Monday, March 31, 2008

Weekend Wrap

Fulham's hopes of beating the drop took a hit on Saturday, when they drew 2-2 with Derby County. Kasey Keller and Brian McBride were in the starting lineup for Fulham, while Eddie Johnson made an appearance as a late sub. The draw leaves the Cottagers six points adrift from safety, ahead of Saturday's massive match with Sunderland. Derby County had their relegation confirmed with the draw. Eddie Lewis played the full 90 minutes, while Benny Feilhaber was an unused substitute for the Rams.

Jonathan Spector and West Ham were also on the losing end this weekend, going down 2-1 to Sunderland. Spector played the full 90 minutes in the defeat.

Tim Howard and Everton face an uphill battle to a Champions League spot after they were defeated 1-0 by Liverpool on Sunday. The Toffees are now five points behind their bitter rivals for the fourth and final position in next season's competition.

Reading continue to crawl away from the drop zone after they earned a hard fought point against Blackburn on Saturday. Marcus Hahnemann kept a cleansheet for the Royals, who currently sit on 32 points.

In the Bundesliga, Heath Pearce and Hansa Rostock were the unfortunate victims of a late Wolfsburg winner. Jacek Krzynowek (who started for Poland against the U.S. at midweek) scored with virtually the last kick of the game and condemned Rostock to a tough defeat. Pearce came on just after halftime.

Hannover 96 and Steve Cherundolo played to a 0-0 draw against Stuttgart.

Oguchi Onyewu and Standard Liege remained on pace for the Belgian league title with a 1-0 victory over KV Mechelen.

Michael Bradley and Heerenveen fell to a 4-2 defeat to Ajax on Sunday. Bradley's club remains in fifth place in the Eredivisie.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Until Next Time...

Well that just about wraps up our short blog outing from Krakow this week. It was a good win last night, behind a great team effort, and now the guys are heading their separate ways again.

Thanks for joining us throughout the week and be sure to check out for the forthcoming highlights package. Oh, and next time you hear from us in May ...we'll be in London!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Live from Wisla Stadium!

8:30: Out come the teams to rapturous applause from the fans. They're lining up for the national anthems now (played by the marching band), and we're going to turn it over to matchtracker from here...we'll see you after the game!

8:25: You may notice from the sub sheet that Josh Wolff is now going by the name Jose Wolff. As you can see, he's really assimilated well into German culture while at 1860.

8:24: A marching band is out now. Looks like they're from the Polish army. The crowd is loving it. Did you know that this is the first friendly in Krakow in about a decade?

They're anouncing the names of the Polish players and here's how it goes: The anouncer says the first name of the player and the crowd responds by screaming the last name....Dariusz...DUDKA, Pawel...BROZEK, and so on. It ends with: Leo...BEENHAKKER...Leo...BEENHAKKER...Leo...BEENHAKKER

8:20: Wisla Stadium is one of the reserve venues (right now) for Euro 2012, which will be joint hosted by Poland and Ukraine. The stadium is set to under go an expansion project that will the capacity up to 35,000. Meanwhile, both teams have left the field at this point...kickoff in just a few minutes!

8:17: Tim Howard's heading back into the locker room now, suitably warm it seems. The rest of the guys are launching shots at Marcus - That ball can't feel too good on the hands right now. Unless of course they're already frozen ...

8:13: If you read the game notes, you'll know that this is one of the more experienced rosters that coach Bob Bradley has named during his time as MNT manager. Not one member of the squad is uncapped...

8:10: The stadium is packed to the gills now and there is lots of red and white. A bit of anthracite too. The house music is going again - this song just sampled Fox's NFL Sunday theme. Bizarre...


8:03: There are a bunch of other international games tonight, but the one that means the most to the U.S. (other than this one of course) is the Barbados / Dominica game back in CONCACAF. The first leg finished 1-1, and now Barbados is looking to do the business on their home ground. The winner of that tie of course will face the U.S. in June in the first round of World Cup Qualifying... Big shout out to John Hackworth and Tim Mulqueen who are down there "scouting" that game...You guys suck. The MNT Blog's hands are beginning to freeze...

7:59: The U.S. is on the field now...

7:54: The Lineup for the U.S. is as follows:
Cherundolo----Onyewu----Bocanegra (c)-------Pearce



7:50: Update from field level: The visiting locker room at Wisla Stadium is insanely small! ..All the players are crammed into the locker room while the coaches are making due in the hallway. In the history of small visiting locker rooms (Panama, Costa Rica) this one is fighting for least amount of square feet...

7:45: Poland is out on the field now. They make their entrance to the theme from Pirates of the Carribbean...In the meantime, Marcus Hahnemann and Tim Howard have come on to the pitch. The MNT Blog wonders what music Marcus would like to enter the field to if he could choose...we'll have to ask him...

7:43: Need some reading material before kickoff? Check out today's game notes... The ballads keep coming btw. If the MNT Blog wasn't so emotionally hardened by weeks of travel, it would be shedding a tear for this slow-rocking goodness...

7:40: Out come the Polish goalkeepers, the crowd is thrilled...they're chanting the name of Artur Boruc - #1 for both Celtic and his country...

7:37: The MNT blog has sent a runner to investigate the lineup situation, so we'll be sure to report when we hear something. A newspaper article came out today in Krakow talking about the demand for tickets for this game - Simply put its huge. People waited in lines for 8 hours to get tickets for this match, which is Poland's last friendly before manager Leo Beenhhaker names the Poland squad to go to Euro 2008...

7:33: Already the stadium is rocking. Far from the traditional fare of R-O-C-K in the USA, Wisla Stadium is blaring some house music to get the fans going. People are already chanting and the stadium is loud - even though there's still about an hour until kickoff....Now the PA has switched pace a little bit, a classic rock ballad is on.

7:30: We're coming to you live from Wisla Stadium! The team just arrived about 15 minutes ago and the MNT blog is settled in in the press tribune. Its a bit chilly, but all things considered, its a great night for soccer - no snow yet...


Tonight's match against Poland will be the debut of the new Nike away jersey for the MNT, following the unveiling of the white strip against Mexico on Feb. 6 in Houston. The U.S. will be decked out in colors that are officially called 'anthracite' (although we're guessing the official match report is going to say 'grey'), which is definitely an inventive step.

To get a glimpse of the new kit, click here. Heck, you can even buy one!

Early Show

At breakfast this morning, those of us at the coaches' table huddled around a computer to watch part of Yeux Dans Les Bleus. The film follows the France national team during the 1998 World Cup and gives an up close look at Aime Jacquet's championship winning squad as they move through the tournament. All the stars are there: Barthez, Zidane, Henry, Deschamps, Desailly, etc., and the movie is generally really well done. If not for laptop battery life, the audience at the table could have probably watched all 140 minutes ... The whole movie is posted online too, so enjoy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

2nd Training: Wisla Krakow

Today the team trained at Wisla Stadium, home of Wisla Krakow. Wisla Krakow last won the league in 2005, though they're on pace to replicate that feat this season. The ground is the site of tomorrow night's game. Its a compact arena and should create a great atmosphere for the match - tickets for which sold out in three hours we're told.

As you can probably notice from the pictures: it was snowing! The weather was pretty crazy, and in fact for most of the day it was quite sunny. Right as we drove to training, however, the flurries started and it got to be a bit of a blizzard out there. The snow eventually stopped, (and the sun even came back out) though there is some rain in the forecast for tomorrow night...

Update: The MNT Blog just looked outside to discover that there's a nice layer of snow on the ground...

Video from Ambassador Ashe's Visit


A World Cup qualifying tuneup isn't the only action for the U.S. team in Poland. Filming for a new U.S. Soccer commercial is underway here in Krakow, the spot being produced by the same folks who put together the Gatorade commercial prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The new commercials will start airing prior the USA's first World Cup qualifier on June 15 at The Home Depot Center.

Sorry, it's too early for spoilers. But stay tuned ...

Monday, March 24, 2008


U.S. fans were certainly pleasantly surprised to see the name Cory Gibbs on Bob Bradley's roster for Poland, the agile defender having been sidelined for more than 18 months through a collection of injuries. We last saw Cory just prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where a knee injury meant an agonizing departure from the U.S. squad. Now fit and hungry, Gibbs talked with about the long road traveled. First things first. It's great to see you back.

Cory Gibbs: "Honestly, this feels like getting called in for the first time. I'm really, really excited. It's great to back with the boys and reunite with people I haven't seen in so long. I can't wait to get started." With all of the setbacks over the last 18 months, does getting called back in feel like a weight off your shoulders?

Cory: "When you wait so long for something, when you get there it's a huge relief. It's come at a good time for me in terms of my fitness level. I'm just thankful to Bob for calling in more than anything else. I want to show him what I can do. At the same time, I know it's only a starting point. My goal is to stay healthy, keep training hard and do what's asked of me." Essentially you've been out of action for the last 18 months with a series of injury after injury. Not to take a bad trip down memory lane, but take us through the history.

Cory: "It started with the knee injury that kept me out of the 2006 World Cup. I came back in November, and in my first reserve game with Charlton I did the same knee again. That kept me out the rest of the season. I came back fit for the preseason in the summer of 2007, but in the second training game I did the MCL in the other knee, which set me back another eight weeks. I returned to training in mid-October, and just before I was ready to join the first team I got hurt in a reserve game. I got stomped on by my own player, and broke three metatarsals in my left foot! That injury cost me another three months. I've certainly spent more time off the field than on it, but I've been going full speed for a while and finally feel like I've turned the corner." With all of those setbacks, is there a part of you that just feels snake-bitten?

Cory: "At first, all I was saying to myself was 'Why me? Why again?' But I always feel that God does thing for a reason, so I don't ask questions anymore. It's not why anymore, it's how do I get back. There's been so many people who have helped me along the way, particularly [U.S. Soccer trainer] Jim Hashimoto. He's been with me through it all." Since you've been back healthy, you've played 90 minutes in four reserve games. Have you felt any apprehension either physically or mentally about trying not to get hurt again?

Cory: "I really don't think about it. I don't avoid tackles or try not to go in hard. I'm just going full speed and playing as hard as I can. I don't know how to do it any other way." So much has changed since you were last with the national team. Have you been able to follow the progress of the team?

Cory: "I've followed all the games, either on t.v. or online, and I have spoken with a lot of veteran players to see how things are going with the new leadership. Playing for the national team has always been my dream, so I try to stay as up to date as possible. So far, I think we've done well. There has been a couple bloopers, but overall we've had success and need to keep building off of it." With the great schedule of games coming up and World Cup qualifying right around the corner, what are your goals for the next couple months in terms of working your way back in to the fold?

Cory: "To be honest, the first call up is just about playing my best and showing Bob what I am capable of, whether I get playing time against Poland or not. I'll go back to Charlton and try to crack the first team and get some games in. Ultimately, my goal is to get called into the England game and go from there." It's been a long and difficult road for you these last 18 months. How has this experience changed you?

Cory: "While I know I wasn't in any control of my injuries, I have learned to maintain my body in a better way. Mentally, I haven't changed much. I never get too high or too low. For a year and a half things have been low, but I'm on the way back. I won't forget what it's taken me to get here."


The biggest question from the rather sizeable Polish media gaggle at training wasn't about who was here, but who wasn't. "Where is Piotr Nowak?" all wanted to know. (Figured we would use the Polish spelling of his name. When in Krakow ...) Man, that guy is popular.

Of course, we were also asked the whereabouts of Bruce Arena, Claudio Reyna and Brad Friedel. See what happens when you don't read


The team welcomed a special guest to training this afternoon when they were joined by the U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Victor Ashe. Originally from Knoxville, Tenn., Ambassador Ashe has served in Poland since 2004 and braved less than balmy temperatures to watch the session and offer well-wishes to the group. Also in attendance was Anne Hall, the U.S. Consul General in Krakow. Fortunately they are planning a bringing a nice contingent of U.S. fans to the game Wednesday night, so we provided Ambassador Ashe with something to show his support.

1st Training: Cracovia Krakow

The team trained at the stadium of local club Cracovia Krakow today, and the ground was just a short ride from the hotel. It is cold out, but that did not stop the U.S. Soccer photographers from doing their jobs. In fact, it didn't stop the zealous Polish press either, who were out in full force to take in the practice...

Cracovia is the oldest Polish football club still around, having been formed in 1906. There of course have been good and bad times in those 102 years, but the club is now coming back strong after some years in lesser divisions. Currently its in the highest league in Poland, but this season will be an especially tough pill to swallow: local rivals Wisla Krakow are running away with the league title. All things told, however, Cracovia will be in the top flight again next year, and perhaps they'll get one over on their arch-enemies. As for Wisla themselves, we'll be training at their ground tomorrow (as well as playing Wednesday's match there) so we'll let you know how it goes...


The MNT Blog took to the streets for Easter Monday and walked around the city of Krakow. Today is a national holiday and though some of the streets were deserted, there were still a fair amount of passers-by congregating in the city square. It was a bit chilly out today, and the weather probably prevented the MNT Blog from experiencing one of Dingus Day’s more prevalent traditions: throwing water on people. That’s right. Dingus Day drenchings are par for the course in Poland. Traditionally that meant guys seeking out girls with buckets of water, but the tables have turned in recent years to include pan-gender soakings. Though we didn’t get any of that, we did get to see a bit of Krakow, which, despite the weather, is a beautiful city.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


The MNT Blog headed to the local watering hole (attached to our hotel) to catch some high profile Premier League action this afternoon. First Manchester United took on Liverpool, with the Red Devils getting the win. Check out the finish and subsequent celebration by Nani on the third goal.

The next match was Arsenal v Chelsea, and guys from the team joined our table. Marcus Hahnemann looked over our shoulder while we were working on game notes for (see, the blog never sleeps!). The bloggers were struggling a bit with certain dates we were trying to add to the notes, and Marcus noted his similar battle with his memory while writing his really cool column for the Daily Mail.

In case you haven't read it, Marcus writes for the Daily Mail where he's a featured columnist. That's a distinction that we at the blog can only aspire to! Check out the full archive of his awesome stuff here.

Interestingly, another Premier League goalkeeper also writes a column for print. David James at Portsmouth submits his prose to The Guardian. We asked Marcus why so many goalkeepers are wielding a pen these days: "Well, for one we're all pretty unique guys," (no argument here) "and I think we've got a different perspective on the game than most other players." Hey, as long as that perspective keeps producing interesting articles, we're all for it!

Oh, and Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-1.


That means 'welcome' in Polish. Unfortunately that's the extent of our local language skills, but we've only been here a couple hours, so give us some time.

The team has started to filter into Krakow, which is cool and grey on this Easter afternoon. While we haven't published the full roster yet, our loyal MNT blog readers will get some sneak previews - starting with this photo of a trio of EPL'ers taking a break from their gym session.

On behalf the full team, Carlos, Eddie, Marcus, Jay and Brian all wanted to wish the U-23's the best of luck in the championship match against Honduras later today. Go get 'em boys!
It's going to be a fast and furious three days in Poland, so we dedicated bloggers will do our best to keep you dialed in. We're so dedicated that you're getting this update instead of us watching Manchester United - Liverpool. Speaking of which, be back soon ...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fulham Get Three Points

All five Americans at Fulham saw the field during Sunday's 1-0 victory over Everton. Kasey Keller, Brian McBride, Eddie Johnson started for the Cottagers while Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey came off the bench in the second half.

McBride's second half header was the difference between the two sides, and handed relegation-threatened Fulham an invaluable points boost. Fulham, now on 23 points, sit just 3 points from safety.

Meanwhile, Tim Howard and Everton find their UEFA Champions League hopes dented after Saturday's loss. Everton's defeat coupled with Liverpool's victory mean the Toffees are now three points off fourth place.

For Fulham, the next few weeks will be crucial: they face Newcastle, Derby, Sunderland and Reading. Everton face West Ham next week before traveling to Anfield on March 30th in a Champions League showdown.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Tim Howard and Everton were victims of an unfortunate shootout loss to Fiorentina yesterday. The Toffees fought back from a 2 goal aggregate deficit to push the tie into extra time. But unfortunately spot kicks were unkind to the English side. Everton will try to shake off the defeat ahead of Saturday's match against Fulham back in the Premier League. Howard and Everton are pursuing Champions League football next season (they'll get that if they finish fourth) and Fulham is just trying to avoid the drop, so this game is important to both teams for totally different reasons.

Also - check out's video player to see a feature on Timmy at Everton...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Big Weekend Blowout!

Fulham earned a much needed point away to Blackburn this weekend, courtesy of some late heroics from Jimmy Bullard. The English midfielder confidently stroked an 89th minute freekick over the wall and past Brad Friedel's despairing dive to earn the Cottagers a 1-1 draw at Ewood Park. Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey were in the starting lineup for Fulham, which also included a familiar face between the sticks. That's right, Kasey Keller returned to the Fulham lineup for the first time since October and made four saves in the draw. Brian McBride also came off the bench for Fulham. The point stops a run of three consecutive defeats for Roy Hodgson's side, who will look to carry the momentum into next Sunday's showdown with Everton at Craven Cottage.

Speaking of Everton, Tim Howard's side kept pace with Liverpool by beating Sunderland 1-0 at the Stadium of Light. Howard made seven saves in the victory and the Toffees now look forward to Thursday's mammoth UEFA Cup tie with Fiorentina. Everton went down 2-0 to the Viola in Florence last week, so David Moyes' team will have to do at least one better this week if they hope to advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

Sunday was a day of highs and lows for West Ham's Jonathan Spector. Named to the U-23 Olympic Qualifying squad in the morning, the Illinois native went on to play 90 minutes for West Ham in the London derby against Tottenham. Unfortunately, the Hammers succumbed to a 4-0 defeat to their city rivals. The loss leaves West Ham in 10th place, but more worrying than their league position are the consecutive 4-0 losses they've suffered in recent weeks. They'll look to get back on form against Blackburn at Upton Park on Saturday.

One team who is finding their feet at the right time is Reading who made it two wins in a row on Saturday. Marcus Hahnemann kept another clean sheet as the Royals defeated Manchester City 2-0 at the Madejski Stadium. After seven consecutive defeat, six points from the last two games has lifted Reading out of the relegation zone and ostensibly put their fate in their own hands.

Standard Liege jumped out to stretched its lead at the top of the table to four points following its win on Friday over St. Truiden. Oguchi Onyewu marshalled a backline that held tight for a 2-1 victory.

In Germany, Hannover 96 fell 2-0 to Bayer Leverkusen. Steve Cherundolo was deployed at right back for Hannover who next face Arminia Bielefeld in their quest for a European place. You can also read a feature on Steve from Soccernet here.

Heath Pearce made his second consecutive appearance for Hansa Rostock, and helped his side to a 1-1 draw away from home to MSV Duisberg. Pearce came on as a second half sub for Rostock, who take on Hertha Berlin next Saturday.

In Holland, Michael Bradley and Heerenveen snapped out of their mini-slump and earned a solid 3-0 victory at home to NAC Breda. Bradley was on the scoresheet for his club, grabbing the winner in the 32nd minute. Heerenveen remain in sixth place in the Eredivise, tied on 48 points with Feyenoord. On Saturday, Bradley and his club face FC Gronigen, a major rival in the table for a European place. A victory on the weekend could see Heerenveen jump back into the top three, so be sure to check back next week to find out the latest...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Weekend Update!

In Germany, Heath Pearce made his first appearance for Hansa Rostock in over a month, coming on as a halftime substitute against Arminia Bielefeld. Rostock fought back from a goal down, and were rewarded with a late equalizer. The point keeps Rotsock five points clear from the relegation zone in 14th place.

Hannover, meanwhile, won for the first time in six attempts, beating Nunberg 2-1 at home. The ever-present Steve Cherundolo was again deployed on the backline for Hannover, whose win keeps them in eighth place and within touching distance of a European place.

Over in England, the plight of Fulham continued, as the Cottagers succumbed to Manchester United, 3-0. Eddie Johnson got his first ever start for the the club, providing support to captain Brian McBride up front, but Fulham were thwarted by the tough United defense.

There were happier times over in Reading, however, as the Royals stopped a run of recent defeats with an dramatic 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough. Steve Harper popped up in the box in second half injury time to pound home a Stephen Hunt crossand give Reading three much needed points. Marcus Hahnemann kept a clean sheet in the Reading goal, making saves in the victory.

Everton strengthened their claim to fourth place with a well earned 3-1 victory at home to Portsmouth. Tim Howard and the Toffees will now look forward to Thursday's big UEFA Cup Round of 16 match against Fiorentina. Everton travel to Florence to play the first leg at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, before returning back to Merseyside two weeks later.

In the Eredivisie, Heerenveen suffered its second consecutive defeat, this time away to FC Twente. Next Michael Bradley and Heerenveen face fellow European challengers Nac Breda in a six-pointer in the top half of the table. That game takes place on Saturday, but be sure to check back to the Global blog for updates on all the midweek action.