Wednesday, December 12, 2007


First set of prints from Changsha are up in the photo gallery, so thought we would give you some extended captions as if we were sitting right there in your living room!

#1 - Robbie Rogers weaving through Sal Zizzo and L.A. Galaxy defender Mike Randolph. Remember, Mike is the player making his first appearance in any camp for any national team. Welcome aboard!

#2 - A view of the training site with the Changsha Helong Stadium in the background. The modernistic design and construction were completed on the 50,000 seat stadium seven years ago. Officials expect a crowd of 30,000 for the match tomorrow night.

#3 - A view of the aforementioned swanky hotel outside of Changsha where the team is staying. The still to be completed complex has been dubbed "Venice Town" because the owner of the all the land intends to have the community look like an Italian village. Another little tidbit: the Chinese team is also staying here, but we have rarely seen any of them walking around.

#4 - Jozy Altidore, meet Jon Leathers. Jon, as you may recall, is the only college player in camp. He's finishing up his studies at Furman University, the alma matter of one Clint Dempsey. We did a little sit-down with Jon earlier this week.

#5 - Jozy's (umpteenth) attempt at noodle-making. After the team left the dining room last night, equipment manager Gabe Vogler tried his hand at it. No photos exist, but reports indicate the team is in good hands with Gabe.

#6 - Peter breaking out the clipboard at training to diagram team shape for a 9 v.9 exercise. The group have spent a lot of time talking about team shape, movement and individual responsibilities on the field. In last night's meeting, Patrick Ianni and Hunter Freeman were assigned the task of giving a chalk talk on the role of defenders in a 4-4-2.

#7 - Peter addressing the increasing number of Chinese journalists covering the team. Yesterday the team held their pre-match press conference with about 30 reporters and 10 cameras in attendance. A quote sheet from the presser will be available later today. Pretty funny moment when one of the female reporters asked Peter and Sacha if the women of Hunan were cute. Very deftly handled by the men: Peter made Sacha answer; Sacha ducked the question with the agility of Floyd Merriweather.

#8 - Mike Randolph pausing to ponder some of the lessons of Confucianism before restarting play.

#9 - Sacha putting his money where his mouth his in the noodle-making factory. The team captain performed capably. Too bad you can't hear the sound effects he was producing while cooking. In all seriousness, you can see that Sacha has applied some of the lessons learned with the senior team as he serves as one of the leaders in this group.

#10 - Chris Seitz in a warm-up exercise with the city of Changsha in the background. It's been cold and overcast during the training sessions every day, which makes for fine football weather if you're not standing around watching. The city itself has a population of over six million, a medium sized city by Chinese standards.

#11 - A view of training from the concourse level of the stadium complex. Training sessions hav attracted a lot of curious football fans who take up a position here to watch the team. With Chin hosting the Olympics and their U-23 team still taking shape, the fans have told us that they are looking at these next two matches as extremely important to gauge their progress ahead of next summer's Games. Should be a great atmosphere tomorrow night.

Well, there you have it. Time to put away the slide projector and have another glass of eggnog. Hope we're invited back soon.

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