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U.S. MNT Settles in South Africa, Prepares for Match at 9 a.m. ET on Saturday

U.S. MNT Training Camp Update
Johannesburg, South Africa
November 14, 2007

ALL ARRIVED IN MZANSI: The U.S. team reached its full complement of 17 players with the arrival of Benny Feilhaber and Freddy Adu on Tuesday afternoon into Johannesburg. With two days of training under their belt and two more to go, the U.S. is closing in on its 18th and final match of 2007 where they will take on 2010 FIFA World Cup hosts South Africa on Nov. 17 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. Kickoff for the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup is set for 4 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET), and the match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel and Galavision. Fans can also follow the match live via’s MatchTracker.

ROSTER CHANGES: The U.S. roster has undergone some slight reconstruction since the initial announcement, swapping two for two as Eddie Lewis and Landon Donovan did not travel to South Africa while Heath Pearce and Jonathan Spector were summoned to South Africa. As a result, the U.S. will dress 17 players on Saturday.

United States roster vs. South Africa
GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton FC)
DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Dan Califf (Aalborg BK), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA)
FORWARDS (2): Josmer Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC)

ALL_ACCESS VIDEO – GETTING MORE THAN THEY GAVE: The team got a welcome opportunity to get involved in the community when they conducted a clinic for 40 school-age kids on Wednesday as part of the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), a $440 million dollar program to provide education on AIDS prevention in South Africa. In conjunction with Hope WorldWide and HIVSA, two groups of students from local schools gathered in Soweto for an hour-long session of soccer exercises, taking photos, and getting autographs from the players. "It really was a special experience to see the joy these kids get out of playing football," said Tim Howard. "To see kids who have so little and yet smile so much, it was truly a blessing to spend time with them. I'm so glad we were able to be a part of it.” Watch video of that special experience in today’s exclusive all_access video (watch).

FAREWELL TO ARMAS: Chris Armas has officially hung up the boots on a proud career for club and country. The 35-year-old from Brentwood, N.Y., has left an indelible mark on soccer in the United States, as much for his gutsy performances as for the effect that he had on the players and coaches around him. Armas represented the United States 66 times at the senior international level, and was chosen as part of the 23-man squad for the 2002 FIFA World Cup before an injury prevented him from going to Korea. A two-time CONCACAF Gold Cup winner (2002, 2005), Armas contributed mightily to two World Cup qualifying campaigns and wore the captain's armband three times in his eight-year career with the full team. He recorded two goals and one assist in 2000, his consistent play earning him U.S. Soccer Male Athlete honors that year.

Armas will be remembered on the field for his relentlessness and determination, and off the field for his kindness and values. He had a huge impact on those that were fortunate to have coached or played along side him, and several of those people are currently here in South Africa. spoke with former Fire members Bob Bradley, DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra and Peter Nowak about Chris Armas the player, and Chris Armas the man (listen).

BLOGGING AWAY: The MNT Blog is back in full force with news, facts, trivia, photos and even a surprise guest blogger as we bring you the latest from Jo’Burg. In case you haven’t been following along, you can find everything from training updates at Ellis Park, a background on sports in South Africa, a bit on Monday Night Football, and all of it seen through the slightly irreverent eyes of the blog staff. OK, we don’t have a ‘staff’ per se, but we do get contributions from various sources, which normally requires a lot of begging on our parts. There’s also a first-hand account of today’s training session from a U.S. Soccer fan that happened to be in the right place at the right time. That is to say, standing outside the stadium when the team bus showed up for training at Ellis Park. He said the magic words to Bob (“I was a huge Chicago Fire fan when you were coach”), and earned himself a seat inside for the session. You never know what you’re going to find when you log in, so for the latest and greatest on the U.S. team, stay tuned to the MNT Blog.

ON SAFARI: The U.S. group spent Wednesday afternoon with the big cats when they toured The Lion Park in the Four Ways section of Johannesburg. The sanctuary is home to a variety of wildlife including zebras, giraffes, gazelles, hyenas and ostriches. But the main attraction is clearly the lions, and for good reason – they are truly magnificent animals. The final stop of the tour is the cub cages, where you can literally go in and pet the lions – albeit the baby variety. Sure they’re no pandas, Leslie, but we think the upcoming all_access video will give you a run for your money. Check back on tomorrow for the video feature and you can compare it to the “Best Of” video contender featuring the WNT with the pandas in Chengdu (watch).

MORE THAN A MILE HIGH: The elevation in Johannesburg is 5,751 feet above sea level, which puts it 471 feet above the "Mile High" city of Denver. The players and coaching staff first started noticing the effects in warm-ups today, and will continue to acclimatize throughout the week. The weather may also be a factor, with temperatures in the afternoon reaching the mid-80's. With a 4 p.m. local time kickoff, the players may be working against a couple of other factors besides the Bafana Bafana.

BEST OF VOTING BEGINS: U.S. Soccer has announced the finalists for the 2007 "Best of U.S. Soccer" awards and voting for the 11 categories begins today on The sixth annual series, presented by Soccer America, the No. 1 soccer magazine in the United States, gives fans the opportunity to make their selections for the best in soccer in the United States. Fans can vote once a day from now until Friday, Dec. 7, on's "Best of U.S. Soccer" blog page. The 2007 "Best of U.S. Soccer" awards will be decided entirely by online fan votes submitted over the next three weeks, and the winners will be announced shortly after.

THEY SAID IT: “I put my hand in the mouth of a lion, and I walked out with my hand still intact.”
Dan Califf, describing his utterly courageous behavior while playing with a two-month old lion cub.