Thursday, January 31, 2008

BRIAN AND KASEY BACK IN BUSINESS

OK, this probably belongs on the Global Blog, but we couldn't resist the good news. Brian McBride played 90 minutes in a reserve match yesterday for Fulham, as did Kasey Keller. We happened to catch Brian online this morning, and he told us that he is feeling fit and hoping to return to first team action as soon as possible. Coincidentally (we swear), happened to talk to the Keller family this afternoon. Ditto for Kasey.

McBride suffered a dislocated kneecap back in August, while Keller tore a bicep muscle in his right arm at the end of October. Welcome back boys ...

RICARDO RESPONDS

Thanks to everyone that wrote in with questions for Ricardo. Here's what he had to say.


Matt said: What do you do outside of soccer?

Ricardo: “I take care of my family, spending time with my wife and son. I like to coach soccer. Right now I’m coaching at the local Boys & Girls Club in Houston.”

scottyb10 said: Ricardo, what exactly happened with the situation with Carlos. Was it a frustration thing or did he say something that pushed you?

Ricardo: “It was frustrating because Carlos is the type of guy that can get under you skin during the game. He had been coming at me all game, and on that particular play I retaliated. I don’t regret standing up for myself, but I do regret the way in which I reacted. I should have reacted in a more professional manner. The worst part is that taking those actions hurts your team. I have learned from it and put it all behind me. I’m anxious to get back on the field for Houston.”

Jonathan said: Rico, can you elaborate on the defensive vs. offensive responsibilities you have for the U.S. team? I'm particularly curious about how you strike the balance between getting forward and supporting the attack and also supporting the back line of defense. Do different CM's have different roles on the U.S. team? Looking forward to seeing you help us beat Mexico in Houston.

Ricardo: “I think with the national team that both central midfielders have pretty much the same role. When we play with two, both have to be on the same page, keeping their defensive shape so there is balance when one is in more of an attacking position. You have to be aware during the games so you can positioning syncs with the other 10 players on the field.”

Terrence said: This question pertains to the future, so it can be asked Feb. 6, 2008, after the game. How does it feel to beat Mexico again?

Ricardo: “Let’s hope there is another win! The USA-Mexico rivalry is a big one, and there is a lot at stake no matter what the game. When we play them, more times than not it is a pro-Mexican crowd, so you have to learn how to deal with that. I don’t let that bother me. The atmosphere in general adds to the intensity of the game. It would be great to play in front of the Houston fans as well.”

BobWeir said: Which league would you most like to play in if you were to leave the MLS this transfer window? After winning back-to-back titles have you given more thought to when you would prefer moving to another league?

Ricardo: “I have two more years left on my contract, and I am happy with my situation the Dynamo. Looking down the road, if I had the option to choose which league, I would say the English Premier League because I like the style of play there.”

Brice said: Where is your favorite place to eat in Houston?

Ricardo: “That’s a good question. We really like this Indian restaurant called Moksha. They have great Roti and Naan. I like spicy food.”

Gabe said: What CD do you have in the player right now?

Ricardo: “Ear Drum by Talib Kweli. His lyrics are tight.”

Who is your favorite teammate you have ever played with, for club or country, and why?

Ricardo: “I’ll say Dwayne DeRosario. He is the best player never to win the MLS MVP award. He is very talented, and he is my partner in the midfield.”

Rosie said: What is your favorite food?

Ricardo: “Roti and Curry Chicken.”

What are your favorite soccer teams? Leagues?

Ricardo: “Right now it is Arsenal. I like their style of play because they move the ball really well.”

cnelson said: Ricardo, it's nice to see you taking those long range shots. I don't see enough of that from the U.S., except maybe Convey and Heath Pearce when they play. That goal you got in the Copa, I think was around the 18, and it was pretty sweet. How'd that feel?

Ricardo: “It was unbelievable because it was my first goal with the national team and it tied the game. Unfortunately we wound up losing, but I am still thankful that I was able to get my first goal. Shooting from distance is something that I have been working on in the off season. Playing in my position, you only get so many chances around goal, so you have to take advantage of them. I think any opportunity you get to shoot, you should. You don’t shoot, you don’t score goals.”

Shannon said: Hey, I’m a senior at Steele High and I believe in March that the Dynamo are supposed to play a game at my high school along w/ D.C., Chivas, and Toronto. Will you be with the team, and will any other player at the camp right now? Really hope you are!

Ricardo: “I should be there, along with Eddie Robinson and Brad Davis. So make sure you wave! We’re looking forward to starting the year and defending our back-to-back titles. There have been a few changes in the off season, but the core of the team is still there and we are confident we can challenge for our third straight championship.”

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

HAND BALL!

(It does not mean what you think it means.)





For a change of pace, the team warmed up to start tonight's session with a little game of handball. Refereed by Pierre Barrieu, who left the New York Red Bulls to rejoin the national team staff, the rules of the game are simple: Pass with your hands, score with your head. You only get three steps, and if you're tagged (two-hand touch) it is a turnover. Sure it's just for fun, but if you think these guys aren't competitive in everything they do, take a look.




EDDIE LEWIS UPDATE

Contrary to published news reports, Eddie Lewis does not have a cartilage injury to his knee that would require surgery and a month-long rehab. Lewis did a have a minor procedure, but is hopeful to be back in training tomorrow at Derby and be ready for the weekend. Buen suerte, Eddie!

SLOW NEWS DAY

Sorry it's been a light day of updates, folks. We've been gearing up for a lot of cool things to come in the next week, so we spent today 'out in the field' so to speak. So what were we working on, you ask? Well, the MNT bloggers happen to like surprises, so we won't give a ton away, but we will say that Studio 90 is going to come roaring back before the Mexico game. And do we have an Extra Time for you!

Meantime, the new uniform launch has certainly inspired a lot of conversation, and we appreciate all of the feedback. Love the passion on both sides of the ball...

NEW NIKE BALL ROLLS OUT!


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

ALL NEW NIKE MNT HOME JERSEY NOW ON SALE EXCLUSIVELY AT USSOCCER.COM!


When the clock struck midnight, the launch of the all-new Nike MNT home jersey kicked off in one place. And one place ONLY. The new kit is here and it's on sale now exclusively at ussoccer.com. Be the first to get your hands on the shirt the USA will sport against Mexico for the first time on Feb. 6 in Houston.

ONE LESS SEAT AT THE DINNER TABLE

The training camp roster is down to 19 men after Brad Guzan was given permission to leave camp earlier this afternoon. Guzan is expected to rejoin the team in advance of the Mexico match. Meantime, the squad resumes training tomorrow morning.

(NOT) EXERCISING THE OPTION

Every evening after dinner, Pam Perkins, the team's general manager, slides the next day's schedule under everyone's door. Meal times, departure times, meetings, any media responsibilities ... your basic schedule. Every so often a word appears that brings a smile to the recipients' faces: optional. And when that word optional appears, almost no one chooses to exercise it. So was the case this afternoon for the team lunch, the meal room a virtual ghost town save a few staffers. And what did they choose to do instead? Exit polls indicate most players used the time to catch up on sleep.

AND IN ANOTHER VIDEO...

Landon sat down with the ESPN features unit after training yesterday for an hour-long interview that will be used on Feb. 6 as part of the pre-game show. They just love Landon in Mexico! In addition to being his usual eloquent self - in two languages - he gave a couple answers that may surprise you, so make sure you tune at 8 p.m. next Wednesday.

Apparently he was able to control himself, since this time he didn't assault a camera!

(Editor's Note: That last sentence was purely a plug for the video in the post below. Landon does not have a history of problems with violence towards recording equipment.)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Q&A - YOU ASK, RICARDO ANSWERS

It's time to play reporter for a day again and ask the questions you've been pining to pose. In other words, you're invited to do our job for us.

This week's (ahem) volunteer is Houston Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark. After getting his first appearance for the full team against Panama in the USA's final World Cup qualifier before the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Rico kicked off 2007 with consecutive starts against Denmark and then the 2-0 win against Mexico on Feb. 7 in Glendale, Ariz. He played four times in the team's Gold Cup championship run, including 45 minutes in the 2-1 win against Mexico in the final. Just over a week later, Clark netted his first international goal when he tallied against Paraguay in the second group match of the Copa America.

Already with three weeks of intense training and a game under his belt in '08, he's ready for his next tough challenge - your questions. So ask away ...

GOOD SESSION, NO SESSION

While the rain did its best to put a damper on training, Field #4 at the HDC held up enough for the team to go through a spirited 90-minute session this morning. You can look forward to another Anatomy of a Training Session All_Access video later today that includes commentary from Dave Sarachan on the philosophy behind each exercise, and some seriously spectacular saves from goalkeeper Steve Cronin. Unfortunately the persistent rain has forced the cancellation of the afternoon session, but the skies have cleared and we're hopeful to get back on the real grass pitch in the morning.

WHILE WE WERE SLEEPING

One could look at this photo as emblematic of the ceaseless kinetic energy of a society constantly in motion set against the backdrop of a slumbering city.

Or you could see what we see - friggin' rain again! Fingers are crossed this doesn't put training back on the turf this morning. Vamos a ver ...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

STAR SPANGLED SHOOTING

While this finishing exercise was going on at the end of training outside on the Mooch Myernick Field, preparations continued inside the stadium for the Mia Hamm Celebrity Soccer Challenge. Those preparations included a sound check, and the boys were inspired by a super rendition of our national anthem. Watch what a little motivation can do ...


COMINGS AND GOINGS

Brad Guzan and Danny Califf re-joined the group last night and hit the training field this morning for the 90-minute session back on the Mooch Myernick Field. Meantime, bad news for Kyle Beckerman as a sprained left footed suffered in training yesterday has knocked the Real Salt Lake midfielder out of camp and back to Utah for treatment. Beckerman is expected to be back in action in less than two weeks.

MICHAEL BRADLEY (HEERENVEEN)



The News: Michael Bradley extended his rich vein of goalscoring form with two goals in Heerenveen’s 3-0 win over De Graafschap on Saturday. With the victory Heerenveen move up to second place in the Eredivisie table.

Of Note: Undoubtedly inspired by his excellent podcast performance yesterday, Michael scored in the 20th minute before adding an insurance goal for his team late in the second half. The two goals give Michael 15 in all competitions, and five in his last four games. Meanwhile, Heerenveen jumps three spots in the table, though most teams around them play tomorrow.

Michael's goals today put him second all time for most goals by a U.S. international in a European first division domestic league season. With eleven tallies, Bradley passes former MNT players Eric Wynalda and Brian McBride who each scored nine times. Wynalda achieved that mark with Saarbruecken in the Bundesliga during the 1992/93 season, while McBride was Fulham’s leading scorer last year in the Premier League. Earnie Stewart, who scored 17 times in his debut season at Dutch club Willem II in 1990/91, currently holds the record.


Up Next: After three games in seven days, Heerenveen have a full week’s rest before hosting Vitesse Arnhem next Saturday.

Friday, January 25, 2008

U.S. SOCCER GLOBAL BLOG LANDS MICHAEL BRADLEY EXCLUSIVE!

OK, we admit. The Global Bloggers and the MNT bloggers are one and the same. We just wanted to grab your attention.


Having said that, we did speak with Michael earlier today on the heels of his fantastic run with Heerenveen. The clus is on a four-match unbeaten run, and he has scored in three straight. They are in 5th place in the Dutch Eredivisie, and only six points behind league leaders PSV.


All this is a way of reminding you to keep following along with the Global Blog as we report on the progress of the U.S. internationals in Europe. And you can continue by listening to the podcast with Michael posted earlier today.

MICHAEL BRADLEY (HEERENVEEN)

In the middle of his record-setting season, Heerenveen’s Michael Bradley took time to speak to the Global Blog. We asked the dynamic midfielder about his team's good form this year and the prospects for the rest of the season as Heerenveen look to push towards the top of the table. Of course, despite being in Europe, Michael still is following the MNT, and as mentioned in the interview, he relaxed after a recent club game by taking a look at the USA v Sweden game on his TiVo.

Tomorrow, Heerenveen face De Graafschap as Bradley’s club looks for three more points in pursuit of PSV at the top of the table.

Listen to the whole podcast here, and be sure to check back to see if Heerenveen make it their third win in a row tomorrow.

THE BAND IS BACK TOGETHER


Training is back underway as the team moves towards its Feb 6. showdown with Mexico. Due to the heavy rains last night, the session moved from a natural grass pitch to a turf field where we broke out the new Nike gear. That's right - NEW GEAR! We've retired the threads that took us through the World Cup in '06 and a Gold Cup Championship in '07, and are now decked out in new-look warmups and training kits.

The guys got back into the routine of playing and, after some fitness at the end of practice, were glad to get the lunchroom for a meal. No rest for the weary though, since the guys will be back on the field - hopefully a grass one - this afternoon...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

NOONAN ON NORWAY

U.S. forward Pat Noonan got a change of address during the break between camps, signing a contract with Aalesund of the Norwegian Tippeligaen. ussoccer.com popped into Pat's room while he was setting up his new laptop to find out the inside scoop on the move overseas.

ussoccer.com: How did the opportunity with Aalesund come about?

Pat: "With the Revs not picking up my option, it gave me the chance to go overseas and experience something new. My agent told me there was interest in Scandinavia. I didn't know much about the leagues there, so once some club names were mentioned I started doing some research. Adin Brown is at the club, and he's my former roommate, so I've been following his career there a bit. In the end, Aalesund showed the most interest. They have a new coach and a new stadium, so there are some exciting prospects there. The team has been finishing around mid-table, so hopefully I can go and try and help."

ussoccer.com: Had you been in contact with Adin before the signing?

Pat: "Mostly through e-mail, but we have spoken a few times recently and he has given me his feedback on the club. He likes the coach, and thinks there are good things ahead. I'd like to think I can go and help the cause."

ussoccer.com: What has he told you about the experience of living there?

Pat: "He gave me good insight into what to expect. He told me that it's a beautiful little town. Soccer is the big sport, so they have a good following. The people are very friendly, and his teammates have treated him very well. All those things go into consideration when you are choosing to go to a new place."

ussoccer.com: Was playing overseas something that has always interested you, or did you see your career playing out in MLS?

Pat: "Europe was always an option. It just depended on the situation. I played out my first MLS contract last year, and there had been some interest overseas. Because of my injuries, I think some clubs lost interest at the time. At that point, my interest level wasn't that high either. I re-signed with Revs and really hoped to win a championship. I found out in the off-season that my option was not picked up. I was disappointed in their decision, but maybe it was a blessing. Now I have the chance to go overseas and give it a shot, and hopefully move on from there."

ussoccer.com: You've had such a great core group of players in New England for several years, and come so close to winning a championship. Does it feel like you're leaving some unfinished business?

Pat: "No question it's tough to leave. You don't find too many locker rooms that have that kind of chemistry both on and off field. There was a lot of talent, and really good people as well. It's difficult going to the final three years in a row and not winning one. There is sadness in leaving close friends and teammates, but it is time for a new experience and new challenge."

ussoccer.com: Any ideas on why you couldn't get over the hump?

Pat: "No. In all three finals, I thought we could win the game. Maybe we were lacking a killer instinct. In 2005, it wasn't a great game. There were no really great chances for either team. It was a defensive game, and I felt like we were just as deserving to win. In 2006, we were up a goal, and played better than Houston. We had a lapse for 12 seconds, and all of a sudden you lose on penalties. That was the hardest loss to take, because we were minutes away from winning. Last year, same thing: Houston found away to win. If you get blown out it's one thing, because you can look for things that you could do differently. I thought we were the better team in all three of them and just couldn't get a result."

ussoccer.com: Do you think the move to Europe will have an impact on your prospects with the national team?

Pat: "I don't think so. Bob is straightforward and fair. If you are doing well with your club, regardless if you are in Europe or not, you get a shot. He is pretty good about keeping track of players all over the world, as you can see from all the different faces that come in and out. From there, it's all about coming into each camp and performing. Right now, that's all I am focused on."

BIENVENIDO

It's only been five days since the U.S. started 2008 in style with the 2-0 win against Sweden at the HDC, and already we're back in business in Carson. Nineteen of 21 players have arrived to start training tomorrow, with Dan Califf and Brad Guzan expected to arrive later in the day. One thing that hasn't changed is the weather; Los Angeles is still suffering through storms, and there was even a tornado watch earlier tonight! Like the postal service, a little weather won't get in the way of the MNT blog delivering you the latest news from inside the Carson camp as the team starts to kick it gear to get ready for the Mexico match on Feb. 6 in Houston. Welcome back, and off we go ...

EDDIE JOHNSON (FULHAM)

Welcome to U.S. Soccer Global, Eddie! Following the approval of his work permit Wednesday, Eddie Johnson becomes the fifth American on the Cottagers roster, joining Clint Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra, Kasey Keller and Brian McBride.

Following the announcement of his transfer, Eddie sat down with ussoccer.com to talk about the next phase of his professional career.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

MICHAEL BRADLEY (HEERENVEEN)

Michael Bradley continue his searing club form tonight, scoring once and also providing an assist in Heerenveen's emphatic 5-1 victory over VVV Venlo. Bradley scored the first goal for Heerenveen and assisted on the second, as his club went on to route struggling VVV.

The goal is Bradley's 13th in all competitions, and Heerenveen climbed to fourth place with the victory. Next they play De Graafschap on Saturday.

Eddie Johnson Signs with Fulham

We now have a new addition to the Global Blog: Eddie Johnson! Today the 23 year old finalized a deal with Fulham FC after being granted a work permit.

You can read about the deal on Fulham’s website.

Roy Hodgson has been digging into the transfer market pretty heavily this January, you can read about some prospective dealings of his here.

Fulham slipped out of the FA Cup last night, after losing in a shootout to Bristol Rovers. Clint Dempsey and Carlos Bocanegra played all 120 minutes.

In some good news, however, Kasey Keller played the full 90 minutes of a training match behind closed doors. Read about it here.

Fulham face Bolton this weekend and Johnson could be thrown right into the fray. The Cottagers desperately need points as they remained marooned in the relegation zone.

Monday, January 21, 2008

See You Soon

We're closing the books on the first camp of 2008, but the ink will barely be dry before we resume later this week as the U.S. prepares for the always enticing encounter with Mexico. Meantime, the team now has its first 500 games under its belt, reaching that milestone with an even 194-194-112 record. In the history-making game, one player added yet another record to his already distinguished career while three players got their first cap for the full team, one even getting his first goal to boot. It was an eventful and productive two-plus weeks in California, and we're not quite finished yet. Check back on ussoccer.com for a behind-the-scenes look at the USA's 2-0 win against Sweden, as well as a special tribute to the newly crowned leader in goal scoring for the United States, Landon Donovan.

Si se puede ...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

WEEKEND WRAP UP

On Sunday, West Ham faced Manchester City for the second time in a week, after the two teams met in the FA Cup this past Wednesday. Sunday’s match went a bit better for the Hammers, as they earned a valuable point on the road in the City of Manchester Stadium. Jonathan Spector came off the bench in the 90th minute to make his second appearance of the week.

Fulham suffered defeat at the hands of Arsenal on Saturday. Clint Dempsey and Carlos Bocanegra both played 90 minutes in the loss.

Derby and Reading were also on the losing end of their games against Portsmouth and Man U respectively. For Reading, Bobby Convey and Marcus Hahnemann both started. While Eddie Lewis came off he bench for the Rams.

In the Championship, Jay DeMerit went 90 minutes but Watford’s promotion charge was pegged back by a 1-1 draw with fellow Premier League challengers Charlton.

TIM HOWARD (EVERTON)

Everton moved into the top four after a 2-1 win against Wigan on Sunday. Tim Howard made 4 saves for Everton, who next face Chelsea in the crucial second leg of the Carling Cup semifinals. The Toffees need to overturn a one-goal deficit on Wednesday to advance the finals. That game, which is at Goodison Park, will be televised on Setanta, with kickoff at 2 pm ET. We suggest taking a long lunch hour that day…

MICHAEL BRADLEY (HEERENVEEN)

The News: Michael Bradley scored and had an assist in Heerenveens’s 4-0 destruction of AZ Alkmaar yesterday.

Of Note: Bradley assisted on the third goal, and then got on the scoresheet himself to cap Heerenveen’s win on Saturday. The three points push Heerenveen into 6th place, as they look to qualify for Europe next year. For Bradley, it was his twelfth goal on the season, and eighth in the Eredivisie.
Michael's assist...
Michael's goal, Heerenveen's fourth...

Up Next: Heerenveen take on VVV Venlo on Wednesday in a midweek matchup, and then face De Graafschap next Saturday. With both opponents struggling in the lower half of the table, Heerenveen will look for six points to keep pace with leaders PSV.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Starting Lineup

The starting eleven for the U.S. in today’s game is as follows:

1- Guzan; 15- Drew Moor, 12- Jimmy Conrad, 8- Eddie Robinson, 6- Ramiro Corrales; 10- Landon Donovan (capt.), 19- Maurice Edu, 13- Ricardo Clark, 22- Brad Davis; 11- Pat Noonan, 20- Taylor Twellman

Subs: 1- Steve Cronin; 7- Clarence Goodson, 16- Michael Parkhurst; 23- Jeremiah White, 26- Sacha Kljestan; 14- Josmer Altidore, 17- Chris Rolfe

Well that’s the last post before the game! Be sure to check out the video preview here… (its in the all_access player)

And follow along with the game on ussoccer.com's matchtracker.

Wishing Star Visit



Brandon Robo was a special guest at yesterday’s training session at the HDC, which was closed to all others visitors and media. Brandon is a junior in high school in Washington where he also plays soccer. Through the Wishing Star Foundation, Brandon, who suffers from severe type I diabetes, came to practice with his family (he’s had to wait two years because his dad was stationed in Iraq and Brandon wanted him to be there) and was invited down to the field to meet the players. Landon Donovan also presented Brandon a game ball, which he had signed, and a jersey with the #10 and his last name on the back. Today Brandon's family will be at the game where they’ll hopefully see a U.S. victory!


Check out more information on the Wishing Star Foundation here..

LAST ONE DONE

The team got their first look inside the HDC in 2008 last night during an hour long training session. The activities in a pre-game practice are fairly consistent, the group normally working on shape and assignments for attacking and defending re-starts and finishing with shooting. One factor did stand out - it gets cold in the stadium at that time of day. So if you're coming to the match tonight, dress warmly.

Friday, January 18, 2008

SORBER SCOUTING REPORT

We sat down with U.S. assistant coach Mike Sorber to get the skinny on Sweden and to hear his thoughts on the training camp so far. Here's a sample:

On the goals heading into the January camp: “I think our goal is to continue to build off of what we set last year – laying the foundation for how we want to play as a team, how we compete, and all the details that come in between. We continue to build off of what we started in 2007, and as we head into the Sweden game we look to be challenged on the things that we’ve worked on.”

On the characteristics of Sweden: “Sweden has a good mentality and they know how they want to play. It seems like it’s easy or simple, but when I say that I mean they know how to be mobile and active. They make things difficult for the other team. It starts with the two forwards who work well together putting pressure on the defense, then the other block of eight behind them are all on the same page. The team is consistent in that approach, and though they don’t necessarily have the flashiest players, they are effective.”

On what the U.S. must improve upon from their last match against Sweden: “Our reactions. The most important play is the next play. We’ve got to be connected to the game; to know where to go in relation to the ball and in relation to teammates. The better we can react, the more it will help us keep our shape, and the more difficult it will be for the other team to create chances. We need to be good in transition to create chances of our own.”

You can read the full interview here.

Also check out this brief article on the four players in MNT Camp who are age eligible for the U-23s and how this experience will aid their efforts to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

Danny Califf's Top 3 Games

Danny Califf answers our question about the top 3 games in U.S. Soccer history...What do you think? Be sure to post your comments either here or in the original post!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chris Rolfe's Birthday!

Happy 25th Birthday, Chris! As you can see in the video, we celebrated the affair on Thursday with an ice cream cake ...mmmmm.


LANDON AND MO LIVE ON ESPN2 FRIDAY AFTERNOON

Landon Donovan and Maurice Edu will add their two cents to ESPN2's broadcast of the 2008 MLS SuperDraft when they answer questions live via phone from Rob Stone, Allen Hopkins and John Harkes during the telecast. Set your TiVo to record between 2:30-3 p.m. ET to hear their insights on the USA's readiness for the showdown against Sweden on Saturday, as well as the state of their clubs as the 2008 MLS campaign approaches.

SPECIAL BENEFITS

At training today, coaches representing clubs from the U.S. Soccer Development Academy were given the opportunity to observe the MNT from the sidelines. Bob Bradley and John Hackworth addressed the youth coaches both before and after training about the goals for the session, as well as how they will implement the training ideas into the game this upcoming Saturday.

“Any time you get a chance to see how the full national team is doing it, it is an excellent opportunity,” said P.J. Brown, coach of Southern California’s Arsenal F.C.

“I think this is a great chance for us coaches to see how it is done, and even model our own training sessions after what we see here. The purpose is to make our players better, and part of that is getting them to train the way a team like this does.”

Brown also talked about what Bradley and Hackworth offered to the coaches prior to practice. “He spoke about the routine at a training camp like this and how they’re hoping to transfer the work here into the game on Saturday,” said the Arsenal coach. “He mentioned that with a new group it is important to get everybody thinking and moving on the same page.”

The coaches, who come from a variety of West Coast Development Academy sides, will get a unique insight into the match against Sweden this Saturday. Hackworth will meet with the coaches as the stadium before the game to talk about the starting lineup and the goals for the match. The MNT assistant coach will again sit down with the members of the Development Academy after 90 minutes to breakdown the team's performance and rate their success at implementing the game plan.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

YOU PICK THE BEST - GAME TIME

As the countdown to the 500th game continues, you all have displayed some impressive recall of the great moments in U.S. Soccer history and presented some thoughtful arguments on who and what deserves to be called the best. We've hit on the best players and the best goals; in the end the cold, hard fact is that sports are all about results. Is a player as well regarded if he hasn't 'won' anything? Is a goal just as sublime if it doesn't contribute to a victory? Might not be fair, but it happens to be so.



With that in mind, it's time to list your Top Three games in U.S. Soccer history. And while it doesn't have to be a 'W' - a certain magnificent performance against a recent World Cup host comes to mind - the MNT has certainly had some famous ones amongst the 193 they have collected since 1916. There's been eight World Cup finals appearances, four Gold Cup titles, a third-place finish at Copa America; in other words, plenty to choose from.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

PODCAST IN ORBIT

Yes, we borrowed that metaphor from The Guardian. After 12 days, however, podcast blog titles are in short supply. Surely you understand.

Landon Donovan, Jimmy Conrad and Bob Bradley spoke to media after today's training session. Listen to the podcast here.

PAT NOONAN SCREAMER

Today's training included this excellent goal by Pat Noonan...




We'll have a video feature about 11 v 11 in training coming up soon, and some podcasts from today's practice as well. Stay tuned ...

HAPPY 24th, DREW!



Today was Drew Moor’s 24th Birthday – Woo! Woo! A spirited rendition of Happy Birthday rang out in the lunchroom (see what a lot of practice on Rock Band can get you?) and the hotel staff brought Drew a MASSIVE birthday cake. Here are some pics of the festivities:


As you can see, the cake was pretty good. Taylor offered some to Zach and then just decided to go for it himself. We’ve got a few more birthdays coming up this month: Chris Rolfe later this week and Michael Parkhurst towards the end of the month. We’ll keep you posted…

BACK TO BUSINESS

The U.S. team takes to the training pitch Tuesday morning after a 48-hour respite, with the showdown with Sweden rapidly approaching. Day 12 of the first camp of 2008 will involve a single session in the morning as the team shifts into game mode. Danny Califf will watch from the sidelines as he continues to recover from a hamstring strain suffered during the team's 11 v. 11 exercise this past Saturday, while striker Eddie Johnson has been given permission to leave camp. No additions to the roster will be made prior to Saturday. Meantime, the Swedes arrived into Los Angeles on Monday afternoon following their 1-0 win against Costa Rica at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa on Sunday.

Monday, January 14, 2008

NEWEST FROM NIKE





This week, Landon Donovan is sporting the very latest from Bruno and the other Nike bootmakers in Treviso. (Incidentally, it must be like Christmas every year when the players arrive in camp and find a big box of boots waiting for them.). We present the Nike Mercurial Vapor IV in Orange Peel/Dark Obsidian. For those of you into specs:



The Mercurial Vapor IV has been designed with one thing in mind: pure speed. Worn by the world's deadliest players, every contour and feature has been engineered to the highest Aerodynamic specifications. Strong, light and packed with innovation, it’s a revolutionary boot to strike fear into opponents and leave rivals in its wake. Weighing just over eight ounces, The Mercurial Vapor IV is one of the lightest boots in production.The Fiber-composite sole and patented Vapor Traction System offers improved traction and comfort. The sleek, streamlined lace-cover tongue-top helps accuracy and enhances touch. An injected TPU heel wrap with glass-fiberinsert and lateral heel pods provide extra strength and protection. The Molded E.V.A. sock-liner cushions impact at high speed.


And for those of you who just like to watch really cool stuff, check out this commercial with Cristiano Ronaldo racing a race car. Incidentally, Ronaldo wore the boots for the first time this past weekend when Man U played Newcastle - he scored a hat trick and Man U won 6 - 0. . .




BEAUTIES MINUS THE GEEKS

Guess who checked into the team hotel today? Half of the cast of Beauty and the Geek; the half that happens to include mostly females. You can only imagine the conversation at the team dinner tables about which guys would qualify for the "Geek" side of the crew. The girls all seem very nice, and appear to suffer through many of the same pitfalls of life on the road as a soccer team: namely, a lot of room service and not much to do in their spare time. We wish them all the best luck in ... well, whatever they do on their show. We'll know after tomorrow night since the show airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on the CW...

TAYLOR'S TOP THREE

Taylor Twellman decided to weigh in on the MNT Blog’s question concerning the Top Three Goals in U.S. history. The poll is still ongoing, so be sure to post your comments either here or in that post. What do you think about Taylor’s choices?


Sunday, January 13, 2008

ALL_ACCESS WITH MICHAEL PARKHURST

For MLS 2007 Defender of the Year Michael Parkhurst, playing for the U.S. National Team is the ultimate payoff for a dream that began as a kid supporting his hometown team. The Rhode Island native has shaken off concerns about size and speed by employing the tools of intelligence and anticipation to become one of the premier centerbacks in the league. Getting two caps during the Gold Cup winning run this past summer, Parkhurst hopes to parlay his skills and success in MLS to an increased presence in the national team fold as World Cup qualifying rapidly approaches. In this exclusive interview with ussoccer.com, Parkhurst spoke of his first experience with the full team, his increasing confidence and comfort as a 'cerebral' defender, and the challenge of being a professional athlete as well as a new husband. Gain some some fresh insight into this promising center back in the latest addition of U.S. Soccer's all_access video.

video

WHALE WATCHING




Some of the staff chose to spend the afternoon off down at Manhattan Pier checking out the waves, and instead of spotting surfers got a look at these guys. To the reader's right is a grey whale (trust us), which according to the locals swam uncommonly close to the shore.

Below is a pair of dolphin buddies who were having a blast cruising back and forth along the shoreline.







And as for the sunset, it speaks for itself...

(Photos courtesy of U.S. Assistant Coach John Hackworth, who also spotted the whale and the dolphins before anyone else did.)

MICHAEL BRADLEY (HEERENVEEN)

The News: Michael Bradley was on the scoresheet again, but Heerenveen were pegged back with a 2-2 draw against FC Utrecht.

Of Note: Bradley’s one-timed finish was his 11th of the season in all competitions and gave Heerenveen a 2-0 lead in the game.

Utrecht fought back, though, and tied the game at two in the second half. Heerenveen had a golden chance to seal three points in the 80th minute, but striker Gerald Sibon had his penalty kick saved by Utrecht’s keeper.

Up Next: There’s a bit of a logjam at the top of the Eredivisie table: seven teams are separated by eight points. Heerenveen will look to return to their winning ways when they host AZ Alkmaar on Saturday the 19th.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

11 v 11

After eight days of various technical exercises, fitness runs and gym workouts, this morning was all about playing football. A 20-minute warmup dissolved straight into a full field game that lasted just over half an hour. "Bob told us that for all the hard work we've put in, this is the reward," said Kyle Beckerman. "It's always fun to stretch things out and just play." Landon Donovan, one goal shy of setting the all-time record in U.S history, showed his goalscoring class when he got behind the defense and on the end of a beautifully chipped pass from Taylor Twellman. With a defender on his back and the goalkeeper closing, Donovan lofted a shot over the charging 'keeper that bounced once before settling into the back of the net on the far left post.



(Ed. Note - We fixed the video)


Meantime, the players have a single regeneration session Sunday morning and then they are off the clock until Tuesday. Needless to say, they are looking forward to the break.

Saturday Wrap

After last week’s FA Cup action, the Premier League kicked back into gear on Saturday.

Everton climbed to fifth place in the table following a 1-0 victory against Manchester City. Tim Howard made three saves, and the Toffees defended well as a team en route to their seventh home win of the campaign.

Reading suffered a 3-1 loss to Aston Villa at Villa Park. Marcus Hahnemann made 12 saves in the losing effort, while Bobby Convey came off the bench in the second half for the Royals.

Meanwhile, West Ham United defeated London neighbors Fulham at Upton Park. Jonathan Spector continued his run in the Hammers’ side, going 90 minutes in the 2-1 win. On the other side, Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey were again in the starting lineup for the Cottagers. Bocanegra was removed after 14 minutes with a head injury – we’ll be sure to keep you updated on that developing situation. Speaking of injuries, Brian McBride is back in first team training for Fulham. You can read about his return here.


Over in Portugal, Freddy Adu came off the bench in Benfica’s 0-0 against Leixoes. Adu entered the game in 79th minute but could only help Benfica to a point as the club remains in 2nd place in the league.

Friday, January 11, 2008

YOU PICK THE BEST - GOAL EDITION

Thanks to everyone who chimed in with our first all-time Best Of survey. Asking the top three players in national team history provoked a lot of discussion and debate - and a few surprises.


Now it's on to another top three selection, one sure to inspire the same amount of healthy repartee. The U.S. is one game away from collecting its 194th victory, and there is one thing that each of the previous 193 wins have in common - goals. Don't score 'em, can't win 'em. And in case you're curious, the U.S. has deposited 665 in their lifetime scoring account.

So it's time to tell us your top three goals scored in U.S. national team history. Again, the criteria you use is all yours. Will you the choose spectacular goals of the 'I can't believe that just happened' variety, like the full volley blast into the upper 90, or the perennially popular bicycle kick? Will you pick the goals with the most historical significance, like the miracle of Belo Horizonte or just about any goal in a World Cup? Or will you simply go for the flat out dramatic - a moment of inspiration forever etched in the memory of every fan of U.S. Soccer.



Discuss.

ON THE CHICAGO FIRE'S NEW HEAD COACH

The Chicago Fire have promoted long-time assistant Denis Hamlett to be the fourth head coach of the team since their inception in 1998. Hamlett was first hired by Bob Bradley, and has served as an assistant to every coach since, including Dave Sarachan. Obviously the coaching situation in Chicagoland has been a topic of discussion at the dinner table here for quite some time, and the staff are very pleased for their friend and faithful deputy. “I am very excited that Denis has been given the opportunity to become head coach of the Chicago Fire," said Bradley. "He has played an instrumental role in the organization since the beginning, and has the ability to lead the team to great success in the future.”

GOODSON'S GONE

Clarence Goodson is making the move abroad, having signed yesterday with Norwegian club IK Start. The Virginia native heads to Europe after four seasons in MLS with FC Dallas.

“It was a great opportunity that came up,” Goodson told the MNT Blog. “I felt it was the right situation and the right time in my career to move overseas. It’s everyone’s dream to play in Europe, and certainly it has been mine.”

“I’m looking forward to Norway. I think it is going to be a good transition. I know there are a lot of people that speak English, so that will help. I’m looking forward to it.”

Here’s a story on Goodson’s signing on the IK Start website. We’ll gladly take any translations…

Clarence will report to camp with IK Start on January 28, and we wish him luck in the next stage of his club career!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

IMPROMPTU INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS ROLFE

Continuing the tradition of the impromptu interview, we tracked down Chris Rolfe as he was going into his room, presumably to take a nap.

us: So what did you get up to for the holidays?

Chris: Just went back to Dayton, Ohio, with my parents. I spent some time with the girlfriend and got a real Christmas tree with the family, too.

us: Nice. Did you chop it down yourself?

Chris: Not this year, but we did last year – it was fun. There are lots of Christmas tree farms in Ohio, but we couldn’t find the right one this time around. So we ended up just buying one – it was about seven feet tall.

us: What else have you been doing? Reading any books?

Chris Rolfe: I just started reading the book Exposed by Mark Shapiro. I heard a radio interview with the author and thought it sounded interesting. It’s this investigative journalism book about how standards for chemicals in household items in America are really lax compared with other parts of the world, and what effect that has on the environment, business and us.

us: Sounds like it could be depressing.

Chris: That’s what my mom said. She said she doesn’t want to read it either. But it’s good to be informed and the book will at least be interesting. I’ve only just started it but it’s been good so far.

us: Seen any good movies?

Chris: I rented this movie with Pierce Brosnan called Seraphim Falls the other day and it was pretty good. It’s a Western set near the end of the Civil War. Westerns are probably my favorite type of movie – I think my favorite is Legends of the Fall.

us: A big Brad Pitt fan?

Chris: Ehhhh, not so much. But his character in that movie is fantastic.

us: The MNT Blog agrees, and it also recommends to you 3:10 to Yuma, which came out this year.

Rolfe: Yeah I’ve heard good things about it, just haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet.

us: So how’s LA been so far?

Chris: It’s been alright. At least the sun is out now. The other day was beautiful when you could see the mountains. The hotel has been great. It’s been nice and quiet with good food, too.

us: Since it’s dinner on your own tonight, what are you thinking for chow?

Chris: Not sure yet; depends on if we want to sit somewhere or just grab a quick bite. If we want to sit: Houston’s. If not, than Chipotle.

us: How about for the day off next Monday? Got any big plans?

Chris: Haven’t thought that far ahead yet, but that’ll be awesome. Maybe I’ll just head to the beach in my sweats and hoody and read my book for a while.

MICHAEL PARKHURST TOP THREE

A couple days ago, we asked you for your top three U.S. players of all time, and the responses have been outstanding. We put the question to Michael Parkhurst, and here's what he had to say:

ONE ON ONE WITH BRAD GUZAN

The MNT Blog sat down with Brad Guzan after the morning session to catch up with the reining MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. While the development of 'keepers can often be a gradual process, Guzan has been accumulating seasoning and skill at a solid pace since his first time with the full team in 2006. We spoke with El Guzano about his budding career as a national team player, how the international game is different from club level, and what he’s learned from other U.S. goalkeepers like Kasey Keller and Tim Howard. Listen to the entire podcast here …

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

SOME UNEXPECTED 'SUPPORT'

An eventful training session transpired tonight as a double-header at the HDC made for a practice with more than a few spectators. The guys treated the impromptu onlookers to some scorching shooting. Down on Field 2, a series of rowdies climbed the fence and were screaming at the guys doing defensive exercises. After practice, the players signed some autographs and took a fair amount of pictures. Assistant coach Mike Sorber even did an interview with Televisa – if you remember, Sorbs spent part of his career in Mexico as a member of Pumas. Back at the hotel, we were greeted by some zealous bar patrons in the lobby. Every time a player came in, they got a rousing cheer from the crowd – and even some staff were treated to an excellent reception.

ALREADY STARTING

It's become an annual event. Mexican club teams play in Carson in January while the team is here in training camp, and the Mexican media pops down to a session. Doesn't matter if the U.S. scheduled to play Mexico or not, the rivalry questions come out straight away, and they head straight to Landon. Personally we think the love/hate relationship with Mexican fans and media and Landon leans more towards the love side. Not once have we spoken with a person associated with the rivalry who had a bad thing to say about him. Ultimately, there is another word to describe the relationship: respect.

Of course, there IS a game scheduled with Mexico next month in Houston, which happens to be on U.S. soil, where the U.S. happens not to have lost against Mexico in eight years, and ... see, look what they started!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

TIM HOWARD (EVERTON)

The News: Tim Howard and Everton went down 2-1 to Chelsea in the first leg of the Carling Cup Semifinal on Tuesday.

Of Note: Everton came from behind, powered by a Yakubu goal, and looked to be heading for a draw at Stamford Bridge. However an unlucky own goal by Joleon Lescott deep in injury time gave Chelsea the narrowest of victories.


Chelsea.v.Everton.First.LG.wmv

Up Next: Tim Howard and his club will now have to overturn a 1 goal deficit when the sides meet again for the return leg on January 23rd. First though, Everton hosts Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday.

YOU PICK THE BEST

As followers of the national team likely know, the match against Sweden marks the 500th international for the U.S. Men's National Team. It's the kind of moment that just begs for stats. For example:

a) The U.S. holds a lifetime record of 193-194-112. That's right - we could go .500 in the 500th

2) The USA's first-ever international match? Aug. 20, 1916, a 3-2 road victory. The opponents? Sweden. Karma, don't you think?

It's also the kind of moment that begs for lists. In that light, we decided to solicit your input on a series of 'All-time' Best Of categories for U.S. Soccer history. Only no multiple choice, and no polls. We're going to give you a topic and let you hash it out. Without further adieu, here's the first question:

Who are the top three players in U.S. national team history? While we promised no rules, we should at least limit the criteria here to a player's performance with the national team, and not with their club. Other than that caveat, the only factors to consider are the ones you think are important, so we want to hear those too. We'll be having some of the current crop of players chime in as well, so you can compare your opinion with the pros.

Fans, experts, enthusiasts ... Have at it.

REGENERATION DAY

Pretty quiet day here in the Carson camp as the group gets a chance to recharge the batteries. The team spent the morning doing regeneration work in the gym at The Home Depot Center and has been given the afternoon off, so the halls of the hotel are pretty empty. Haircuts are scheduled, trips to the mall and the sporting goods stores are made, and even a few guys hit The Strand in Manhattan Beach. It'll be back to double sessions tomorrow, so they are resting while they can. It has been a pretty successful five days so far, with the soccer and fitness making progress and the training room pleasantly devoid of patients.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Podcast with Drew Moor

FC Dallas defender Drew Moor is in his first camp with the MNT. Though Drew was capped (twice) in 2007, he joined up with the squad only days prior to Copa America, so the January camp is his first extended period with the national team. We spoke to Drew after training today and asked him for his thoughts on the proceedings so far. Listen to the podcast here.

A Small World

Last night's dinner at Benihana featured a funny moment. Jeramiah White, who plays for AGF in Denmark (more on that later in the week), was talking about how every food in Denmark is made into a sandwich, which is subsequently cut into halves. "The first time I ordered a hamburger, I picked it up and put it right in my mouth. Everyone around me was looking at me and laughing since they all eat burgers with a knife and a fork. That wasn't going to stop me." One of the women sitting at our table in the restaurant overheard the conversation and started giggling. "I don't mean to pry," she said, "but I'm from Denmark, and it's so true!" Turns out that the woman was from Aalborg, home of Danny Califf's AaB. Small world.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Interview with Ramiro Corrales

MLS-alum Ramiro Corrales has made a return to the National Team, after earning a call into camp for the first time since 2004. A lot has changed for Ramiro since his last cap: he now calls Scandinavia home and he makes his living with the Norwegian Champions, SK Brann. We sat down with the California-native and asked him a few questions about his career since we last saw him with the MNT. Listen to the podcast here.

GETTING PHYSICAL(S)

This afternoon was spent not on the field but in the examination room as a host of doctors from the Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group put the players through their annual physical. U.S. Soccer team physician Dr. Bert Mandelbaum led a group that included two orthopaedists, two general practitioners, a dentist, a podiatrist and a chiropractor giving the players a good look under the hood. The Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group was recently inaugurated as the first-ever accredited FIFA Medical Center of Excellence in the United States. The jury is still out on whether the guys would have preferred another fitness session instead.

WORM SIGHTING

"El Guzano (The Worm)" arrived into Los Angeles about 8:30 a.m. this morning, in time to head to the hotel and gear up for training. The 2007 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year completes the training camp roster, which has now finished day three of the first camp of 2008. Guzan closed out 2007 by keeping the USA's net safe for 45 minutes in the 1-0 victory against South Africa on Nov. 17 in Johannesburg. He dove straight into the morning session, which included a 6 v. 6 game to big goals, a finishing exercise, and a 9 v. 9 game from 18 to 18. Don't trouble yourself trying to visualize it; we'll have highlights posted later this afternoon.

More FA Cup

Fulham came from behind twice to secure a 2-2 draw against Bristol Rovers on Sunday. Clint Dempsey and Carlos Bocanegra both played the full 90 minutes for the Cottagers, who face West Ham in a Premier League London derby next Saturday.

Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday also played to a 2-2 outcome. Eddie Lewis started for the Rams on the left wing.

MICHAEL'S MARRIED

Michael Parkhurst, resident scorer of 65 yard goals, had a busy holiday period consisting of… marriage! Michael and his longtime girlfriend Sam were married on Dec. 29th in Aruba. Needless to say, there can’t be too many places better to get hitched in December than Aruba. Seventy guests flew in for the wedding, though sadly the MNT blog was not one of them. Regardless, our best wishes go out to the newlyweds who, due to national team commitments, have put the honeymoon on hold. Congratulations Michael and Sam!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Unrecognized Academic Source

For those of you want a quick laugh, pop over to Tim Howard’s Wikipedia entry. While the page features a nice picture of Timmy in a U.S. soccer shirt, it also claims that the New Jersey native has “scored 64 goals from goal kicks and free kicks in and around his own area in his whole career.” According to the stat bio on the right, this also includes seven goals for the U.S. National Team. Good times.

COACHES CORNER

This morning's session was witnessed by the more than 50 'A' licensed coaches who are at the National Training Center this weekend to participate in the 'A' audit, which is required for any licensed coach to maintain their status. In addition to a series of lectures and on-field activities - which includes talks from Bob Bradley, John Hackworth and others - the coaches are getting the rare opportunity to watch training sessions of both the men's and women's national teams. There are also 38 'A' license candidates who are going through the course here in Carson. If you're going to have to go through the challenge of passing this course, there isn't a better time to do it...

For more information on U.S. Soccer Coaching Education, click here

FA Cup Saturday

The Premier League is taking a week off after a busy holiday period, but the clubs themselves don’t get the luxury of rest: The FA Cup third round takes place this weekend.

Watford earned passage to the fourth round by defeating fellow Championship side Crystal Palace 2-0. Jay DeMerit played 90 minutes in the center of defense for the hornets, who face Preston next week when league play resumes.

Reading drew 2-2 with Tottenham, forcing a replay that will be contested at the Madjski stadium on January 15. Bobby Convey featured at left midfield in a Royals side that will fancy its chances against Spurs at home.

West Ham and Jonathan Spector will also be playing a third round replay after the Hammers fought out a scoreless 90 minutes with Manchester City. Spector came on at halftime for West Ham, who resume Premier League duties next Saturday against Fulham.

Finally, Everton and Tim Howard slumped to defeat against League One side Oldham. The Toffees will now look to regroup ahead of next weeks semifinal clash against Chelsea in the Carling Cup.

Friday, January 4, 2008

A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIEND

In addition to staff assistants John Hackworth and Mike Sorber, U.S. head coach Bob Bradley has recruited Dave Sarachan to lend a hand for the next two weeks here in Los Angeles. Sarachan served as the assistant coach of the national team from 2000-2002, helping guide the U.S. to their historic quarterfinal finish in Korea/Japan. The men have shared a remarkably similar career path, Sarachan having followed Bradley as the assistant coach at the University of Virginia in the early 80's, then replacing him as assistant coach for D.C. United in 1998 when Bradley left to head up the expansion Chicago Fire, and finally taking the reins in Chicago following Bradley's departure in 2003. Sarachan led the Fire to U.S. Open Cup titles in 2003 and 2006, and earned MLS Coach of the Year honors in his debut season after leading the Fire to the MLS Supporter's Shield and the league championship match.

WET WELCOME

To summarize the afternoon practice today, we got wet. We thought the weather may hold out for us, but no such luck. As soon as we exited our army of vans (no team bus on this trip), the skies opened up. A little rain never hurt anyone, however, and the team completed some shooting exercises and a large-sided game without much deterrence from the heavens.

As promised, here is the podcast that features Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, and Bob Bradley talking about the prospects for the January camp as well as the beginning of the World Cup cycle. Be sure to view the excellent photo gallery from today's sessions. The crack U.S. Soccer photo staff never fails to deliver.

If the weather lets up tomorrow, we’ll be back on the field; if it doesn’t, it's into the gym for some fitness work. For the time being, we'll try to stay dry.

WELCOME TO 2008



The first training session of 2008 is in the books, and the prominent storyline of the morning: it’s COLD. This is Southern California! It’s supposed to be paradise… but perhaps not today. Armed with sweatshirts, jackets and pants, 25 players took to the field for training, which consisted of some fitness, a seven on seven game, and some small ball work exercises. For those keeping score, meaning you read our releases, there should be 26 players in camp, and there will be once Brad Guzan arrives in a couple days. After training, a few journalists were on hand to talk to some of the players and coaches. We’ll have a podcast or two from that coming up later this afternoon. Now back at the hotel, the guys are heading off to the lunchroom, where there is hopefully some hot soup on hand. Brrr! Like the group, we are just warming up for the first MNT blog of 2008. We have lots in store, so stay tuned …