Tuesday, June 30, 2009
1 a.m. - team arrives back at hotel following Confederations Cup final
7 a.m. - breakfast and meeting
9 a.m. - depart for site inspection of base camp for 2010 FIFA World Cup (if U.S. qualifies)
12 p.m. - lunch and meeting
3 p.m. - personal bags brought to lobby for departure for airport
8:30 p.m. - depart hotel for airport
11:30 p.m. - flight from Johannesburg to Amsterdam (11 hours, 10 minutes)
10:40 a.m. - arrival into Amsterdam
1:25 p.m. - flight from Amsterdam to Los Angeles International (10 hours, 55 minutes)
3:20 p.m (PT) - arrival into LAX (time difference - minus 9 hours)
5:30 p.m. - flight from LAX to Seattle (2 hours, 33 minutes)
8:03 p.m. - arrival into Seattle
9 p.m. - dinner and meeting
We're no mathematicians, but that seems like a really long day.
Oh, and July 1 begins with breakfast at 8 a.m. and training at 10 a.m.
Monday, June 29, 2009
It's already almost time to get back in the saddle for the U.S. national team as a host of players are given the opportunity of a lifetime - to demonstrate in a real competition that they have something to contribute to a side determined to qualify and compete in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. We are less than a week away from the start of the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup, where the U.S. seeks to defend back-to-back titles. The group gathers in Seattle beginning tomorrow evening in preparation for the opening match on July 4 against Grenada. The coaching staff will be on the ground for less than four hours before the start of the first meeting.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
U.S. head coach Bob Bradley
On the match:
“It was a tough one. Obviously, a good first half, but we give up the first goal so early in the second half that we put ourselves in a tough spot.”
On giving up a goal so early in the second half:
“That really hurt. But again, Fabiano just makes a good turn and I think it goes through DeMerit’s legs. It’s just a tough one to take so early in the half.”
On how proud he is of his team:
“Extremely proud. We continue to try to move ourselves forward. Playing these kinds of games only helps, but it still feels pretty lousy to let this one get away.”
On if the result earns a new respect for U.S. Soccer:
“I hope so. I think people around the world see that we have a good team, we have good players and hopefully we can continue to step forward.”
U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan
On giving up the 2-0 lead:
“Yeah, we’re disappointed. To give up the goal so fast in the second half hurts. Give them credit. They kept coming wave after wave and they probably deserved it in the end.”
On facing a relentless Brazilian attack:
“It’s difficult. You look around at their players and your realize why they are worth so much and why they play at the teams they play, but it’s disappointing when we gave such a good effort today.
On his goal:
“Ricardo played me a good pass it in the middle. I gave it to Charlie and he did a good job getting it back to me and then I just did the rest from there.”
On if the USA’s run in the tournament gained respect for U.S. Soccer:
“Hopefully, but we’re at the point where we don’t want respect, we want to win. There’s no guarantee that we ever get back to a final game like this so it’s disappointing.”
The U.S., however, still took its best-ever finish in a major international championship, finishing in second place.
We will of course have much, much more from South Africa, so stay tuned here, at ussoccer.com and at twitter.com/ussoccer for more from the USA
The Americans have a 1-0 lead in just the 10th minute!
3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt)
The only change from the Spain game will be Feilhaber replacing the suspended Michael Bradley in midfield.
Here is what Brazil counters with:
• Regardless of the result, the U.S. will have achieved its best finish at a FIFA tournament. Their previous best were third place finishes in the 1992 King Fahd Cup (the predecessor to the Confederations Cup), and the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup in Mexico. The U.S. also finished third in the 1930 World Cup, with only eight teams participating in the inaugural world championship.
• After defeating Spain, the U.S. is 2-7-1 all-time against the top-ranked team in the world since the rankings began in 1993. Bob Bradley personally holds a 1-1-1 record against the No. 1 team.
• Bocanegra is one of two players to have previously scored against Brazil and is the only player with multiple goals. He scored the lone U.S. goal in the 2-1 loss of the semifinals of the 2003 Gold Cup, then scored the opening goal in the 4-2 defeat in the friendly on Sept. 7, 2007, in Chicago. Clint Dempsey is the other player with a goal, also on Sept. 7, 2007.
• The Brazilians carry their own streak into today's final, unbeaten now in 15 games stretching back more than a year.
• Brazil hasn’t allowed a goal in their last 305 minutes of action in the Confederations Cup, while the U.S. hasn’t allowed a goal in their last 208 minutes.
Brazi - Kaka, Luis Fabiano, Robinho
South Africa - Bernie Parker, Steven Pienaar
Spain - Fernando Torres, David Villa, Xavi
USA - Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan
A few decent names...
Saturday, June 27, 2009
The stadium also holds special memories for Jozy Altidore, who earned his first cap for the full team that day.
With the buzz surrounding this match nearing World Cup-like proportions and the U.S. facing mighty Brazil, the Official U.S. Soccer Bars are the best to go and share in a moment you may never forget.
And of course the best part of the Official U.S. Soccer Bars - Zebras welcome!
Friday, June 26, 2009
In other beautiful people news - a category the MNT Blog is woefully unqualified to report on - People Magazine features a few of our guys in Real People Stories!
Hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon will be calling Jozy in Johannesburg to talk about Sunday's match against Brazil as part of their "Five Good Minutes".
Tune in at 5:30 pm ET on ESPN today...
UPDATE: ...or just watch it here!
- This morning coaches and some players headed to an optional gym session. Some players opted for sleeping in.
- After lunch, Bob Bradley and Carlos Bocanegra participated in a press-conference at the hotel. You can listen to the full podcast here (all 20 minutes of it).
- Training was split into two groups today: the starters from Wednesday night went to the gym to do some regeneration, while everybody else went to Rand Stadium for a training session. The stadium, which was recently renovated, is going to be the future home to Jomo Cosmos.
- We'll be back later with a video of the press conference as well as some photos from training...
We're making our way around the world with these patches, and today we have part four, Spain:In case you haven't been following, each patch in the Confederations Cup is different. All eight teams' patches have a unique look, each with the trophy from their confederation's continental championship. Our patch notes that the U.S. won the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2007. So far we've also seen patches for Italy's World Cup championship, Brazil's Copa America title, and Egypt's African Cup of Nations trophy...
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Of course, the U.S. team rightly puts all the credit where it belongs:
“Humble Pie” (print version)
“Shipwreck on the United States Coast” (online version)
“The Party's Over”
“The U.S. Destroys the Spanish legend”
“Yes They Can!” (headline in English)
From Around the World....
La Cronica (Mexico)
“Made In USA” (headline in English)
“The Miracle Workers from the U.S. Appear Once Again and Eliminate ‘The Fury’”
“The American Dream”
Sky Sports (England)
“USA Stuns Spain to Make Final”
“The United States Shocks the World of Football and Takes Down Spain”
Have you found others? Let us know in the comments!
Today is a complete day off for the players, the coaching staff allowing them to catch their breath and enjoy the moment before getting back to work and bearing down on preparations for Sunday's final.
Stay tuned for video of post-match reaction shortly. Meantime, you can read quotes from the players from last night's monumental victory.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Clint Dempsey: "No one thought we were going to get to the finals. We worked hard, and we knew it was going to be a tough game. That's why people come to the game, you never know what is going to happen and that's why people love this game."
Tim Howard: "It just goes to show you that in sports, if you put your mind to something, and you work really hard you can achieve great things. It's a proud moment for us as a country and as a team. We are just happy that we are the guys that are representing the USA."
Landon Donovan: "Tonight we put on a really good show."
Notable streaks for Spain that ended: A FIFA-record 15 consecutive victories, 35-consecutive games unbeaten (tying Brazil's record) and 451 minutes with allowing a goal.
We'll of course have all the reaction, photos, videos and more here and at ussoccer.com ... but until then, what do you think?
10-Landon Donovan (capt.)
Two changes from Egypt with Howard coming back in front of the net, while Bocanegra comes back from injury and starts at left back. This is the first time Bocanegra will start on the left since the U.S. took on Ecuador in Tampa Bay on March 25, 2007, a 3-1 win (LD had a hat-trick if you forgot).
There have been rumors that Stoichkov may be the next coach of the Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa's PSL. For now, he just came to wish luck to his old friends.
- Jonathan Spector and Jay DeMerit have stepped in to start and play 90 minutes in three straight games for a total of 270 minutes each. For Spector, that’s more minutes than he played for the U.S. from June 13, 2007, until the start of the Confederations Cup, and for DeMerit that’s more minutes than he played from June 29, 2007, until facing Italy on June 15.
- Spector’s assist on Clint Dempsey’s goal was his first career point for the U.S.
- The Euro 2008 champions are on a rarely seen form that has led to a record 15-consecutive victories and 35-straight matches unbeaten. The 15 victories date since their 0-0 draw with Italy in the Euro 2008 final, which was decided 4-2 in penalty kicks. Spain’s last loss was on Nov. 15, 2006, falling to Romania in a friendly
- Dempsey’s goal against Egypt was the 14th of his career, moving him into sole possession of ninth place on the all-time scoring list for the U.S., passing Marcelo Balboa and Hugo Perez, and one behind Cobi Jones in eighth place. Dempsey also moved into a tie with Perez in 11th all-time with 34 points, one ahead of Clint Mathis.
- Donovan is the leading capwinner on the roster with 113 appearances, passing longtime U.S. captain Claudio Reyna to move into fourth place on the all-time list. The USA’s all-time leader in goals (40) and assists (37) has one of each at the Confederations Cup, with his penalty kick goal against Italy being the deciding factor in U.S. advancement to the semifinals.
- As the top team in the world, Spain’s roster of 23 players includes 22 who closed out their 2008-09 season with clubs that qualified for either UEFA Champions League or Europa League, and four from Champions League title holders Barcelona
Does 1-1 draw and three red cards in the World Cup ring a bell? Mr. Larrionda, who also did the France-Portugal semifinal in Germany, officiated the USA's tie against Italy in which he issued four yellows and three red cards. Seeing straight red on June 17, 2006, in Kaiserslautern were Daniel de Rossi and Pablo Mastroeni, while Eddie Pope was handed two yellow cards.
Also part of the crew tonight is fourth official Coffi Codjia, who served in the same capacity in the USA-Brazil game last week and signalled to the referee that Sacha Kljestan deserved to be sent off.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
According to the rules, these holidays are celebrated at Official U.S. Soccer Bars across the country beginning around ... oh ... 2:25 Eastern Time. The ritual also require face painting, jersey wearing, scarf waving and a whole lot of screaming. It's like casual Friday, minus the face painting, jersey wearing ...
And come on. If he can pull it off, so can you...
Tshwane/Pretoria - 4,173 feet
Rustenburg - 3, 786 feet
Bloemfontein - 4,477
That's a grand total of 12,436 feet combined. A slightly note-worthy number, yes?
Consider this: That combined total is nearly 10 times less than the amount that Michael Bradley has run during the first three games of the tournament.
At 39,836 yards (119, 508 feet), he has covered the most territory of any player in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. But wait - there's more.
The guy with the second most mileage in the tournament is Clint Dempsey (114,354 yards), and third is Landon Donovan (37,470 yards - 112 410 feet).
That probably takes some heart, commitment and effort, eh?
Today's training weather left little doubt what winter means in this part of the country. Starting the session at 5:30 p.m., the first bag of equipment off the bus contained the jackets, hats and gloves, and with good reason. Temperatures dipped into the mid 30's during the hour-long session, which consisted of the usual pre-game work on team shape and re-starts. Reaching the semifinals of a tournament means one addition to the end of the session - practicing penalties. All 22 players participated, including team captain Carlos Bocanegra, who continues his progression towards full fitness.
There was no wasting time when the coaches signaled the end of training - it may be one of the fastest departures from the stadium.
Speaking of, today's venue was Seida Ramobodu Stadium, the home of Bloemfontein Celtic. Oh yes, that kind of Celtic, straight down to the hoops on the uniform. We tried desperately to get Beas to put on a jersey or wear a scarf, but the veteran is a little too crafty for that.
Regarded as having some of the most passionate fans in South Africa, they were equally passionate about hosting the U.S. team today. Thanks for a great experience. Now if you could just do something about the weather ...
Headline: Del Bosque: 'U.S. is playing without pressure and that makes them dangerous'
Last quote of the article: "I'm not saying that they won't put us in some tight spots. They've lost two games in which they played a man down, and even so, they made Italy suffer. But when they played with eleven and had their full team, they routed Egypt."
Headline: Sergio Ramos: 'Spain Deserves an Important Final'
Fourth paragraph: "The gaffer made sure to show us video of our rival. This morning we have been getting to know the United States very well. On corners and dead balls, they have big players that can create a lot of danger. We’ll try to counteract their importance."
MARCA.com (A sports daily that is Spain's most widely-read periodical)
Headline: The Secrets of the 'Darkhorse' of the Confederations Cup
Second to last paragraph: "In terms of their weak points, there are a definite few and Del Bosque already has them in mind. The defensive level of the North Americans is pretty fragile. The central defensive pair leaves much to be desired and is pretty slow, something that the Torres-Villa duo can take advantage of. Set pieces are not their strength either, something that Spain has improved upon lately thanks to their strategic play."
Third to last paragraph: "[Spain] will have to be cautious of the U.S. counterattacks and Bradley's late runs into the box. Also, they will have to be wary of the possible forward runs from Spector on the widths. The West Ham defender has a strong offensive mindset."
That was the equation U.S. head coach Bob Bradley kept in mind heading into the team’s final group match against Egypt.
Three U.S. goals.
Three goals from Brazil.
If those events occurred, the United States could earn a place in the semifinals of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. During the course of 95 minutes on Sunday night, Bradley kept an eye on all three, thanks to the work of assistant coach John Hackworth and a few others behind the scenes. Decisions on tactics, substitutions and strategy in the game hinged on the events taking place both in Rustenburg and Tshwane/Pretoria.
Read the behind-the-scenes account of how the process unfolded by clicking here
The answer is they didn't. Turns out members of the Spanish team were there training as well, but in a different part of the gym. The Spanish journalists then camped out at the U.S. hotel, and we must say were among the most polite and respectful of any that we have encountered. Obviously they all wanted a word with Jozy, who was nice enough to do interviews right before the team meeting. And you know what? Jozy's español is pretty darn good...
Monday, June 22, 2009
- Michael Bradley covered the most distance of any player on the field (7.9 miles) in the last game.
- Egypt's pass-completion percentage took a drastic turn for the worse against the U.S., dropping to 73% from previous games of 88% and 82%.
- Tim Howard also has the most saves of any goalkeeper in the tournament, with 17.
FIFA.com also has a new Player Ratings Index, which you can learn about by watching the short video here.
- Clint Dempsey (8.26 out of 10) and Michael Bradley (8.19) are the two American representatives in the index's Top 11 players.
- Dempsey is ranked second overall amongst mifielders, behind Kaká at 8.84.
- No prize for guessing the top two ranked players. Spain's Fernando Torres and David Villa sport tournament bests of 8.91 and 9.03, respectively.
Here is the complete info on the Spanish-language broadcast:
Univision - Spain vs. USA
FIFA Confederations Cup - Semifinal
Wednesday June 24
LIVE: 2:25p - 4:30p ET
REPLAY: 11:25a - 1:30p PT
TeleFutura - Brazil vs. South Africa
FIFA Confederations Cup - Semifinal
Thursday June 25
2:25p - 4:30p ET
11:25a - 1:30p PT
- The team took a 55-minute charter flight from Pilanesberg International Airport to Bloemfountain this afternoon, arriving shortly after 5 p.m. local time
- Spanish t.v. crews were on hand to film the team's arrival, which included a greeting from Mayor Playfair Morule and a performance from local singers and dancers
- U.S. defender Danny Califf has been given permission to depart from camp to attend to a family matter
- The region has been experiencing heavy rains, which may preclude the U.S. team from training at the Free State Stadium tomorrow. Spain has the advantage of having played their last two group matches here, as well as getting an extra day's rest
In a previous post we detailed our few days at the lodge in Rustenberg, here are a few more pics for you guys to enjoy:A few of the guys went on a safari this morning before our departure to Bloemfontein (we'll have more on that in an upcoming Studio 90 show)...
And as a bonus, here's a bit from the La Gazzetta Dello Sport, otherwise known as 'the pink bible' in Italy because of the color of its paper and the wide circulation:
"The USA scored once, then twice more to put us back in the running. All we needed was one little goal to go through. We go home from the Confederations Cup with our heads down, crushed by Brazil. The USA displayed vivacious and tactically wise soccer, scoring three goals and wasting at least three others. Donovan was uncontainable, the heroic efforts of El Hadary in goal were not enough."
And then there's the monkeys. As friendly as they are fearless, these little guys would sit next to players in a chair by the pool, and then snatch any piece of food that wasn't guarded. And then have the nerve to eat it right in front of you! It made for some very interesting moments, particularly for one member of the staff who appears to have a phobia about animals of all shapes and sizes. That made for a two-day effort of trying to scare him at every turn.
The environment turned out to be a perfect tonic for the players to get rested and focused for the Egypt match. The weather is simply excellent in this part of the country at the moment, with day-time temps in the low 70's and not a cloud in the sky. So far we have witnessed cold and rain in Pretoria, varying temperature swings, and now the move to Bloemfontein where it is supposed to be 10 degrees cooler. All part of the total experience that hopefully gives us a leg up if we make it back next year.
Oh, what the heck. We'll give you another chance ...
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The semifinals take place on Wednesday, broadcast live on ESPN and TeleFutura at 2:25 p.m. ET. If you're stuck at work, follow via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, or at twitter.com/ussoccer.
The U.S. will at least get two more matches, as there is both a final and third-place match.
Here's how it happened:
USA Goal - Charlie Davies - 21st minute: Scramble in the box goes in.
Brazil Goal - Luis Fabiano - 37th minute: Fabiano beats the trap on a through ball from Maicon.
Brazil Goal - Fabiano - 43rd minute: Goal on the counter attack.
Brazil Goal - Italy own goal - 45th minute: Robinho plays in a low cross and Dossena puts it in his own net.
USA Goal - Michael Bradley - 63rd minute: Great counter attack and Donovan with the assist.
USA Goal - Clint Dempsey - 71st minute: Spector whips in a cross and Dempsey, who was just moved to forward, heads it in.
We'll leave the rest to you for now -- check back later for reaction, photos, and ... if you're lucky ... a photo of a zebra.
10-Landon Donovan (capt.)
Three changes to the lineup that started against Brazil, with Charlie Davies and Brad Guzan getting their first starts of the tournament while Ricardo Clark returns to the lineup. Donovan makes his 113th appearance and passes Reyna for fourth on the all-time list behind Balboa (128), Agoos (134) and Jones (164).
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Zak has been doing interviews for the last week with the Arab press. No surprise that Abdel is fully in the USA's corner, but the press were disappointed to learn that his family back home will also be firmly behind the U.S. team.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Slightly different, indeed. The team is now based at the Bakubung Lodge, which is situated in the middle of the Pilansberg National Park. One of these fellas stood near the entrance to the lodge on the way in, one of many different species of wildlife that populate the surrounding area. It's a refreshing change of scenery, to say the least.
The team caravan is heading northwest on the way to Rustenberg, a three-hour drive that passes by Johannesburg before branching out through open country. The group is divided between two buses. Can't speak for what's happening on the other one, but in the lead vehicle players and staff are watching a DVD of the Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
As it currently stands, Brazil leads Group B with six points, Italy and Egypt are on three each, and the U.S. is in fourth place.
Bottom line, the U.S. still has a role to play in this group.
1-Howard, 2-Bornstein, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 8-Clint Dempsey, 10-Landon Donovan, 12-Michael Bradley, 15-Jay DeMerit, 16-Sacha Kljestan, 17-Jozy Altidore, 21-Jonathan Spector
- All other players make the bench, with Ricardo Clark suspended.
- Bornstein is carrying a yellow card from the first game, and will miss the next match if booked.
1-Julio Cesar, 2-Maicon, 3-Lucio (c), 5-Felipe Melo, 8-Gilberto Silva, 9-Luis Fabiano, 10-Kaka, 11-Robinho, 15-Miranda, 16-Andre Santos, 18-Ramires
- Nobody on Brazil is carrying a yellow card.
- Defender, Juan, who started the last match, is listed as injured.
The Italy game is behind us. We were frustrated not to get a result, especially since we felt like we were playing very well prior to the red card. After that, we still went up 1-0 and created some good chances. We knew it was going to be long fight with a man down for that long, and unfortunately we ran out of steam defending against that much sustained pressure. Even so, we still had a couple opportunities at the end. We feel confident that we can compete with the best teams in the world.
That moment is over, and there has only been a short time to recover to prepare for a difficult game against Brazil. In some ways it's good that there is no time to dwell; we now have the chance to put right the disappointment.
On game days, I don't really start preparing until we are on the way to the stadium. You don't want to wear yourself out mentally too much. When we get on the bus, I start to focus and envision what it's going to take for us to be successful.
For me personally, these games present great challenges to test myself against some unbelievable players. Against Italy it was Grosso, and tonight it could be the likes of Kaka, Robinho and Kleber. While they are very talented, we don't give than anymore respect than anyone else. As a player, you want to have a chance to stand up to the best. And for the team, it gives you a great picture of what the toughest matches in the world will be like. It's another great experience as we move forward.
Whenever we play in a competition or a tournament, we get patches to put on our jerseys. This time, however, each team's patch comes with a unique twist:
As you can see, our patch says 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup Champions (that's Landon's jersey before the last game) - it shows how we gained entry into the tournament. Each team's patch has the trophy from their confederation's continental championship...AFC, UEFA, and so on...Today we'll see the CONEMBOL patch when we play Brazil...
Italy can go one better, though. Check out their patch:
Pretty neat stuff, if you ask us. We've seen a fair amount of jersey patches in our days, but these ones probably take the cake. Certainly it'll make that Pirlo jersey that DeMerit traded for that much cooler...
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
- Thursday’s match against FIFA No. 5 Brazil will be the sixth time the U.S. has faced a team ranked in the top five since the start of 2007.
- Thursday will also be the second time under Bradley that the U.S. has faced teams ranked in the top five in back-to-back games in less than a week. The U.S. lost 1-0 at No. 4 Spain on June 4, 2008, before returning home to draw No. 1 Argentina 0-0 on June 8.
- With its victory today against Iraq, Spain has now gone 34 matches without a loss - one shy of the record set by Brazil - and won 14 straight matches, tying the record set by Australia, Brazil and France
- During the two stints under Marcello Lippi, Italy has lost only once in their last 37 matches. That defeat was a 2-0 loss to Brazil this past February
- The coaching staff is sitting in the hotel lounge watching South Africa-New Zealand
- Jay DeMerit and Conor Casey in the players lounge dueling in backgammon - not allowed to report who is winning
- Brad Guzan reading news and sending e-mails back home
- Landon Donovan swapping stories with the DS agent assigned to the team from the State Department
- Several players rotating through in the training room getting massages
(Editor's Note - the above reference could fairly be described as hyperbole. We're sure we could get towels if we need them.)
There has been a truly international flavor from the media the last two days, with crews from as far apart as Australia, Indonesia, Brazil and Canada covering the U.S. team. The Brazilians have been quick to point out the USA's performance against Italy and their history of competing against Brazil as reasons they are not taking the U.S. lightly.
The weather has turned fabulous during the last few days, with clear and sunny skies allowing temperatures to reach near 70 degrees. The mood in the camp is equally clear; the disappoint of Monday's result having given way to the promise of another opportunity.
FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot says “there will be a number of complimentary tickets actually handed to institutions, institutions which have been very supportive of the event.” Schools and local authorities will be among the recipients of the free tickets.
While the crowds have been very loud and enthusiastic, there have been seats still available. Seems like a great way to give back...
The South Africans are cautious not to underestimate New Zealand, who were pounded by Spain 5-0 in their first match.
In the first match of the day, Spain has a chance to inch one step closer to history when they take on Iraq. The European champions are currently riding a remarkable 33-match unbeaten run, two shy of Brazil's all-time record of 35.
A Spanish victory would also extend their winning streak to 14 matches, tying the all-time record for successive victories set by France, Brazil and Australia.
Both features can be found in the all_access player on ussoccer.com
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
To be placed in the category of good intentions, our hotel decided to give the players vuvuzelas as both a token of appreciation as well as a gift of local import. The result of their generosity was a symphony of bad horn playing that provoked rather unpleasant memories of that persistent performance at games involving you know who.
Ah well. It's the thought that counts, right?
Remember the electric crowd at Soldier Field? Landon Donovan setting the single-year point scoring record for the U.S.? Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey putting two past Doni, and the unbelievable final 10 minutes? Take a look back at one of the most highly viewed all_access pieces ever, the highlights of the 4-2 match on Sept. 9, 2007 in Chicago.
Amongst the players who took part in the field session this afternoon was team captain Carlos Bocanegra, who participated in football as well as fitness exercises. Sidelined since scoring the game-winning goal against Honduras on June 6 in Chicago, he is in a race to get fit for the match against Brazil on Thursday afternoon.
"We had Carlos in training today. We will look at him overnight and monitor his progress during the next 36 hours."
No other injury concerns in the U.S. camp from last night.
And this from Italy coach Marcello Lippi, who continues his amazing run of success with the defending World Champions, having lost only once in the last 37 matches at the helm:
"I think because they created problems for us with they played, the tension tended to grow. But then in the end, we managed to get the ball and get more into the game. They were well organized and made it quite difficult for us, especially their number five player (Oguchi Onyewu) and 17 (Jozy Altidore), who caused us lots of problems. When their player was sent off, it was not that easy because they are a very strong team, Yes, we won, but it was not easy."
Monday, June 15, 2009
Landon Donovan - captain
- All 23 players are allowed to dress and be available for selection
- The U.S. will be wearing an all-white strip
- Italy will dress in special kit for the tournament, wearing blue-brown-brown
- The referee tonight is Pablo Pozo from Chile. At 36 years old, he is the youngest referee in the tournament
To get you ready, here's today edition of Studio 90, which brings you a behind-the-scenes look at the USA's 2-1 win against Honduras, highlights of the USA's goals from previous Confederations Cups, and sound from yesterday's pre-match press conference. Don't forget to stick around for a special edition of Extra Time, Deuce Style
Watch Studio 90 now
Here's a couple other items for your reading pleasure:
The penalty call will be sure to inspire debate, and might even make it's way into ussoccer.com's Referee Week in Review!
The Official U.S. Soccer Bars will be open and ready to welcome you to watch the U.S. take on Italy for the first time since the 1-1 draw at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The defending World Cup champions have brought a lot of sizzle, as well as an astonishing record under Marcello Lippi that is sullied by only one loss in their last 36 matches!
Head to bars like the Brewhouse Cafe in Atlanta, the Official U.S. Soccer Bar of the Month for June, and other hot spots around the nation. Kickoff is 2:25 p.m. ET, so it's either a half day or a long lunch!
(Also on the this day the Magna Carta was signed in 1215, providing the foundations of the rule of constitutional law, and in 1775 the Continental Army appointed George Washington the Commander in Chief, thus beginning the march towards the birth of a free nation to be called the United States of America.)
We're about six hours from kickoff, and the players' floor is predictably quiet. Already two meals and one final meeting into the schedule, the lineup is set and the typical rhythm of game day hums along.
Remember to log on one hour before kickoff to find out the USA's starting XI against Italy. For now, let's hear your predictions!
- A total of 14 players - five for the U.S. and 9 for Italy - were on the field for the 1-1 draw in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey made their World Cup debuts that day
- Italy coach Marcello Lippi is tied for the record of longest undefeated run as a national team, going 31 games without a defeat to equal the mark set by Javier Clemente of Spain and Alfio Basile of Argentina. Spanning two managerial stints and including the championship in the 2006 World Cup, the streak ended with a 2-0 loss to Brazil in February of this year.
The USA scored for the 14th consecutive match in their last qualifier for South Africa 2010, a 2-1 home triumph against Honduras. The last time the United States failed to get a goal was the thrilling 0-0 stalemate against then-No. 1 ranked Argentina on June 8, 2008, in New Jersey.
The opening matches played by the USA in each of their three previous campaigns at the FIFA Confederations Cup have all produced three goals. The U.S. lost 3-0 to Saudi Arabia in 1992, beat New Zealand 2-1 in 1999 and lost 2-1 to Turkey in 2003.
- This is the first time in FCC history that three of the top five ranked teams are in the tournament together - and the U.S. plays two of them. Italy is currently ranked #4, while Brazil rounds out the top five.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
The team got their first look at the venue that will host Monday's match against Italy, and the setting was quite impressive. The pitch is pretty slick when wet, which always gets the players juiced up because the ball gets moving quickly. The 45-minute session was open for the first 15 minutes for cameras, then the group worked on shape and re-starts. Loftus has a capacity of around 45,000, and with about 30,000 expected there should be a good energy inside the stadium. Each game has a different vibe to it, and with little things like extra cameras, loads of security, tournament signage, and the ever-demanding process of keeping preying eyes away from training, it had the feel of a big-time event about to happen.
The site on which Loftus Versfeld is located was first used for sport in 1903. It was named after Mr Robert Owen Loftus Versfeld, who is attributed with establishing organized sport in Pretoria. It has been used for numerous sports events including the 1995 Rugby World Cup and 1996 CAF Africa Cup of Nations. It is now used by Mamelodi Sundowns as their home ground.
The coaching staff will decide tomorrow if Bocanegra is healthy enough to go.
We will have sound and video from the presser into tomorrow's edition of Studio 90.
Fans were already in line when the gates opened four hours before kickoff, armed with vuvuzelas, a South African horn instrument that is a staple of football fans here. There is no doubt that the pride of South Africa is on display today.
The Italy captain is just two appearances away from matching the Italian record of fellow defender Paulo Maldini, who amassed 126 caps in his career with the Azzuri.
In the late game, Spain takes on New Zealand at 8:30 p.m. local time at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, site of the USA's third group match on June 21 against Egypt.
All 16 matches of the FIFA Confederations Cup will be broadcast live on ESPN and ESPN2 in High Definition, as well as the Univision Networks.
Those eight players have now stayed behind from the morning gym session and are consuming vast amounts of liquids in hopes of being able to 'complete' the test.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
U.S. captain CARLOS BOCANEGRA
On preparations so far:
“Most of the guys are adjusted and settling in. We're comfortable with our surroundings, the training facility and our hotel. We have our sleep schedule right, and now it's all about getting ready for the games.”
On moving towards the final preparations for the game against Italy:
“Now it's game time. The concentration levels need to go up and there is a lot of excitement leading up to the game. It's finally arrived and that's a lot different from training. We've been preparing for this tournament and now it's finally here.”
On the USA's Group B opponents, Italy:
“Italy is going to be favored and we're a little bit of the underdog. The pressure will be on them and we want to go out there and show that we can play with them and get a good result. We want to get through this group and compete with these good teams.”
On the opportunity the USA has in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup:
“Anytime you get a chance to play Italy or another top team like the ones will be facing is great. This is how you challenge yourself, and it’s what you measure yourself against. These are the best teams in the world and we want to see how we rate against them. It's a good challenge for our team.”
On the USA's goals for this tournament:
“Ultimately we're building towards the World Cup. But winning the Gold Cup a couple years back has given us the opportunity to come down here and test ourselves against the best. We'll get a practice run for the World Cup and for that reason it's an important tournament for us. We want to have good results and a good showing.”
U.S. goalkeeper TIM HOWARD
On getting ready for Monday's tournament opener against Italy:
“Preparations have been going well. We've started to get more and more sleep, and training sessions have gotten increasingly harder. Friday's training session was very, very good. It was intense and I think we're moving in the right direction to be ready for Monday's game."
On how the next few days will be different from the first three days of training in South Africa:
“I think we'll start focusing on how to prepare for the game, how we're going to set ourselves up and how we're going to get after them. We'll have to look at what they'll try to do to us. The next few days will be more focused on the game [against Italy] where as these past three sessions have been about training, getting our legs back and working hard."
On his memories of the 2003 Confederations Cup:
"I have fond memories of the Confederations Cup. We had another very hard group and I remember the tournament being important at that stage of my development [as a player]. I enjoyed it because it was a big occasion. It was in France, the stadiums were packed and it was the highest level of competition possible. Anytime you can do that you take a lot out of it, and I certainly did.”
On Group B and the goals for the USA:
“Any Confederations Cup group is going to be very difficult; it's the tournament of champions, really. We have our work cut out for us. We didn't get out of our group last time and obviously that's the goal. Once you're out of your group you're within touching distance of getting to the final. So the goal is to advance, but it is one step at a time. We have three difficult games and we're going to certainly have to focus on Italy and not look too far forward.”
U.S. midfielder MICHAEL BRADLEY
On the first few days of preparations:
“Anytime you travel for that long it takes a day or two to start to feel like yourself again. It takes a few days to get your legs back, get on the right sleeping pattern and, on top of it, you deal with a little bit of altitude here. The first day or two was about getting our legs underneath us, and now I think everybody starts to feel good as we start to get closer to the game.”
On the final few days before Monday's game against Italy:
“The hard work is done. Now the next day or two we look a little bit closer at Italy and we start to work on some tactics within our team. We will fine tune a few things as we get ready for Monday night.”
On the time spent together as a team:
“Everybody is happy to be here and we all enjoy each others company. We don't leave the hotel too much and it's a good chance for all the guys on the team to spend time with each other. The relationships you build off the field can help on the field as well.”
On beginning the Confederations Cup:“It's exciting. It's a big tournament. We're in a difficult group and we get everything going with the first game against Italy, the World Champions. We're all looking forward to it and I know that we'll be ready to go.”