Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Separate Ways

Ever have those mornings where you wake up and it takes you a few seconds to realize where the heck you are? That's what happened to the MNT bloggers when they found themselves back in Federation territory in Chicago this morning.

'Twas another whirlwind after the game, with Carlos Bocanegra literally leaving 45 minutes after the final whistle for the airport and the rest of the team heading back to the hotel, and for the first time in more than a month having nothing to do the next day... except wake up at 5 a.m. for yet another early morning flight, this time back to Miami. The players and staff exchanges handshakes and hugs in baggage claim in Miami, as the fellowship began to go their separate ways after 32 days, five matches, six different hotels, nearly 100 team meals and several thousands of miles traveled.

And of course, we came home with a ticket to the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cu, which at the end of the day is what this journey was all about. Along the way, we fell by one goal to a team that is a game away from playing in the Euro 2008 Championships, produced the same scoreline against No. 1-ranked Argentina that Brazil did a week later in World Cup qualifying, got Landon Donovan his 100th cap, gave 11 players their first taste in a World Cup qualifier, and set the U.S. record for the fastest goal ever in a qualifier. Productive? You tell us ...

It's time for a bit of a summer break for the MNT blog, but we'll be back in full force come August when the U.S. travels to Guatemala to kickoff the semifinal round. Also on tap is an extraordinarily rare visit to the island of Cuba, the first World Cup qualifiers for the soccer specific stadiums in Chicago and Commerce City, Colorado, and a trip to Trinidad & Tobago for the first time since meeting a closet U.S. Soccer fanatic in Drew Carey in the hotel lobby in Port-of-Spain.

We hope you've enjoyed the experience, and look forward to having you back on board in August.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

They Said It

From the press room following today's match:

U.S. head coach BOB BRADLEY

“For the series we feel good about the work we've done. This was an opportunity to use different players, and it is important to get some young players experience. We had the confidence that we were strong enough defensively that we would hold together to get the win."

“Barbados deserves a great deal of credit for the mentality that they brought to the pitch today. From the start they played aggressively and tried to push the game more [than last week]. In that regard, credit goes to their coaches for preparing the team well. “

On Sierra Mist Man of the Match Eddie Lewis:
“Eddie is a veteran player that has done a very good job coming into camps and setting a good example for young players. He's helped with the leadership that all teams need and today we rewarded him with the captain’s armband because this entire month he has been excellent in all ways.”

On the playing the friendlies against England, Spain and Argentina:
“I think that it is always worth it to play against the top sides. The experience of playing these matches is important for the development of our players. In some way the timing isn't perfect, but we've made a commitment in the past year and a half to play top matches and these opportunities came our way. We feel that we gained a lot from playing them.”

On making so many changes to the roster:
“We make many decisions and we take a lot of things into consideration. We had players from their MLS teams and our league is very important to us. We thought it was of value to give experience to others.”

U.S. midfielder and Sierra Mist Man of the Match EDDIE LEWIS

On the performance:
"It was a much different game than last week. We knew it wasn't going to be a game of a lot of goal. Barbados came out with a good mentality, and we knew if we were just patient and controlled the game that the goal would come. We had a lot of new players on the field, so it took a while for things to get comfortable. It was important to get some of these guys that experience, and in the end we did what we needed to do."

On his goal:

"We started figuring out early that the third runner was going to be the key. Their defenders were following our forwards, but they weren't doing such a good job of tracking midfield runs. I saw an opportunity to run through, and Freddy played a nice ball. I saw the 'keeper coming, and just tried to slip it through."

On being named captain:

"It was certainly an honor. I appreciate the gesture on Bob's part. I just wanted to set a good example and try to be a good leader out on the field."

U.S. defender DANNY CALIFF

“I think that as a group we've experienced a lot. From the three games we had leading up to qualifying, we learned a bit about playing against world class teams in places that are difficult to play at. We've taken a lot from this qualifying experience as well. Even after the first leg, a team like Barbados put up a challenge and refused to lie down. We have some guys with experience now in World Cup Qualifying and that will be of value down the road.”

“In qualifying everything is magnified and there is not so much room for error. We were fortunate to get a big lead in the first game and that facilitated the changes we made today. It took some pressure off but there's always a question in the back of your head because anything can happen on any day in soccer.”

Live Blog: Barbados vs. USA Pre-Game

2:50 pm - Yikes! We've got to get out of here! Coverage is starting in about 5 minutes over on ESPN Classic. Thanks for joining us on the Blog and we'll see you after the game!

2:47 pm - We're not the only liveblog going on today. The YNT Blog is doing a similarly awesome live session for the U20 WNT game against Mexico...

2:45 pm - Spain vs. Italy has just kicked off and over here the guys have headed back to the locker room.

2:41 pm - Barbados has left the field and the US team is about to do the same. The guys are all trying to get last shots in, courtesy of Carlos Bocanegra. 'Los has assumed the role of passer for a shooting drill and is laying balls off to guys who are drilling them at Chris Seitz. Random: Not sure why Beas has on different colored shorts from everyone. We'll look into that...

2:38 pm - Yes, conman24, it is, as you correctly guessed, quite nice...

2:35 pm - Its hard to imagine watching, let alone playing, 8+ hours of cricket in this weather...The good news is that all the terraces in the oval are covered...According to unrecognized academic source Wikipedia, Cricket has been played on this ground as early as 1882, with the first international match coming in 1895 - 113 years ago!

2:30 pm - Just under 90 degrees here in Bridgetown - or so says the internet. It is hot out to be sure, but when the breeze comes in from the ocean it cools down significantly. Hopefully there's a bit of a wind out there during the game...We're inside an air conditioned room, so no matter there in case you were worried about the Blog getting sunstroke. Speaking of which, we've been joined by one other person in the press box...

2:27 pm - It is enjoyable to hear the different songs that different stadiums around the world play during pre-game. The Blog's favorite from today so far is Tarrus Riley's "She's Royal." It is clearly a hit down here too - all the Barbados players were singing along

2:23 pm - Everybody is out now...

2:21 pm - Bitterling - everyone is available on the bench except GK Dominic Cervi...

2:20 pm - Goalkeepers are out (and so is Barbados). Brad Guzan is making his first back to back starts of his national team career. In other news he is also still leading our Euro 2008 pool. There's a big one today though - Brad has Spain going through and his closest opponent, Sacha Kljestan, has Italy advancing. Drama!
2:15 pm - You may have noticed in our previous post that Guatemala has advanced to the semifinal round for CONCACAF Qualifying. Guatemala could be the U.S.' group along with either Cuba/Antigua & Burbuda and Bermuda/Trinidad & Tobago...

2:12 pm - This is Danny Szetela's first start for the national team - in his only previous appearance, he came on as a sub in the 1-0 victory over Switzerland last October...

2:10 pm - Here is the view from the Press Box here in the Oval. In fact, the MNT Blog is the ONLY reporter in here right now...pretty lonely...

2:05 pm - Lots of changes from the first leg, seven in total. Guzan, Pearce, Bradley and Beasley are the only holdovers. Moor, DeMerit, Califf, Klejstan and Szetela all make their WCQ debuts...What do you guys think of the lineup?

2:03 pm - Let's start things off quickly - Here's the lineup for today's game.
Kljestan-Bradley-Szetela-Lewis (c)

2:00 pm - One hour until kickoff, we're coming live to you from the Press Box at the Kensington Oval...

Guatemala Goes Through

Guatemala became the first of the USA's potential semifinal round opponents to reach the next phase, tacking a 3-1 victory onto a 6-0 route of St. Lucia from the first leg of the series. Gonzalo Romero potted a pair before the halftime whistle yesterday in St. Lucia as the Chapines cruised into the semifinal round. While the U.S. takes on Barbados this afternoon, all eyes will be on Prospect, Bermuda, where the small island nation of the coast of North Carolina takes a 2-1 lead into the second leg against 2006 FIFA World Cup participants Trinidad & Tobago. Meantime in Havana, Cuba carries a 4-3 lead into their concluding contest against Antigua & Barbuda. All of the semifinal participants in CONCACAF will be sorted by day's end, and we'll keep you posted as it all goes down ...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Training Day

The U.S. got its first and only glimpse of the famous Kensington Oval in advance of tomorrow's match, hitting the pitch precisely 24 hours before kickoff. The field itself is spacious to say the least, and in pretty good condition after being used for international cricket (it hosted the Cricket World Cup Final in 2007) . The team spent about 45 minutes in training under the sun, with temps around 80 degrees. Not much work done in the pre-game session as usual, with some possession and crossing and finishing the business of the day. Much like Grenada, the locker rooms are actually on the second level and in the corner of the stadium. While the team trained, the final trio of players were arriving into Barbados as the Fire's Chad Barrett and John Thorrington and FC Dallas and U-20 forward Brek Shea landed in Bridgetown. The sun is setting over the Caribbean Sea as the team heads to dinner and a meeting to put the finishing touches on preparation for the conclusion of the second round series.

The View from Our Hotel...

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Last Leg...

After weeks on the road, the MNT has reached is on its last stop: Barbados. We landed on the Caribbean island about an hour and a half ago, and we're just settling into the hotel.

Our wait in Miami was a bit long, but luckily we had Euro 2008 to keep us company. We sat down to watch the Croatia/Turkey early in the second half and stuck it all the way through to what must surely be one of the most sensational finishes ever to a European Championship match (seems like we're saying that for a lot of Turkey's matches these days). Croatia scored in the 119th minute and looked to be all but through to the semifinals. Never one to give up, Turkey equalized with the last kick of the game to send it to a shootout. Seriously, just watch it...It definitely helped us kill a few hours in the airport.

On our plane we were accompanied by a fair number of jersey-wearing U.S. fans. A big shout out to everyone on our flight! Hope we weren't too loud...Just kidding. As usual, most of the guys just slept the whole time...

Random tidbit of the night: On the flight Bob Bradley sat next to Zane Lamprey, host of Mojo's Three Sheets. Most of the team (and staff...) were pretty thrilled about that one...Good luck filming down here, Zane. If you need some tickets to the game, you know, the Blog would be THRILLED to provide them for ya...

It's stop number six on the tour since the team began gathering one month ago to the day in St. Albans outside of London, and the team is looking forward to finishing the journey in style. With the Caribbean Sea providing soothing sounds and the team's only training session in country scheduled for later this afternoon, we're shutting down.

Roster to Travel to Barbados

Bob Bradley has named 18 players to travel to Barbados, and with barely any time to spare! We're off to the airport in a few minutes...

For now you can pour over the full roster release here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pictures from Today's Nicely Lit Training

Still halftime during the game, so we're still posting at a rapid rate! So, here are some pictures from today's training. Good light on the field today:

Target Practice!

Halftime of a scintillating game of fútbol...2-0 Chivas at the moment...In the meantime, check out this video from practice today. A tough one for the keepers!

Tonight's Big Game...

Earlier today we had our first Euro 2008 quaterfinal and now The MNT Blog and friends have moved down to the hotel bar ahead of tonight's big game...that's right- Chivas USA vs. Chicago Fire! Lots of subplots in this one, but of most importance is how our players fare.

There's been a huge buzz in the team everyone is looking forward to watching the game. We couldn't help getting some predictions - so far there are three people picking Chicago, two picking Chivas, and one picking a draw. That draw? General Manager Pam Perkins, who is required by her job description to remain neutral in situations like these. Other than that, the picks will remain nameless...So we've separated into Chivas and Fire supporter sections and the game is about to kickoff! Who are you guys picking for this one?

Five For Flying

Five players from tonight's Chivas USA-Chicago Fire match will keep their bags packed and make their way east to join up with the U.S. team in advance of the second round, second-leg qualifier against Barbados this Sunday.

U.S. coach Bob Bradley has recalled Brad Guzan and Sacha Kljestan from Chivas, who have both been in the U.S. scheme for the last month. Guzan presided over the USA's 8-0 shutout against Barbados in their first World Cup qualifier last week, and played 45 minutes each against England and Spain. Kljestan appeared in the 0-0 draw against No. 1-ranked Argentina on June 8 in New Jersey.

The Chicago Fire will send a trio to the Caribbean in the form of Chad Barrett, Chris Rolfe and John Thorrington. Barrett joins a host of players on the current roster who are age-eligible for the 2008 Olympic Games this summer, while John Thorrington gets a shot at his first cap for the full team in more than seven years, having earned his sole appearance for the U.S. in the 0-0 draw against Ecuador on June 7, 2001, in Columbus.

Bradley will announce the travel roster for Barbados tomorrow at 1 p.m. ET on ussoccer.com. The match at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown is set for Sunday, June 22, at 3 p.m. ET, and will broadcast live on ESPN Classic and Galavision. Fans can also following on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker.

Training and Afternoon Off

For the second straight day, Bob Bradley put the group through an intense session consisting of some technical work followed by shooting exercises and small-sided games. The shooting exercises were particularly brutal on the goalkeepers, with balls flying into the net from every angle - we'll have highlights later today.

After training we returned to the hotel to learn that the team would be getting the afternoon off - good times! Guys have left to go hang out at the mall, while some have stayed in the hotel to watch the Germany - Portugal quarterfinal.

Speaking of which, our Euro 2008 pool is picking up speed, with separation being created between top and bottom (which is where the MNT Blog resides - nice job France!). Brad Guzan currently leads everybody with Sacha Kljestan and Jay DeMerit within striking distance. It'll be close down the stretch...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pictures from Today's Pre-Rain Training

It is raining this afternoon, which means the MNT Blog hasn't spent its customary 2 hours poolside with Mai Tai in hand. What a downer. But at least the team got to train today! We hit the field this morning and at that point the sky was still quite clear...here are some pics:

Cuba Gets A Leg Up

In the final second round series to begin play, a goal by second-half substitute Leonel Pla in the 85th minute delivered Cuba a 4-3 victory away to Antigua and Barbuda on Tuesday night in St. John's. Two goals from Kerry Skepple had twice given the hosts a lead in the first half, but Cuba continued to keep pace before snatching the go-head goal five minutes from the end of regulation. The teams will meet again Sunday in Havana. In terms of the USA's other potential opponents in the semifinal phase, Guatemala put six past St. Lucia in the first leg in Guatemala City while Bermuda stunned Trinidad and Tobago with a 2-1 away victory. The full list of CONCACAF results at the halfway point:

Grenada 2-2 Costa Rica
Antigua and Barbuda 3-4 Cuba
Suriname 1-0 Guyana
Guatemala 6-0 St. Lucia
USA 8-0 Barbados
St. Vincent 0-3 Canada
Haiti 0-0 Netherlands Antilles
Belize 0-2 Mexico
Panama 1-0 El Salvador
Trinidad and Tobago 1- 2 Bermuda
Jamaica 7-0 Bahamas

Honduras are through to the group stages after beating Puerto Rico 6-2 on aggregate.

Moor Coming

U.S. head coach Bob Bradley has continued to build the roster for the semifinal round second leg against Barbados, summoning FC Dallas defender Drew Moor to Miami. Moor has appeared four times for the United States, earning his first career point when he set up Jozy Altidore in the 2-2 draw against Mexico on Feb. 6 in Houston.

More changes are on the way, but here is a look at the current group gathered in Miami:

Goalkeepers (3): Dominic Cervi (out of contract), Tim Howard (Everton FC), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders (6): Carlos Bocanegra (out of contract), Danny Califf (FC Midtjylland), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC), Drew Moor (FC Dallas), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege) , Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock)
Midfielders (4): DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Eddie Lewis (Derby County), Danny Szetela (Brescia)
Forwards (2): Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), Eddie Johnson (Fulham FC)

100 Cap Club: Claudio Reyna

When Landon Donovan earned his membership into the ‘100 Cap Club’ in the 0-0 draw against No. 1-ranked Argentina – becoming the fourth youngest player in soccer history to achieve that mark! - he joined 10 American men in this highly exclusive fraternity. Each U.S. player before him reached the century mark in a unique and, in some cases, historic way. With Donovan’s story now told, ussoccer.com has set out to provide a chronicle of the memorable ways in which the previous 10 players joined the elite group who have proudly worn the jersey at least 100 times for the United States.

Claudio Reyna
Caps: 111
First Cap: Jan. 15, 1994
100th Cap: June 2, 2004 vs. Honduras
Era: 1994-2006

One of the most decorated players in U.S. history, long-time team captain Claudio Reyna became the seventh U.S. player to earn 100 caps in the friendly against Honduras, just 11 days before the 2006 World Cup qualifying games began. In the 4-0 victory against Honduras, Reyna shared the spotlight with teammate Brian McBride, who notched both first half goals. Reyna earned his 16th career assist on a Tony Sanneh header, the fourth and final goal of the match. Afterwards, Reyna’s No. 10 jersey was presented to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Reyna earned his first international cap on Jan. 15, 1994 in an exhibition against Norway. The U.S. coach at the time was Bora Milutinovic, who, curiously enough, was present for Reyna’s 100th - this time coaching Honduras. The midfield maestro’s 13-year career is replete with achievements that included three World Cup teams and two Olympic Squads. In 2002, he was the first U.S. player ever to be named to FIFA’s All World Cup First Team. His play in 31 World Cup qualifying games are a team-best, shared by Kasey Keller and Eddie Pope. Reyna’s 112 caps ranks fourth all-time in U.S. Men’s National Team history, and his 19 career assists ranks third.

Listen to podcast with Claudio Reyna here.

Reyna on the milestone:
“One cap would’ve been a dream growing up, so to be able to play in four World Cups and Olympics, all that was really icing on the cake. Besides the honor, I think it’s the level you have to maintain to get that many games for your country. I think it’s a special achievement for anyone to reach that milestone.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

First Reinforcements

As you can see from the photos below, U.S. Under-23 goalkeeper Chris Seitz has joined the group in Miami. Seitz backstopped the U-23's in their successful campaign to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games. Danny Szetela, who earned his first cap with the full team in the 1-0 victory against Switzerland on Oct. 17, 2007 in Basel, also arrived Tuesday. Other players may be added as the week progresses. The travel roster for the second leg against Barbados will be announced Friday.

Pictures from Today's Not-So Humid Training

It was a really nice day today (at least for the AM part) and the guys went through a light training session:

So Much For The Sunshine State

The players have a bit of downtime this afternoon and were looking forward to a little sunshine. If only wishing made it so ...

The skies have opened up here in South Florida, not only forcing people indoors but also knocking out the satellite in the hotel. Fingers crossed it's back up for France-Italy in about 45 minutes ...

Excused Absence

With the team moving back across country to Miami to begin gearing up for the second leg of the series against Barbados, several players have been released back to their clubs or to begin their summer vacations. Training will resume in earnest tomorrow as Bob Bradley fills out the roster for the trip to the Caribbean.

The departed players: Brian Ching, Clint Dempsey, Steve Cherundolo, Landon Donovan, Brad Guzan, Frankie Hejduk, Maurice Edu, Sacha Kljestan, Pablo Mastroeni, and Matt Reis.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hello, Neighbors!

Yesterday in the Miami airport, the MNT ran into the Canadian National Team, fresh off its victory over Saint Vincent & the Grenadines. The guys exchanged hellos, and in particular it was a happy reunion for Eddie Johnson, Carlos Bocanegra, and Canadian defender Paul Stalteri - the three were at Fulham together last year...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Highlights: USA 8 - 0 BRB

Starting XI against Barbados

USA: 18-Brad Guzan; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra, 15-Heath Pearce; 10-Landon Donovan, 12-Michael Bradley, 4-Pablo Mastroeni, 17-DaMarcus Beasley; 11-Brian Ching, 8-Clint Dempsey

Tim Howard is not available after suffering a lower back strain in training Friday. Howard is being evaluated day-to-day.

Three players get their first taste of World Cup qualifying – Michael Bradley, Brad Guzan and Heath Pearce.

Foretelling the future?

Almost four years ago to the day, the U.S. kicked off World Cup qualifying by taking part in a Second Round series for the first time since before USA '94. Facing another small Caribbean island, the U.S. took on Grenada on June 13, 2004 in Columbus. DaMarcus Beasley recorded his first multiple-goal game for the full team and Greg Vanney added a third to give the hosts a comfortable 3-0 win.

Aside from the victory, is there something else to be gleaned from that match? Consider this: As we reported in Friday's game notes, there were eight players who started that game that would go on to line up against the Czech Republic in the first match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The starting XI that day:

Kasey Keller; Steve Cherundolo, Eddie Pope, Carlos Bocanegra, Greg Vanney, Claudio Reyna (capt.), Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley; Brian McBride, Conor Casey

Training in the Stadium

In preparation for tomorrow's game, we trained on the field at the Home Depot Center this afternoon. We can't show you too much, but...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sacha Pulls Double Duty

Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan has been given permission to play tonight in his side's home match against Real Salt Lake that kicks off in just more than one hour's time. Chivas sit third in the Western Conference table on 14 points, with the visitors just two points behind.

Not So Easy....

If you needed more evidence concerning the difficulty of World Cup qualifying, regardless of the opposition, look no further than Africa. Not just a really awesome Toto song (heard earlier this week on the radio in our hotel), Africa has long been one of the most difficult regions for World Cup qualifying. Consider that two-time defending continental champions, Egypt, haven't been to a World Cup Finals since 1990.

There were some surprises in the most recent round of qualifying too. Check out this string of results from yesterday's games over in Africa:

Aforementioned Egypt lost, 1-0, to Malawi, while traditional continent power Morocco lost, 3-1, to Rwanda. Uganda beat previous World Cup participants, Angola, 3-1, while Ivory Coast and Cameroon were held to draws against Botswana and Tanzania respectively.

The full list of results (from FIFA.com):
Malawi 1-0 Egypt
Seychelles 2-3 Burkina Faso
Rwanda 3-1 Morocco
Tanzania 0-0 Cameroon
Kenya 2-0 Zimbabwe
Uganda 3-1 Angola
Namibia 1-2 Guinea
Botswana 1-1 Côte d'Ivoire
Niger 0-2 Benin
Gabon 2-0 Ghana
Chad 2-1 Congo
Sierra Leone 1-0 South Africa
Gambia 1-0 Algeria
Sudan 3-2 Mali

Read more about African qualifying at soccernet.

It Starts Here...

If you didn't catch this in the latest edition of Studio 90, here is the extended version of the "It Starts Here" commercial that began airing last month.

It's pretty excellent.

100 Cap Club: Joe-Max Moore

When Landon Donovan earned his membership into the ‘100 Cap Club’ in the 0-0 draw against No. 1-ranked Argentina – becoming the fourth youngest player in soccer history to achieve that mark! - he joined 10 American men in this highly exclusive fraternity. Each U.S. player before him reached the century mark in a unique and, in some cases, historic way. With Donovan’s story now told, ussoccer.com has set out to provide a chronicle of the memorable ways in which the previous 10 players joined the elite group who have proudly worn the jersey at least 100 times for the United States.

Joe-Max Moore

Caps: 100
First Cap: Sept. 3, 1992
100th Caps: June 14, 2002 vs. Poland (FIFA World Cup)
Era: 1992- 2002

Another player who earned his 100th cap in a World Cup game, Joe-Max Moore deservedly hit the milestone in the USA’s third group game of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The Americans had already upset Portugal - a dark horse favorite to win the tournament - and tied a very determined home team in South Korea. They entered the game against Poland needing a victory in order to determine their own fate and advance to the second round. Even though the U.S. lost the game, they reached the knockout phase because of a Korea win against Portugal. The U.S. would go on to handily earn a 2-0 win against Mexico, collecting their first knock-out round victory since 1950 and reaching the quarterfinals of the tournament for the first time in 72 years.

Perhaps the most memorable moments for Moore came in the run-up to Korea/Japan. Reeling from a three-match losing streak and with the shadow of Sept. 11 still hanging over the nation, Moore scored both goals in a 2-1 victory against Jamaica in front of his MLS hometown fans at Foxboro Stadium. That win, coupled with an improbable home loss by Honduras, booked the USA’s date with destiny in the World Cup that followed. The midfielder also notched four goals in the USA's 7-0 thrashing of El Salvador in December of 1993. He actually scored what would have been a U.S. record fifth in the match, but the ball slipped through a hole in the net and the referees disallowed the goal. Moore has exactly 100 appearances for the U.S. from 1992-2002.

On earning his 100th cap:
“The 100th cap I got against Poland in the 2002 World Cup was a special day for me. I had played 10 years with the U.S. national team, and it's a pretty special accomplishment. The fact that we lost 3-1 wasn't all that great, but the results went our way, and we went on and did very well beating Mexico and then losing to Germany in the quarterfinals. Without question, I reached a goal which I had set a long time ago.”

Thoughts from Training

Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu answering some questions after today's training session...

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Brief Impromptu Interview with Sacha Kljestan

The MNT Blog caught up with Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan, back in his hometown of LA after appearing against Argentina this past week at Giants Stadium. The Blog tracked down Sacha after training today, and bombarded him with a series of questions:

So you went to college at Seton Hall. Was it nice to be back in New Jersey this past week?

It was cool. My brother is still there and I've got a lot of friends and family still in the area. Playing at Giants stadium is always fun.

How many tickets did you have to hand out for those games?
Well for the Chivas game tickets were a bit easier so I had 25. For the national team I had 10, so kind of had to leave some people out but it was still good to get some people to the game.

When you come back to LA what's the first thing you like to do? Beach? Food?

I just like to relax, get back to day to day life and hang out with family. On this trip we had the one day off so we were able to hang out by the pool, relax and get some sun. It was nice.

What's the best thing about summer in Southern California? Pool Parties?

Definitely the weather. You can be at the beach and be outdoors all day long and it never gets too hot, there's always that summer breeze coming in from the ocean.

So what famous player's hairstyle are you trying to emulate?
I'm just trying to grow it really long, which is how I used to have it when I was younger. We'll see how long I can get it before I get sick of it and just shave it all off.

That's going to be a pretty tough battle during the summer. It gets pretty hot out...
Those hot summer game in Texas are going to be pretty tough. I've just got to deal with it.

Yeah, you just have to fight through - The Blog knows this from its own long-haired experience.
Peter Nowak gave me this headband though and it makes it better. He said I couldn't wear a grey one anymore and gave me a black one - it looks really nice.
We could all use fashion tips from Coach Nowak. He is, in fact, the only one who wears a suit on the plane (and looks pretty dapper in the process), so maybe we should all be taking the hint. Have you been able to watch any Euro 2008 games at all?
Its been a great tournament so far and I'm excited to see how the group of death turns out.

Who'd you pick to win?
I have Italy beating Germany in the final and so far they've both lost a game. Not looking too good, but the tournament is still wide open so we'll see what happens. Italy's notorious for that slow start but hopefully they pick it up a little bit in the last game.

The Blog picked France to win (what were we thinking), so one of us will be out after next week. You played in front of close to 80,000 against Argentina this past weekend. Was that the craziest crowd you've ever played in front of?
I think that was probably it. Once with Chivas we played a doubleheader with Barcelona and I think there were about 93,000 people there, but most of them weren't in their seats until the Barcelona game started. This one, as far as how good the crowd was for both sides was really special. The American fans were great.

In regards to crazy crowds, what's the wildest thing that's ever happened during a game you've played in?
The streaker in Tampa was classic and the kid that ran on the field against Argentina was pretty sweet too. He got tackled really hard and he looked about 12 years old - we watched the youtube video of it yesterday.

100 Cap Club: Earnie Stewart

When Landon Donovan earned his membership into the ‘100 Cap Club’ in the 0-0 draw against No. 1-ranked Argentina – becoming the fourth youngest player in soccer history to achieve that mark! - he joined 10 American men in this highly exclusive fraternity. Each U.S. player before him reached the century mark in a unique and, in some cases, historic way. With Donovan’s story now told, ussoccer.com has set out to provide a chronicle of the memorable ways in which the previous 10 players joined the elite group who have proudly worn the jersey at least 100 times for the United States.

Earnie Stewart
Caps: 101
First Cap: Dec. 19, 1990
100th Cap: June 20, 2004 vs. Grenada (World Cup Qualifier)
Era: 1990-2005

Holland native Earnie Stewart earned his 100th cap just two games after teammate Claudio Reyna, pitching in to USA’s 3-2 rain-soaked victory against Grenada in the second match of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The match, held at Grenada’s National Cricket Stadium, was the U.S. team’s first visit to the island. Stewart entered the game in the 63rd minute to assist DaMarcus Beasley’s game-winning goal in the 77th minute.
Listen to a podcast with Earnie Stewart here.

The three-time World Cup veteran’s 102 international appearances for the U.S. are especially impressive since he spent nearly his entire professional career in the Netherlands, and only earned double-digit caps in two of his 14 years at the international level. The 2001 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year finished his tenure with the national team with a career 17 goals and 10 assists.

He is most remembered for his game-winning goal in the USA’s 2-1 victory against Colombia in the 1994 World Cup, a game that pushed his team through to the Round of 16 where they lost a memorable 1-0 match to eventual champions Brazil. The win was the first for the U.S. in a World Cup since 1950.

Stewart’s perspective on his 100th cap:
"It's pretty much after the game when you're handed the ball with everyone's signature and congratulated that everything sinks in. You think about all the great games in the past. It meant a little bit more a month or two later when I saw that Grenada had been devastated by a storm. I saw pictures of the stadium where we played, and there wasn't much left of it. All of as sudden, soccer is a little bit less than life."

TT Answered

Lots of good guesses, but for the second time in a row the MNT bloggers have stumped you! (don't know why we are so proud of this - must have been the whoopin' we've been taking for the last year ...)

To review, we asked what two U.S. records were broken when the U.S. opened qualifying last time around, the 3-0 victory on June 13, 2004 against Grenada?

Many of you accurately said that Kasey Keller set the record for most wins for a goalkeeper by collecting his 38th career victory. Kasey has added another 15 since, increasing his career total to 53 victories.

The second one apparently was a little trickier. Amy had us scrambling when she first guessed most shots in a game, but it turns out that the 34 shots against Grenada is only the second-most in team history. The most shots taken came against Canada in the semifinal of the 2002 Gold Cup, where the U.S. peppered Lars Hirschfeld with 36 shots. The game ended 0-0, with the U.S. advancing by winning 4-2 in the penalty shootout. Thanks to Peter Hirdt from Elias Sports Bureau for bailing us out on that one!

The correct answer - and one with an obvious tie-in to the current proceedings - is that on that day, Landon Donovan became the youngest U.S. player in history to reach 50 caps. At 22 years and 98 days old, he surpassed Chris Henderson on the list of the fastest to hit the half century mark.

Here's a bonus random connection to four years ago. We all know Landon reached the 100 cap mark last Sunday against Argentina. Four years ago, the U.S. went in to World Cup Qualifying with then-captain Claudio Reyna having achieved the same milestone. Like Donovan, Reyna reached his 100th cap in the last tune up game before World Cup Qualifying, going all 90 minutes in a 4-0 victory of Honduras in Foxboro, Mass.

Thanks for playing!

Pics from Today's Sunny, Sunny Training

Easy to understand what Randy Newman's talking about when it is in the 70s and sunny...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Conference Call

Nothing clever about the headline, really.

U.S. Soccer held a teleconference call with Bob Bradley and the national media this afternoon to preview the Barbados game. Listen to what transpired.

100 Cap Club: Jeff Agoos

When Landon Donovan earned his membership into the ‘100 Cap Club’ in the 0-0 draw against No. 1-ranked Argentina – becoming the fourth youngest player in soccer history to achieve that mark! - he joined 10 American men in this highly exclusive fraternity. Each U.S. player before him reached the century mark in a unique and, in some cases, historic way. With Donovan’s story now told, ussoccer.com has set out to provide a chronicle of the memorable ways in which the previous 10 players joined the elite group who have proudly worn the jersey at least 100 times for the United States.

Jeff Agoos
Caps: 134
First Cap: Jan. 10, 1988
100th Cap: June 3, 2000 vs. South Africa (Nike U.S. Cup)
Era: 1988-2003

The USA vs. South Africa match in the 2000 U.S. Cup opened with a pre-game ceremony celebrating Jeff Agoos’s 100th career appearance for the national team. The game was played in Washington D.C.’s RFK Stadium, Agoos’ home for five years while playing with D.C. United. The celebration was somewhat overshadowed by the play of U.S. forward Cobi Jones, who scored two left-footed goals in the first half and had two assists in the second in the 4-0 win. Agoos had one of the best games of his career in the shutout though, and said after the game, “I wanted the 100th to be a memorable game and it was.”

Even though he had played in all but one qualifier leading up to France ’98, he became the first U.S. player to reach 100 caps without playing in a World Cup game -- although he would later appear in the 2002 tournament.

Agoos on the 100 cap milestone:
“To represent your country one time, I think, is an honor and a privilege, but to do it at that type of number- at 100 and above- speaks to the qualities not of the player, but of the person.”

TT - Last time's first time

With the computer fixed and the blogging crew back at full strength, we've been bearing down on research for this weekend's first match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.

(Actually, we've been doing it for weeks. But this adds a little drama, don't you think?)

Back to the story. As you may know, when the USA kicked off qualifying for Germany '06, it was the first time since before the 1994 World Cup that the U.S. entered the competition prior to the semifinal stage. Their opponent in the Second Round was Grenada, and on the first match day when DaMarcus Beasley scored two goals and Greg Vanney notched his first international strike, two U.S. Soccer records were broken. What were they?

100 Cap Club: Eric Wynalda

When Landon Donovan earned his membership into the ‘100 Cap Club’ in the 0-0 draw against No. 1-ranked Argentina – becoming the fourth youngest player in soccer history to achieve that mark! - he joined 10 American men in this highly exclusive fraternity. Each U.S. player before him reached the century mark in a unique and, in some cases, historic way. With Donovan’s story now told, ussoccer.com has set out to provide a chronicle of the memorable ways in which the previous 10 players joined the elite group who have proudly worn the jersey at least 100 times for the United States.

Eric Wynalda

Caps: 106
First Cap: Feb. 2, 1990
100th cap: June 15, 1998 vs. Germany (FIFA World Cup)
Era: 1990-2000

What could be better than playing in your 100th career game while at the same time playing the first game of the first round in the 1998 World Cup? Despite what most fans remember about France ‘98, not everything in Paris was negative. Eric Wynalda, the former all-time scoring leader for the U.S. Men’s National team, hit the century mark in the first-round game against Germany on June 15. Wynalda, the first American to play in the Bundesliga, also played in the FIFA World All-Star game prior to the World Cup draw in France. His most famous international goal came in the previous World Cup, USA ’94, when he fired in a 30-yard free kick against Switzerland in the opening round to help move the U.S. into the knockout phase.

Wynalda played his last game for the Stars and Stripes in 2000, finishing with 106 total appearances and a then-record 34 goals.

Wynalda on his 100th appearance:
"At the time and in that moment, it was just another game. But when you look back at your career, you have to view it from a career standpoint as one of your greatest achievements. I was very fortunate to play with some phenomenal players and phenomenal people, and that what's makes it special. It's not who you play against; it's who you shared the field with. That's what I remember the most."

Pics from Today's Training

Better late than never, right?
Check out the full photo gallery here.
Man, it feels good to be back at the Home Depot Center...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Podcast with El Guzano

After returning with computer intact, the MNT Blog sat down with Brad Guzan. The Worm has been all over the world, racking up frequent flier miles and their subsequent benefits like nobody's business. Now back in LA, we decided to get Brad's thoughts on the hectic few weeks and the beginning of World Cup Qualifying...

Listen to the whole podcast here...

Blogger down!

His computer is, anyway. To blog, one really only needs a computer and an imagination, so it was a big blow this morning to find out one of our guys had his machine go kaput. Don't worry, we've still been able to access the loads of questions you've been posting for our players and will start handing out the responses tomorrow. We'll also double up on the chronicle of the USA's 100 cap club and get some highlights of training to boot.

Meantime, keep a thought in your mind for the poor guy who has been parked at the computer store for the last six hours trying to get the green light to go on.

A surprise visitor to training

The answer, dcole, is his mood is great!
A smiling and upbeat Benny Feilhaber wandered out to the Mooch Myernick Field this morning and gave us the progress report on his rehabilitation following surgery to repair a torn meniscus suffered in the USA's first match of the Toulon International last month:

"The surgery went really well. I will start jogging tomorrow, and we're hoping that I will be ready to begin training by the end of the month. I'm pushing hard to get back on the field as quickly as possible."
U.S. fans - and one Under-23 MNT head coach - will be watching closely to see if Feilhaber can make it back in time for the all-important matches this summer.
(and yes, he got major stick from the guys for the 'do ...)

You ask - ??? answers!

We're going to try a different spin on the popular feature of having you submit questions for a specific player. Normally the formula goes like this:

1) We pick the guy
2) You ask insightful and entertaining questions
3) Player gives insightful and entertaining answers

This time out, we want you to ask questions about ... well, anything really ... and we'll match up the question with the right player to respond. Kind of like am e-mail grab bag.

So fire away!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Roster release on ESPN2 up next!

If you're reading this, turn on your t.v.! ESPN2 is minutes away from announcing the USA's roster for the first qualifier of the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign againt Barbados. Hopefully you've been watching the Spain-Russia match, which was an absolute cracker. The Spaniards moved the ball like magicians as David Villa struck for three en route to a 4-1 victory. Yes, the same Spain team that the U.S. held to one goal a week ago, where Eddie Johnson nearly put the U.S. ahead in the 49th minute ... OK, OK - we're venting.

Check back on ussoccer.com immediately following the ESPN2 broadcast to get the full details on the U.S. squad set to begin the quest of qualifying for their sixth-consecutive World Cup finals.

100 Cap Club: Paul Caligiuri

When Landon Donovan earned his membership into the ‘100 Cap Club’ in the 0-0 draw against No. 1-ranked Argentina – becoming the fourth youngest player in soccer history to achieve that mark! - he joined 10 American men in this highly exclusive fraternity. Each U.S. player before him reached the century mark in a unique and, in some cases, historic way. With Donovan’s story now told, ussoccer.com has set out to provide a chronicle of the memorable ways in which the previous 10 players joined the elite band of brothers who have proudly worn the jersey at least 100 times for the United States.

Paul Caligiuri

Caps: 110
First Cap: Oct. 9, 1984
100th Cap: July 14, 1995 vs. Argentina
Era: 1984-1997

One of the most memorable games in Paul Caligiuri’s career is also one of the most memorable upsets in U.S. Soccer history. In the first round of the 1995 Copa America, the United States needed a 3-0 win against perennial world power Argentina to win its group and avoid playing Brazil in the quarterfinals- a long shot, to say the least. By starting and playing the entire game, Caligiuri helped solidify the U.S. defense and shutout Argentina’s powerful attack in his 100th game to secure the incredible 3-0 upset victory. The win against Argentina, which seemed next to impossible on paper, is considered to be one of the greatest victories in the team’s history. He was just the second player to join the exclusive 100 club for the Americans.

Listen to a full podcast with Paul Caligiuri here.

Here's a video of highlights from the 1995 game between the USA and Argentina in Copa America (The video first aired in ussoccer.com's Studio 90 show before the Argentina game last week):

Caligiuri’s most famous performance, however, came against Trinidad & Tobago on November 19, 1989 in what is arguably the biggest moment in U.S. soccer history. He scored the only goal in the 1-0 victory that sent the United States to the World Cup for the first time in 40 years. His “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” was the biggest of Caligiuri’s five career goals. One of the best players in U.S. history, the Hall of Fame defender played in the 1986 FIFA World All-Star game and had a career that spanned 14 years (1984-1997).

Caligiuri on his 100th appearance:
“It was an emotional day. The mayor of the city presented me with a key to the city before the game. I remember that Daniel Pasarella and Diego Maradona were in the crowd. Argentina had all of their players, and we had all of ours. And I would say we deserved to beat them. Beating a high level opponent in a big competition and being on the field with so many close friends made it a very important moment in my life.”

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cap Question

We got a comment on our board (thanks AdamK!) about "caps" and where they come from. Well, who better than Urecognized Academic Source Wikipedia to explain!

This is excerpted from the entry on Cap (sport) on Wikipedia:

"A cap is an appearance for a select team, such as a school, county or international team in sports. The term dates from the practice in the United Kingdom of awarding a cap (meaning an item of headgear) to every player in an international match of Association Football; however, the act of awarding a cap is now international and is applied to other sports ...

Actual caps are not usually given any more (caps for friendly matches still exist, and each player gets one cap per international competition), but the term "cap" for an international or other appearance has been retained. Thus, a cap is awarded for each game played and so a player who has played x games, for the team, is said to have been capped x times or have won x caps."

To see some caps in action, you can check out our video from last year about DaMarcus Beasley at Rangers - he talks about the caps around the 4:29 mark:

Parts 2 and 3 still to come!

100 Cap Club: Marcelo Balboa

When Landon Donovan earned his membership into the ‘100 Cap Club’ in the 0-0 draw against No. 1-ranked Argentina – becoming the fourth youngest player in soccer history to achieve that mark! - he joined 10 American men in this highly exclusive fraternity. Each U.S. player before him reached the century mark in a unique and, in some cases, historic way. With Donovan’s story now told, ussoccer.com has set out to provide a chronicle of the memorable ways in which the previous 10 players joined the elite band of brothers who have proudly worn the jersey at least 100 times for the United States.

Marcelo Balboa
Caps: 128
First Cap: Jan. 10, 1988
100th Cap: June 11, 1995 vs. Nigeria (U.S. Cup)
Era: 1988-2000

Marcelo Balboa became the first American player (male or female) to appear in his 100th international game—and he did it with style. On June 11, 1995, just two years after completely tearing his ACL, Balboa made history by hitting the century mark in the opening game of the U.S. Cup against Nigeria at Foxboro Stadium in Boston. Playing in your 100th international game is probably enough to steal the headlines in itself, but that didn’t satisfy the long-haired defender. Down 2-1 just seconds before the halftime whistle, Balboa scored a goal on a header from a Mike Burns free kick to send the teams into the locker rooms tied at two apiece. The 11th goal of his career helped lift the team to a 3-2 win over the Super Eagles, and eventually the the U.S. Cup title. Of one of the best games of his career, Balboa said, “To get the 100th cap and to top it off with a goal and a win, you can’t be much happier.”

He also captained the team in the 1995 Copa America tournament and played in the FIFA World All-Star game in the same year. Balboa would continue playing with the national team through 2000, earning 128 total caps, appearing in three World Cups, and scoring 13 career goals in 12 years with the red, white, and blue.

Balboa on being the first American to 100 caps:
“To be honest, I didn't think I would be the first to get it, especially when I tore my knee in 1993, so when the day came, it was very special. It was something that no other American player had done, man or woman. A lot of defenders don't get to do too many special things in soccer, so to be able to reach 100 caps and score that day was a highlight of my career.”

NEXT UP: Paul Caligiuri

On the road again...

No rest for the weary, folks. While most people were enjoying the positives from last night's performance, the team had another early wake-up call for a 7 a.m. departure for Los Angeles. Lots of tired pups on the team's second five-plus hour flight in five days, but there were some happy faces when we walked out of LAX and found the sunshine of SoCal welcoming the group. It's a light day this afternoon, followed by two of the greatest words in the English language - DAY OFF.

Don't worry, we bloggers will still be here for you. Look for an official announcement tomorrow of the USA's roster for the first qualifier on the road to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Meantime, have a look back on the USA's duel with No. 1-ranked Argentina from a packed house at Giants Stadium

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Live Blog: USA vs. Argentina Pre-Game

7:20 p.m. - Ok that's it for this blog! Good luck to the teams and let's hope the U.S. can get a win!

7:18 p.m. - Less than a minute to go before the teams leave the field for one final speech in the locker room. That means its time for The Blog to go fulfill its other duty with U.S. Soccer - Bodyguard to Peter Nowak. Just kidding. We'll be walking Coach Nowak up to his customary position in the coaches' box. Up here he radios the bench with his thoughts on how he sees the game from up here....

7:17 p.m. - Wooo, Allee! That's the kind of comment that we'll always be happy to publish on the blog!

7:16 p.m. - Sun is out now, looks like the rain (knock on wood) is done. In the background of this stadium you can see the New Meadowlands being constructed...This is the U.S.' last game at Giants Stadium...

7:12 p.m. - To answer your question, Rene, Adu is not injured. He's out there on the field currently juggling with Mo Edu and Sacha Kljestan...

7:10 p.m. - Alright, Argentina is out on the field now. In case you didn't see it, they beat Mexico in their last game, 4-1... The fan's are chanting the name of Sergio "Kún" Agüero...

7:03 p.m. - The stadium is filling up quickly...Kasey Keller is going to be honored for his 100th cap during a pre-game ceremony on the field. That milestone was achieved in last year's Gold Cup semifinal against Canada...

7:01 p.m. - Thanks for the comment, Gabe. Still no sign of Argentina. Or their lineup...

6:56 p.m. - The U.S. team is out on the field now....The Blog's handheld camera is not conducive for player identification from 9 stories up...but take a shot anyways:

6:50 p.m. - Goalies are out now - Brad Guzan and Tim Howard are going through their pre-match routines. Howard used to play his club soccer here in this stadium with the Metrostars, while Guzan just played a game here on Thursday night... Meanwhile the U.S. fans have unfurled a massive "Don't Tread" banner...

6:48 p.m. - Its been drizzling a little leading up to the game, but the rain looks to have passed. The field is looking good too - the thick grass from yesterday has been trimmed and the pitch looks ready for a game... The temperature has cooled off a bit too (thankfully)

6:42 p.m. - Remember our futsal post yesterday? Well futsal lost to Guatemala yesterday, but rebounded in a big way today - beating Panama, 7-1. World Cup bound, baby! Well played Futsal tem.

6:40 p.m. - Giants Stadium has played host to some big soccer in its day. You'll remember last year the 5-4 MLS game between the Los Angeles Galaxy and New York Red Bulls. In 1994, the stadium played host to one of the World Cup semifinals too...

Goalies are getting ready to come on the field now...

6:35 p.m. -
Here's the USA's starters for the match against No. 1-ranked Argentina:

Cherundolo, Califf, Onyewu, Pearce
Dempsey, Bradley, Mastroeni, Beasley
-----Johnson------Donovan (c)---------

Four changes to the team that lined up against Spain four days ago. Danny Califf slots into central defense replacing Carlos Bocanegra, while Pablo Mastroeni patrols the center of the park in place of Maurice Edu. DaMarcus Beasley gets his second start of the three-match set.

6:30 p.m. - 100 and counting...

6:25 p.m. - Argentina is out pacing around the field right now and the biggest cheer is reserved for, you guessed it, Leo Messi. The diminutive forward comes out and meets his teammates at midfield. The tiny band of traveling Argentina fans goes crazy.

6:21 p.m. - Alright we're setttled in here at the Press Box of Giants Stadium, a full nine stories from ground level - we've got a great view of the field here...People have started filing into the stadium and the drums are beating constantly. Fans are dancing in the stands - a real carnival atmosphere here right now...