Hello all from sunny and warm Manhattan Beach, California! Michael Kammarman, the main man who runs this blog and keeps U.S. Soccer fans in the loop during camps, games, etc., must have either a hot date tonight or is fed up with blogging about the same stuff over and over again, (I’ll give him credit for the former, but I do have my doubts) and therefore has passed along his blogging duties to yours truly. [Editor's Note: Neither is true.] Being the good wing man that I am, and in an attempt to mix things up a bit, I’ll take it and try to add a little bit more insight from a player’s perspective on the day-to-day events that have been going on so far in January Camp 2009. Also, I’ll try not to mention the fact that it has been around 70 degrees and sunny everyday, just in case anyone in the rest of the frozen United States is reading.
As always, anytime you are invited to be a part of the national team program it is a tremendous honor, and this January camp is no different. For many of us it has been quite a bit of time off since we last played competitively with our clubs, so a big part of this camp unfortunately –or fortunately depending on your sanity- is fitness -- a necessary evil in our business. Therefore, most morning practices have finished with a fair amount of running. Other than the fitness, the majority of the work in the first week has been to get our competitive juices going again with some technical work, crossing and finishing, small sided games, and 8 v 8 with the space opened up to almost full field. The workload has been demanding, but we are all committed to not only representing our country with pride but also trying to make our own impressions on the coaching staff. We all want to prove that every time our number is called, we can be relied upon to deliver the performance necessary to get the job done.
Off the field, the main focus is making sure we are eating well and getting the proper rest. The meals at our hotel have been excellent; a good blend of different cuisines has kept away the monotony that typically builds with hotel food over the course of three weeks. Rest is not a problem for the majority of us given the amount of work we are putting in each day. On most nights it’s tough to make it past 9:30 p.m.; however, with the return of “24” this week I sacrificed a few winks in order to see Jack back in action. A decision not regretted. At least not yet.
For me, one of the great things about this camp, aside from the obvious soccer side of competing day-in and day-out against some of the best talent in America, is the relationships and friendships that are formed during the course of three weeks. It’s always an interesting dynamic when players who compete against each other year round are thrown together and expected to gel into a team. Personally I have found it one of the more rewarding parts about being in this camp. Everyone respects each others’ abilities as soccer players, but getting to know guys that you truly only know as soccer players is really enjoyable, and makes the camp that much more fun.
As the next week progresses, hopefully our weeks of hard work combined with our budding chemistry will amass into a product we will all be proud of come January 24 at the Home Depot Center. And in case there was any doubt, when I say “be proud of,” it means WINNING!