Tuesday, February 19, 2008

We Leave you With Numbers...See You in May!

Well, it's been a hectic two days, but the Development Academy Winter Showcase is officially over.

But while one ends, another ist still to begin as we gear up for the third DA Showcase, with the next one taking place from May 23-26 in Rockford, Ill. And get this...in Rockford there will be more teams and more games, which means more coverage.

Don't forget to check out ussoccer.com for results, photos and highlights from the Winter Showcase! We'll see you next time, but before we go we'll leave you with a little insight into everything that was going on here at the Showcase. Here's a "by the numbers" look:

3 professional referees
8 professional club scouts
9 FIFA Street 3 kiosks
15 National Team coaches
15 fields played on
44 total clubs
82 total referees
88 total teams
88 Academy league games played
105 Nike Aero balls used
132 Academy coaches
133 college coaches (registered)
138 hours of games footage captured in high-def (8280 minutes)
268 goals scored
600 players receiving Gatorade Hydration tests
1,440 games of FIFA street played
1,760 players
2,163 roundtrip flights to attend Showcase
2,200 meals served at Academy dinner
8,000 square feet of Academy lounge
8,800 bottles of Gatorade served at Hydration bar

Monday, February 18, 2008

Athletes' Lounge or Airport

We're nearing the end of the Winter Showcase and with just a few teams left here at Pizza Hut Park we were looking at the Athletes' Lounge from afar and noticed...it looks like the Denver Aiport. Random thought, but we're right...right?

Taco Bell Time

Vardar Academy was munching on Taco Bell and had a chance to talk about the Showcase. Their U-15/U-16 and U-17/U-18 teams both played games on Monday and were done for the day. “We tied one game and lost the other,” said Isaac DeLeon said. “We were unlucky.” When asked what was the best part of the Winter Showcase, Sam Chappell said “the free Gatorade, playing for the scouts, and the tent.”

Windier than the Windy City?

It’s sunny on field nine as team Pateadores from Orange County, Calif., began warming up. The team says that the weather here is different from back home and has affected them a little, but didn’t stop them from defeating Greensboro SC, 4-1. Although, the Windy City doesn't seem to have anything on Texas. Sockers Chicago FC players were caught trying to hang on in some windy conditions. Cory Degrave said: “It is windier here than in Chicago!”

Dr. Pink Field...The Explanation

So, did some looking around and there was a plaque explaining why Field 2 is named "Dr. Pink."


Professional Practice

A few teams were lucky enough to check out FC Dallas practice this morning at Field 1 here at PHP (that short for Pizza Hut Park people…get hip). The California Odyssey warmed up on Field No. 2, also known as the Dr Pink field (why…ah…not sure, maybe we’ll find that out and get back to you) and were able to catch a glimpse from afar. The U-17/U-18 D.C. United was a bit closer and got to watch from the surrounding fence as they warmed up on Field 3. Midfielder Marcus Douglas said the FC Dallas team practice was “intense” and the entire team seemed eager to see FC Dallas vs. D.C. United this season.

Dave Sarachan Talks Scouting, You Listen

Dave Sarachan, the new Director of Scouting for the Development Academy, sat down with Studio 90 host Michael Kammarman to talk about his new position with U.S. Soccer. Sarachan, the former manager of the Chicago Fire, has signed on to work with John Hackworth as the main contact with all the scouts for Development Academy games around the country. He took time out from watching games on Monday to give us an interesting interview. Listen do the podcast here!

A Familiar Face at Pizza Hut Park

Current Under-17 Men's National Team assistant Oscar Pareja is treading on familiar ground at Pizza Hut Park. The former FC Dallas assistant took some time out of his scouting schedule to check out his old team as they trained close by the fields being used for the Winter Showcase.

Coach Pareja's former players were happy to see their old coach and friend, welcoming him back to Frisco with open arms. After the post-practice reunion, Oscar returned to his scouting duties, diligently scouting some of the country's best young players.

More Podcasts - This Time With DA Coaches

We caught up with two Development Academy coaches who have a wealth of experience in the professional game. Dante Washington was a former Columbus Crew and Dallas Burn player who played in the 1992 Olympics and also earned six caps with the full MNT in the 1990s (He even scored on his debut for the senior team). Metrostars' fans will also recognize Giovanni Savarese on the second podcast. The much traveled Venezuelan is still Red Bull New York's leading scorer after retiring from soccer in 2004. Washington is now part of the Columbus Crew coaching staff, while Savarese coaches for Development Academy team Metropolitan Oval.
Listen to the podcast with Dante Washington here!
Listen to the podcast with Giovanni Savarese here!

Referee Podcast!

With all the other blogging action going on, you may have thought we were neglecting podcasts. You'd be wrong! Here's a podcast interview with U.S. Soccer full time referee Jair Marrufo: Listen to the full podcast here.

Happy President's Day

We're not sure how you're celebrating President's Day, but there are 88 Development Academy teams that will be looking forward to another round of games on a cool winter day.

We scoured the player list to see how presidential the players to take the field on Sunday were:

  • There were three George's, as many have served the U.S., but no Washington's or Bush's.
  • The award for most presidential name as U-18 South Charlotte's Tyler Adams.
  • U-16 Vardar's Kyle Taylor, and six with Taylor as a first name.
  • There are three Johnson's, 21 Andrew's, 3 Andy's, but no Lyndon's.
  • U-18 Real's Colorado's Grant Simon
  • There are 18 Tyler's, and the U-18 Michigans Wolves' Jordan Tyler.
  • Two Arthur's, and four Harrison's (twice as many than were president).
  • U-16 Oakwood's Daniel Wilson and U-18 Scott Gallagher's Kevin Wilson.

Yesterday's Goal of the Day!

Well, we admit that we haven't seen every goal yet, but we're pretty sure there will be few goals better than Ben Lessard's winner for Seacoast United against Internationals. A perfect first touch at full speed, followed by an authoritative finish into the roof of the net from a tough angle - nice work Ben...

Videos from Last Night's Banquet

Last night's banquet wasn't just about food.

Development Academy director John Hackworth spoke to the players first:

Next, MNT head coach Bob Bradley took the stage:

Finally, here's a short highlight video that we played for everyone at the dinner:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Into the Night

The games continue into the cool North Texas night, with the last round of games kicking off at 9 p.m. CT. This great shot comes from one of our guys over at ISI Photos, John Dorton. Check out more of the shots from today's action by John, John and Don at ussoccer.com.

Big Banquet (or BBQ)

U.S. MNT head coach Bob Bradley and assistant coach/Development Academy Director John Hackworth were the key note speakers as more than 1,800 players and coaches attended a special banquet at a local hotel at the conclusion of the first day of the Winter Showcase.

On the menu were chicken and pasta, and the program included the aforementioned speeches along with video highlights and photos from Sunday's matches and a U.S. MNT highlight video, and it was all emceed by Studio 90 special correspondent Michael Kammarman.

Approximately 1,800 attended, but due to the schedule changes a few teams had to play games ... but the U.S. Soccer Development Academy doesn't let anyone go hungry, as all the players and coaches at the 7 p.m. games received vouchers for some barbecue at a local establishment.

Catching Up With Coaches

We took a walk around the ground this afternoon and asked some coaches a quick few questions. Check out this video to see what they had to say about the event and their teams...

The Action Continues

Tonight's games are continuing into the evening as part of the revised schedule. There are currently four games going on under the lights at Pizza Hut Park, and even though the sun has disappeared, the heat on the field continues. FC Westchester and the Columbus Crew are getting their first Development Academy action on Field 8.


You know fruit is good for you. But who knew kids liked things that are good for them? U.S. Soccer provided large bowls of fruit in the Players' Lounge and the apples, bananas and oranges are proving to be the hot items of the day. Teams started to arrive a little before 9 a.m. and by 10:30 a.m. the Lounge was littered with empty bowls (check out the pic). With a whole day of soccer left to be played, some quick-moving USSF employees, interns and volunteers darted out to the closest Kroger’s to re-supply (with folks literally carrying crates of bananas through the tent). Perhaps it helps that they're free? After all, who can turn down food that costs nothing.

Orange Crush

Part of Nike's presence in the players' lounge is a station where you can try on the new Nike Mercurial Vapors. If you want, you can even borrow the shoes and take them out for a test drive by wearing them in your game. Not too shabby. The Mercurial Vapors (shown here in the color Orange Peel) are the shoes that both Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey currently sport and Academy players are among the first to have the chance to wear them in a game.

Even More Tent Happenings

Another of the seemingly endless options inside the players' lounge is a t-shirt machine. Along with the rest of their merchandise for sale, U.S. Soccer has provided a silk-screening machine where participants can choose one of four logos custom made for the Showcase, boasting some Texas nostalgia designs. If you've never seen one of these silk-screening machines, it's pretty cool. Our expert aligns the shirt onto the machine, places the chosen logo over it and then wipes a gooey substance over the area. By lifting up the stencil, the logo is transferred onto the material. No machines involved here - these designs are hand made all the way.

Bird's Eye View

Former D.C. United and El Salvador forward Raul Diaz Arce battles what is surely the coldest vantage point at Pizza Hut Park to get a bird's eye view of U-17/U-18 CASL vs. Arsenal at 11 a.m. on Sunday. Diaz Arce is part of a contingent of U.S. Soccer coaches that will work this weekend with recently hired Director of Development Academy Scouting Dave Sarachan to watch all 88 teams to find players for the U.S. YNT player pools.

Lambo Live

Under-17 Residency Program, Development Academy alum, and 17-year-old professional goalkeeper has joined the set of Studio 90 in the players' lounge. While Studio 90 host Michael Kammarman interviewed the new member of FC Dallas in his new backyard, a live audience was on hand to hear about the experience of someone their age as they take a break with some Gatorade and line up their next FIFA opponents. Stay tuned to ussoccer.com for more on Studio 90, including highlights, a weekend wrap-up and some all_access footage, in addition to catching up with Mr. Lambo.

FIFA Street 3

After games, players have been coming in to test out EA Sports' brand-new FIFA Street 3. The game isn't out in North America until tomorrow, EA Sports has set up consoles on nine plasma televisions in two of the players' lounge areas, where they can relax on couches or chairs. A few players have challenged their coaches... we didn't stick around for all the results, but we have a feeling that the players took it to 'em.

Coaches from Near and Far

College and professional coaches from across the country to scout some of the best youth talent in the country. The coaches are getting themselves checked in and picking up their rosters in the massive Academy tent, and looking forward to a full day of action, with 44 games scheduled for today alone.

And We're Off!...Well...Almost

It was rain, rain and more rain the past couple days here in Frisco, Texas, but the skies have finally opened up and we can actually see some sunshine. Just in time too, as the opening games of the Development Academy Winter Showcase are 24 minutes away from kicking off. Here are the 9 a.m. CT matchups (all U-15/U-16):

Metro United vs. PDA
Chicago Fire vs. PA Classics
Chicago Magic vs. D.C. United

And while the games are beginning, the coaches, player, referees, scouts and everyone else is heading over to the Players' Lounge tent. What can you find in the tent? Better question is what can't you find. There are tons of XBox 360s to play EA Sports' brand new FIFA Street 3, free Gatorade (yes, it's free!), a DJ playing the hippest music around (so we're told by the kids), and Studio 90 doing live interviews. Nike is on site showcasing new equipment and there are computer terminals so players can get on the Internet. There's even a t-shirt printing machine so anyone can take home a souvenir of the Winter Showcase.

There's a lot of stuff going on...and it's all just started. We'll have more for you soon! Oh, and by the way, now we're 12 minutes away!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Registration Open!

Registration for teams is now underway in the hotel. Yes, there's some paperwork involved, but we all know its worth it for that bag of swag you get in the end...

Welcome to Frisco!

That's right folks, 2,000 players will make Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas their battleground this weekend as 88 Development Academy Teams participate in their first showcase, the 2008 Winter Showcase. It's been a busy weekend so far as everybody works to get everything ready - we've got 88 games scheduled this weekend! Be sure and check back to ussoccer.com all weekend long for scores, video highlights and photos from all of the weekend's matches.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Closing Up Shop

Well, after a victory over DC United to close out camp, the team is set to part ways for the last time until the CONCACAF Olympic Qualification tournament in March. With some heading to MLS preseason, European mid-season, or home for a few days of R&R, the U-23 MNT Blog will be doing the same... though there is no time for R&R for us...

We'll be back when the U-23s gather again leading up to their first games of the qualifying tournament. Tickets are on sale for each game in Tampa, Fla., Los Angeles, and Nashville.

In the mean time, stay tuned to ussoccer.com for all the U-23 MNT updates!

Closing It Out with a Game

We'll have more information about today's scrimmage against D.C. United later today at ussoccer.com, but for now we'll at least give you the USA's starting lineup for each half:

First Half:

Chris Seitz
Marvell Wynne - Pat Ianni - Maurice Edu - Mike Randolph
Stu Holden - Sacha Kljestan - Dax McCarty - Arturo Alvarez
Chad Barrett - Jozy Altidore

Second Half:

Tally Hall
Chance Myers - Pat Ianni - Nate Sturgis - Anthony Wallace
Eddie Gaven - Sacha Kljestan - Kamani Hill - Robbie Rogers
Charlie Davies - Adam Cristman

The U.S. came away with a 2-0 win as Jozy and Charlie each tallied. As we mentioned, keep your eye on ussoccer.com this afternoon for full results and stats.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Tally's Training Camp

Wanna know more about the U-23 MNT camp? Read it from Tally Hall's perspective here. It started out as a simple blog entry and just grew into what you see there.

An excerpt:

The biggest things we’ve accomplished this week are coming together and building great players into a team. We have the skill, we have the potential to do good things at an individual level and we have the talent, but if we can’t learn to come together and play together, it’s going to be difficult to succeed in anything. It’s been about learning each others strengths and weaknesses and how to play to each others strengths

We also want to establish our own style of play – we’ve watched video of teams that move the ball well, have good shape – we’ve talked about player responsibilities within a system and in each position. The two big things have been finding the strengths of the team and using those to our advantage, and coming together and playing as a unit.

Soccer Player Overload

Kansas City joined both the U-23 MNT and DC United in the dining hall this evening, filling every available seat with professional soccer players. Our only advice for getting through the buffet line is: get there early. Despite the dining staff working extra hard, getting there early is your only shot.

It is actually very cool to see different parts of the soccer community all in one place. There is such mutual respect, understanding and knowledge of each other... lots of catching up to be done with friends, former teammates, competitors and peers.

Catching Up with Kamani Hill

We caught up quickly with Kamani Hill to talk about the Vfl Wolfsburg midfielder/forward's switch to fullback... how did that happen?

U23 Blog: Have you ever played defense before?

Kamani Hill: No, I've pretty much been an attacker my whole life until these past few weeks.

Blog: How did that transition come about?

KH: Well, in talking to Coach Nowak before the last camp we were talking about expectations for me and how I fit into this team, and he told me that he saw me as a defender. I was taken aback a little bit, and I wasn't exactly sure what to think at that point, but I was definitely willing to give it a try.

Blog: Any idea what made him think of you as a defender?

KH: I'm really not sure. I don't know if it had something to do with my quickness or what, but he must have just had an instinct and I think the instinct was a good one. It's been a relatively easy switch physically.

Blog: What's it been like so far, training as a defender?

KH: It's definitely different, something I'm still getting used to a little bit. I'm used to having the ball at my feet a little more, and I'm used to having to run a lot more on the attack. I'm still learning some of the ins and outs of defense but overall it's been a good transition.

Blog: How has your new position been treating you?

KH: Well, if it helps me make the team I'd say it's been great! I'll do whatever it takes to make this team and help it be successful.