Thursday, January 31, 2008

What Happens on an Off Day

Some "off day" (and by off-day we mean off-afternoon) events:
-Sushi was a popular choice... so popular that the first group got their orders out quickly, while everyone else waited up to an hour. How does it take that long for food that isn't even cooked? I guess that's what happens when 17 hungry soccer players show up
-Michael Orozco ventured to the mall to pick up some basketball gear that he can't find anywhere in San Luis.
-We won't name names, but pedicures happened. That will be our little secret.
-Lots of sleeping. These guys can really nap.
-The season premier of LOST was a huge deal - We missed the first 20 minutes or so because of the sushi situation, but everyone caught up.
-Credit card roulette following dinner. Always entertaining!

Overall, it was a relaxing afternoon for the players before the final two-day push at the end of camp. Tomorrow, it's back to two-a-days, so everyone is resting up for the night.

Local Celebrity

Apparently when the words "Olympic Hopeful" are anywhere near your name, people from your hometown take notice. St. Petersburg's Anthony Wallace has become quite the local celebrity during this week, earning air time on not one, but two 11 o'clock news stations - local affiliates of both NBC and CBS have been out at training the past few days.

So, if you're in the greater-St. Pete area, look for "Wally" at 11!

Crowded Breakfast Buffet

This morning there were a few extra people in the cafeteria during breakfast.... D.C. United arrived yesterday to continue their preseason preparations and just about doubled the numbers at the buffet line. It was a nice reunion for some of the players and coaches though, and it's always nice to see new faces here at IMG.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Every Gamer's Dream

When kids grow up playing video games, especially sports games, they often create players with their own names and likenesses.

These players don't have to do that when they play FIFA '08. This afternoon, Jozy Altidore and Anthony Wallace fought it out as Red Bull New York and FC Dallas, getting the chance to play each other in the virtual world. It was one of many contests on the day - we won't tell you who won, but we will tell you that Jozy's character looks far more like him than Anthony's.

We'll post FIFA results later this week.

One More for Pool Work Outs

While Coach Nowak was conversing with some of the players during the pool workout, it seems he got a little too close to the edge... The mystery is yet to be solved, but someone came up from behind and pushed him into the water fully clothed. There was about one second of quiet, but when he came up laughing, everyone else lost it.

Shortly afterwards, a mean game of Sharks and Minnows broke out - this time complete with wall chains... This game just keeps evolving.

The Big Reveal

Okay, so maybe it's not a huge surprise, but the guy whose teammates tease him with a nickname of "No. 1 Draft Pick" is Chance Myers. The just-turned-20-year-old is in his second camp with the U-23s this week, and will be spending quite a bit of time in Bradenton over the upcoming weeks. The new Kansas City Wizard will train with his new team here before he heads to his new hometown for the first time ever.

Read more about Chance, his draft experience and his time with the Under-23 MNT.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Guess Who

Can you name the player who...

...Earned All-Academic honors in college
...Was a letter-winner in golf and soccer in high school
...Loves snowboarding
...Says one of his biggest strengths is his work ethic
...Has picked up a new nickname from his U-23 teammates in the past couple of weeks?

Look for more tomorrow..

Earned Their Keep

The Yellow team, lived up to their part of the bargain tonight after dinner, while Charlie Davies and Sacha Kljestan took the brunt of the table-busing duties. The players are used to cleaning up after themselves in the dining hall, and some started to take their own plates up out of habit. Realizing the opportunity they were passing up, they returned to the table with their dirty dishes just to make sure their teammates had to pick them up. Everyone was a great sport about it, though revenge has been vowed...

Championes... Championes...

Pictured above (left to right):
Top row: Robbie Rogers, Pat Ianni, Chris Seitz, Kamani Hill, Stuart Holden
Bottom Row: Mike Randolph, Jozy Altidore

BRADENTON, Fla. (Jan. 29, 2008) -- The Orange Team beat the Green Team in today's 7 v. 7 tournament held at the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla. In previous action, Orange beat Yellow, making Orange the tournament champions.

Led by a Chris Seitz nutmeg of Arturo Alvarez (yes, you read that correctly), Orange's victory at the U-23 MNT training session earns them bragging rights for the rest of the night.

In the afternoon's second-place game, Green topped Yellow in penalty kicks, assuring that the Yellow team would have to serve dinner to everyone in the delegation and bus the tables. We'll have complete post-tournament coverage later tonight.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Got Skills

Before lunch, the team was congregated upstairs on the balcony of the home base juggling a ball. Sacha Kljestan spotted teammate Adam Cristman below and touched the ball down to him... without hesitation, Adam headed the ball right back to Sacha, and the upstairs guys kept juggling without missing a beat. Pretty impressive impromptu skills on display.

Walkin' on Sunshine

We might be rubbing it in the faces of the MNT, who has been getting soaked in Carson for a few days, but this morning was a beautiful day for training... about 60 degrees and sunny. It was the first "real" training session of camp, and the players were excited to get back out there.

We also have the first pictures of the new camp, taken by your faithful blogger with the help of an ISI photographer... don't worry, he took much better photos than we did - look for those later this week.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

News and Notes

More news and notes from San Francisco/Bradenton this weekend..

  • Eddie Gaven is in his first camp since getting married on January 12. He and his new wife, Paula, returned from their honeymoon in St. John's last week. There are two other players in camp who are married, as Adam Cristman and Tally Hall have also tied the knot, while the recently engaged Pat Ianni seems to be next in line.
  • With Chance Meyers and Dominic Cervi being drafted during the last camp, all 23 players in camp are professionals. 11 MLS clubs are represented, along with four other countries.
  • During the welcoming ceremony at the USOC program this weekend, a children's chorus from Orlando welcomed the group with familiar music associated with sports: Queen, MC Hammer, KC and the Sunshine Band... it was a quite a medley. We don't know the name of the song, but there was an 11-year-old girl who performed a solo that we're sure is going to win American Idol in a few years.
  • Part of the fun of the USOC programming was guessing who played which sport. There were a few recognizable faces in the crowd, including Jennie Finch, but for the most part it was fun to guess whether someone was a synchronized swimmer, rower, sailor or shooters.
The team went through a pretty light jogging session today, and played a little bit of 5v2. Otherwise, everyone is getting settled into familiar surroundings at IMG. Michael Orozco (who, by the way is not related to U-17 Residency player Emilio Orozco) will be arriving any minute, after flight cancellations. We're going to go relax and make up for lost sleep on the Red Eye, but stay tuned...

Sunny FL

The U-23 MNT is back in business, and so is the U-23 MNT blog. The team spent two days in San Francisco as part of the U.S. Olympic Committee's Ambassador Program, with about 200 Olympic hopefuls from sports like track and field, rowing, fencing, boxing, swimming and of course, the U.S. WNT was there in full force.

Saturday night the team took a red eye from SFO to Sarasota/Bradenton. The ride was a little bumpy, but most guys had no problem sleeping... then sleeping again during the layover, then again on the connecting flight. But, now that we're here it seems that everyone is caught up on their sleep and ready to enjoy the sunshine.

We'll check back this afternoon...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Closing Up Camp

It will only be for a few days, but the U-23 MNT blog is closing up shop from Bradenton. After 14 days of training, scrimmages, fitness, basketball, pool games and MLS drafts, it's time for a brief break before camp resumes on Sunday, Jan. 27. Look for Nowak's roster for that training camp later this week.

The team finished up with a scrimmage against part of the U-18 MNT camp, coming away with a 2-0 win on the wet field. Chad Barrett and Arturo Alvarez both tallied in the scrimmage.

The players returned to the hotel for a quick shower and lunch before the goodbyes started and the first few groups headed for the airport.

The blog will be back when the team comes back together next week!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fall-back Career

Just in case they decide they don't like soccer anymore, some members of the U-23 team could fall back on being part of the grounds crew at any stadium or golf course across the country. The torrential rain and thunderstorms we mentioned last night left a puddle the size of Lake Michigan down one of the touchlines. With the advice of a staff member (we're really not sure who should get credit/blame for this one), the team took a bench from a nearby field, flipped it upside-down and squeegeed the puddle to the best of their ability.

It really worked! It was still pretty soggy along the sideline, but the standing water was gone. Pretty impressive work from the players. You can see some of the water pouring from the side of the bench in the photo to the right.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

U.S. Soccer Family

With the Under-17s in Residency and the U-23s already settled in, the U-18 MNT Mega-Camp is noticeably underway at IMG. All four fields on campus were covered with U.S. Soccer training this morning, and the U-20 team arrives tomorrow to begin a camp leading up to a trip to Guadalajara.

Needless to say, U.S. Soccer is taking over Bradenton. Tonight, we were all treated to a storm.... rain is still pouring down, and the lightning streaks can be seen cracking through the sky. The U-17s and U-18s are watching the MNT game vs. Sweden in a big meeting room, while the U-23s are in the lobby of the hotel, determined to all find a way to watch the game on FSC.

Hitting the Pitch

The team was back on the field today, happy to have a soccer ball at their feet. They went through a possession game, then broke into groups for some defensive work and some finishing.

At the end of training, a free kick competition evolved between Stu Holden, Arturo Alvarez, Coach Nowak and Coach Kubik. Coach Nowak came out as the winner, ending on a perfectly placed ball to the far post. Both he and Coach Kubik definitely still have it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Dominic Goes at #11!

Dominic is heading to Chicago as the #11 pick in the draft! A relative unknown, Dominic is heading from Tulsa to the Windy City. A big smile from the big goalkeeper after hearing his name.

Dominic said, "I'm excited to go to Chicago - it's a great city. It was kind of surreal seeing myself up there on TV, but it's really exciting."

Phelan at #10!

Another one off the board! Pat Phelan is officially off the board at #10, going to Toronto FC. Pat got some hugs, high fives and pats on the back from his U23 teammates who are watching with him at the hotel.

Franklin at #4!

Another U-23er, Sean Franklin gets taken at #4!

The Cal-State Northridge defender/midfielder will stay in California with the LA Galaxy. He just scored a goal for the 23s against the 17s the other day. He'll also be returning to camp after the draft tonight. Congrats Sean!

Chance is #1!

Chance Meyers goes #1!!

Kansas City picked up the defender, who shot quickly up the ranks after a great performance at the combine. Cheers can be heard throughout the hotel here at IMG for Chance. Chance, Sean Franklin and Eric Avila are all in Baltimore, but we look forward to getting them back tomorrow.


With six training camp players (plus of course, Jules Valentin who is no longer in camp) involved in today's SuperDraft, all eyes are on ESPN2 for their live coverage.

We'll have updates from the draft players here and they're new teammates.

Air Ball....

For a change of pace after 13 days of training camp, the team hit the basketball court this morning instead of the practice field. Some players impressed on the court, others did not live up to the (self-imposed) hype.

We knew heading into the gym that Dominic Cervi (remember: 6'6' 205) would probably be able to dominate a bit, and he did impress. The big man threw down a few dunks during warm ups. And not just dribbling to the hole and dunking. He could self-pass off the backboard for the dunk and hang out for good measure. If only our trusty camera man wasn't already in LA getting ready for the Sweden game...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Night Off

After a rainy scrimmage this morning, the team came back, ate lunch... and were surprised to get the rest of the day off. Day off activities included:

-Movies... The Great Debaters was given two thumbs up and one "one of the best movies I've ever seen"
-Dinner... The Outback and a local sushi restaurant were the two most popular choices of the player - we're not sure what the name of the sushi place was called because the sign outside literally said "SUSHI"... it was good though
-Video Games... FIFA '08 is a big favorite
-Going to the MLS draft... Oh yea, three guys left today to head to the draft. Find out who tomorrow at 1 p.m. ET..

Playin' in the Rain

The team just got back to the hotel after another scrimmage with the U-17 Residency players. The first half pitted the U-23s against the '91s, and the '91s definitely came to play. Despite the 23s getting almost all of the possession, the game was scoreless until the 45th minute when Kamani Hill played a ball into the box from the right and Stuart Holden finished it.

In the second half, both teams made 11 substitutions, with the '92s coming on for the '91s. Again, the 23s were able to maintain a lot of possession, and this time put away three of their chances. Sean Franklin scored from just inside the box a few minutes after the second half began. Robbie Findley and Preston Zimmerman each added goals in the second half.

With rain coming down for most of last night, the field was wet and muddy in the first half, and the rain returned for most of the second half, soaking just about everyone and everything. Of course, now that we're back at the hotel, the sun is trying to sneak out from behind the clouds...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Happy Birth-week!

This whole week should just be a holiday for the U-23 MNT. Today we celebrated the fourth birthday in the past three days with some cupcakes after dinner. The players appreciated the treat - they usually don't eat stuff like that.

The cupcakes were for Pat Phelan, who turned 23 today.

Yesterday, we had cakes for Billy Chiles and equipment manager Gabe Vogler, who turned 23 and 24, respectively.

Sunday it was cookies for Chris Brown, who also turned 23.

Okay, maybe they get to eat snacks more than we thought they did..... We seem to be done with birthdays for the remainder of camp though.

No Hands!

It was a bit chilly again here today in Bradenton, with temperatures peaking in the upper 50s and the wind making it feel much colder than that at times. But, for now it's dry - it's not expected to stay that way for long...

The team went through a full session today, complete with possession games, attacking games, finishing drills. There was a fun twist on warm up today though, as the team played 12 v. 12 handball. With playground-style team selection, the goalkeepers were the clear top four picks in the draft. The game was scoreless for quite some time, but the green team finally figured out the game. They scored four goals in the last few minutes to pick up a big 4-0 win. (Hopefully there will be "highlights" coming soon).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


It was back to the grind on Day Eight of camp, with all 24 players hitting the field in the morning for a two-hour session that included some tough marking drills, a short-field game and some fitness. Then it was into the weight room in the afternoon, getting a circuit workout from the two athletic trainers before loosening up in the pool.

It was a bit chilly again today, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s (okay, we know for most of the country that sounds really nice - we're spoiled down here and we admit it).

Monday, January 14, 2008


During today's afternoon training session, the team - except for the Combine participants - played some spirited 4 v. 4 games to small goals. Last-second goals were the story of the mini-tournament. During the games a third group participated in some finishing drills using fake silhouettes of men made out of metal. It was better to see the metal men get hit in the forehead than one of our players.

Back to the Field

The team went through training on a pretty chilly day, back on the fields of IMG. They started with a warm up of course, and then moved on to some passing drills and a possession game before bringing in the goalkeepers and shooting on frame.

The players will be back on the pitch this afternoon, while the guys who were part of the MLS Combine will take the afternoon off.

A Familiar Face

Last night we told you about a new face in camp, but this morning there was a familiar face at the breakfast table. Thomas Rongen, head coach of the U-20 MNT has joined the staff for the rest of camp. Rongen came over from the MLS Combine last night.

Six players in Bradenton (McCarty, Rogers, Seitz, Smith, Valentin and Zimmerman) played for Rongen at the Under-20 World Cup last summer in Canada, and Arturo Alvarez played for the Holland native at the 2003 tournament as the youngest player named to the original roster (Freddy Adu was later named to that roster as a replacement).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A New Face in Camp

When our six players came back from the combine, they brought a surprise with them. A big surprise. Dominic Cervi, a goalkeeper from Norman, Okla. was invited into camp by Coach Nowak. He played at Tulsa, and he's huge - 6'5" and 205 pounds. Dominic will take the place of Jules Valentin, who will be leaving camp to heal.

During Saturday afternoon's scrimmage with the U-17s, Jules took a header that opened up the wound on his face. Athletic trainer Marcus Holliday took him to get seven more stitches in his face just before he took off for the combine. He played half of a game at the combine while wearing one of those concussion-prevention headbands to protect the wound. He said it didn't bother him too badly, but it just made sense for him to go home and take care of himself.

After a relaxing day, it's back to hard work tomorrow.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

After another pool session this morning, the team has had the rest of the day off... afternoon activities included relaxing, sleeping and heading over to the beach. The day started off very warm, so it seemed like a perfect beach day. About 15 players ventured to Siesta Key beach in Sarasota for lunch at one of the many outdoor restaurants on the main street. As we ate, the sky got more and more cloudy, and it got a little chilly, but we made the most of it.

We've mentioned before that these guys have a hard time going a whole day without soccer, so don't worry - a 5 v. 2 game broke out on the soft white sand after lunch. The water was a little chilly, so the guys did what they do best...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Chiming In on the Top Three

We asked some of the U23s to chime in on the MNT "Top Three Players of All-Time" debate found here. Here are their answers:

Steve Purdy:
1. Brian McBride
2. Claudio Reyna
3. Brad Freidel

Charlie Davies:
1. Tab Ramos
2. Marcelo Balboa
3. Clint Dempsey

Preston Zimmerman
1. Brian McBride
2. Claudio Reyna
3. Tim Howard

Pool Games UPDATED

Yesterday we mentioned Sharks and Minnows (NEW video below)... today, the guys got ahold of a tennis ball, and that's all they needed for their entertainment during the pool session. I wish we had video of this one, but we'll do our best to describe it:

Chris Seitz standing 3/4 of the way down the length of the pool, throws the tennis ball toward Pat Ianni, who is waiting on the wall of the deep end. Pat jumps forward into the pool and kicks the tennis ball on his way down. Without moving a step, Chris stuck his hand up and snagged it.

I don't think that does it justice, but it has to have been the most accurate tennis ball kick from the side of the pool ever.

Really, it doesn't take much to entertain these guys. Here is an intense game of Sharks v. Minnows..

Off to the Combine

While most of the team is hitting the pool and trying to beat the storms on what became an almost chilly day, six players from camp are on a three-hour drive to Fort Lauderdale for the MLS Combine. The six players are:

-Eric Avila
-Sean Franklin
-Stephen King
-Chance Meyers
-Pat Phelan
-Julian Valentin

They're heading down tonight to get settled, and will play in tomorrow's game before returning to camp tomorrow evening. We wish them the best, and look forward to watching Friday's draft.

On Their Turf

The U-23s scrimmaged the Under-17 Residency program, taking on the '92s in the first half and the '91s in the second. Both 17 squads held their own against the "big boys" but the final score was 7-1. Three goals were scored in the first half, and the second half was 4-1, with Jack McInerney tallying for the '91s.

Charlie Davies opened the scoring for the 23s in the 9th minute, jumping on a loose ball and powering through the defense. In the 24th minute, Arturo Alvarez put away a header and Davies' second goal of the half came off a through ball (remember, we told you he was fast!).

In the second half against the '91s, Chad Barrett scored a penalty kick after Johann Smith drew the foul in the box. Robbie Findley scored on a breakaway, edging out Kofi Sarkodie and sliding to get the ball past Zac MacMath. Barrett scored again after Eric Avila received a short corner and crossed it into the box.

McInerney's goal came next, as the 16-year-old roofed a Greg Garza cross into the net from close range, getting the 17s on the board. Smith rounded out the scoring for the 23s, beating a defender down his left wing, cutting back and hitting a shot from just inside the box.

The game was hard fought by both sides, as there were 20 fouls and two yellow cards issued between the squads. Ultimately, the 23s out muscled and outpaced the 17s, but that was expected by both sides. The younger guys have something to work toward, playing against college and pro players, while the 23s were happy to work together instead of against each other. Both teams walked off the field with quite a bit of respect for each other.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sunny Days

The team went through a technical training this morning, going through some warm up before some 10 v. 10 games. Today was probably the hottest day of the week, warming up to about 80 degrees by the time we hit the field at 10 a.m.

In the afternoon, the team did a regeneration session in the hot tub, pool and cold tub. Some of the guys in the deep end treated us to a pretty entertaining game of sharks and minnows. Maybe it's only entertaining because they're 22 years old...

Famous Names: Part One

In the van heading to practice today, we caught the tail end of a Chris Brown song on the radio. Well, as chance would have it, Chris Brown was sitting right behind us. When asked whether he liked the R&B stars music, Chris Brown the goalkeeper replied no as if he's been asked that question more than once. R&B just isn't his style.

He also pointed out that they both share a name with a Tennessee Titans running back. According to the running back's stats, our goalkeeper is bigger... here he is in action:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Back to the Track

Just got in from the day's second fitness session, a sprint endurance test on the track. The beeping will probably give the players nightmares, but overall everyone seemed to be doing alright. The total distance was about 4 miles, at different speeds with a few time-outs strewn about, and everyone survived.

The team is anxious to get back on the field. On the way home, one player said, "I know it hasn't been that long, but I really miss kicking the ball." It's been less than 24 hours - These guys really love their jobs.

Technology Meets Soccer

Today the players are going through some fitness tests, starting with some sprint tests this morning. Remember in gym class or track, maybe when you were in high school and college, and a coach would be at the finish line with a stop watch? We did things a little differently today.

At the start line, the 10-yard mark and the finish line were electronic devices on each side that created a beam. When the runner breaks the beam, the time is sent to a device that the coaches simply need to read and record. Times were calculated to 1/100th of a second with no human error involved.

Robbie Rogers set the standard for the morning with the fastest time, followed closely by Johann Smith and Charlie Davies (above).

The guys are resting now, getting ready for more of a distance test scheduled this afternoon. We'll have a full report on the day when we get back.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Catching up with Johann

After suffering a third-degree ankle sprain just days before leaving for the Under-20 World Cup last summer, Johann Smith had long months of rehab ahead of him. In his first National Team camp since the injury, caught up with Johann and talked about his new opportunities.
First things first, how is the ankle?
Johann Smith: I’m 100 percent right now. Sometimes my ankle gets a bit sore but I think it will get stronger. I can’t keep worrying about it, because then it gets in your way. I'm taking care of it. Where are you living these days?
JS: I live in a small town called Westhoughten, inside of Bolton and it’s quite nice. I just got a new apartment actually, living with one of the guys who is on loan with us right now. I’m playing in the reserves for now but part of that is working through the coaching change. He hasn’t seen a lot of us yet, so I’m trying to play well enough to impress him with the reserve team. What was your time with Darlington like?
JS: It started off well, and in my first game it felt like the fans really took a liking to me. Then I reinjured my ankle before the third game with them and I tried to play through it and my ankle got worse. After that I went back to Bolton to strengthen it more.

It was hard, the injury should have taken about 8-10 weeks, but it took me about four months overall because of trying to push it. I did a little bit of rehab at home in Connecticut, then I went back to Bolton and I think I was rushed back into it.

In England, they think that you should just play through injuries, whereas in America they understand that it’s sometimes better to wait. I did feel a little pressure to come back. I was trying to impress a new manager at maybe 50 percent, and that’s all he had to judge me on. Was it hard for you to watch the Under-20 World Cup?
JS: It was a bit. Where I live in Connecticut, we couldn’t get ESPNU so we couldn’t watch it. We did get to see the Brazil game live though. My whole family watched it together and it was a little difficult wishing I was there. But I almost hurt myself more jumping up and down when Jozy scored the second goal. During the Uruguay game I kept getting internet updates and went crazy when I saw that we won. What was your flight like from England?
JS: Well, I was in Manchester at the airport and got really excited because there was a huge jet to take me to New York. Then they told me that wasn’t my plane, and pointed me toward the tiniest plane I’ve ever seen for international travel. But, surprisingly the flight was good. The flight from New York to Bradenton though was full of turbulence. I don’t understand why domestic flights in America have so much turbulence! What’s it like to be back in with the national teams?
JS: It’s a great opportunity for me. It was great to see all the guys from the U-20s getting called into the senior team, but at the same time I’ve been wondering if I was going to have that chance. I was unlucky with the timing of my injury, but getting called in with the Under-23s is an amazing opportunity. The timing has really worked out for me. What are your goals for the Under-23 team?
JS: I just want to make this team. There are a lot of great players in this age group, so it will be difficult but I think I have a chance if I do well in this camp. I think making this team would feel like a bit of redemption with the unlucky circumstance of missing the Under-20s. It’s not up to anyone but me now. I just want to impress the coaches and I think I’m capable of doing that. The focus right now is on qualifying of course and everyone dreams of playing in the Olympics.

Not Quite Wimbledon...

Soccer tennis is definitely a favorite of the players. Part of this afternoon's session was 3 v. 3 soccer tournament that turned pretty competitive pretty quickly. The nets were set up along the sidelines between two fields... about six games happening all at the same time.

In the end, the team of Chad Barrett, Charlie Davies and Stephen King took the top honors. They were pretty proud of themselves, while their final opponents, Stuart Holden, Arturo Alvarez and Patrick Ianni were ready for a rematch. Don't worry it's a healthy competition among the team...

Finishing Drills

This morning's training session featured shooting and finishing drills, which is usually a favorite of the players. There were some great goals (we'll have those for you later), and some balls that were fished out of the swamp, which is inevitable when you're taking hundreds of shots.

Arturo Alvarez and Stuart Holden had an on-going battle for who could score the most goals throughout the session. We won't tell you the final score so that feelings aren't hurt, but Stuart lost the bet and had to serve Arturo his food at lunch. Service with a smile from the Dynamo player, who was quick to point out the result of the playoff game his team played against Arturo's this season...

All Access Action

If you haven't seen it yet, the first video from training camp is up and loaded at Check out some of what the players are going through in the hot Florida sun, and an example of what a regeneration session looks like during a two-week camp.
Watch now!

We'll also have pictures up this morning of the first few days, so you can try to grasp how hard these guys are working down here. Chants of "we have to work harder than Honduras" could be heard during yesterday afternoon's fitness session. We can't imagine anyone working harder than these guys right now.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Outside Fitness

This afternoon's session was an outdoor fitness session led by trainer Brian Goodstein. There were 14 stations set up that the players moved through. Stations included plyometrics, core work and some upper body exercises. Our favorite (and by favorite we mean one we would have failed at most) is being demonstrated above by Greg Dalby and Pat Phelan.

Recovery included dips in the ice tub, pool and hot tub. So, we expect the guys to be ready to go again tomorrow.

This Time, With an Audience

The team put on quite a show for over 80 coaches from the B and C licensing course during their training. Some of the things that the coaching students observed today included:

  • Agility and footwork
  • Station training
  • Small-sided possession games
  • Almost-full-field scrimmage to four goals
  • Penalty kicks
  • Fitness
Fitness is always an important part of being a great soccer player, and overall these guys impressed. We were most impressed by the work of goalkeeper Chris Seitz, who has obviously been working hard in the "off" season... he more than held his own with the field players. We haven't seen to many 'keepers able to do that.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Face Lift

Okay, it's not a face lift. But, we did run into Jules in the hotel and that reminded us of something we've been meaning to mention all day. Jules' face, which you may remember as bloody and stitched up from taking a cleat to the face during Wake Forest's victory in the NCAA Championship, looks remarkably good. He's healed quickly, looks fully fit and the scars really aren't noticeable. And, of course, Jules doesn't hold a grudge:

Razor Breaks, Hilarity Ensues

Pat Ianni showed up for this afternoon's session with a freshly shaven head of hair, thanks to the artistic stylings of Jules Valentin. This led equipment manager Gabe Vogler to realize that maybe he was overdue for a trim. Borrowing Pat's clippers, Gabe decided to do what he usually does and shave his own head. He was doing a great job.... until the razor broke. Right in the middle. He went to the store and picked up a new razor to finish the job, but he still had to go out like this. By the way this post is Gabe-approved... we appreciate people who can laugh at themselves.

Taking the Plunge

Since we last saw the Under-23s, the holidays have come and gone, another year has begun and at least one player has made a life-changing decision. Pat Ianni popped the question to his girlfriend of 10 months after the holidays, proposing at the church they both attend. Don't worry, she said yes.

Day One, Session One

Well, with the first training session of the camp now under everyone's belts, here are a couple of quick hits from this morning:

  • The weather is beautiful, but maybe a little hot for the players who went through a pretty intense morning of fitness. Especially since several guys are used to playing in the cooler, rainier leagues in Europe.
  • We forgot how fast Johann Smith is. Now that he's back to 100%, that guy can really move. Look for more on Johann tomorrow...
  • After a nice long warm up, the players went through three different stations of footwork, passing and quick touches. Then two of the groups played possession games while the other was doing fitness. They rounded out the two hour session by playing a 10-v-10 game on a short field with big goals.
  • Players and staff are resting a bit before the afternoon weight lifting/regeneration session. Naps and daytime television all around.
More later...

Sunday, January 6, 2008

24 Present and Accounted For

After a few travel delays, some lost baggage (which has already been re-claimed) and cross-country treks, all 24 players are present and accounted for at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla. Training kicks off tomorrow morning, but the team has already had a delicious dinner together and are getting settled in for two weeks of training and preparation for Olympic qualifying in March.

We're hoping the forecasters are right, because for at least the first few days of camp, sunny and 70s sounds pretty good.... On that note we'd like to send our condolences to the MNT and WNT, who are caught in the rain in LA.

So, time to get a good night's sleep. We'll be back tomorrow with updates from sunny Bradenton.