To all my bros on the current National Team getting ready to go up against Guatemala,
Be prepared for a battle. As I said in my quote on the locker room white board from our match at Guatemala in 2008, “Rise up fighting warriors. Rise and take your stance again. Because he who fights, and doesn’t stray, lives to fight another day.”
That’s a quote from a Bob Marley song that I twisted into my own words a little bit, but that’s what you need to do in Guatemala. You need to rise up. You need to be warriors. You need to stand up for each other.
The conditions are those that you’re not always used to: hot, humid, grass a little thick, fans doing some crazy stuff. Back in the day, for instance, the night before we played Guatemala in Mazatenango in 2000, all of a sudden we had a radio station outside of our hotel room blaring music. It was actually really good music, but it was blasting until the early hours of the morning and none of us could sleep that night. We were up and we heard everything.
It’s just different. It’s their place and they’re using every advantage they can to throw you off your game. What you need to concentrate on is yourselves and each other. You’re ready to put your mind in a different place when you step on that field together.
You’re with your nation. Your fans are behind you, your country is behind you, but they have theirs behind them as well. Who’s going to rise up? Who’s going to fight? Who’s going to not stray? Who’s not going to give in to the conditions, to the battle at hand? Who’s not going to run away and take the battle at hand face-on?
If you’re knocked down, the next guy is right there behind you. You need to fight for each other. When a player looks a little bit tired, you need to be the one that’s picking him up. You need to be the one that’s there for him, just like a tribe. This is what we do - and this is what you need to do here to win.
Hedjuk (far right) celebrates with 2007 teammates Taylor Twellman, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, who scored the winning goal in a 1-0 USA win vs. Guatemala.
It’s going to take every bit of courage, every bit of momentum. Be prepared for the unexpected. We’re with you. We’re behind you. We are living vicariously through you.
Believe me, I wish I could be on that field right now with you guys. You always talk about the glory days, and those glory days can continue through you guys. My heart, my soul, everything I had when I played in Guatemala back in the days, it’s with you guys now. Go out, do what you can, and make sure you leave everything on the field. You don’t ever want to walk off a field thinking you could have given a little more.
As long as you do that, that’s all we can ask for. If you give that effort, the result will take care of itself. As long as you give everything you have for that next guy standing next to you, you’ll be alright.
Good luck bros. Rock and roll, and remember that we’re in this together. One Nation. One Team.
On Monday, 24 hours before their 2018 World Cup Qualifying match against Panama, the U.S. Men’s National Team went through their final preparations inside Estadio Rommel Fernández in Panama City.
Built in 1970, the stadium was originally named Estadio Revolución but the name was changed in 1993 in honor of Rommel Fernandez, a Panamanian footballer that tragically died in a car accident in Spain in May of that year.
Remodeled in 2009 and now with more than 30,000 seats, the stadium is the largest in Panama and will undoubtedly be packed to the brim on Tuesday night.
Before the chaos, U.S. Soccer asked team photographer John Dorton to provide fans back home in the United States with a unique look at the historic venue.
Check out Dorton’s personal photographic tour.Read more