With our return to the U.S., this blog will be inactive until Residency is back in full swing (i.e. when everyone readjusts to the time zone). Thanks for tuning in during the U-17 World Cup! Stay tuned to ussoccer.com for more U-17 updates.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Well.... it is a bit earlier than expected, but the team arrived in Atlanta this morning from Seoul and will go their separate ways from here. Just about everyone slept for most of the 13 hour trip, until a baby decided to scream for the last three hours of it.
Some players will return to Residency next week, others will go on to college or back home to their clubs... whatever they're doing, they'll certainly take away some lessons from their time in South Korea.
As Josh Lambo put it after the game Thursday night (we have no idea what day it is right now:
"It wasn’t meant to be. I’m disappointed, but hopefully in the long run, an experience like this will help me in the future.”
Posted at 2:48 PM
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Tonight's lineup is the fourth different Starting XI that coach Hackworth has employed through four games, mostly due to the absence of forward Billy Schuler, who is suspended for this match after earning two yellow cards during the group stage. Tonight, the team that will start off against Germany looks like this:
Williams - Bates - Meyer - Zimmerman
Nimo - Wenzel - Jeffrey - Garza
McLoughlin - Urso
Check back after the game.
Posted at 3:47 PM
After lunch today, the team watched the end of the 1981 Soccer classic, Victory, a coach Hackworth favorite. It probably has come of the best soccer scenes in any movie ever, and got the team thinking about soccer as more than just a sport. The players know what is at stake, and they are ready to take on Germany.
Posted at 4:39 AM
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Well, Brazil, who was thought to be one of the favorites in this tournament and who scored 12 goals in their first two games, lost to Ghana tonight 1-0. Spain topped North Korea 3-0, which isn't too much of a surprise. Tajikistan fell to Peru in PKs, leaving the USA as the sole representative of Group E.
We have to say that we are disappointed that Tunisia fell tonight to France. They looked like a team with potential to do well here, they played well in our group and we would have liked to see them go a little farther.
I guess that's the way things happen at the World Cup... anything can happen.
Posted at 9:02 AM
Apparently rainy season has hit Cheonan. After all the heat and humidity we've been dealing with over the past few weeks, the rain brought a welcome chill to the air. Not so welcome was the soaking wet field, but the players handled it well... save for a few through balls that stopped in the puddles.
For some reason, after days of not having it on when the weather was so hot and humid, the bus driver decided to turn on the air conditioning for a bunch of chilly, wet players. Making matters funnier, was that right before heading up the steps to the bus, Chris Klute got a nice ice water bath from his teammates. Brrrrrrrr
Posted at 7:58 AM
At the team's afternoon snack, no one grabbed his food and ran faster than Josh Lambo. Apparently he had mistimed his afternoon reading, because at 3:30 he said he had just four pages left in The Bourne Supremecy. He'd already read the Bourne Identity and said that the third book in the series, The Bourne Ultimatum was waiting for him in his room. He definitely prefers the books to the movies... we didn't know that they were completely different themes, but apparently they are.
FIFA.com just posted a great article on the 'keeper, who we think looks a little like Clark Kent in this photo
Posted at 4:50 AM
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
8/Midfielder Kirk Urso made an immediate impact when he subbed in at the start of the second half against Belgium. His goal in the 63rd minute proved to be the game winner, and helped the team advance to the knock-out rounds. To learn a little more about Kirk's story, check out ussoccer.com's Center Circle's feature on the 17-year-old from Lombard, Ill.
(Thanks to John Dorton/ISI for the photo)
Posted at 11:47 AM
Sometimes when extra bodies are needed at practice, various members of the staff (which is made up mostly of ex-college players and pros) step in during 11 v. 11 drills. Today, the warm bodies took it to a new level, getting involved in the penalty kick shootout. We won't mention who did and didn't make their shots, we don't want to create big egos (or hurt feelings)...
Posted at 8:17 AM
Monday, August 27, 2007
Remember we told you about the men from the local Air Force Base who came to our game last night? We think we got a glimpse of them at the end of practice today. As the team was loading back onto the bus to head home, we heard two pairs of jets flying overhead. Guess they wanted to wish us good luck!
Posted at 9:45 AM
Pulling up to a new practice facility (our first practice outside of the stadium in Cheonan), there was a huge group of people waiting for us, waving Korean, U.S. and FIFA World Cup flags and chanting U-S-A... U-S-A..
It was a group from the bank behind the field, and the chairman of the Local Organizing Committee greeted us warmly (through a translator) and gave flowers to coach Hackworth and Mykell Bates (who in turn, gave them to the two female members of the contingent). Photos were taken... it was a really nice surprise.
Practice itself was a bit wet, as rains had soaked the field earlier in the day and we were hit with a few showers. But the field was near the top of a mountain, giving us a beautiful view of the surrounding hillsides.
Posted at 7:13 AM
For this morning's regeneration, the players ventured down to the hot springs at the bottom of the hotel, which we have mentioned before. Let's just say that putting a group of 16 and 17-year-old Americans alongside men they don't know... in a different country... when the natives are naked - leads to comedy.
Posted at 1:21 AM
Sunday, August 26, 2007
What a relief... the team is so happy to finally play the way they know how. The locker room was quite a sight after the game, with high fives, hugs, yelling.... just general happiness. With Tunisia's 1-0 win over Tajikistan, the U.S. took second place in a Group E that finished this way:
Tajikistan advances as a third-place team, while Belgium will be heading home. Not too many people had this group pegged correctly.
The players got to enjoy some quality time with their families tonight at the post-game meal, which was held in a big hotel ball room. It was great to see so many parents and siblings who were able to come all this way, and who are so proud of their sons. Most of the moms were wearing jersey's with their sons last names on it.
It's almost time for curfew, and tomorrow the team will begin to focus on Germany.
Posted at 8:43 AM
There was a fairly large contingent of American supporters at the game tonight, and after the match we found out that there was a group of 50 members of the U.S. Air Force in attendance. A couple of the guys came down to the team bus after the game to introduce themselves and say congratulations. The players gave them a round of applause in return, and were happy to pose for pictures. Since we're playing in Cheonan again, they said to expect much more of the base to come out on Thursday night.
Posted at 8:26 AM
After heavy rain fell throughout the teams warm up, the precipitation has stopped, but the clouds have stayed to leave a nice, relatively cool cover. The humidity is noticeably lower today and the temperature is definitely a few degrees cooler. The field is still wet, but the weather is a perfect recipe for a good match.
Stay tuned to ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, and check back after the game.
Posted at 2:26 AM
Saturday, August 25, 2007
With the results of tonight's other group games (France beating Japan, Nigeria beating Haiti), the U.S. will advance as at least a third-place team if they beat Belgium tomorrow. The U.S. would have three points and tiebreaker advantages to give them the edge to become one of four third-place teams who would advance to the knockout phase.
Sounds complicated, but essentially, win and we're in!
Posted at 8:02 AM
Cheonan Sports Complex, site of the U.S. game against Belgium tomorrow, and the team's training session tonight. To accommodate FIFA regulations, the team warmed up outside of the stadium and then moved to the stadium grass for their "official" pre-game practice. The stadium is quite nice, and only a few years old (built in 2001 for South Korea's National Athletics Championships).
Leaving the stadium, the bus made an impressive u-turn across six lanes because there was no left turn out of the stadium (actually its second impressive u-turn of the trip). Thank goodness for police escorts!
Posted at 5:21 AM
Generally, the food in both Changwon and Cheonan (so far) has been impressive. One thing that stands out as being very different are the breakfasts. Every day there has been the usual fruit, cereal, maybe some pancakes, etc... But there is also a wide selection of vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Here in Cheonan we have also had sausages that look like the mini-hot dogs that are used for appetizers in the States. None of this has stopped the team from eating... in fact the little sausages were quite good. It's just a mental adjustment.
And we should mention that the staff solved the problem of weak coffee by quickly locating the nearest Dunkin Donuts, just a few blocks away from the hotel. There was a noticeable change in the staff's energy after drinking the "real" coffee.
Posted at 2:12 AM
Friday, August 24, 2007
An update to the U-17 Scenarios we provided you yesterday (see three posts down). Groups A and B are done and done, and things went 50 percent in our favor.
First, the good news. Korea Republic defeated Togo, 2-1, in their final match which favors the U.S. Why? Well, with that result, Korea ends up in third place with three points, a -2 goal differential and two goals scored. As long as the U.S. defeats Belgium, they will rank above Korea because in every case possible they will beat them on the second tie-breaker - goals scored. With a win, the U.S. secures three points, no worse than a -2 goal differential and they already have four goals (more than Korea at two).
Second, the bad news. Korea DPR pulled out a close one against New Zealand, 1-0. We were hoping for a draw or NZL win, but didn't happen. This didn't help us out because Korea DPR secured third place with four points, which means they will beat out the U.S. in any third place ranking as the U.S. can only get a maximum of three points.
You just kind of knew Korea DPR wouldn't help us out, didn't you? Oh, well. Thanks to the Kiwis for giving it their all (not that we think it was for us). Pretty remarkable to keep in the game after getting sloshed 7-0 and 6-1 by Brazil and England in their first match.
OK, so more games tomorrow and another chance for teams to help us out. Find out what we need in the U-17 Scenarios (scroll down to find Groups C and D).
Posted at 10:33 AM
The players had a pool workout this afternoon in a fairly public pool a few blocks away from the hotel. The team stood out quite a bit walking through the streets, with plenty of onlookers wanting to practice their English or just wave. There were quite a few people in the pool wondering what was going on in the far lane that we rented out for 21 players all going through various warm up and stretching exercises.
Posted at 8:26 AM
After a three hour bus ride, the team arrived in Cheonan early this afternoon and settled into a beautiful hotel that has a spa, bakery, restaurant indoor golf on the premises among other amenities. But what the hotel is famous for is being built over natural hot springs, which they still utilize as a spa and public bath area. Around the year 1500, the king had his residence on this land, and a house built around the hot springs. Later, the ground was used publicly, and eventually made into commercial property.
Posted at 4:16 AM
What does the U.S. need to do to have a chance at advancing? Can the U.S. really end up second in their group still? If we finish third, what needs to happen in the other groups to give the U.S. a good chance to move on?
Questions, questions, questions. That's what you get when trying to figure out what our chances are to move on before we play Belgium. Well, we're here to provide you with answers, answers, answers.
First, we know for certain we need to defeat Belgium for any chance (like...duh). We're not shedding light for anyone with that comment, but we did break down how we'll end up in third or even second in our group. Plus, we broke down what needs to happen in the other groups to give the U.S. a good chance of smelling the sweet roses known as Round of 16. It's all in here - U-17 Scenarios. Check it out!
Posted at 1:27 AM
Thursday, August 23, 2007
With Belgium's 1-0 victory over Tajikistan tonight, the U.S. has a chance to take second place in Group E with a win and some help. With a win over Belgium, a decent goal differential, and some help from Tunisia with a win, the U.S. could join Belgium and Tajikistan with three points each and advance on tiebreakers.
Group E is wide open people.
Posted at 9:57 AM
Well... that game didn't go according to plan. The team floor is a very somber place to be tonight as the team went through their standard ice baths, dinner and now a meeting. Tomorrow morning will provide a change of scenery as the team will board the bus to Cheonan for Sunday's matchup with Belgium. A new hotel and a new atmosphere will probably be good for everyone at this point.
Posted at 9:25 AM
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Joining the tradition of the Under-20 squad, the team came together to watch the movie "300" after dinner tonight on a big projection screen in the meal room (the meal room is rather large). The guys thought they could use a warrior movie to help get them mentally prepared for what's in store tomorrow.
Choice quote from the movie: "A Spartan is only as strong as the man beside him."
Posted at 11:25 AM
Since the team came together on August 14, we have had nothing but very hot, very humid practices with the sun just beating down. For the first time since then, it rained today in Changwon... apparently it was part of the typhoon that has been hitting Taiwan the past few days. It stormed a bit this afternoon and rained very hard for a while, but cleared up by the time practice rolled around this evening. It was still very humid, but it finally cooled down at least a little bit.
Posted at 6:30 AM
FIFA.com posted a nice article yesterday about U.S. forward/midfielder Alex Nimo, and the team's experience in South Korea so far. Nimo, who was born in Liberia and whose family now lives in Portland, Ore., talked with FIFA.com Sunday and assisted on the third USA goal against Tajikistan Monday night.
Posted at 2:04 AM
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Interesting results from today's games in Jeju and Suwon...
Brazil beat a North Korea team that looked strong against England just three days ago 6-1 to take control of Group B.
Peru and Togo played to a 0-0 draw and Costa Rica battled hard for a 2-0 win over a very good South Korean side, both results leaving Group A wide open. Costa Rica's second goal led to a difficult looking split from a South Korean defender... oof. You can watch the highlights of the game (of all the games) right here.
Posted at 11:22 AM
As part of a FIFA study, four players - Mykell Bates, Brandon Zimmerman, Abdusalam Ibrahim and Tommy Meyer - were chosen to get MRIs taken in order to study the age of their bones, specifically their wrists. FIFA hopes that in the future, similar tests could be used to determine the age of youth players.
The guys said that the hospital was pretty nice, and they were in the MRI tube for about 15 minutes. No big deal. It's interesting to think about what is possible with modern medicine.
EDIT: Yes, we know this is not an MRI picture. We don't understand MRI pictures.
Posted at 6:26 AM
Monday, August 20, 2007
The start of a new day brings the start of a new goal... six points in the next two games. The team has mentally shifted their focus to Tunisia, putting last night behind them. The players are physically recovering as well - They will hit the field later this afternoon for the first of just two practices before their next match against Tunisia, which is on Thursday evening (4 a.m. ET on ESPN2).
Posted at 10:00 PM
While the team is in their rooms, the staff had a minor problem to solve. We're not sure how, but the door to the treatment room in the hotel was latched from the inside, and there was no one in there. It seems impossible. We tried pens, hangers, small fingers... nothing could get the latch to unlock. The hotel engineer had to come up and take the whole thing off. Thankfully it happened at a time that wasn't urgent - the door might have had to be broken down.
Posted at 1:27 AM
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Have you ever wondered how a team prepares for an opponent that is virtually unknown in the world of soccer? On ussoccer.com's new all_access video you can learn how the coaches break down game tapes, what they are expecting and how they turned the experience into a learning opportunity for the players. Check it out here.
Posted at 6:38 PM
Just one day before the team's opening match against Tajikistan and the team is ready to go.
Tonight was the "official training session" in Changwon Main Stadium under the lights. If that wasn't enough to get the team ready to go, nothing is. The stadium was dressed up very nicely, with the sign boards and the benches all in place.
They're quietly confident, focused and excited. They've been watching the games that have already been played (Syria 0 - Argentina 0... anything can happen here!) and that has helped them know what to expect. During dinner, the team watched the first half of their recent 3-1 win over Germany in Geissen, and then went over match day protocols so the only thing they should have to think about is playing.
Posted at 11:15 AM
This evening was the fourth training facility for the team in four days, and we had our first casualty. The players are all fit and healthy, but a FIFA volunteer was on the wrong end of a Bryan Dominguez shot and ended up with a bloody nose. Michael, our trainer, was quick to get him cleaned up, and to be fair, the volunteer was pretty tough about it.
Posted at 6:49 AM
Saturday, August 18, 2007
World traveled pretty fast on the team floor about the LA-NY game that just ended. We couldn't watch it here unfortunately, but the scoreline did raise a few eyebrows. Yes, Beckham was a star with three assists, but he was outdone by U-17 alumnus Jozy Altidore, who tallied two goals. The announced crowd of 66,000 got everything they paid for and we cannot wait to see highlights.
Posted at 10:25 PM
Posted at 10:05 PM
Well, the tournament is officially underway, with England and North Korea tying the World Cup's opening match this afternoon, 1-1. The team watched the game together during lunch in the meal room on a big projection screen, and you could tell that the players were really getting into the World Cup vibe. The game was exciting right off the bat, and the team is getting quite anxious to hit the field.
Posted at 4:17 AM
Friday, August 17, 2007
During and after breakfast this morning, the team watched a video that was made about last year's trip to Uruguay and Argentina. Many of the players on this World Cup squad were there, and they remember the travel, the training and the conditions that they went through for that experience. Giving up a stoppage time goal against Argentina in the tournament final was not something that the team wants to go through again.
The video was a reminder of all the hard work the team has put in over the past two years that culminates here on the world stage. (You can watch the video here.) It was also an opportunity to tease midfielder Jared Jeffrey about the long hair he used to sport.
Posted at 9:43 PM
Today the team trained at the third different venue in three days, and this afternoon was probably the muggiest day we've had so far. The players had to work hard to stay hydrated leading up to and throughout the short practice. The South Koreans have told us that they expect it to get hotter and more humid in the upcoming months, though we're not sure how that's possible.
With the first game of the tournament tomorrow, it's starting to feel more and more like a World Cup. The team is focused, driven and working very hard at training leading up to Tajikistan.
Posted at 5:13 AM
Thursday, August 16, 2007
It's generally not a problem for the players, because their equipment needs are taken care of by FIFA and the team's equipment manager, but one of the issues for staff on the road is laundry. It is impossible to go several weeks on the road without doing laundry a few times. Luckily, the Changwon Hotel has free laundry! Honestly, free. They even provide detergent. The same machine washes and dries, so you don't even have to worry about getting down there to switch the clothes to the dryer. For some reason a cycle takes three and a half hours, but that is a small downside to free laundry. Are there any hotels in the U.S. that do this?
Posted at 11:18 PM
With four days still remaining before their first game, the players were becoming noticeably anxious with the limited television and limited hotel activities. So the guys were finally allowed a little bit of freedom to explore the city after dinner tonight. Of course team rules and curfews are still in effect, but the players are happy to get a chance to do a bit of exploration.
Posted at 6:46 AM
Today the team trained at a different training site at another corporate park. It seems that every big company has a really nice soccer field right in the middle of their complex - you don't see that too often in the U.S. But it is nice that the employees can come out after a long day and bask in the very hot and humid weather to check out the U.S. National Team. The field also provided new scenery (pictures added thanks to John Dorton), and the "discovery" of big body of water that we could see coming over the mountain to the field.
Though it happened half a world away, part of the conversation on the team floor of the hotel was about David Beckham's free kick against D.C. The great debate was whether any goalkeeper in the world would stand a chance against that free kick, and if Troy Perkins was just unfortunate to be the guy in net.
Posted at 4:09 AM
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
We finally have photo evidence of something we've been wanting to share. World Cups have traditionally brought out some great hairstyles (we all remember the Clint Mathis mohawk, right?), and the U-17s won't be outdone by anyone. Pictured here are Mykell Bates and Brandon Zimmerman, who got creative with their 'dos and will no doubt make their mark on the event both on the field and off. Pretty impressive artwork!
Posted at 7:03 AM
There aren't many English-language television stations here, so options are very limited when it comes to entertainment. One thing that doesn't need much language to go along with it, however, is sport. There was a Korean boxing match on television this evening in the training room while guys were getting post-practice treatment. It didn't take much for the players and staff to really get into it, and the yelling could be heard throughout the entire floor. The team will watch any sport they can get. Tonight it just happened to be Korean boxing.
Posted at 6:59 AM
The city of Changwon is nestled in between a bunch of mountains... no matter which direction you look, you can see the tree-covered mountains in the distance. Our practice field this afternoon was no different. The field was in the middle of a group of office buildings, but on one side there was an opening that provided this scenic shot that gives an idea of what we see out of our hotel window. (Thanks to John Dorton and International Sports Images for all of the photos we'll be using).
(Also, pictures are posted below of the new Nike gear that the team got in Atlanta)
Posted at 5:18 AM
Many of the players and staff have just noticed that when they open the window in their hotel room, there is another window a foot away. Apparently the hotel, instead of knocking down walls and rebuilding, just added another layer to the exterior of the building to increase the structural integrity of the building in case of earthquakes. Maybe that's what those orange masks are for?? Again, we hope to not have to find out...
Posted at 1:05 AM
Well, it looks like all that preparation in the deep south (Clemson and Atlanta) will pay off... it is unbelievably humid here because it is apparently rainy season. Atlanta was probably hotter, but the humidity here is indescribable. Just a few steps outside will leave you covered in sweat, and counting down until you can shower. After a quick exploration of the area surrounding the hotel, there are plenty of stores, restaurants parks and people to be found. There is even a beautiful lake with a huge fountain within walking distance. There is plenty to find, and with a country full of friendly people to help.
Posted at 12:38 AM
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
So we just noticed that both in the bottom drawer of the dresser in each room, and at the end of the hallways of the hotel are "repel kits" so that in case of emergency you can repel down the side of the building. There are also orange masks that look like something one would wear when handling bio hazardous material. We're not exactly sure what it's for but we hope to never have to find out. Where is the rest of the suit to go with it? We have no idea...
Posted at 11:51 AM
Well, after a long travel day (24 hours from hotel to hotel), the team finally arrived at our hotel in Changwon, South Korea. We left the DoubleTree in Atlanta at 9:30 a.m. ET and flew directly to Seoul, on what has to be the biggest plane in the world. There were about 600 people on board and plenty of Korean Air staff to take care of everything. It was a 14-hour flight, but it wasn't as bad as it sounds... each seat had individual monitors to play movies, games, music or shop whenever you wanted. Most of the team tried to sleep as much as possible to pass the time, but movie selections included Shrek 3, Blades of Glory and Fracture.
We then got excellent treatment at the Seoul airport while waiting for our connection. We had ample security and several liasons to take us to the VIP lounge for a short time before hopping on the flight to Busan. The flight to Busan was a bit bumpy, but short nonetheless... about 45 minutes from take off to touch down. Lots of police with automatic weapons guarded our path to the charter bus, and a police escort led us on our way.
After a 45 minute drive to the hotel in Changwon (just outside of Busan), we had a quick meal and then it was time to get settled in and get a normal night's sleep. With six days before our first game, the team is trying to get adjusted quickly to the 13-hour difference from ET.
Posted at 11:06 AM
Monday, August 13, 2007
Well, the equipment was checked, everyone has their boarding passes and we are eating lunch at the Atlanta airport and getting ready to board the plane. The team will fly to Seoul and connect to Busan. From Busan the team will take a charter bus to the hotel in Changwon and get settled in. It will be a long travel day, but everyone is excited to begin their World Cup/South Korea experience. This will be our last entry from Atlanta, so bon voyage!
Posted at 12:14 PM
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Last night, the coaches asked the players to do some homework... they were to research Tajikistan and each present after dinner tonight something they found out about the homeland of their first World Cup opponent. The players impressed (we knew they would), presenting information about religion, politics, geography and population.
Fun fact: In Tajikistan, bread is considered to have a life of it's own. Never drop breadcrumbs or throw bread away with the other trash (thanks, Kirk!).
Posted at 7:48 PM
Part of the fun of getting ready to go to the World Cup is seeing what kind of new gear Nike will send for the team. Along with bags and backpacks, the team got some really nice throwback U.S. gear, with some sweet new jackets. JP, the team's equipment manager kept most of the stuff a secret until he gave full bags to the players all at once. It was like Christmas with guys throwing paper around and opening new shirts. Needless to say, they were pretty happy.
Posted at 2:27 PM
Saturday, August 11, 2007
The gang is all here in Atlanta, arriving from across the country just days after they left their last camp. Though it's not much of a news item, the story so far is that it is really hot and humid, but this is apparently going to be what it's like in South Korea. It's good to be prepared I guess. The team arrived throughout the day, and trained tonight on the campus of Clayton State in front of about 70 people - including both the men's and women's teams and a group of 14 and 15-year-old campers.
After a late dinner, Coach Hackworth reminded the team that this is what they've been working toward for so long. He went over goals that the players set for themselves and laid out a plan to make those things happen. The meeting served as a great reminder of the task at hand, and we have to say that we were impressed with the way the team focused with a very lively family reunion happening on the other side of the very thin walls.
Posted at 10:35 PM