We would of giving you some if you just asked! Earlier we said it was going to be an hour flight, but it wasn't even half that long as it was only 25 minutes of air time before we touched down in Barinas. The bus ride to the hotel rivaled the duration of the bus ride in Grenada back in '05. Anyone remember that from the all_access videos? Let us refresh your memory. It was short. The team is all settled in, and while the rooms are nice and cool, there are a couple things absent you would normally find: phones and clocks. No thanks, fans. We'll figure out our own wake-up calls.
Sunday, July 1 @ 9:45 a.m.
The hallway here at the hotel is cluttered with bags upon bags as we're getting ready to leave for Barinas today, sight of our next match. Everyone had to have their bags out by 8:30 a.m., giving the hotel staff enough time to transport everything down to the truck. We'll be taking a charter to Barinas, only about an hour flight from Maracaibo, before settling in for lunch and then heading out for our final practice before we face Paraguay tomorrow. We hear the stadium in Barinas isn't even finished yet, but I guess we'll soon find out.
Saturday, June 30 @ 8:15 p.m.
Venezuela just defeated Peru, 2-0, in the fourth match of Group A. Not a great result for us, but at this point you can’t really look at the standings too much. The game started during our dinner, and there were a few less hotel staff members serving us food and snagging our dirty plates. Although, we didn’t really put two and two together until we heard a large cheer coming from the kitchen area when Venezuela scored their first goal. While it may make our goal of advancing to the second round tougher, it’s always great to see the hosts do well. Makes the atmosphere around the tournament that much better. By the way, if you didn’t see it, that no-call penalty for Venezuela in game one was made up for with a no-call penalty against them in this match.
Saturday, June 30 @ 5:15 p.m.
The U-20 MNT just kicked off and a few of the players and staff are keeping a close eye on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker to follow the action. Head coach Bob Bradley is actually in our room right now, intentley reading the updates to find out how Michael and the rest of the team is doing against South Korea. We all know MatchTracker can be agonizing to watch, but you have to admit it's better than nothing. Especially when you're stuck in Venezuela and there's no option to catch it on TV. Don't think Maracaibo has ESPNU. Bob told us he's used to it now as he routinely got up a 5 a.m. to catch Michael's matches for Heerenveen on the Internet.
Saturday, June 30 @ 9:48 a.m.
Here is today's edition of "what would you choose?" As we mentioned before, the door on the team bus is a sign that translated says 'maximum speed 90 km', or about 56 mph. Not particularly fast, especially for rides that can take 40 minutes even on a highway. And you know players can get a bit restless. Problem is, the rather loud beeping alarm is continuing every time the bus exceeds 90 kilometers per hour. It's driving us crazy. So, what would you choose? Get to training faster, or avoid ear-piercing alarm. (The answer is avoid ear-piercing alarm)
Friday, June 29 @ 11:35 p.m.
Just a quick note: American referee Baldomero Toledo will take charge of the Uruguay/Bolivia match in San Cristobal tomorrow at 6:30 pm local time. The game will surely have some fireworks (no, seriously, there have been some at every game thus far) as both teams look for a result to help their chances of qualification from Group A. If Uruguay loses, they will be almost surely eliminated from the tournament while if Bolivia wins, they’ll almost surely guarantee their passage to the quarterfinals.
Friday, June 29 @ 9:48 p.m.
Since tomorrow there will be a Center Circle one-on-one with Jonathan Bornstein for your listening and reading pleasure, we thought we would jump back into a trivia question with this nugget. The next match Mr. Bornstein plays in this year will be his 10th appearance for the MNT in 2007. Only a handful of players have hit double digits in caps in their first calendar year with the full team. Who was the last player to accomplish that feat? Hint - it happened in the 90's. Be the first to get it right, and we might give you a shout-out in the next Studio 90 (and no, the shout-out won't be by host Neil Buethe, it will be way cooler than that).
Friday, June 29 @ 2:50 p.m.
All of these three blogs are about things that happened yesterday, and their all about the same person, but let us tell you, they’re all worth posting. Enjoy.
We almost had another guest move onto our floor yesterday here at the hotel. Well, not just any guest, but the legend himself, Diego Maradona. The hotel had a mix-up and tried to provide him with an open room on our floor, but when the man who scored “The Goal of the Century” and is considered as a God by some (and probably every Argentinean) got off the elevator, he was told by our security officers that he couldn’t step onto the floor as only U.S. players and staff were allowed. Lets just say that didn’t go over so well. Even after some of the guards informed the security officer of who he was (do you know who this is??), Maradona was sent back down to the front desk. All was worked out as the Boca Juniors legend was provided a room on a different floor, although, it was also a floor where some of our coaches and staff are located, and wouldn’t you know it, our trainer Anthony Slater had to give up his room for Maradona. It may have been a small nuisance, but as Slater put it, “whatever, it’s a great story I’ll have for the rest of my life.”
Maradona was also at the U.S.-Argentina match last night, causing a commotion on a scale few of us have ever seen. As he walked towards the VIP section of the stadium, fans erupted, forgetting the game that was about to kickoff and instead, whipping out their cameras and phones to take a picture of him in his classic Argentina No. 10 jersey. As he moved towards his seat, we soon realized he was going to be in our section and, along with his entourage, he ended up sitting four rows behind us. Now, we’ll admit it was pretty damn cool, but talk about annoying. We were sitting in the front row of the section along with assistant coach Peter Nowak and with the game just moments from kicking off everyone in the section ahead of us was standing up and facing us as they tried to take pictures of Diego, essentially blocking our view of the field. Pretty comical scene as Peter was all concentration, going over his prepared notes for the game, while every single person around him – including the security officers – were looking the other direction, waving at and photographing Maradona. Now that’s concentration. A few polite requests (and a few stern ones) and finally the crowd started to slowly disperse and turn their attention back to the pitch. Although, we have to admit, we snapped a couple of photos of Diego with our camera phone at the end of the game. And you know what, he doesn't look too bad.
And one final Maradona comment. After the game, the team waited at the bottom of the hotel for the two elevators, but it seemed only one was working. The one on the left had gone up and down twice, while the other elevator on the right had yet to reach the bottom floor to take people up. Someone made the joke that it was now Maradona’s “private” elevator. Well, a minute later, it finally made its way down, and guess who got off. Yep, Diego. He saw the remaining U.S. players waiting, nodded hello and walked out to … ah, go have cranberry juice and watch a movie to celebrate the Argentina win.
Friday, June 29 @ 2:30 p.m.
Riding back on the bus from training this morning and got to talking to Dan Califf and Bobby Boswell about their travel experiences with soccer. In addition to his club career in Europe, Dan has been to several countries in Africa representing the U.S., including Egypt and Nigeria for the U-17 and U-20 World Youth Championships. Bobby spent a month in South Africa with his U-15 youth team coached by Steve Wegerle. Steve is the brother of former U.S. international Roy Wegerle, and is a native South African. Bobby had some really eye-opening moments both on and off the field, but his most vivid memory is of seeing packs of penguins walking down the street. Penguins in South Africa - who knew? It's fascinating to hear these stories and comprehend the vast amount of opportunities for U.S. players these days to get exposure to the sport all over the world. We've come a long way.
By the way, the conversation started because we were discussing the USA's schedule for the remainder of the year, which still has one more game to be added...
Friday, June 29 @ 1:45 p.m.
Back from lunch and we got a juicy bit of information that will no doubt start rumors swirling on soccer blogs across the world. An unnamed U.S. player told us that after the game against Argentina, he was talking with an unnamed Argentina player who told him that he’s looking into a possible move to the MLS. (Sorry, we can't tell you who the players is, even though we'd love to, but that's the job of all those great soccer reporters out there or something.) So, is this unnamed player coming, or was he just making conversation? Let the speculation begin!
Friday, June 29 @ 10: 45 a.m.
We've got some catching up to do after a hectic post-match against Argentina. We'll dive into it in just a sec, but we can tell you right now the players broke up into starters and non-starters for today's workout. The non-starters headed to train at 9:30, while the rest headed downstairs to do some bike work and a dip in the pool. Now, to the first of a few things about last night that we'll share with you. Eddie Johnson and Jay DeMerit, our players who were randomly selected for drug testing, arrived back at the hotel much later than the rest of the team. As they entered the lobby, Eddie could be seen with an Argentina jersey, which he traded for after the game, draped over his shoulder. We asked him who it was and it was #11 Carlos Tevez’. Turns out that Eddie didn’t even have to ask for the West Ham United forward’s jersey: Carlos came up to Eddie at halftime, and asked him if they could trade after the game. That it makes it pretty easy, right? Instead of sprinting at the end of the game trying to find the person you most want to trade with, you’ve already got it sorted out when the final whistle blows.
Thursday, June 28 @ 5:40 p.m.
Here's something cool we just heard about that is going on back in the USA: a weekend tour of the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup trophy to three soccer hot spots in Chicago. Check it out. Tonight the trophy is at Ginger's Ale House (voted Best Soccer Bar in ussoccer.com's annual Best of U.S. Soccer voting four straight years) as fans enjoy the USA-Argentina game. From Friday to Saturday, the trophy will be on display at NIKETOWN Chicago, and on Sunday night it will be at Toyota Park enjoying the Fire-Rapids game. I hope Neil Buethe knows the trophy is out hitting the Chicago nightlife without him. He will be crushed. They seemed so close. CHECK IT OUT.
Thursday, June 28 @ 3:08 p.m.
Folks, we're accustomed to reading things written about the players, coaches, etc., etc., that may be lacking at times in accuracy. No problema - we make mistakes too! Then you come across one like this that just leaves you scratching your head. This from our friends at goal.com:
This being international football, politics couldn’t disappear entirely.
Due to the fractious relationship between the governments of the United States and Venezuela—remember, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has called US president George Bush “satan” — the U.S. team has opted to stay in Aruba, a nearby island owned by the Netherlands. Surrounded by security, they will take the 25-minute flight to Maracaibo in the early afternoon, and fly back immediately following the game.
Now, perhaps we're just saddened that for the last four days that ussoccer.com has provided blogs, videos, photos, features, game notes and everything else we can think of from our time here in MARACAIBO and some people just haven't been paying attention to our labors. Or it could be that we just wish like hell we got to vacation in Aruba. In either case, with the massive global coverage of this event, and in particular how the U.S. is being treated in Venezuela (very well, in case you were curious), how can you mess up this one?
Sure, the distance between the two countries is like driving from Maryland to Virginia through Washington, D.C., but we're pretty sure it's a totally different stamp in the passport. Just one more reason to make sure you are checking out ussoccer.com to make sure you're getting the latest lowdown ...
Thursday, June 28 @ 1:00 p.m.
Going through our centercircle email account (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’d like to say thanks to everyone who’s writing in. We wish we could respond to everyone, but it’s pretty consuming and we don’t have too much free time. Although, we do now, so we thought we’d share some of what’s been dropped into our inbox.
- First, people have been clamoring for a new audio podcast from Benny and Sacha, so if you don’t know there’s a brand new one up right now. As good as ever, you can hear it right here. Also, email the guys at email@example.com
- We received a number of thoughts on what we should nickname the stadium we’re playing in tonight, Estadio Jose Panchencho Romero. Here’s a quick list with who provided the possible nickname in parentheses: Estadio JoPaRo (Philip Croft), The Patch or JoPaRo Park (Brian Willett), P.E.R.J. (Jordan Johnson), The JoRo or Estadio JoRo (Nick Taylor), The Joe or El Jose (Ben Likar) and Jo Pa Stadium (Pam Amaral, who must be a Penn State fan).
- Thanks to everyone who sent in Gold Cup photos, but we should have specified to send in just one! We were a bit overloaded with photos and it slowed down our email. If we have time, we’ll put together a photo gallery – just don’t hold us to it! We’re busy!
- Matthew Daley asks about the plush parrots we blogged about earlier (which we haven’t received yet!), wondering where he can get one. Sorry, Matt we’re not sure, but if we find out we’ll let you know.
- And, lastly, we got another email from the supposed Lyndsey Schaefer who earlier wrote in about the tautness of Taylor Twellmans’ jersey (later it was discovered to be Jimmy Conrad). Looks like Jimmy still isn’t giving up the gag as we received this email the day we left for Venezuela, with the subject line “Not Jimmy Conrad’s Wife”:
To Whom it May Concern:
I wanted to clarify that I am indeed a real person, who is coincidentally named Lyndsey and hails from California, but is NOT Jimmy Conrad's wife. I wrote the question about Twellman's jersey, and didn't want Conrad to get all the credit! I am a long-time supporter of the U.S. National Team and the L.A. Galaxy. My favorite player is Landon Donovan, who also coincidentally, wears adult-sized kits. I'm just sayin'...
Right, Jimmy…right. We still need to get a response from Taylor on this one.
Thursday, June 28 @ 12:45 p.m.
Guys finished eating lunch and most went back to the room to relax. A few, including Eddie Johnson, Heath Pearce and Bobby Boswell, did venture over to the mall which is literally 20 steps away from the hotel. We’ll get a report from them on their experience and any purchases they may have made when they get back.
Thursday, June 28 @ 10: 30 a.m.
Game day. That means it’s pretty quiet around here. Guys had the option of breakfast this morning, with some digging in on the eggs and pancakes, and others taking the time to get an assured good nights rest. Since there’s not much to talk about right now, we’re going to take you back to something we meant to mention yesterday after the press conference we held here at the hotel. About 20 media showed up to talk to Bob, Jimmy, Benny (Olsen, that is) and Sacha. Literally, two minutes into the press conference a reporter’s cell phone goes off. Annoying as always, but not surprising. A few minutes later, another one goes off. A bit more time goes by, and then another cell phone. By the fourth one – all before we’re seven minutes in by the way – we’re all pretty much in amazement. Sure, we admit we forgot to say our normal “remember to please turn off all cell phones” before starting the press conference, but you’d think after the first interruption, let alone the fourth, all the reporters would check their phones and turn ‘em off. No dice. At this point, it’s comical. In our head we’re taking bets on who will be next, and there aren’t many people left. And then we hear it; the ring that topped them all:
That’s right, a frog ring. So where’s the croaking coming from? None other than the pocket of U.S. reporter Jeff Carlisle in the front row. Best part, he’s struggling to pull it out of the front left pocket of his jeans, fumbling as he can’t slip his hand in (guess tight jeans are the look in Venezuela, huh Jeff?). After about four ribbets, he’s finally able to slip it out and turn it off. We’re betting it’ll be an incident he’ll never live down, especially since the team has given Jeff a new nickname -- “Frogger.” All in good fun, Jeff. Oh, and if you want to hear for yourself, well, you’re in luck as it was caught all on tape. Listen to it here.
Wednesday, June 27 @ 9:30 p.m.
Mexico just buried their second goal against Brazil and you could hear the surprised reaction from the players in their rooms and in the training room. What is going on here? Looks like the U.S. riled up Mexico to come out strong against Brazil. Which reminds us, we received this little nugget from Amy Kettle late on Sunday:
Exactly one year ago today at the World Cup, Maxi Rodriguez scored that amazing golazo against Mexico to secure Argentina's spot in the quarterfinals. Rodriguez's goal was the game-winner. Final result: 2-1.
Fast forward to today: Feilhaber scores golazo against Mexico to secure the Gold Cup. Feilhaber's goal was the game-winner. Final result: 2-1.
June 24 is not Mexico's day.
Good stuff Amy. Thanks. Although, right now 45 minutes in, maybe June 27 is Mexico's day.
Wednesday, June 27 @ 9:10 p.m.
After dinner, Ben Olsen came by the equipment room with the handful of black socks he received in the casual gear distribution. “I need white socks,” he exclaimed. “I’m thirty. Black socks don’t work anymore. Those are for the young guys, the hipsters – like Bobby Boswell.” The MNT Summer Blog was unaware that switching sock colors was contingent on age, but apparently it is. The question is, will the more mature, shall we say, part of our staff follow Ben’s lead?
Wednesday, June 27 @ 8:15 p.m.
Think we're getting parrots. Not real parrots, but soft, cuddly ones (so much better!). Confused? Well, the mascot for the 2007 Copa America is a red, blue and yellow parrot and when we just came up from dinner there were some hotel employees hanging out in the hallway with bags full of the stuffed mascot. We overhear that it's a gift from the Mayor's office. Wonder how many guys will be nestled up with the parrot in their arms when they fall asleep tonight?
Wednesday, June 27 @ 7:10 p.m.
Got back from training and had one of the worst elevator rides we can remember in a while. Crammed into the tiny elevator were Eddie Johnson, Benny Feilhaber, Sacha Kljestan, Heath Pearce, Marvell Wynne, a few staff members and then the guy who made the ride so horrendous, Mr. Brad Guzan. Everyone was made more uncomfortable because we also had a bunch of equipment with us, including a bag of balls, a Gatorade jug, Gatorade water bottles, training sticks, etc. We all get in, the player's floor number is pressed, but we move up only one floor as it stops and the doors open ... with no one there waiting to get on. Groans resonate throughout the elevator, with everyone knowing that stop would make the trip a seemingly unbearable 10 seconds longer. So what happened next? The elevator stopped on the second floor as well! More frustrated groans. And then we see it - Guzano had leaned against the elevator buttons and pushed all of them, from floor 1 to 12, like a little kid riding his first elevator at a hotel and wanting to see all the buttons light up. Well, lets just say everyone was less than pleased and Brad took some verbal jabs about his IQ level. He didn't enjoy the ribbing, but at least the next floor would be our stop and that's it, and right? Wrong. Just before getting to our floor, somehow the buttons had all cleared except for the top floor. We go all the way up before coming all the way down to the correct floor. About one extra minute of crushing Guzan, with nowhere for the 'keeper to hide. It was brutal.
Wednesday, June 27 @ 6:40 p.m.
Is it weird to say we want to go hang out in a cemetery? We'll just assume that it is. Nonetheless, we pass a burial ground every day going to training that looks both decrepit and beautiful. The marble coffins rest above ground, a sea of different shades of white framed by a series of brick honeycombs. It appears ancient and lonely, like you would be passing through a history untold.
Wednesday, June 27 @ 4:40 p.m.
We just arrived at the training facility and some of the guys jumped into the dugout to slip off their sandals or runners and put on their cleats. Little did they know they had a friend hanging out nearby as a two-foot long iguana was hanging out in the shade. The little bugger was pretty bold, making his way up to the bench, coming just inches away from a pair of Nike sandals (we'll provide a pic later). We’re literally sitting just a few feet away from it…(do these things bite? Ah, our security officer just told us they do. And that they taste like chicken. This guy would know, trust us. We are moving away…slowly…slowly…) After a little bit of picture taking and a couple of miss-hit soccer balls coming to close for comfort, 'Iggy' took off for the safer pastures across the parking lot. Good thing, too, because he wouldn’t want to have to deal with the gigantic Juergen Sommer if he came back to get his sandals.
Wednesday, June 27 @ 4:08 pm
Our first blog from the team bus in Venezuela! Two things we have learned on the ride so far: a) no matter what corner of the world, traffic at rush hour stinks, b) you never fully get used to a helicopter escort. Players passing the 45-minute trip by watching the dipping and darting manuevers by the chopper with more than one guy saying "man that guy is close." It's no lie as you can literally hear the it fly over the bus. The other noise we keep hearing periodically is the annoying "beep, beep, beep" from the front of the bus when we get over 90 km/h which as the monitor says ia the velocidad maxima permitida ... driver turn the alarm off!!
The team had a special guest at lunch today as Ambassador William R. Brownfield stopped by lunch to give a message of support to the U.S. team. Ambassador Brownfield will be attending the game tomorrow night, and he has a new U.S. jersey with his name on it to wear with pride.
Wednesday, June 27 @ 12:15 p.m.
Here's a crazy stat that will be current for at least 30 more hours with our daunting challenge against Argentina ahead. The U.S. Men's National Team has not lost a game in more than a year. And guess what? Neither has the U.S. Women's National Team. That's an absolutely unbelievable streak of 35 games!!! The men, as you know if you are a loyal reader of this blog, are 10-0-1 in 2007 under Bob Bradley. The women are on a 43-game unbeaten streak, with 24 of those games coming in the last 12 months. So, add it up people. U.S. Soccer is 31-0-4 in the past 365 days of full Men's and Women's National Team games.
Tuesday, June 26 @ 10:15 p.m.
Copa America 2007 began tonight and the MNT Summer Blog took the opportunity to join coaches and staff in venturing down the block to the Yacht Club to take in tonight’s second game between hosts Venezuela and Bolivia. In what we saw of the first game, Peru looked impressive, and make sure to YouTube the second goal of the game by Jose Paolo Guerrero – it was a rocket. As we settled into our seats the crowd was filing in for the second game, which was the main attraction. The game was good, and the atmosphere was raucous. We shared a table with some very accommodating Venezuelans, who informed us that the main person to watch on their team was No. 18, Juan Arango, a box-to-box midfielder who plays overseas at RCD Mallorca. Sure enough, Arango had the assist for the first goal and the crowd went wild. The game finished 2-2, and though the home crowd was disappointed by a late no-call on a penalty, they went home knowing that one point means they’ll surely be in it come the final day of the group stage. As for our party, we went back to our hotel glad that we had taken the opportunity to sample some of Maracaibo’s culture and ready for tomorrow’s packed day of training and game preparations. Copa America begins!
Tuesday, June 26 @ 5:28 p.m.
Not surprisingly, the airwaves have been filled with futbol for the last several hours as the 2007 Copa America kicks off tonight with the opening match between Uruguay and Peru. As we write, a correspondent in Maracaibo is giving a live update about the Argentina-U.S. game. Mostly, they are talking about Argentina, who are the heavy tournament favorites since bringing a full strength side to Venezuela. Near as we can tell, they did mention that our team arrived last night and that they don't know much about us. Nevertheless, the country is brimming with excitement as the hosts face Bolivia in the second game of the evening. Venezuela is the last of the ten South American nations to host the oldest national team competition in the world, and has high expectations despite a lack of success in tournament history- their only win in the competition came in 1967! For a nation more famous for baseball than soccer, it will be fascinating to see how the people embrace one of the biggest championships in the world.
Tuesday, June 26 @ 10:42 a.m.
Our video department here is stoked to point out that today our YouTube page has been killing it, ranking around No. 64 among viewed pages on the popular video site Tuesday morning. The U.S. MNT Celebration video has been tabbed as the "Editor's pick" for the sports category (Check it Out), and as of this post has racked up 13,500 views. After we've posted videos on ussoccer.com, we'll then post them on YouTube if you want to check them out there. Thanks goes out to our Vice President of Posting YouTube Videos/Colgate Raider/Intern Matt for finding stuff to file and DVDs to copy while he waits for the videos to upload.
Tuesday, June 26 @ 8:35 a.m.
After arriving in darkness, we were welcomed to our first view of the Maracaibo skyline and Maracaibo Lake from the penthouse floor where we had breakfast this morning. From that many floors up, the view was pretty spectacular and not what everyone was envisioning when we ate our first meal late last night. The lake, which flows into the Gulf of Venezuela, looks enticing from the hotel, but not everyone is sold on taking a dip. When asked at breakfast about the lake, Taylor Twellman’s response was, “Yea, you could go in, but you also might get eaten by an anaconda.” The players dived into a splendor of morning treats as our Venezuelan hosts have so far been providing us with excellent meals. Laid out before us was everything from the normal old corn flakes to our very own chef preparing omelets, and in between a plate of succulent fruit (pineapple, watermelon, papaya…oh, papaya) that was a definite highlight. Sounds like a great meal…especially if it were to be your last in the odd occurrence anyone actually did run across any anacondas.
Tuesday, June 26 @ 1:35 a.m.
We’ve been meaning to ask this earlier, but later is better than never: Are any fans heading down here to Venezuela to take in the USA’s matches in Copa America?? If so, we’d love to hear what your experience is like from the travel, to the games to any other interesting happenstances that you might come across during your time in South America. And it would be great if you let us share them right here in the MNT Summer Blog. In a way, you’d be like a U.S. MNT correspondent, giving us the behind-the-scenes look of what a true soccer fan goes through to cheer on their country. Whether you’re already here or heading down in a day or two to catch the Argentina match, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can figure out a way to keep in touch during the tournament to share your experiences to the world (well, the world of ussoccer.com visitors!).
Tuesday, June 26 @ 1:15 a.m.
People tend to complain about traveling. The endless security lines. The bad food on the plane. Getting stuck in the middle seat. But, one of the things worst problems about air travel: lost luggage. (Ummm…come to think of it, with the charter, we didn’t have to deal with any of that today). Either way, we’ve all stood at the luggage carousel staring at those draping black leather straps, secretly hoping and begging for your bag to appear. Well, we’re betting at some point tonight (and, technically, this morning) our equipment manager, Jesse Bignami, may have been hoping the opposite. Only because he knows what’s coming once the bags gets to the hotel. Now, he would never want to lose any of the equipment, but maybe if they just got misplaced…if only for a few hours to let him catch his breath. Sorry, Jesse, no such luck as the equipment truck showed up directly behind the team bus here at the hotel, which meant the job of lugging, separating and unpacking was about to begin. At least he did have some help from the hotel bellhops and team trainers.
Here are just a few of the highlights (or as Jesse might say, lowlights):
-- Considering the truck included all the players’ and staff’s personal bags, all the training room equipment and all the MNT gear, we were well into triple digits. And that’s not including all the Gatorade drinks and energy bars, bottled water and other goodies. Let’s just say the truck was packed and once we unloaded it at the hotel, it looked like a garage sale gone bad.
-- General Manager Pam Perkins has been with U.S. Soccer for quite a while, which means she knows the players and staff pretty well, and that skill was put to the test when the players’ individual bags were being separated before they were brought upstairs. There were some bags without tags on them, but with a quick look at the contents inside, Pam was able to decipher who owned the bag, all from a pair of shoes, a unique t-shirt or some ripped jeans. An impressive skill to watch first hand.
-- So, how does Jesse determine what is in what bag considering they all look like the exact same black duffel bag? Well, each bag is marked by number, and impressively Jesse knew exactly what was in each bag just by that number (up to around 45). OK, maybe not every bag, but for the most part, he barely had to open them up and look inside. Again, an impressive skill to watch first hand.
-- Lastly, if a ball explodes when a player kicks one in practice tomorrow, you can blame it on trainer Anthony Slater. To help out Jesse, he pumped up the balls and had to guess on whether he was hitting the required 12 psi because the gauge was broken on the pump. A few times he went a bit over. Did we say a bit? We meant way, way over ... a bunch of times. Fortunately, someone was checking his guesses with a separate gauge and letting out any extra air. Lets just hope we caught them all.
Monday, June 25 @ 9:45 p.m.
The U.S. MNT has been all around the world and while all corners of the globe are different in their own ways, there remains one universal constant: motorcycle cops. No matter what the culture, location or weather in the country, one is sure to see policemen on motorcycles, and Venezuela is no different. About 35 of them escorted us to the hotel in what was arguably one of the Top 5 most efficient police barricade of all time. Along the way we saw the Estadio José Pachencho Romero (um… abbreviation ideas or nicknames anybody?) where we’ll be opening the tournament on Thursday night. The stadium looks good and ready, and is decorated with banners and various colors to celebrate the upcoming tournament. In addition to our first round game and others, the…still haven’t thought of something to call this stadium…will host the final on July 15.
Monday, June 25 @ 9:15 p.m.
Long, long, travel day but we’re safe and sound at our headquarters in Maracaibo Venezuela. After training, we headed back to our hotel in Chicago to pack our stuff quickly and depart. We were a little late for our flight, but it was a charter, so no problem. Walking to our gate, the concessions stands along the way were completely raided: Chex Mix of all kinds and Twizzlers proved to be favorites. Though in the end we received probably the most food ever distributed on a single plane ride. Traveling with 35 people in a plane built for 160 meant that there were going to be leftovers. Here’s what the menu looked like: PBJ sandwiches to start out, followed by a pasta dinner, followed by ham and cheese sandwich, followed by brownies and coffee. We finished the Chex Mix and Twizzlers anyhow. Only complaint: if you charter a plane, you should clearly be able to pick the movies that are shown. After we landed, we went through customs without a hitch, and then jumped in our bus to make the trip to the hotel.
Monday, June 25 @ 5:42 p.m.
Here is a classy response from a Mexican fan. Deep down, we all know that most of the fans of the USA and Mexico truly respect each other. And here is the proof...
"I am a Mexican soccer fan and I just want to congratulate the American soccer team for their victory over Mexico. You have no idea how terrible it is for us Mexicans to be defeated by Americans in our favorite sport for
8 consecutive years, including a match in a World Cup, really, but I am sick and tired of some of my fellow Mexicans who can't accept that fact and insulted the Americans and everyone's common sense by insisting on arguing that we are better than you in soccer. With sorrow but dignity we must admit the fact that right now you played better than us, you defeated us, you are the just champions of the Gold Cup and you have the rigth to call yourselves the giant of the Concacaf, and we Mexicans have nothing to do but to congratulate you, give you the honor and respect that you have earned playing good soccer in the field and work hard to defeat you
next time. I am sure that many Mexicans think that way and we hope to win in the next game with you, we really really hope so, as I also hope that Mexico or the U.S. beat Germany or Argentina in the future and continue to progress in this beatufull sport. Please send this message to Landon Donovan and the rest of your players so they know, as I hope they do, that many, many Mexicans give them the respect and appreciation that they deserve, even so we hope to beat you next time!!!"
Monday, June 25 @ 10:48 a.m.
While the Copa group gets its first training session in this morning, U.S. Soccer's building of Adam Furtak and Greg Sordyl came over from Soccer House to drop off cases of Gatorade and other items heading with the team to Venezuela. They were also picking up several crates, and one shiny new Gold Cup trophy that will take it's place alongside the 2002 and 2005 trophies that reside in the main hall of the Federation. Well, not so shiny after yesterday's celebration, but Adam and Greg will take care of that too!. In any case, a family of tourists were walking by the hotel when the trophy was getting loaded into the van, and were pretty psyched to see it up close. Being good tourists, they had their cameras handy. Bet they didn't expect to get that shot from their visit to Chicago!
So, it got us thinking. We witnessed all of the crazy celebrations on the field after the game, particularly when the guys were making merry with Sam's Army. There's got to be some great photos of that, right?
Email us your best snapshots from yesterday's superb victory to email@example.com and we'll put together a photo gallery for the site.
Monday, June 25 @ 8:35 a.m.
You have to love Oswaldo Sanchez. (And by "love" we mean, "you have to love the bully in every teen angst movie that eventually gets what's coming to him." Think William Zabka in The Karate Kid and James Spader in Pretty in Pink.)
Did everyone catch Oswaldo blowing kisses to Landon before his penalty kick? "Oswaldo, that's like trying to ice Adam Vinatieri on a 23-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter ... indoors ... in a preseason game!" It ain't going to work. Landon predictably waited to see what Sanchez was going to do (he didn't dive) and then stuck a perfectly taken shot into the upper right part of the goal.
Of course, the last time we saw Oswaldo on the field against the U.S. he was trying to "sweep the leg" of Eddie Johnson after EJ had the audacity to run toward Landon to celebrate a goal in the USA's (ahem) "2-0" win in February.
Anyway, the point on Oswald is this: in six games, he has a lifetime record against the USA of 1-4-1, which is really not too good. He is almost 34-years-old and is clearly on the downward side of a career that will best be remembered internationally for abject failure against his arch-rival. Sad really. (And by "sad" we mean, not so much.)
Monday, June 25 @ 7:06 a.m.
A few final thoughts on the USA v. Mexico rivalry.
- "Dos a uno." Having had a night to reflect, we think that could be just as catchy as "dos a cero."
- For those of you keeping score at home, the last time the Mexican's actually topped the USA in any kind of FIFA "A" level competition (including the team's two-game splits in World Cup qualifying, all won by the USA on aggregate) was the final of the 1998 Gold Cup. Wow. Unless the stars align in the 2007 Copa America and the two team's meet again (and we know how that went in 1995), Mexico’s next chance to end their decade-long “losing” streak to the U.S. will be at the 2009 Gold Cup and in 2009 World Cup qualifying.
- The USA is now 8-0-1 in nine home games against Mexico this decade, outscoring their rival 15-1. Mexico's goal on Sunday did manage to end their goalless streak in the U.S. at 797 minutes across 10 games.
- Since 1990, the U.S. is 12-7-7 in 26 games against Mexico, which includes a dominating 11-3-5 record in the United States (and a 1-0-1 record in neutral venues).
- Sunday’s victory also marked the first time the U.S. had ever come-from-behind to defeat their arch-rivals.
Sunday, June 24 @ 7:08 p.m.
The gears have started to change quickly for the trip to South America. While Gooch was heading out the door for a flight home, in walk Charlie Davies, Lee Nguyen and Heath Pearce as the Copa America roster additions make their way to Chicago for the charter flight tomorrow.
Sunday, June 24 @ 6:48 p.m.
Obviously some very excited and proud players in the locker room tonight. Lots of champagne flying, and even the return of the Frankie Hejduk celebration dance! Many great moments, but one good one in particular ... Bob had been waiting for 25 minutes to do the post-game press conference, so he decided to take a quick shower and change his clothes. Unbeknownst to Bob - but beknownst to everyone else - the guys hadn't had their 'moment' with the coach. So as Bob comes out of the coaches' locker room in a clean polo and shorts, out comes the Gatorade jug full of ice water. You've all seen what it looks when the coach gets doused, and it forced yet another quick change while the press were waiting. Meantime, they come up with some very creative uses of the Gold Cup trophy (when not on loan to Studio 90). There was plenty of singing on the bus ride back, and we obviously passed several car loads full of Mexican fans on our way out of the stadium and on to Lake Shore Drive, so they got a good look at the trophy up close. Back at the hotel, there were dozens of fans waiting to congratulate the team, including some very important former members of the national team. Brian McBride and his wife have been around for the past few days, and former assistant coach Dave Sarachan and his family came to congratulate their old friend Bob Bradley. All in all, a very, very satisfying moment.
And we don't think that our new friends from 311 will mind, but 'amber is the color of your energy' morphed into 'Gold is the color of our new trophy WHOA.'
We're less than 24 hours away from taking off for Venezuela. Should be an interesting ride...
Sunday, June 24 @ 12:58 p.m.
The eleven men who will defend the USA's Gold Cup title today against Mexico have been revealed. Tim Howard returns in goal, with Jonathan Spector replacing the suspended Frankie Hejduk and teaming up with Oguchi Onyewu, team captain Carlos Bocanegra and Jonathan Bornstein. In the center of the park, Benny Feilhaber rejoins the starting group to partner with Pablo Mastroeni. DaMarcus Beasley, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan make up three quarters of the front four in attack, with Brian Ching earning his first start of the tournament to fill out the group.
Saturday, June 23 @ 9:38 p.m.
As the team sat down for a meeting, Jay DeMerit told a quick story: Apparently after dinner, a group of autograph hunters pulled aside some of the players to get signatures. As Jay was walking out of the meal room, one of them called: “Hey Frankie, can you sign this please?” Well, there’s no chance that Jay is getting mistaken for Frankie Hejduk, but as he tells it there has been more than one occasion now that has he been presumed to be Frankie Simek. Jay said nothing, but signed the photos anyways – in Frankie’s name. With Jay was his buddy Morris, who was also asked to sign a photo. He obliged, signing the picture with the name “MORRIS” in big letters. As he handed it back, the autograph hunter’s thrill at making a quick buck on eBay turned to confusion: “Wait,” he asks Morris as the two walk away, “so which player are you?” Good times.
After the meeting, a few of us returned to the meal room where Eddie Johnson had brought his 18-month old daughter Zoë in to say hello. At first, Zoë was a bit shy but that only lasted about two minutes. Pretty soon she was off and running around the room. Needless to say Zoë is incredibly adorable, so much so that our amazing general manager Pam, who is normally up to her neck in work the day before a game, was immediately distracted and took an unprecedented 15-minute break to play with Zoë. There was no chance that Eddie’s calls of “Night night!” were going to be successful, and the last that us in the meal room saw of Zoë (and Pam for that matter) was her running down the hall.
Saturday, June 23 @ 6:08 p.m.
Today's press conference was mostly conducted in Spanish - Landon and Pablo are obviously fluent and favorites of the Latino press , and even Bob Bradley got into the act by answering a question en Español! Nonetheless, this was Bob's statement on reaching the final:
"We're very excited. We feel that the work we have put in throughout this year has paid off in terms of giving us the opportunity to defend our Gold Cup title. Championship games are what players work hard for in their careers, and in these moments you expect that the team will come together and deliver a strong performance. We certainly have respect for Mexico, but we believe in ourselves. We're excited and ready for an excellent match."
Saturday, June 23 @ 5:08 p.m.
CONCACAF has announced the All Tournament Team for the 2007 Gold Cup, and two U.S. players made the Best XI. Frankie Hejduk, who scored the opening goal in the 2-1 semifinal win against Canada, and Pablo Mastroeni were selected by the Technical Study Group. Mastroeni, who arguably could have been named Sierra Mist Man of the Match in the semifinal, has been a dominating presence in the center of the park. Both DaMarcus Beasley and Landon Donovan picked up honorable mentions. The Best XI:
Goalkeeper: Franck Grandel (GLP)
Defenders: Felipe Baloy (PAN), Richard Hastings (CAN, Frankie Hejduk (USA), Carlos Salcido (MEX)
Midfielders: Walter Centeno (CRC), Julian DeGuzman (CAN), Pablo Mastroeni (USA), Pavel Pardo(MEX),
Forwards: Carlos Pavón (HON),Blas Perez (PAN)
Saturday, June 23 @ 2:18 p.m.
Saturday, June 23 @ 8:30 a.m.
So after all that, we think Jen would understand that yesterday was a tough day to keep you all in the loop. Come to think of it, Jen would have got all that stuff done AND posted six blog entries. Now we feel even guiltier ...
Friday, June 22 @ 9:15 a.m.
Rachel reached out to U.S. Soccer a few days ago and is doing media interviews and appearances this week in which she will be telling everyone she can about the U.S. Men's National Team and their efforts to bring home the Gold Cup this Sunday against Mexico.
Here is a note from Rachel.
June 22, 2007
Dear U.S. Men's National Soccer Team,
For as long as I can remember, professional basketball has been my all-time favorite spectator sport due to my own personal love for playing the game. However, due to a recent personal experience, I have discovered that I now have a new favorite professional sport: Soccer!
During this past May, I represented the USA at the 56th Annual Miss Universe Competition in Mexico City. It was a great honor and pleasure for me to compete at this international level, but along with that privilege came a bit of adversity.
Aside from a highly publicized graceful “fall” in front of a television audience of nearly a billion people, I felt the wrath of some of the hometown crowd and was consistently “booed” whenever “USA” was called out. I received many calls and letters of support afterwards, many from U.S. National Team fans.
As an amateur athlete, I appreciate the skill and stamina required to play at the top of your sport for 90-plus minutes on the field. But now I have a greater appreciation for your team and what you must endure when you compete in hostile environments while representing our country.
I also want to make my supporters aware of the similar, and often worse, conditions you experience almost every time you head out onto the field.
Congratulations on making it to the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup Finals! I want to make sure you know I am rooting for and supporting each one of you. As someone who can relate to you at this time, I am the newest recruit to “Sam’s Army” and I will be cheering absolutely the loudest for you.
Your new #1 fan,
Thanks, Rachel! Hopefully we will see you at the game!
Friday, June 21 @ 12:21 a.m.
• First, prior to our game, Steve Nash was seen in the bowels of the stadium speaking to some of the Canadian players. As most of you have probably figured out, Steve’s brother Martin is No. 16 for Canada and played defensive midfield for the Maple Leafs tonight. It is interesting to think what would have happened if Steve followed the path of his brother and played soccer. Judging from this clip though - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXoiEDs_a0E - he probably could have stepped out there tonight.
• Sighted in the USA section tonight was former MNT and Fulham forward Brian McBride. We didn’t get a chance to speak to Brian, but he looked to be enjoying the game with his wife Dina, and even found time to sign autographs for a few younger fans (curiously, many of the young supporters were in Mexico kits…go figure).
Moved up to a suite on the top level for the second game to do some scouting, and shared our space with the part of the Guadeloupe squad who weren’t suited up for tonight’s match. The guys from the French department (as it’s called) seemed to be enjoying themselves in Chicago: the digital cameras were out as they snapped pictures of themselves at Soldier Feld wearing Bulls’ and White Sox caps no less. Random side note: did you know that Guadaloupe’s currency is the Euro? So much for the MNT Summer Blog’s vacation plans. Thanks, exchange rate.
Finally, if tonight’s reception was any indicator, Mexico striker Cuauhtémoc Blanco will find quite a loud home away from home when he starts playing with his new club the Chicago Fire. Blanco got what was by far the loudest reception of any of the Mexican players. Those fans coupled with the Fire’s already raucous Section 8 will make the environment at Bridgeview pretty exciting come July.
Thursday, June 21 @ 5:06 p.m.
Thursday, June 21 @ 3:08 p.m.
Wednesday, June 20 @ 6:38 p.m.
Wednesday, June 20 @ 3:38 p.m. -
Wednesday, June 20 @ 10:58 a.m.
The players were Donovan, Beasley, Keller, Bocanegra, Hejduk, and Mastroeni. The starters were Donovan, Keller, Hedjuk, Bocanegra, and Mastroeni, and the goal was scared by Donovan
[Editor's Note: We left the spelling mistake on purpose. You'll see why later]
Special mention goes to Ben Herald, whose entry came in with an earlier time stamp than Donald's....but it was BEFORE we posted the blog, so we're figuring his set time is off. Plus he misspelled DaMarcus as Demarcus. Also a 'most unlucky' shutout goes to the poor fan who goes by tallyhoaliho, as he just missed out because he accidentally sent his first email to the wrong address, actually writing "If I lose by two minutes I'm going to be pissed since I sent it to firstname.lastname@example.org...." Tough luck, tallyhoaliho.
If you readers recall, we said that the winner would personally hear back from one of us. Well, Donald did. And here's the e-mail response he got:
First off, congratulations! My guess is that you just looked online and didn't really remember what happened; nevertheless, a job well done. My most vivid memory of that game was the goalkeeper for Canada having a blinder. I obviously remember making my penalty and us winning the game. I'm pretty sure that was my first PK for the national team, and needless to say I've never been more nervous to take one in my life!!! Let's hope we get the win on Thursday, but if it goes another 120 minutes I'll be ready to step up and drain another one ...
Thanks for supporting the team. We really, really appreciate it.
All the best,
Tuesday, June 19 @ 11:48 a.m.
Monday, June 18 @ 10:08 p.m.
Monday, June 18 @ 5:55 p.m.
Monday, June 18 @ 4:08 p.m.
Monday, June 18 @ 12:18 p.m. - BREAKING NEWS!
Monday, June 18 @ 9:08 a.m.
Monday, June 18 @ 8:41 a.m.
Sunday, June 17 @ 7:18 p.m.
Sunday, June 17 @ 5:40 p.m.
Saturday, June 16 @ 9:48 p.m.
Saturday, June 16 @ 8:58 p.m.
Saturday, June 16 @ 12:58 p.m.
Friday, June 15 @ 8:18 p.m.
Friday, June 15 @ 1:33 p.m.
Thursday, June 14 @ 2:23 p.m
Date Competition Result Location
Keep in mind, these were three very different rosters based on the circumstances. In June of 2005, the U.S. was just hitting the halfway point of 2006 qualifying, and points were at a premium. The Gold Cup roster of that summer, which came smack in the middle of both qualifying and preseason in Europe, had a different flavor to it. The final encounter came after the U.S. had already booked a ticket to Germany and fell three days before the end of the MLS regular season. Write us at email@example.com and impress the heck out of us by getting this one right.
Thursday, June 14 @ 12:48 a.m.
Wednesday, June 13 @ 9:18 p.m.
Wednesday, June 13 @ 2:08 p.m.
Wednesday, June 13 @ 10:15 a.m.
Based on the different combinations of results and tie breakers, it is possible that Cuba, Honduras, Mexico or Panama could be the USA's opponent in the quarterfinal round. Tonight's matches are Cuba-Honduras at 7 p.m. ET, followed by Mexico-Panama at 9 p.m. Should be a great finish to group play, so tune in. You can bet we will be ...
Wednesday, June 13 @ 8:59 a.m.
Tuesday, June 12 @ 10:08 p.m.
Tuesday, June 12 @ 8:10 p.m. ET
Tuesday, June 12 @ 7:15 p.m. ET
Tuesday, June 12, 2007 @ 5:11 p.m.
Tuesday, June 12 @ 3:15 p.m.
Tuesday, June 12 @ 10:45 a.m.
Amy Kettle, David Landry, Scott Viar, Matt Bowman, Chris LeGates, Mike Lott, Jay Goppingen, Richard Arnold, Matt Rogers, Joey Mice, Joshua Gass, Corey Schurman, Young Kim, David Coleman, Julie Kumar and Rory Gregg.
They all got the trivia right (including the movie line – “Back to School” was the answer by the way). Nice job U.S. MNT fans. Nobody can say you don’t know your soccer trivia. Oh, and Corey, you don’t really win anything (besides getting your name in the blog!!), but didn’t hurt to ask.
We also wanted to respond to a few other inquires we've received in our firstname.lastname@example.org inbox:
-- Sorry Matt (not Rogers or Bowman from above), we don’t think we’re going to have Landon provide his thoughts on the Paris Hilton saga since he’s “a big Hollywood star.” But I’m sure his teammates will get a kick out the fact you think he’s such a star.
Sunday, June 10 @ 11:38 p.m.
The last time the U.S. and El Salvador faced off was a semifinal round World Cup qualifier on Oct. 9, 2004 at the Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador (was it really that long?). Five players on the current U.S. roster appeared in the 2-0 U.S. victory, four as starters. So, we have only one question - in 27 parts (C'mon, movie quote buffs. That's a good one...) The first question is, can you name all five? Question #2: One player on this roster scored that day - who was he? Question numero tres: There are three players total on the roster that have recorded goals against El Salvador in their career. Quienes son? Write to us at email@example.com, where we will be really impressed ... if you pull out the movie quote ...
Sunday, June 10 @ 8:53 p.m.
Sunday, June 10 @ 6:08 p.m.
They drive about an hour out of the city and stop in a small town, happy to get out of the city, and knowing it would be as good as any place to crash for the night and then get the car fixed in the morning. Pulling into a hotel, they notice there are classic cars filling out the parking lot. Fitting right in with the ’69 Camaro, they start talking to some of the people in the lobby and find out there’s a car show in town. This means one thing: no vacancy. The person at the front desk tells them there’s not a single hotel within 40 miles.
With a broken down car and no hotel room, Jay and his friend are stuck. So what does the professional footballer, who just spent a year playing in maybe the best league in the world, do? Well, sleep in the car of course.
They push the seats up and do their best to get comfortable, but it’s a struggle. Around 3 a.m., they decide to try and sneak into the hotel. With no one visible at the front desk, they sneak by and walk into one of the nearby banquet rooms. No bed, but at least they can stretch out. Crashing on the floor, they get only a couple hours sleep as they’re woken up by the kitchen staff getting ready to put together the room for a group breakfast. They need a new spot…
Jay’s friend sneaks out to search for a place and comes back with an idea: the sauna. They figure it’s perfect. It’s got a door, so no one can see you, there are benches to lie down on and best of all…it’s not on. They slip into the workout room and into the sauna. Ahhh…sleep once again.
Final Part IV still to come…
Saturday, June 9 @ 9:58 a.m.
Friday, June 8 @ 8:15 p.m.
June 7, 2007
El Salvador 2
SLV: 1- Juan Gomez, 2- Leonel Guevara, 5- Jose Henriquez, 18- Alexander Escobar, 19- Alfredo Pacheco, 7- Victor Hugo, 8- Carlos Menjivar (14- Ramon Sanchez 9’), 17- Dennis Alas, 21- Eliseo Quintanilla, 11- Ronald Cerritos, 16- Cesar Larios (23- Jose Martinez 64’)
TRI: 21- Jan Michael Williams, 5- Keyeno Thomas, 6- Thomas Nickcolson, 17- Seon Power, 20- Anthony Noriega, 2- Romauld Aguillera, 15- Andrei Pacheco, 16- Silvio Spann (8- Kerry Baptiste 73’), 18- Densill Theobald, 12- Gary Glasgow (11- Andre Toussaint 67’), 14- Darryl Roberts (9- Errol Mc Farlane 84’)
So, with the first matches in the books it’s El Salvador who sits a top Group B. Here’s how the tie breakers work in the preliminary phase:
Thursday, June 7 @ 2:39 p.m.
Wednesday, June 6 @ 8:49 p.m - While the team watches film, we'll catch you up on opening day action in the 2007 Gold Cup. The tournament kicked off with a pair of surprising results in Miami, starting with Canada's 2-1 upset win against Costa Rica. Deportivo la Coruna striker Julian de Guzman potted two straight goals to erase an early lead for the Ticos. In the second half of the doubleheader, Gold Cup newcomers Guadeloupe pulled out a 1-1 draw against Haiti in front of a largely pro-Haitian crowd at The Orange Bowl. Haiti took the lead on a penalty in the 36th minute, but the tiny archipelago with a population of less than 500,000 got the tying goal in the 54th minute off the foot of Cedric Fiston. Definitely not the picture you expected from Group A after opening day...
Wednesday, June 6 @ 12:08 a.m.
Nancy, Kelly, Travis, and the rest of the Myernick family wanted to express their profound gratitude to Drew and everyone who helped make the event such a great success, and all in the name of the man who inspired it, Glenn 'Mooch' Myernick.
Tuesday, June 5 @ 3:34 p.m.
Tuesday, June 5 @ 12:45 p.m.
Are you still reading? Good. ussoccer.com's friendly blogger staff has got a special treat for you. If you are in the Southern California area, and want to attend the "Drew Carey vs. U.S. Soccer" event, we are holding a few spots open for the sport's best fans (who are the one's that read ussoccer.com, of course). Send us a quick paragraph about why you want to attend the event, and we will read and post the best responses and will get a select few fans into the event!
Drop us a note now at DREWvs@ussoccer.org.
Monday, June 4 @ 11:43 a.m.
Without any idea how much time they have until the car battery would die, DeMerit and his friend immediately exit the highway. And what do you know, they see an auto shop. They’re saved…or so they thought. As they pull up, they notice the shop is closed (remember, it’s almost 7 p.m. at this point). Disappointed, they blindly pick a direction and drive.
Now, if you know anything about Jay's story of how he made it to the EPL, good luck and good timing are some things he seems to have on his side (not to mention drive, dedication and skill, of course) and about half-a-mile down the road that luck and timing come into play as they see another auto shop, this one with its garage door open. They veer in with fingers crossed.
It’s open. But things looked bleak. After a quick inspection under the hood, the mechanics tell Jay that there’s nothing they can do. The battery is now completely dead, and they’ll have to wait to order a new alternator, which will take at least a day. Desperate for another solution, Jay asks the inevitable question, “You’re sure there’s nothing you can do?” The mechanic pauses, shakes his head and says, “well … we can try one thing.”
The mechanic pulls out a hammer and walks toward the engine. Jay and his buddy look at each other, and basically shrug their shoulders. The mechanic begins to lightly tap on the alternator with the hammer, and then tells Jay to try and start up the car. It works! Magic? Nah. The mechanic explains that it dies when the brushes wear out in the starter, making a bad electric contact. The tapping on the back of the starter with the hammer jars the brushes back in place, where they'll make contact (hopefully) one more time.
With their last start used up, they head out down the road knowing very well the next time they stop they’d be out of luck and would finally need to fix the alternator.
Sunday, June 3 @ 11:44 a.m.
Saturday, June 2 @ 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 2 @ 11:38 a.m.
Friday, June 1 @ 6:45 p.m.
Off to dinner, more later.
Friday, June 1 @ 1:08 p.m.
Friday, June 1 @ 10:18 a.m.
Stay tuned for more pre-event coverage, as well as video and photos from the big night...
Thursday, May 31 @ 8:22 p.m.
Thursday, May 31 @ 6:48 a.m.
The group will only take carry-on bags to the airport in order to save time and space. Meanwhile, we still have the regular routine of training, regeneration work, interviews, etc., so it's a pretty full schedule. Speaking of which, the breakfast might already be set up. Going to need some coffee for this one ...
Wednesday, May 30 @ 5:38 p.m.
Wednesday, May 30 @ 1:12 p.m.
Here's a quick look at the Anatomy of a Practice:
Wednesday, May 30 @ 9:43 a.m.
Vaya con dios, Maxfieldbergensteinowitz!
Tuesday, May 29 @ 8:48 p.m.
Haiti: Fenelon Gabart, Brunny Richard (Capt.), Gilles Frantz (Raymond Ednerson 83), Noncent Windsor, Guillamme Stephane, Fucien Brunel, Cadet Eliphene (Noel Fabrice 46) Alexandre Boucicant (Romulus Turlien 46), Marcelin James, Chery Mones (Jacques Jamil 46), St Jean Roland (Germain Peter 46).
Tuesday, May 29 @ 6:58 p.m.
Tuesday, May 29 @ 6:01 p.m.
a) eat Dorritos or Cheetos?
And the bonus question: Should the staff stay in the steam room for more than 30 minutes at a time?
On his way back to the U.S. after the season, Jay had something waiting for him: a ’69 Camaro. Seems Jay has been looking into getting a vintage car and ended up pulling the trigger basically sight unseen in New York. He flew in, picked up the car and then met a childhood friend from Green Bay now living in the city that never sleeps. Their plan? Drive the 13-hour trip to Green Bay, and along the way stop in Indianapolis for his friend’s sister’s college graduation.
The day they were set to leave, Jay actually spent the day tooling around the city playing Santa by delivering free gear he received over the course of the season. Him and his friend drove around downtown dropping of “gifts” to a number of people they knew from home or college. While dropping off the last "gift," Jay noticed a light on the dash came on that simply said “GEN.” Unsure what it stood for, Jay asked the final recipient of his extra gear to Google what "GEN" to find out what it meant, while he and his friend started their journey West.
Not too long later, Jay received a phone call. His friend’s Google search had discovered that “GEN” stood for “generator,” or better known now-a-days as the alternator. And since the light was on it meant the alternator was dead. Jay looked around…it was 6 p.m., they were on the New Jersey Turkpike and were running only on the reserve power in the battery. With no auto shop in sight, they had no idea whether they had one minute or one hour of juice. Would their trip end before it even started?
After the interview with DeMerit, he told us a pretty hilarious story about his New York to Wisconsin road trip in a '69 Camaro. Let's just say even professional athletes tend to sleep in some odd places when you're stuck in the middle of nowhere and there's not a hotel room available. We'll try and let you in on the story a bit later.
Monday, May 28 @ 12:28 p.m. PT
Sunday, May 27 @ 9:15 p.m. PT
Sunday, May 27 @ 7:08 p.m. PT