Friday, July 31, 2009

Cooper Heads to 1860 Munich

U.S. MNT forward Kenny Cooper has signed for 1860 Munich and is set to undergo a medical with the 2.Bundesliga club. Cooper, who was recently named to the CONCACAF Gold Cup all-tournament team, scored 40 goals in 93 appearances for FC Dallas since joining them in 2005. 1860 Munich has some history with American internationals, having had World Cup veterans Gergg Berhalter and Josh Wolff on their books as recently as a few years ago.

Random Fun Fact: German film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, an MNT Blog favorite, was a huge 1860 fan.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Getting Underway in Germany

The DFB Pokal Cup kicks off this weekend in Germany as teams from the Bundesliga get set to take on lower division sides. Michael Bradley and Borussia Mönchengladbach face FSV Frankfurt, while Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 travel to meet Eintracht Trier on Sunday. Luis Robles and Kaiserslautern get the action underway on Friday with a game against Eintracht Braunschweig.

Hannover Lose to Arsenal

Steve Cherundolo and Hannover fell 1-0 to Arsenal in pre-season action. Cherundolo started and played 74 minutes in the game:

Howard Saves Some Spot Kicks

As you may have seen last night, Everton prevailed in the MLS All-Stars game, defeating the MLS All-Stars in a penalty shootout. Tim Howard of Everton came up big in the shootout, here are the highlights:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Four Players Named to All-Tournament Team

Four players from the U.S. Men's National Team were named to the All-Tournament team for the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Defenders Chad Marshall (ab0ve) and Clarence Goodson (below) were included on the team for their play on the backline, while midfielder Stuart Holden and forward Kenny Cooper also received nods.

Mexico Names Roster for Aug. 12

Mexico has named a roster for the big game on Aug. 12. Javier Aguirre has called up all the names you would expect to see. Marquez is returning from injury while other players from Europe include Castillo, Guardado, Salcido and Osorio. Also Blanco is there. Here's the 20-man roster:

Goalkeepers (2): Guillermo Ochoa (América), José de Jesús Corona (Cruz Azul)
Defenders (8): José Antonio Castro (Tigres), Aarón Galindo (Guadalajara), Efraín Juárez (UNAM), Jonny Magallón (Guadalajara), Rafael Márquez (Barcelona), Ricardo Osorio (Stuttgart), Carlos Salcido (PSV Eindhoven), Oscar Rojas (América)
Midfielders (4):
Cuauhtémoc Blanco (Chicago Fire), Israel Castro (UNAM), Andrés Guardado (Deportivo La Coruña), Gerardo Torrado (Cruz Azul)
Forwards (6): Nery Castillo (Shakhtar), Guillermo Franco (out of contract), Alberto Medina (Guadalajara), Giovani dos Santos (Tottenham), Miguel Sabah (Monarcas), Carlos Vela (Arsenal)

Everton Set for MLS All-Star Game

Tim Howard and Everton are on vacation..errr..pre-season in the U.S. Tonight the Toffees will lineup against the MLS All-Stars at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah. You can see the game from 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and Galavision.

Fulham Set to Begin European Campaign

Fulham kicks off its Europa League campaign against Lithuanian outfit FK Vetra this Thursday. The Cottagers landed in Vilnius yesterday in preparations for tomorrow's game, which is the first leg of the 3rd Qualifying Round. The second leg will be played on August 6 at Craven Cottage, with the winner earning passage into the playoff round. Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson both saw time in Fulham's recent pre-season game with Peterborough United. Dempsey started the game at right wing while Johnson came on as a late sub.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sepp Blatter Pays Visit to the United States

As you surely have read by now, FIFA President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter paid a visit to the United States, first stopping by the New Meadowlands Blatter, CONCACAF President Jack Warner and FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke took a tour of the new 82,500-seat stadium, which will open in May 2010 and serve as one of the jewel venues proposed in the U.S. bid to bring the FIFA World Cup to the United States in 2018 or 2022.

Below is a video of the FIFA President scoring the first goal inside the New Meadowlands following Sunday’s tour:

On Monday, Blatter stopped by The White House and met with President Barack Obama, who accepted a ball from the FIFA Confederations Cup final as a gift:

“Blatter presented Obama a ball from the Confederations Cup final that the U.S. lost to Brazil in June... Blatter joked that he gave the president the ball from the first half.”

Blatter also said that Obama was juggling and dribbling around the Oval Office.

The President of the United States also received an official invitation to next year's FIFA World Cup in South Africa:

"After the closed Oval Office meeting between the two presidents, Mr Blatter told White House reporters Mr Obama, after receiving the invite, told his assistants in the room to "look at the agenda"

Benny Nets Game Winner for Aarhus

Benny Feilhaber's first goal as a professional - really - was the game winner in Aarhus' 3-2 victory at Randers yesterday. Feilhaber also had an assist in the game to earn Man of the Match honors in Aarhus' second game of the season. The U.S. MNT midfielder also had an assist in the team's opening game last week.

You can catch highlights of the match here:

Monday, July 27, 2009

Post-Match Reaction: Mexico 5, U.S. 0

For the complete quote sheet, visit

U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach Bob Bradley

On allowing goals in the second half:
“The second half for us is not what we’re all about. It’s important we can look hard at ourselves and learn from a half like that and use it the right way.”

On if the inexperience of the U.S. players factored into the result:
“The area where we didn’t do well enough was our response to the first goal. I think the first half we played pretty well, and now when the second half starts you obviously want to build on that. We had one very good chance at the start of the second half when Robbie Rogers hit one over. But now, when we get down, your ability to make sure that the game doesn’t become a free-for-all where the other team has all sorts of space and opportunities, where your numbers aren’t good enough in the back when the ball turns over, where you lose bad balls, so there’s a lot of different things there that obviously came into play. I think it’s most important that we can look at those things.”

On finishing second in the Gold Cup:
“Today was their day. When you have to stand there, whether it’s in the Confederations Cup in South Africa and it’s Brazil, or whether it’s in Giants Stadium and it’s the Gold Cup and it’s Mexico, when you finish second you have to stand there – which is the right thing to do – see the other team get their medals, hold up the trophy, that’s a feeling that as athletes, as competitors it’s a feeling that you don’t like. You hope those are things that help you grow in the future on an individual basis and on a team basis. Like I said, today is their day, they can celebrate. It’s our job to make sure we’re ready for what we already knew was a challenge to play in Azetca. We’ll be ready. It’s 90 minutes and it starts over.”

On seeing a lot of younger players during this tournament:
“I think we’ve had a good chance to see so many different players. I think we’ve got a good, solid nucleus, but we’re always looking for players that we believe are going to move forward and help our team.”

U.S. Men’s National Team captain and forward Brian Ching
On giving up five goals:
“When it comes down to it we just lost our composure. They're a good team and they punished us. ... ”

On what they’ll take from the game:
"You look at anybody in the United States and this loss will anger you. We have to channel that, use it and bring it with us on August 12."

U.S. Men's National Team goalkeeper Troy Perkins
On what happened after halftime:
“We were where we wanted to be and we had controlled the things we wanted to. We just exposed ourselves too much in the second half and they punished us for it.”

Sunday, July 26, 2009

USA Lineup vs. Mexico

The United States starts the final with the same lineup that earned a victory in the previous game against Honduras:

Perkins; Heaps, Marshall, Goodson, Pearce; Holden, Beckerman, Pause, Rogers; Arnaud, Ching (capt.)

- On the bench for the U.S.: Busch, Evans, Cooper, Quaranta, Clark, Cronin, Parkhurst

Official U.S. Soccer Bars Host Sunday Matinee

Two tournaments. Two finals. Two-time defending champions.

Oh, and it's USA-Mexico.

The one common thread throughout - the Official U.S. Soccer Bars have been there to bring fans together for every step of this 13-game, two-month odyssey of the USA's summer tour. If you can't be amongst the sold-out crowd of more than 60,000 at Giants Stadium, you need to be at the Official U.S. Soccer Bars across the country cheering for the U.S. with a Gold Cup title on the line.

And who knows who you might see? We hear zebras like Official U.S. Soccer Bars too ...

Pre-Game Primer: The Final

All you need to know about Sunday's final against Mexico. Some things you should know:
  • Defender Clarence Goodson became the tenth U.S. player to score a goal during the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the sixth U.S. player to get his first national team goal during the tournament in the 2-0 win against Honduras.
  • The U.S. has advanced to the finals in the last three editions of the tournament. The last time the U.S. missed out on a Gold Cup final was in 2003 when Bruce Arena's team fell to Brazil in the semifinals.
  • The U.S. has a lifetime record of 15-29-11 against Mexico in a series that dates to 1934, but the U.S. has a 13-6-9 advantage in home matches since 1957. Since the rivalry between these two teams began in earnest in 1990, the sides have played 28 times, with the U.S. holding a 13-7-8 advantage.
  • The U.S. has a 3-0-2 lifetime record at Giants Stadium, with 10 goals scored and only one surrendered.
  • The last meeting against Mexico at Giants Stadium came June 11, 2000, when goals from Frankie Hejduk, Brian McBride and Ante Razov helped the USA to a 3-0 victory.
  • The U.S. is 2-2-0 against Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, including 1-2-0 in championship games.
  • In six CONCACAF Gold Cup final appearances, the United States is 2-2-2. The two draws, in 1997 and 2005, both resulted in a USA victory in a penalty shootout.
  • The Men's National Team has contested a Gold Cup final at Giants Stadium once before, beating Panama in a penalty shootout on July 24, 2005, to lift the Gold Cup trophy.
  • Jimmy Conrad and Santino Quaranta both appeared in that match, with Quaranta netting one of the penalties to secure the U.S. win.
  • The USA's last appearance at Giants Stadium came June 8, 2008, when Bob Bradley's team played then No.1-ranked Argentina to a 0-0 draw in front of more than 78,000 supporters.
  • Ching is the only player on the current roster that was part of the team that won the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pre-game Quote Sheet: USA vs. Mexico

U.S. Men's National Team head coach BOB BRADLEY
On the conclusion of a busy June and July and the opportunity to defend the CONCACAF Gold cup title:

"It's been a busy summer. We're excited about defending our title here. We expect a good game and I know we're looking forward to it."

On the progress of the group of players which comprise the U.S. squad at the Gold Cup:
"It's been a good group. You could tell when they came in they were very proud of what had taken place in South Africa. They were excited about their opportunity and you always need the first round to kind of grow a little as a group. That's helped us size up everybody, and from their it's been a stretch of tough games, but good games, for us."

On the rivalry between the USA and Mexico:
"I think it'll always bring out the emotion. It'll be a hard game and I think both teams will go after each other in a way that they'll try to put the game on their terms. We'd expect, as always, a good game."

On whether he felt pressure to use more players on the 30 man roster:
"There are always so many factors that go into rosters. We talked earlier in the tournament that CONCACAF allowed us a bigger roster because of the difficult of going from the Confederations Cup into the Gold Cup. Nonetheless, when you add it all up we still feel this group has done well and they are ready to go."

On handling the emotion of a Cup final:
In any final that's a huge factor. Everybody's excited, the game starts and how do you handle the first part of the game? There are decisions, reactions and certainly as the game goes on, you need the concentration and the discipline to keep going."

On the keys to the game for the USA:

"For us we need to start with a good amount of energy. That's been in important for us. We need to make sure that as the game goes on we're good with the ball and we still have the ability to put pressure on Mexico in the key parts of the field. Our reserves have done a good job in this tournament of helping us and coming on in key moments and those things help you win."

On playing on a natural grass field:
"Whenever there's an installation it means in some cases the field will be a little bit slow compared to a field that has had a chance to settle in, but I know that all the players are excited about playing on grass."

U.S. Men's National Team forward BRIAN CHING

On the Gold Cup final against Mexico being followed by a trip to Azteca Stadium next month:

"A game against Mexico is a game against Mexico. Both teams are going to be out to win this game and we'll approach this game the same way we will approach that one."

On what he, as a veteran, would tell his younger teammates about playing in a USA-Mexico game:
"To play the way they're capable of playing. Don't do anything you're not accustomed to doing on the field and play like the way you've been playing in the past few games. We've seen some good performances from the young guys and that's encouraging. This is another game for them to prove themselves, and more importantly they need to go out there and relax and enjoy the moment."

On how he would describe the rivalry with Mexico:
"Fun, intense and exciting. Along with it there's a little bit of a circus, but that's week in and week out for the NFL. It's what some of the European guys are used to, and we hope that one day the game aspires to be like this every week, and not just against our biggest rival."

On the USA's biggest strength when it faces Mexico:
"The U.S. teams have always been grounded. This team is the same way. Nobody is out to make a name for themselves; they just want to win as a team. That's always been our strength, and hopefully going forward it will always be our strength."

ESPN2 to Air One Hour Preview Show Before Gold Cup Final

ESPNSoccernet Press Pass will be hosting a special one hour pre-game show to preview the USA-Mexico final of the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. ESPN commentators Derek Rae, Tommy Smyth and Janusz Michallik will be joined by former U.S. team captain Claudio Reyna to break down the Gold Cup final and review the history of the rivalry between the U.S. and Mexico. Tune in to ESPN2 beginning at 2 p.m. ET.

Clarence Goodson and the Saga of the Missing Jersey

The jersey-swapping tradition is great times. Every once in awhile, however, a player wants to keep his or her own jersey. There's no shame in that. Sometimes you want to rock your own kit instead of that Messi jersey you traded for, only to find out it was too small anyways.

One of those times came Thursday. When Clarence Goodson scored his first national team goal, he decided his U.S. jersey from that night would be a good memento of the occasion. Things didn't exactly go as planned. Here's what happened, as Clarence told it to us earlier today:

"At the end of the game I told Tim [Cook, U.S. Soccer MNT equipment manager and the overseer of such matters] I had to keep this jersey because it was special, being my first goal for the national team and everything.

"Tim said 'No problem', so I took it off and put it in a little plastic bag. I was in a little bit of a rush after the game because I did a few interviews and the boys were getting on the bus. President Obama was coming through [Editor's note - Obama's motorcade was scheduled to come up Lakeshore Drive just around the time we were leaving] so Ivan Pierra - MNT trainer extraordinaire- came and got me out of the cold tub. I had to get all my things on and get my stuff situated. I had it in my hand, and as we were walking out I must have set it down. I guess I zipped up my toiletries kit and didn't pick it back up.

"When we got to the bus we were rushing and I realized it was missing. I was taped up with ice and stuff, so Ivan said he'd go back and look. He went back to get it but he couldn't find it - there was nothing in the locker room!

"I was gutted because I knew I had it in there but didn't know what happened. Robbie Rogers and Jay Heaps stayed after for drug testing and we called them but they couldn't find it. Pam Perkins - MNT General Manager and resident problem solver - called some people but we still couldn't find it."

"I went out for dinner with my folks and my wife. I was so happy because we were in the final and we were all just enjoying the moment. But in the back of my mind there was this little downer that I didn't have that jersey. You know, it's just a jersey, but you still want it...

"Around midnight I got the text from Kenny Cooper, my roommate, and I thought he was kidding around. I was like "Kenny, this is the cruelest thing you've ever done. Stop messing with me." He said "No, no I'm not!" And I came back and Pam and Brad Evans were like "We got it!" Obviously it was a huge relief. Apparently somebody found the bag with the jersey in it in the trash can. Happy times."

"I've kept a fair collection of jerseys over the years. Ones traded in MLS, in Europe and with the national team. It's nice to have them and have something to look back on. Hopefully I can be able to hand them down to kids and grandkids in the future.

"The first of anything is special and you like to have that little piece of history.
If I score tomorrow I'll absolutely be keeping that jersey too. I'll just leave it on this time though and wear it all night."

It's always nice when a story has a happy ending. Big shout out to Hughie O'Malley, U.S. Soccer's Manager of Sports Medicine Administration, who trekked to our team hotel at 12:30 a.m. to return the jersey. The final mystery? In the bag with Clarence's jersey was his pair of shinguards. Those were never returned...

Q & A with Heath Pearce, World Traveller

U.S. Men's National Team defender Heath Pearce has been with the team since the beginning of the summer when the team met up May 26 in Miami. Since then he's been to Costa Rica, Chicago, Pretoria, Rustenberg, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago (again), and finally New York. Pearce has been with the team through all the ups and downs this summer (mostly ups considering he's been in both squads that have made it to finals this summer). We sat down with Pearce to ask him about the hectic summer, his experience on the road for 60+ days and what will hopefully a great ending to a busy June and July... You've been with the team since the beginning. That's more than 60 days (not that we're counting!)...

Heath Pearce: “It's tough to remember how long it has actually been. It went by fast, and there's been a lot of games and a lot of excitement this summer. Even though it's been more than 60 days it doesn't really feel like it's been more than two months on the road because of the successes we've had starting all the way back on the 26th of May.” People will remember this summer for a variety of reasons. We've played more than a dozen games in two tournaments on two continents and made it to two finals. What has this whirlwind of June and July been like for you?

HP: “It's been amazing. This summer has been really special for U.S. Soccer. There were the emotions of us being almost knocked out of the Confederations Cup to us then making it all the way to the final. There was us being up 2-0, and ending up losing 3-2. It was a heartbreaking finish but it was a special moment for us to reach the final and be in that position. For me, I had the chance to be able to come into the Gold Cup, which I wasn't part of in 2007, with almost a completely different team. We were able to set the bar high and the fact that we've gone after the same results we achieved with the other group has been great. I think U.S. soccer and fans in America will remember this summer as something special and a big stepping stone in our development.” You were one of the few players to come directly from Johannesburg to Seattle to get ready for the opening match against Grenada. How was that journey and what did you need to do as a player to be able to make that transition?

HP: “Since I didn't play at all in the Confederations Cup, for me it was about getting in and trying to get my feet under me because it had been awhile since I had played a game. When you come in here, you go into the game with the same mentality whether you're playing or not, but knowing you have a better chance of playing or helping the team in a different way.” For a player who maybe doesn't get the opportunity they would like in one tournament, how nice is it to have the chance to come play in another international tournament right after and get right back on the field?

HP: “I think most players have been through ups and downs in their career. It's all about how you bounce back and that was my main focus. You know you may get another chance and when you do you have to do well. Every game, whether you play or not, happens for a reason. I came off a long spell of not playing with my club team and that's the way it goes. At the national team it's all about what kind of form you're in and whether the coaches think you’re ready. Of course it's disappointing when you don't play, but it's great when the team is getting results and when you know that you'll have another chance to play.” You're one of the leading cap-winners on this Gold Cup team. In a leadership or experiences sense, how is your role here different from your role earlier in the summer?

HP: “I'm not the oldest player or anything, but I think the experiences that I've had at the Confederations Cup and in some of the big international games we've played have been able to carry over to some of the guys here who maybe haven't been in that situation before. I tried to provide some knowledge and wisdom heading into this tournament at the beginning and now this game against Mexico.” This team has developed from game to game and grown throughout the tournament. Everybody who we've talked to says that day by day, and game by game, the team is growing in confidence and familiarity. How helpful has it been to spend a month together in this tournament?

HP: “I think it's been extremely valuable to find our rhythm as a team. As you saw against Grenada we got the result but we were still really green. We weren't on the same page always and we didn't really know each others runs or maybe how we played. Over this past month we've grown a lot as a team and I think there were stretches in our last game against Honduras where we maybe weren't playing our best soccer but we all had built a strong understanding from each other of what it takes to get a result and what it takes over 90 minutes.” This was also a new situation for you in the sense of getting to know guys. In the first part of the summer the team had a certain level of familiarity with each other but here it obviously takes some time to meet your teammates and familiarize yourself with them on and off the field...

HP: “It takes some time for everybody. At first there's a sense of competition and a sense of wanting to play. There's also shyness and people not knowing what to expect from one another. Once we got past that we've been able to have a good month together. Everybody's been getting along really well and everyone's got to know each other really well. It's helped us get better on the field too.” You and Brian Ching played against Mexico in February. Obviously, the context and situation of that game was much different, but what did you learn about playing against Mexico that can transition into tomorrow's final?

HP: “The important thing is how we play as a group. Mexico has some good individual talent and how we stick together as a team is going to be what makes the major difference in getting a win tomorrow.” If there is anything that you can learn from the Confederations Cup final and apply to tomorrow's game in Giants Stadium, what do you think that is?

HP: “It's understanding the dangers of a lead and the dangers of certain situations. You can't shut off for one minute because it can change the whole momentum of a game. In the final against Brazil, Luis Fabiano had a nice hit from the top of the box. Our defender was there but it's one of those things that, because it happened early in the second half, changed the whole momentum. I think going into tomorrow's final it's about doing all the small things right in terms of set pieces, in terms of movement. We need to make sure we're in it for 90 minutes and not give up anything.” You're out of contract at the moment, having finished up two years in Germany. What's next for you on the club level?

HP: “After tomorrow's game the big decisions have to come. There's some stuff on the table that I need to assess but obviously my biggest focus is tomorrow's game. After that I'll need to come to a quick decision as to where my next club is going to be and where my next situation is going to be. I'll be flying back to Europe to sort that out.” If there's one memory you will take away from the summer of 2009 with the Men's National Team, what is it?

HP: “Just making it to the finals and doing it with two different groups. It's special in a sense that it shows the quality of depth in American soccer. Both finals mean a lot, and I've never really been in a situation in my club career where the idea of a cup final has been the most realistic thing. To be here with this group all throughout the past 60 days and make it to the finals of two big tournaments in one summer has been really great.” So in that case, hopefully us lifting the trophy tomorrow will be the best possible conclusion to this long summer on the road?

HP: “It would be the perfect ending.”

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gym Session

The U.S. team traveled this afternoon to New Jersey for its final destination of the two-month tour, now setting up shop in the 11th different hotel since May 26. All the work took place in the hotel, with the starters going through a regeneration session in the pool and the reserves working on circuit training. The U.S. will have its pre-game training at Giants Stadium and the newly laid sod tomorrow afternoon, and then its simply rest and recover before the Gold Cup final Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET.

Bright Lights, Big City

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Heading to the Final

For the second time this summer the U.S. Men's National Team will be playing in a cup final. Goals from Clarence Goodson (his first for the national team) and Kenny Cooper (his second in as many games) paced the U.S. to a 2-0 victory against Honduras. Goodson's goal came in first half stoppage time, after he powered in a close range header from a Stuart Holden corner kick.

The blow was a tough one for Honduras, but Los Catrachos fought back and made things difficult in the second half. Troy Perkins needed to be at his best to deny Carlo Costly a late chance, before Kenny Cooper's close range finish put the U.S. on course for the final. Brian Ching and Stuart Holden played a great combination, with Ching backheeling the ball to his club-mate inside the area. Holden whipped a low cross to the back post where Cooper tapped in from about four yards.

We'll be back with all the post-match reaction and quotes. Until then, be sure to celebrate the U.S. Men's National team getting to their third consecutive Gold Cup final!

USA Lineup vs. Honduras

Here's how the USA will lineup for tonight's Gold Cup semifinal against Honduras:

Perkins; Heaps, Goodson, Marshall, Pearce; Holden, Beckerman, Pause, Rogers; Arnaud, Ching (capt.)

- Jimmy Conrad will not dress tonight and Brian Ching will replace him as captain.
- The bench looks like this: Busch, Quaranta, Evans, Clark, Cronin, Cooper, Parkhurst

Pre-Game Primer - Honduras Round Three

Game information for USA-Honduras here. Some highlights:

  • The U.S. has advanced to the semifinals in the last five editions of the tournament. The last time the U.S. missed out on a semifinal place was in 2000 when Bruce Arena's team fell to Colombia in a quarterfinal shootout.
  • The U.S. will be facing Honduras for the 15th time, and has a 9-2-3 edge in the series.
  • The extra time victory against Panama was the first time the USA played more than 90 minutes since the Gold Cup final on July 24, 2005, against Panama. The U.S. won that game in penalty kicks, with Santino Quaranta accounting for one of the USA’s three tallies.
  • The two sides met as recently as two weeks ago in CONCACAF Gold Cup group play. The USA won 2-0 behind goals from Quaranta and Brian Ching.
  • The last meeting against Honduras at Chicago's Soldier Field came June 6, a 2-1 win for the U.S. in a FIFA World Cup qualifier.
  • The U.S. is 3-0-1 against Honduras in the Gold Cup, including a 0-0 tie in the inaugural Gold Cup final in 1991 that the U.S. won 4-3 on penalties.
  • In eight CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal appearances, the United States is 5-2-1. The lone tie came in 2002, when the U.S. and Canada played out a scoreless draw. The USA subsequently won in penalty kicks.
  • With Luis Robles, Jay Heaps, Sam Cronin and Colin Clark earning their first cap against Haiti, 85 players have now earned at least one cap under Bob Bradley.
  • Kyle Beckerman's first goal for the United States in the team's last outing against Panama means 28 different players have scored a goal during Bradley’s tenure.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Moment With Pause

One of the many new faces in this Gold Cup squad is Chicago Fire midfielder Logan Pause. A member of the U-23 team in 2003-04, he is getting his first sniff with the full team during this tournament. Pause has partnered in central midfield with Kyle Beckerman in three matches, including the 2-1 quarterfinal victory against Panama. spoke with Logan about his experience in the Gold Cup. Do you remember where you were when you first heard you had been called up to the 2009 Gold Cup squad?

Logan Pause: “I heard from Denis Hamlett that I was in the mix, but I didn't hear anything until I got an e-mail. I was at home and I was thrilled. I had tried not to get my hopes up too much but I was honored to get the call.” You were one of a handful of players to make your national team debut in the game in Seattle. Take us through that experience.

LP: “It was huge to get a win in that first game of the tournament. It was a great opportunity to get my legs under me. You dream as a kid of wearing the national team crest and representing your country, and it was a wonderful feeling. Obviously there were quite a bit of nerves, and listening to the national anthem was such an amazing time. We have such a great group of guys and we went into that game confident and believing in each other. Once the game got started it was all about focusing on the task at hand.” As the team has moved forward in the tournament there's been a real sense that this group has developed a good camaraderie as they try to achieve the goal of winning the tournament. How has the positive atmosphere within this group helped guys who maybe weren't familiar with one another at first?

LP: “It's played a huge part. It's no secret that the majority of the guys here are looking to break in and showcase as much as we can and that adds motivation for guys to do well. This group of guys believes that doing well for yourselves will come first and foremost from us doing well as a team.” We've been together for a little while now, so there's also been the opportunity to get to know players that maybe you didn't know as well from the first day...

LP: “Absolutely. The guys even that you don't know really well, the ones who are playing on opposing teams, it's nice to get to know them better. I wasn't one of the guys in the U-17 program but a lot of guys have been together in some capacity since age 15. Continuing those relationships and friendships over the course of however many years is definitely special from a personal standpoint. Of course it helps when you're playing with players that you do know as well.” One person you've known for a while is Kyle Beckerman. He's your roommate here and you've also partnered him in the center of midfield in three of the four games thus far...

LP: “I've known Kyle for years since we've played for the U-23s in 2003 and 2004. We're good buddies and we get along well. All that helps when you get on the field. It's been nice to reconnect with him and be able to spend some time with him over the last three weeks. We definitely enjoy playing with each other.” Coming into the national team is a new experience for a lot of members of this Gold Cup squad. What has it been like for you?

LP: “It's a different perspective, but I've played with players and under coaches that have worked with Bob and his staff, from Jesse Marsch to Chris Armas to our coaches in Chicago, Denis Hamlett and Mike Jeffries. It's been a fantastic opportunity and I had some people who helped paint a picture of what to expect.” What advice did they give you before you met up with the U.S. team?

LP: “Some of the best advice was probably just to enjoy it and stay within myself. As a player I've always tried to do that. I'm not a flashy player. I just do my job. I think that was the one thing that the majority of people were telling me, to continue to do what I do and not try to go out and over-impress or anything like that.” The U.S. played Honduras two weeks ago at RFK Stadium, but this situation and this game will be much different.

LP: “It's definitely going to be a different game then the last one. We're in the semifinal of the Gold Cup and we know they're going to put a lot into it. They'll be hungry, but we feel with our group the important thing is concentrating on what we do. In a short period of time, the U.S. has beat Honduras twice now, but we're looking at this game just by itself, as a semifinal. We've learned by playing them, but we're looking forward to it and we know it will be a difficult task.” How is this U.S. team different from the one that stepped on the field in the first game?

LP: “The more experience that you get, even if it's one or two games, makes a difference. The more we're around each other and the more comfortable we get always helps. The first couple of games I thought we did well to get results but guys were still coming into their own in terms of being comfortable on and off the field. A game or two means the world in terms of experience in a tournament like this.” As a Chicagoan (or at least an adopted-Chicagoan), what will it be like to step onto Soldier Field representing your country?

LP: “I think it definitely would be special to represent the U.S. in what's become my hometown, in front of friends and family. In the whole scheme of things, though, it's not too different from any other game. I'm sure I'll have a few more people coming to the game than I did in Boston, but that's no different in terms of my preparation and what I'm looking to help contribute to the team. If I play it'll be a fantastic experience.” It promises to be an exciting atmosphere during Thursday night's semifinal. Honduras will be looking to avenge their losses from earlier in this tournament and at Soldier Field last month. A berth in the tournament final is at stake as well. What do you expect from a game with a lot on the line?

LP: “We're expecting a very difficult game. We know they'll come out flying but we know we will be prepared. In order for us to succeed we need to come out and start well. We need to execute our game plan and stick together as a team. That's what has got us to this point in the tournament. I think guys are looking forward to the opportunity and challenge on Thursday as we try to get one step closer to the ultimate goal of lifting a trophy this summer.”

Official U.S. Soccer Bars Hosting Happy Hour for Honduras

(yes, we are borderline obnoxious with alliteration...)

The United States has reached the semifinals of the second consecutive major international tournament (remember that Spain game in South Africa?), and the Official U.S. Soccer Bars are ready to host you for a Thursday matinee. The two-time defending champions take on Honduras - again - with a spot in the championship match of the Gold Cup on the line. Come as early as you like, with kickoff slated for 6 p.m. CT., and watch the U.S. try to completely crush the Catrachos!

(ok. we did it again ...)

Highlights from USA-Honduras at Soldier Field

47 days and two different international competitions separate the meetings between the United States and Honduras at Soldier Field in Chicago.

What separated the teams on the field was a Carlos Bocanegra diving header to give the U.S. a 2-1 come-from-behind victory in World Cup qualifying to close out the first half of the final round. Have a look:

ESPY Video

As you have probably heard, the U.S. MNT won an ESPY this past week for "Best Upset." If you didn't catch the show on Sunday, here's what happened:

And if you want to see a few pictures with our guys who attended the event, click here.

Payton Giving Props

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton knows a thing or two about football and isn't afraid to write about. In this week's editions of 'Monday Morning Quarterback', he addresses the issue that is starting to creep its way into the minds of most fans at this point in the summer:

d. Congrats to the U.S. men's national soccer team, finishing second in the recent Confederations Cup in South Africa. In the coming weeks, they will play Mexico in a 2010 World Cup qualifying match in Mexico City. In 23 games, the U.S. has never defeated the Mexicans on their home soil (0-22-1), but this is the year it could happen. I believe they have their best chance to beat Mexico and I think we should all be pulling for the upset and support this team."

Read all of Coach Payton's musings here.

Thanks for the pep talk, coach ...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bob Speak

Today's press availability with the jefe.

Nine for 10

With their victory in the quarterfinals, the U.S. has now advanced to the semifinals of the Gold Cup in nine of 10 regional championship tournaments. Since winning the inaugural tournament in 1991 - defeating Honduras in penalties - the U.S. has collected four Gold Cup titles. Their only failure to reach the semifinals came in 2000 edition of the event, losing in the quarterfinals to Colombia in penalties after a 2-2 draw in regulation.

The U.S. also has twice finished as runners up (1993, 1998), and two third-place finishes (1996, 2003).

Monday, July 20, 2009

A tale of two trainings

Today's training session could be described as either light or grueling, depending on your experience. The starters from Saturday's quarterfinal trained for about 40 minutes before doing stretching and regeneration, while five field players and two goalkeepers were put through an exhausting exercise. The first portion involved 2 v. 2 plus one, with one player as the all-time attacker. On a field 55x44, the defending team played the ball to the three-man attacking crew who went to goal, then jogged back to the other end and switched to defense. The second part, also played on 55x44, was once again 2 v. 2, with two free flank players on either sideline who could roam end to end. The wide players provided a good simulation of creating numbers in the attack in a larger space. Combining intense stretches with recovery in between, the entire exercise lasted 20 minutes.

Parkhurst Recalled For Semifinal

U.S. coach Bob Bradley has recalled defender Michael Parkhurst to the squad for Thursday's semifinal against Honduras. The FC Nordsjaelland-based defender appeared in the USA's group games against Honduras and Haiti before returning to Denmark to start the league season. Parkhurst is the only addition to the roster, increasing the total to 19 for game day selection.

TT - Familiar Foes

When the USA faces Honduras in Thursday's semifinal in the Gold Cup, it will be the third time in 47 days that the teams have met in official competitions, and the second time at Soldier Field. That can't happen very often, can it?

Yes, that's actually a question - in two parts:

a) Has the U.S. ever faced a team three times in that short a time span?
2) If so, who and when?

'Keeper Change

The U.S. has said goodbye to goalkeeper Luis Robles, who returns to FC Kaiserslautern for the start of the Bundesliga season. Other than missing a week for his wedding, Robles had been with the team since May 26 and the start of training camp in Miami.

Chicago Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch joins the team this morning for training. Recall that Busch has been part of the official 23-man Gold Cup roster from the beginning, but remained with the Fire until needed. Busch, the 2008 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, has one cap to his credit.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

He Finally Gets to Go Home

Spreading the Wealth

Nine different players have scored the 10 U.S. goals through four games at the Gold Cup. Until Stuart Holden became the first repeat scorer against Haiti, the first seven marked first time that seven straight goals in a Gold Cup have come from seven different players. Freddy Adu, Stuart Holden, Robbie Rogers, Charlie Davies, Santino Quaranta, Brian Ching and Davy Arnaud set the U.S. record for most different players to score in the group matches, breaking the 2007 Group Stage record of six players scoring in matches against Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago and El Salvador. This group has also tied the record number of players to score in a single Gold Cup competition for the U.S., a mark also set in 2007.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Conrad Update

Jimmy Conrad has been diagnosed with a concussion following his head-to-head collision just before halftime. Jimmy was taken to the hospital and the evaluations were negative. He is listed as day-to-day.

He is back at the hotel, and other than not remembering the play, is doing well. Good news for Jimmy...

Post-Game Reaction from USA-Panama

U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach Bob Bradley

On finishing the game in regulation time or an extra time, as needed:

"As a game like this wears on, what you need is the execution on a play. You need to get the timing right, get a play right and finish the game off. I think we had some situations as the [second]half went on where we lost a little sharpness, so that's what we emphasized going into the overtime. It would be ideal to finish things off in regulation but tonight it took 30 extra minutes. It says something about the group that, at the end of regulation, they still felt that this was their game."

On the necessity of going to extra time and whether that was disappointing:
"Every game is different and tonight it took 120 minutes. Certainly the goal at the beginning of every game is to get on top of a team, take the lead and finish the game in 90 minutes. Right before halftime we gave up a goal; that's a bad time to give one up. It comes on a set piece where we lost track of things a little bit. It was a challenge to the team to be in that spot at halftime and I still felt good that the response was strong. When we didn't finish the game in regulation, you still got a sense that the mentality was "we're going to take care of this thing. The players deserve a lot of credit for that."

On facing Honduras in the semifinals:
"It will be the second time we've played them in this tournament and it was a very good win tonight for them against Canada. We know them well and we know the way they play. They play hard and have a good group of players. You can tell in this tournament the group they have has put a lot in to it, so we expect a hard game. In the first game in D.C. we had a good finish to the match after a tough 65 or 70 minutes. That [they made it difficult for us] says a lot about their organization and their discipline and we'd expect another difficult game."

On who takes a penalty kick in a situation like tonight:
"That's decided on the field. Obviously he's a player that has confidence and he's taken them for his club team. After the foul there was a discussion between Kenny and Brian and Kenny stepped up."

On what the coaching staff said to the team at halftime:
"We had certain ideas of what the game would be like. We just needed to make sure everybody understood that we couldn't lose track of what we wanted to do in the game. We had to make sure our discipline to keep moving as a unit was there, and we also talked about the fact that, in certain situations, we can play the ball faster. We talked about having a little more energy, being a little more aggressive in those situations and obviously it was nice to get a goal early in the [second] half."

U.S. Midfielder and Man of the Match Kyle Beckerman
On his goal, the first in his national team career:
"The ball went out wide and was sent across. I gambled a little bit just thinking it may pop out to the top of the box. Sometimes you gamble and sure enough the ball finds your foot. Fortunately it went in."

On giving up a goal early and the response:
"We were definitely disappointed to give up a goal before halftime; it's the worst time to do that. Bob [Bradley] told us "we are in a tough game" and he told us also that we've all been down before and had to come back to win a game before. We just felt we needed to step up and play a bit better to get our chances. If we got one, we thought the next would come."

On facing Honduras in the semifinals:
"It's going to be another tough one. This definitely took a lot out of us and I don't think many of us have played an overtime match in awhile. We're going to have to really recover quick and get right back to preparing for what will be a really tough game against a team looking for revenge. They're a talented team and we'll just try and really get ready for the game this week."

U.S. Men's National Team forward Kenny Cooper

On the winning penalty kick:

"Obviously, its fortunate any time you can get a penalty. It obviously came at a good time in overtime. Fortunately, it snuck in and the guys did great to hold on defensively, the whole 90 [minutes], everyone from Brian Ching to Troy Perkins. It was excellent and they busted their butts. Fortunately we were able to hold on and walk away with the win."

On the match:
"Obviously from the beginning of the game everyone was hungry to do well and we all are excited to be involved here and have the opportunity to be in the quarterfinal and want to do well. The team had to work hard tonight to come through and we're advancing now and we're all hungry to do well in the semifinals."

On being able to contribute:
Obviously, I'm excited to be here and I want to contribute any way I can, whether it's getting goals or working hard or even contributing in training. I want to contribute any way i can help this team have success."

USA Lineup vs. Panama

Here's how the United States will start tonight's CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal against Panama:

Perkins; Heaps, Conrad (c), Marshall, Pearce; Holden, Pause, Beckerman, Rogers; Arnaud, Ching

All 18 players in camp are dressing tonight, so the subs bench looks like this:
Robles, Evans, Goodson, Cronin, Quaranta, Clark, Cooper

A Few Photos

The day before a game is always difficult for photos. There's only a set amount of time that training in the stadium is open for photos, so the MNT Blog tries to snap as many pictures as possible in that window. Usually there's some people running, some stadium shots, and, if we're lucky, some work with the ball. Then our camera gets shut down.
Anyhow, we managed three photos for you! Training at Lincoln Financial Field was the customary 45 minutes yesterday. As you can see, the field looks great, and it was the first time many of us had been in the stadium...

Deja Vu at Official U.S. Soccer Bars

Soccer Saturday is back and the Official U.S. Soccer Bars are ready to run a repeat performance. It was a little more than two years ago that the U.S. faced Panama in the quarterfinals of the 2007 Gold Cup, the 2-1 victory propelling the United States towards their second-consecutive regional championship. The path to the crown is the same this time around, and you can gather to show your support at Official U.S. Soccer Bars across the country to help the U.S. team rise up against the Red Wave" of Panama.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Kicking Contest - The Video

The other day we showed you pictures of Philadelphia Eagles kicker David Akers' visit to MNT training. Here's the video:

Pre-Game Primer

Press notes available here. Here's the highlights:

• With two goals and one assist, Stuart Holden is tied on top of the scoring charts at the CONCACAF Gold Cup after group play with Panama’s Blas Perez. Five other players have scored two goals.
• The U.S. has now been undefeated in group play at all 10 Gold Cups with a 23-0-2 record.
• The last-minute tie against Haiti salvaged at 56-game unbeaten streak at home against CONCACAF opponents that dates to Sept. 1, 2001, when Honduras defeated the U.S. 3-2 in Washington, D.C
The last meeting between the teams was in the quarterfinals of the last edition of the Gold Cup. Landon Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra goals gave the U.S. a 2-1 victory on June 16, 2007.
• The teams drew 0-0 in the final of the 2005 Gold Cup, with the U.S. winning the title 3-1 on penalty kicks. Santino Quaranta converted the first of the three successful U.S. penalties.
• The match will be the first international game for the U.S. in Pennsylvania since a 1-0 loss to Ukraine at Bethlehem’s Goodman Stadium on Oct. 23, 1993.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

MNT Wins ESPY for "Best Upset"

For their victory against world No. 1 ranked Spain in the semifinals of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, the United States Men’s National Team was awarded the 2009 ESPY for “Best Upset” at the 17th annual awards ceremony in Los Angeles, Calif. The show will be televised on ESPN and ESPN HD on Sunday, July 19 starting at 9 p.m. ET.

As you can see from the photos, several of the players who were part of the memorable run at the FIFA Confederations Cup made their way to L.A. to be a part of the show. Jonathan Spector, Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Sacha Kljestan, Clint Dempsey, Ricardo Clark and Jozy Altidore are pictured above (from left to right), and they were joined by Landon Donovan on stage to accept the award.
Beating out other nominees Mine That Bird (50-1 shot to win the Kentucky Derby), Oregon State (beating then-#1 ranked USC last fall) and the Tampa Bay Rays (winning the American League Championship Series), the U.S. Men’s upset against Spain was chosen through online balloting from sports fans across the nation.

It is the first ESPY for the U.S. Men’s National Team; the U.S. Women won the Outstanding Team award in 2000 for their performance in winning the 1999 Women’s World Cup. Looks like it was a fun night for everybody, and we can't wait to watch the show when it airs on Sunday!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Twitter Interview Transcript

Earlier today U.S. Men's National Team defender Chad Marshall assumed command of U.S. Soccer's twitter account. We asked fans to write in their questions and here are some of the higlights:

@ussoccer what is the difference between college, pro and national team coaches and trainings?
@johnnyazores With every level the players get better, stronger and faster. Also, a lot more is expected of you as you move up.

@ussoccer what aspect of Panama's game needs more attention?
@davsthejumper Panama is a good team with great physical abilities and speed. We will have to pay attention to that and watch closely...

@ussoccer Q to Chad: Wot do U think U hv 2 do 2 make #USMNT World Cup squad? Has coach said anything 2 U about wot he wants 2 C from U?
@twayward I just have to play well when called upon. You dont always know when that'll be, but if you get the chance you just want to take it

@ussoccer cage match..... Gooch v Tim Howard.... who leaves the cage?
@AdamTheRed Gooch.

@ussoccer what is the difference in your mindset while playing for the national team vs playing for the crew?
@Joepark20 I have the same mindset, I just know at this level you have to be that much sharper and focused bc the game is so much faster...

@ussoccer did you go to the whitehouse this week? if so, does the President know his soccer?
@TheFansAttic Yes and he knew everything that was going on with our championship last year and in the league this year.

@ussoccer was soccer your dream ever since you were a kid?
@youngin14 Yup. If I wasn't playing soccer I'd be finishing up school somewhere and going into business or finance.

@ussoccer Who is a player that maybe goes under the radar in MLS, but is a handful for central defenders?
@gpawiebe Davy Arnaud. He doesn't stop working and he's got a good long range shot, so you can't let him get too far away from you...

Thanks to everybody who wrote in questions to Chad!

Kicking Contest

No, that's not our third goalkeeper - although judging by his performance, he could have had a different career...

The sprawling 'keeper pictured is three-time Pro Bowl kicker David Akers, who came out to the U.S. team training session for a bout of sharing professional secrets with Stuart Holden and Santino Quaranta. The Philadelphia Eagles all-time leading scorer first schooled the guys on place kicking - and for the record, 'Tino and Stuart both nailed field goals from 35 out, and Holden buried one from 50!- then he threw on the gloves for a little shooting session of their own.

Akers, who played goalkeeper growing up in Kentucky, was pretty spry in net. Then he turned the tables on Santino, and after claiming not to have kicked a soccer ball in 17 years, proceeded to absolutely drill shots at a rather worried looking forward-turned-goalkeeper.

The guys exchanged jerseys, autographs and photos afterwards, much to the delight of the media in attendance. Tune in to Thursday's edition of Studio 90 for highlights from the session.

Photos from Today's Training Session

After our day off yesterday it was back to work on Wednesday for the U.S. Men's National Team. We were back at the Philadelphia Eagles complex and the 18 players in camp put in a good shift as the U.S. starts to gear up for Saturday's quarterfinal against Panama...A full photo gallery is available at After training Philadelphia Eagles kicker David Akers came by to hang out and meet the team. We'll have a few photos of that up later on, so check back in a bit!

Chad Marshall Takes over Twitter at 2 p.m.

U.S. Men's National Team defender Chad Marshall will be stepping in to field questions on our twitter feed in a few minutes. Chad will take over around 2 p.m. ET and answer questions for part of the afternoon. You can post your questions here if you want, but a better bet is to ask us directly at

Three In A Row

The USA-Panama quarterfinal marks the third consecutive Gold Cup that the teams will meet in the knockout phase. In the 2005 final, 120 minutes wasn't enough to decide a winner, the U.S. capturing the crown after winning 3-1 in penalties - including a PK from a young Santino Quaranta.

Two years later, with Bob Bradley stood at the helm of his first major international tournament, Foxborough served as the site of the quarterfinal pairing. Landon Donovan scored his record-setting 10th career goal in the Gold Cup and Carlos Bocanegra added the insurance as the U.S. collected a 2-1 win en route to their second consecutive regional championship.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Updated Roster

With Charlie Davies departing for FC Sochaux this evening to complete a medical and sign his contract, here is the updated roster for Saturday's quarterfinal against Panama

GOALKEEPERS (2): Troy Perkins (Valerenga), Luis Robles (FC Kaiserslautern)

DEFENDERS (5): Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Jay Heaps (New England Revolution), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Heath Pearce (Out of Contract)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Colin Clark (Colorado Rapids), Sam Cronin (Toronto FC), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Logan Pause (Chicago Fire), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)

FORWARDS (3): Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Santino Quaranta (D.C. United)

Down Day

As we mentioned, the national team gets a day off today and has dispersed to enjoy the afternoon. With Baltimore only 90 minutes away, the Jersey Shore about an hour, and all the sites of one the country's most historic cities, the team gets well-deserved down time before getting back to business tomorrow.

So, if you were in the Philly area and had some time, what would you do?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pictures from Our First Session in Philadelphia

Today's training session featured smaller numbers, as a few players departed camp while Brad Evans, Chad Marshall and Robbie Rogers joined up with the Columbus Crew for a visit to the White House in Washington D.C. We went to the Philadelphia Eagles training complex, which as you can see from the above photo, is close to where we'll be playing Panama on Saturday night (you can see Lincoln Financial Field in the background above the trees). It was a lovely morning - not too hot - and the guys went through a slightly extended regeneration session following yesterday's travel. Click here to see a full gallery of photos at

Second International in Philly

The U.S. will makes its second appearance for a full international in Philadelphia, and the first in more than 40 years, when they take the field Saturday against Panama. The U.S. Men haven’t played a match in Pennsylvania since 1993 in Bethlehem, and the appearance in the City of Brotherly Love is the first since a friendly with England’s Sheffield Wednesday at Veterans Stadium on Aug. 2, 1991. The last international played by the U.S. in Philadelphia was a 4-0 loss to Israel on Sept. 25, 1968.

And guess who else is enjoying his first trip to Philly?

Two More Excused

Defenders Steve Cherundolo and Michael Parkhurst have left camp to return to their clubs. Cherundolo begins preseason with Hannover after having missed the second half of the 2008-09 season with a hip injury. Parkhurst joins FC Nordsjaelland for the start of their campaign in the SAS Ligaien on July 26 against Aalborg.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Train Trip Highlights

Today's train journey was the first for the Men's National Team since France '98. We've done a lot of traveling over the past 48 days and so a change of pace was nice this time around. We chronicled a bit of our trip on Twitter and we were even met by fans at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station. Here's a few highlights from our trip into the city of Brotherly Love:

2009 Gold Cup Quarterfinals Set

Gold Cup group play concluded today with two matches in Group C. First up, Panama dispatched Nicaragua with an easy 4-0 win. The victory put Panama on four points and eliminated Jamaica (3rd place in Group A) from the competition. Next up was Mexico versus Guadeloupe, where El Tri managed a 2-0 win to give themselves a first place finish in the group. Guadeloupe, despite the loss, went through in second place on six points.

Here's how things look as we progress to the knockout round:
Canada will meet Honduras in Philadelphia on Saturday before the U.S. takes the field against Panama in the nightcap. The next day Guadeloupe faces off against Costa Rica and Mexico plays Haiti at the new Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.

What do you think about these matchups? Surprised to see any team in the quarterfinals? Sad that Mexico didn't slip up in the last game? Will you be at the games Saturday night in Philly?

Happy 48th

Today marks the 48th day on the road for Heath Pearce and the entire staff since the start of training camp May 26 for the World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica. The group has logged some serious miles in hitting three continents for 10 matches since June 3 - for example, U.S. head coach Bob Bradley has traveled 28,456 miles since leaving Los Angeles. Tuesday marks the 50th day of the summer tour, and will be the first of the entire journey that involves neither travel nor training.

On a Warm Summer's Morn, On a Train Bound for Philly...

For the first time that anyone can remember, the U.S. team is traveling by train, taking the Acela Express from Boston to Philadelphia. It's comfortable, incredibly scenic, and has power outlets at each seat, which has the group absolutely stoked.

The southbound express train takes us past, amongst other places, Manhattan, the under-construction Red Bull Arena, and Princeton University (alma mater of Bob Bradley). In the words of Santino Quaranata: "This is fantastic. I'm done with flying."

We're on the train for the next several hours, so if you have any quick questions for the guys, send 'em over.

And for you Kenny Rogers fans...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pizza Party

No such thing as too much soccer for this coaching staff. On the bus ride back from the stadium, team trainer Ivan Pierra order pizzas to be delivered to the hotel in time for our return and the start of the Galaxy-Chivas game. With a computer and a projector set up in the training room, the staff and a few players have huddled to watch the game.

USA Lineup vs. Haiti

Here's how the U.S. Men's National Team will be lining up tonight against Haiti:
Robles; Evans, Parkhurst, Conrad (c), Heaps; Quaranta, Holden, Cronin, Clark; Cooper, Arnaud

Some firsts tonight in the lineup:
-It's the first U.S. appearance for Luis Robles, Jay Heaps, Colin Clark, and Sam Cronin.
-Those four, as well as Davy Arnaud and Brad Evans, get their first U.S. start as well.
-Heaps, at 32 years of age, will be getting his first cap in front of his friends and family at Foxborough. Should be a good moment for him.

We'll have constant updates throughout the game over on our twitter feed, at and you can also follow the game with stats at's MatchTracker...

Guess Your Starting XI

We're on the bus moments away from arriving at the ballpark, and you're about 45 minutes away from getting the official version, so in the meantime let's get the armchair midfielders out there to predict today's starting lineup...

Friday, July 10, 2009

An Ideal Soccer Saturday Check List

1) First place in Group B up for grabs - check
2) Haiti fighting for their tournament lives - check
3) Two serious unbeaten streaks for the U.S. on the line - check
4) Official U.S. Soccer Bars across the country ready to show you all the action along with great food and fellow supporters on tap - you betcha

(Remember all those good things that come in fours?)

TT - Losing Records

With the discussion of the USA's unbeaten record in Gold Cup group play (23-0-1), the unbeaten streak against CONCACAF opponents at home (45-0-10), and the unbeaten record at Gillette Stadium in Gold Cup play (6-0-1), we got to thinking:

a) why the heck are we tempting fate with all these stats?
2) who are the CONCACAF teams that have been successful against the U.S.?

As it turns out, there are two teams in the region that have a winning record against the U.S. Most of you probably know that historically Mexico has the upper hand, but which other team has more wins than losses against the United States?

Through to the Quarterfinals

With the highly chaotic 1-1 draw between Panama and Mexico that saw three players and Mexico coach Javier Aguirre ejected, the U.S. is guaranteed no lower than one of the two-best third place finishes in the group phase, thereby insuring their passage into the quarterfinals. The when and where will only be determined following the final Group B matches, in which the U.S. needs only a draw to ensure first place and a quarterfinal date of July 18 in Philadelphia.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

MNT Blog Q&A with Michael Parkhurst

Michael Parkhurst is a CONCACAF Gold Cup veteran, having made his first international appearance in the previous edition of this tournament. In 2009, he's played in both games thus far, coming on as a sub against Grenada and playing the full 90 minutes against Honduras. We asked him about his experience from two years ago, his life with club team Nordsjaelland of Denmark, and his return to the Boston area... You made your national team debut during the 2007 Gold Cup and now you're back defending a title you helped win two years ago. Is there a sense of personal pride in the fact that you're helping to defend a championship you helped the U.S. win?
Michael Parkhurst: It is special anytime you're a part of a big tournament like this. I did get my first cap in 2007 and to have it in a meaningful game in this tournament was nice. It added to the whole environment. To be back here, to be part of the team and to defend the crown is nice. We all are trying to do our best out here to show that we belong with the national team and the Gold Cup is an important step for all of us in that way. It's good to be back, it's a big tournament within the region and it holds significant value for us. What do you remember most about your first cap and about that tournament?
MP: Getting the first cap was special, and I remember that day out in L.A. against Trinidad. Other than that just being with the team for a few weeks was great. It was all pretty new at that point and it was fun to be around the guys, being in the winning environment in tournament play and just moving from game to game, seeing the team perform. When we got into the later stages I didn't dress much and I was up in the stands watching. It was awesome to see the team do well and to know that I was a part of it. The celebration on the field after the championship was a lot of fun. It's been two years since the U.S. celebrated on the pitch at Soldier Field. How are things different this time around?
MP: Obviously it's a new group of guys this time and not too many from 2007 are on the team. Similarly to two years ago though it's a good bunch of guys, and we have a good time with each other off the field. We have good chemistry and this time around we have a few more younger guys fighting for spots. It's a little bit different but there's the same mentality: we're always out there to win. You signed for Nordsjaelland in late 2008 and moved over there for the second half of the season. How has your experience been so far?
MP: The first season was difficult. From people I've talked to who have gone abroad, it takes a little bit of an adjustment period and I think I went through that as well. There were a lot of learning curves. There were some games where I didn't play as well as I would have hoped to and some games where I did play well. It's just difficult to adapt to a new environment and you have to try to do it as quick as possible. Off the field was good for me and there weren't too many distractions there, but you have to get used to a new league, new coaching staff, new teammates and a new way to go about the game. Overall though I enjoyed it and I think it's been a good move for me. I'm looking forward to having a full season with the team. When you take a step like that in your career, undoubtedly there are all sorts of people who brief you on what to expect. Is there any way to prepare for a situation like moving to a club team in Europe or is it almost a trial by fire regardless of what you hear or expect?
MP: It's a little bit of both. You have to have an open mindset and know that there are going to be some difficult times. There wasn't too much of a language barrier, since everyone speaks very good English in Denmark. But they still do speak Danish on the field and the coaching staff still speaks Danish. It's just getting used to trying to pick up little things and trying to be more aware. In games it's about adapting as quick as possible and hoping that if you make mistakes they don't hurt the team. There's not too much that could prepare you for that but it's more about trials and tribulations. You just go and try to get the experience, which is what I tried to do in the first six months. How about off the field? How has living in Denmark been for you?
MP: Living in Denmark has been good. I have an apartment in downtown Copenhagen, which is a great city. The people are very friendly which has helped me out a lot. I was neighbors with somebody on the team so I had somebody to hang out with, since my wife hasn't moved out yet. Off the field there were not many problems and it was a pretty smooth transition. My teammates were very helpful and friendly as far as getting me acclimated and people there are very friendly and willing to help. I like the European way of living, which was more laid back than I was used to, and I like everything so far. You're from Providence, R.I., and you started your career with the New England Revolution. How does it feel to be back home?
MP: It's always nice to be back. It's nice to be back in the U.S. hanging out with guys I've played with here and there and become friends with. It's especially nice we have a game up here in Boston, and I'll be able to meet up with some family and friends I haven't seen for awhile. I'm excited to play at the old stomping grounds again and [Gillette Stadium] is where my career started. I had a lot of good memories back there, and it'll be nice to get back and see teammates and the coaching staff. There are a few Olympic veterans on this team and after the first game they talked about the chemistry that group formed in Beijing. How does last year’s experience at the Olympic shape this team and shape the guys who took part in that tournament?
MP: I think everybody that played in the Olympics had a great experience there. We bonded and we were together for awhile. We have a special bond, and I think we'll always remember that experience together. I think that translates also to on the field performances. It's just easier when you've played with people before, just knowing little tendencies and how they like the ball and what runs they make. It's a younger group here and that's why there's a few of us from the Olympic team together. Everybody on this team has great chemistry, and I think that's something that the younger guys brought from the Olympic team. We had a strong bond there and that has continued here. In 2007 the U.S. won its first two group games en route to finishing top of the group. What do you take from that experience in 2009, where we've had similar results in our first two games?
MP: Most important right now is us finishing first in the group. We want the best path to the final and that means less travel and possibly an easier matchup in the quarterfinals. We need to go out and get at least a draw to clinch first place. From there it's just keeping the mentality of "if you lose you go home." I think most of us have been in that situation before, whether it be playoffs, Olympics or other instances. We all know what it takes, and what it will take, once we get to those stages to continue moving on. We all know we're capable of getting to the final and doing well, so those are the expectations.

Post-Game Sound

Watch the exclusive post-game reaction from the MNT following the 2-0 win against Honduras.

In Case You Blinked - We're in Boston!

With a flight time of 56 minutes, the team moved from outside Washington, D. C., to the suburbs of Boston this afternoon, already approaching 48 hours prior to kickoff for the third group game. Shared a plane with Haiti once again, although this time it was the U.S. team in the back of the bus.
Mostly reading and card-playing on the flight, and we are now minutes away from arriving at the team hotel to begin the pre-game routine that kicks in t-minus two days.

Scratch that - we're here ...

Keeping It Clean Since 2005

With the 2-0 shutout last night, the U.S. extended its shutout streak in Gold Cup group play to 702 minutes spanning seven-plus matches and three tournaments. The last goal scored against the United States came in the 18th minute of the 4-1 win against Cuba on July 7, 2005, in Seattle. Goalkeepers contributing to the cause include Marcus Hahnemann and Kasey Keller (2005), Keller and Tim Howard (2007), and Troy Perkins (2009).

On the flip side, the U.S. has scored 19 goals during the shutout streak through 11 different goalscorers.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Homecoming King

What a fantastic night for Santino Quaranta. The D.C. United man has climbed a personal mountain the last three years, and to have his national team career resurrected in front of his friends and family was truly special. Players and staff were quick to congratulate 'Tino on a very emotional night.

He also helped remove a monkey off the back of his home ground, RFK having the dubious distinction of hosting the last U.S. defeat at home against a CONCACAF opponent, which came Sept. 1, 2001, also against Honduras.