Thursday, May 29, 2008

And the winners are.... Drumroll please

Congratulations to all EA Sports Winners this weekend at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Showcase in Rockford, Ill.

11 a.m. Bracket: Luis Rivera and Ifiok Akpandak (Potomac U-18)
12 p.m. Bracket: Luis Rivera and Ifiok Akpandak (Potomac U-18)
1 p.m. Bracket: Brett Luccia and Kyle Searles (South Charlote SC U-16)
1:30 p.m. Bracket: Marc Lyon and Spencer Scott (Schultz Academy U-18)
2 p.m. Bracket: Travis Brent and Michael McCann (VA Rush U-16)
2:30 p.m. Bracket: Keith Grubisich and Taylor Heer (DeAnza Force U-18)
3:30 p.m. Bracket: Travis Brent and Michael McCann (VA Rush U-16)
4 p.m. Bracket: James Ramirez and Michael Mayberry (Cal Odyssey U-18)

11 a.m. Bracket: Nicolas Hernandez and Stefano Cardin (South Charlote U-18)
12 p.m. Bracket: Jackson Findley and John Imwale (Birmingham United U-16)
1:30 p.m. Bracket: Josh Borja and Edwin Contreras (Pateadores U-18)
2:30 p.m. Bracket: Anthony Perez and Preston Spurrier (Arsenal U-16)
3 p.m. Bracket: Sean Surtees and Patrick Surtees (FC Milwaukee)
3:30 p.m. Bracket: James Ramirez Michael Mayberry (Cal Odyssey U-18)
4 p.m. Bracket: Abriahm Campos and Matt Mendoza (Cal Odyssey U-18)

and.... our honorary winners were the Lil' Wolverines, who played and were a joy to watch, bringing passion to the game of soccer, even if it was a virtual game!

Thanks again to everyone who participated. Hope you enjoyed the competition and will continue to train for the next challenge!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Au Revoir Toulon!

Well, the team has started their journeys of various lengths to wherever it is they're all going... some home for vacation, others back to their clubs and Coach Nowak is on his way to join the MNT in England. Toulon was good to us - the people were very nice, and tried to help as much as possible, even if they couldn't understand us. Some of the running themes in Toulon included:

-the salami that was at every single meal, and that was always guaranteed to run out
-the very cheerful waiter in our meal room, Phillipe, who had so much energy, and who tried so hard to teach us French words (he speaks French, Spanish and English)
-the baguettes.... ohhhh the baguettes...
-the sirens - mostly ambulance - that seemingly went past the hotel every four minutes.
-Brek's hair-do
-hardly anyone remembering to bring movies, and therefore everyone watching BBC World News, or various sporting events in French
-everyone (players and staff alike) making a run for the rare tray of chocolate chip cookies
-every other store front was a bakery
-a pharmacy on every corner... but they weren't like Walgreen's or CVS, they were almost exclusively medical supplies. The one right next to the hotel had a store-front display of a mannequin with six-pack abs sporting a diaper.

Of course, spending 11 days in a foreign country is bound to create some memories. These are just a few off-the-field memories from the trip. The U-23 MNT will be back to blogging leading up to this summer's Olympics - which are now just 73 days away! In the mean time, stay tuned to the Development Academy Spring Showcase!

Brunner's First Camp

Eric Brunner came into his first-ever National Team camp in Toulon, and ended up starting two international games and scoring a goal. For a different perspective on what a National Team training camp is like, we turned to Eric, who had no idea what he was getting into before he got into it.

I really had no expectations coming into camp. I knew it would be tough competition and that it was going to test my abilities to play with some of the best players in the country, that play both overseas and in MLS. I was looking forward to it, and once I found out I was invited it, I was just anxious to get there.

When we first arrived in France after a long trip, the first two team meals were very quiet – we didn’t really know each other for the most part, and no one had much to say or talk about. We didn’t know what our new teammates interests were. There was a huge difference between our chemistry on day one and on our last day.

I think team meals are understated – they’re really key in helping everyone to get to know each other off the field. That makes playing games on the field easier, when you know each other on a more personal level. I tried to take advantage of the opportunity to meet different players, especially when it’s people I’ve played against growing up or in college, but never knew on a personal level.

I was definitely nervous heading into the first training session. It was my first-ever training with a National Team, and I didn’t know what to expect. But those nerves went away pretty quickly after the first training session, and we all started to gain confidence together.

My first start was against Turkey. I expected Turkey to be very good, and I knew they would challenge our team. Unfortunately, we hadn’t played together very long to sort all the kinks out, but it was a good test of the player pool we had there. We stepped it up in the second half and showed that we could play.

It was a pretty cool feeling to be standing out there and representing my country. It’s something I’d dreamed of doing since I was playing in the Olympic Development Programs when I was…. I don’t know, 15? It was great to be there, but I didn’t want to think too much about what was happening outside of the game. I didn’t want to lose my concentration or focus on Turkey.

It’s very rare to get your first international goal in your first start, especially as a defender. I’ve seen the guys on the Senior Team score goals and see them kiss their patch and everything like that. I didn’t think too much about my celebration, but I had a big smile on my face. There was time for about a half-second’s worth of chills, but then it was back to work.

I went into the camp open mined, and I knew I would learn a lot that I didn’t know before. I experienced a completely different tempo of the game that you get in MLS and in club games growing up and in college. It was interesting to play against different countries and get a sense of the different styles. Italy was very technical, Turkey was very confident on the ball and good tactically, while the Ivory Coast was very athletic and also good on the ball, so it was interesting to see the different styles of play.

Peter is a very intense coach who knows what he’s looking for. He expects a lot out of his players, and he gets it. The intensity of the training camp is second to none. It pushes the players to think quickly and react in scenarios that benefit you once you’re in the game. He’s constantly trying to instill the tactical side of the game into us so that it becomes more natural over time. He wants it to seep in so that those tactics just happen naturally.

As a team, I think the idea was for us to gain experience at the international level, just like Coach Nowak said. The Italian team was close to the team that they may take to the Olympics. It’s not easy to play against European teams on European soil, and to have that experience can only make you better. Those players are bred for soccer from the moment they’re born, and we’re just starting to get there in the U.S. I think that's the biggest thing I'll take from my experience. Maybe we're not there yet, but we continue to improve as a soccer nation, and we're catching up with the "Italys" of the world.

More Academy Games Than Ever Before

Today marks the busiest day in the inaugural season of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. Why, you may ask? Well, because there are 62 total games played today, which is more than any previous Academy has kicked off in one day.

In previous days, only half of the teams played in games while the other teams trained with SPARQ testing. Not only is today a busy day for the players but also for the scouts, since every team will compete today.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Thanks to ISI Photos

Photograph by ISI Photos
The U.S. Soccer staff would like commend the diligent work of ISI Photos at the 2008 Development Academy Spring Showcase.  They not only captured some of the most memorable moments in youth soccer but, gave the public an opportunity to see the stars of tomorrow.  

Calciatore Americano

Development players take a break from the rain to watch the U.S. vs. Italy game

Would you say calcio or soccer; attaccanti or striker? Domenico Parrelli, a proud Italian-American, from Met Oval was taught to embrace both cultures and, have the best of both worlds. "My mom and dad are from Italy, I speak Italian, and go there every year," Parrelli said. " Growing-up as an Italian-American kid, I root for the U.S. But, when it's U.S. vs. Italy, I go for Italy."
At the Development Academy Lounge attendees and players took a break from competition to watch the U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team vs. Italy match at the 2008 Toulon International Tournament. Although Parrelli rooted for Italy he said U.S. Soccer has made giant leaps in the last few years.

"The U.S. is developing its style of play and being able to face teams like Italy only helps us improve. The Development Academy is playing a big part in showing the world we can play with the elite teams." Parelli does not hide his Italian background but, says he hopes to play for the Stars and Stripes, one day. "I'm focused on becoming a great player and playing for the U.S. National."

The World Wide Web!

Internet at La Vallette du Var! We couldn't resist updating you on the music here at the stadium, especially since we're celebrating the first time we've been able to get internet at a French stadium. Tonight's playlist has so far included:

Y-M-C-A (seriously)
TWO songs from the Grease soundtrack

It's like a blast from the past...

Today's Starting XI

The U.S. Under-23 MNT will finish play at the Toulon International Tournament today against Italy, and here the starting lineup on a windy, overcast evening:

Ferrari - Ochoa

Ashe - Arguez - Dalby - Hill

Wagner - Brunner - Valentin - Leathers


Quentin Westberg will be coming in for Seitz at halftime. While your waiting for a rare look at the 21-year-old Troyes goalkeeper in the second half, we caught up with Quentin to talk about his club situation and being back with the National Teams. Listen

Rainin' on a Sunday

It's a gloomy, rainy day here in Toulon... not exactly ideal for a game day, but we're holding out hope that the rain will let up before 6 p.m. tonight. In the mean time, the players are spending the day relaxing, watching movies or playing cards.

A tradition has started among those in the group that kills time by playing cards. The day's loser has to wear a pink shirt the following day, so everyone knows that they've lost.

It's not a good day to be walking around on what is our last day here, but that's okay because EVERYTHING shuts down on Sunday with the exception of one of the city's markets. Anyone hoping to pick up souvenirs, get a hair cut, or even pick up some necessities is generally out of luck. Unless those necessities are pastries or produce from the outdoor market. All the pharmacies, malls, shoppes, etc. are closed on Sundays.

Down a Man

We had an empty seat at breakfast this morning, and found out that Real Salt Lake had requested the return of defender Tony Beltran late last night ahead of their U.S. Open Cup game against the Columbus Crew on Tuesday. Tony found out late last night and hopped on an early flight this morning, heading straight for Columbus to meet his team. Coach Nowak will still have 19 players available for tonight's match against Italy.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Soccer LaserII Show

Nike Laser II technology

U.S. Soccer Development Academy player aims for the goal.

The meter registered a 79m.p.h.  Laser II goal--Nothing but net!!!
No goals no glory, for U.S. Soccer youth.

At first glance, the new Nike T90 FG II Laser boot looks like something right out of a sci-fi movie. Soccer aficionados don't worry! You won't have to wait until 2020 to get your hands on these beauties. With its innovative S.P.P. technology, sleek design and lightweight plates, the Laser technology is ahead of the game.
The Soccer Development Academy participants are welcomed to wear the shoes and practice their moves at the shooting zones. Alex Thulemeyer, from Pateadores wore the boots and saw an improvement from 60m.p.h. to 69m.p.h. "The shoes are awesome; it gives me a stronger kick. It was a great idea allowing players to try them."
For more than two decades, Nike has focused on maximizing the skills of athletes. Attending the Development Academy gave them important feedback for future gear designs.
"We're getting alot of positive feed back from athletes," Jaro Pylypczak, spokesman, for Nike said. "It's great that you walk-around the fields and you see kids wearing our footwear. I'm happy Nike is able to help them improve. We're leading the way."

Gatorade Sweat Loss Testing

Gatorade has set up Sweat Loss Testing for 68 Development Academy teams to be evaluated. Teams will weight in before and after their games to determine the amount of fluid lost during intense soccer action and how much the players will need to rehydrate to reach a healthy level of hydration.

SPARQ Testing Begins!

At 9 a.m. this morning in Rockford, Nike and SPARQ (Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction, Quickness) training kicked off SPARQ testing for over 3,000 players, to take place over the next two days. We were on site watching the U-15/16 CASL (pictured above) during warm ups prior to their SPARQ testing: 20-meter sprint, vertical jump test, and agility drill.

Each player’s results were synced up with their pre-Showcase yo-yo intermittent recovery test results, height, and weight to produce a final, single number. Eric Hakeman and the training team from SPARQ Soccer are overseeing the testing of all 126 Academy teams over this Showcase weekend.

“The SPARQ soccer rating is representative of that athlete’s overall soccer-specific athleticism,” said Hakeman. “We distill it into one number because it allows for a comparison. Because the tests are standardized any athlete that has a rating can compare him or herself to any other athlete that’s tested too and then those individual test results will serve as a foundation for training programs that we can deliver to all the teams in the Development Academy.”

The final SPARQ results range from 20-110 and players with a final score of 75-110 rank in the top tenth percentile of SPARQ athletes. With these numbers, the players can evaluate their overall athleticism in comparison to other SPARQ-evaluated players.

Check out some of our pictures from the SPARQ testing site this morning! We’ll have more pictures posted on later this afternoon.

EA Sports Challenge

First bracket of EA Sports Challenge today

Custom Development Academy Spring Showcase t-shirts

The Athlete's Lounge

EA Sports is hosting a FIFA Street 3 Challenge in the Development Academy Athletes’ Lounge today and tomorrow from 11a.m. to 5p.m. Each half hour, eight teams will compete in 2 vs. 2 games to five goals, and winners will go on to the next round of play until there is a bracket champion. The winning teams will get a total of $20 iTunes gift cards, with $10 for each player.

EA Sports hopes to have a final championship with details to come.

If you're at the Showcase in Rockford, come sign-up or check out the EA Sports Challenge.

Winners will be posted as champions are determined.

The Rock-Star Life of Kubik

Lubos Kubik spent much of his playing career at some of the best teams in Europe, including a stint at FC Metz in France. People here don't forget about their footballers, which is why along with a feature article in today's edition of one of the local papers, Lubos has friends everywhere we go. It doesn't hurt that he speaks "5 or 6" languages.

Today after training we saw for ourselves the power of Lubos' popularity. While walking out of the training facility, these fans were walking toward the "Palais" for a basketball tournament, when one immediately spotted Lubos and shook his hand.

I don't think many of us would be that recognized, especially in a different country.

Tennis, Anyone?

Today was the last day of training for the team in Toulon, so that means it was a light day, filled with some regeneration and some soccer-tennis. The rules for soccer-tennis:

-The ball can bounce once on your side
-Teams have a maximum of three touches to get the ball over the "net"
-Your body can't cross over the "net" and onto the other team's side

That's pretty much it. We can overstate how competitive these matches are. Above is today's championship match between Jordan/Gavin/Wagner and Ferrari/Nguyen/Ochoa. It was a tight game, but in the end there could only be one victor:

Friday, May 23, 2008

Game Tidbits and Shared Space

Well, as you can see, we're sharing space here on the YNT Blog with the Development Academy Spring Showcase in Rockford, Ill. We're happy to share with those that might someday play on a Youth National Team!

Anyway, some notes from USA - Ivory Coast:
-Before the game, there was a technical problem with the anthems, which caused both teams to stand awkwardly on the field, lined up nicely, for a solid 3-4 minutes with no music playing. Eventually the teams just decided to shake hands.
-The game clock also stopped at various points in the first half, and stopped for good around the 70th minute mark.
-It seems like they make shorts big enough for some of the Ivory Coast players
-When Brek Shea temporarily left the game in the second half, it was because he had bitten a hole all the way through his right cheek! He got stitched up at the hotel after the game and is fine. He does have a pretty cool mark though his cheek.
-Italy beat Turkey in tonight's second game, 1-0, and is currently in first place in the Group and guaranteed to advance to the semifinals
-The U.S. are officially mathematically eliminated from the semifinals

So... there you have it! We will, of course, keep checking in from Toulon. In the mean time, keep up on all the Development Academy action all weekend!

A new face for U.S. Soccer

The need to improve soccer talent in the United States, has made the U.S. Soccer Development Academy the most prestigious program in North America. Scouts, college, and league coaches visit the showcase to observe the most elite players.
University of Central Arkansas coach Clint Corzatt has managed, all levels of soccer, for more than a decade. According to Corzatt, he has attended the showcase since its initial stages and believes in the objective of the program.
" I like this event because of the level of competition and environment. Here, you see the best teams and players from across the country. We get to see teams that only play one game a day, which prevents kids from burning out."
With 62 clubs, 2,440 players, 244 coaches and more than 200 referees the development academy is making significant strides to help improve the game.
" Because the program is so young, I have not had time to recruit their players. However, I'm here for a reason and this program is going to improve soccer in country."
At the showcase, managers and scouts are facilitated with the Coaching Resource Center, giving them an opportunity to learn more about player stats and much more.

Academy teams take it to the streets

U.S. National Team in FIFA Street 3

DJ Captain America spinning the hits at the lounge

Schulz Academy came to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy to show some of the best soccer talent in southern Florida. However, the men from Schulz say they not only believe in "working hard" but "playing harder."
"We look forward to the showcase and it's the place to be if you play soccer," said Schulz Academy player Josh Fusan. "Compared to the last event [Development Academy Winter Showcase], there is more to do and it's bigger. The video games are great it's a nice place to chill with the team and your friends." Thanks to the generous support of EA Sports, FIFA Street 3 and UEFA Euro 2008 were big hits in the Athlete's Lounge. Also, it gave the Schulz squad and other teams a chance to show-off their virtual "joga bonito".
"This is the place to be if you want to take it to the next level," said Thomas Verondee. "The guys you face on the field are great players. But, I still think I'm the best at FIFA Street--I'm unstoppable."
U.S. Soccer set up a dozen video game consoles, 48 remote controls, and music at the 2008 Academy Spring Showcase, for all players to enjoy.

Family shows pride at Development Academy

The Rodriguez family has always encouraged their children to follow their dreams. Joel Rodriguez plays for Oakwood Soccer Club in Glastonbury, Connecticut, and according to him, wearing his jersey with pride was something he learned from his parents.
"I enjoy the event and can't ask for more," said Rodriguez. "My parents are here to see me and that motivates me to do well on the field, to make them proud."
During the family's visit to the Development Academy Athlete's Lounge, they showed their pride for Uncle Sam's Army. "I really like designing my United States t-shirts. We thought it was cool," said Joel's mother, Seidy Rodriguez.
"The family supports my son, and bringing him to these events not only helps him develop as a player but it brings us together as a family." The Rodriguez family agrees the event has improved each time they attend. "I just bought a bumper sticker for my car," said Joel's father, Lou Rodriguez. "I'm coming back to get a U.S. jersey with my name on the back. It's a great place to bring the family. Our son develops his skills and every time we come here it gets better and better." All participants and spectators can stop by the U.S. Soccer merchandise stand located in the Development Academy Athlete's Lounge and purchase a custom tee, jersey, and the newest national team gear.

Spring Showcase About to Kick Off!!

The final preparation for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Spring Showcase is underway with the first games set to kick off at 9:45a.m this morning. The third Development Academy Showcase of the year is hosted in Rockford, Ill. and will be running games from today through Monday.

Here are a few statistics about what’s going on at the Spring Showcase:
3,000 players
126 teams from 63 clubs
20 national team scouts
189 games
12 hours and 45 minutes of soccer action
17 fields
100 referees
50,050 gallons in 24,000 bottles of Gatorade
5,000 pieces of fruit

We even have an Athlete’s Lounge with 12 video game consoles and 48 controllers to play EA Sports’ UEFA Euro 2008 and FIFA Street 3 games on sweet 37″ flat screen TVs.

Check back at to get results, highlights, photos, and more right here.

Starting XI

The U-23 MNT is at the stadium and ready to roll. Wondering who's starting before kickoff?? We got you covered. Check it out below:

GK: Seitz

D: Gavin, Davies, R. Valentino, Beltran

M: Wagner, Arguez, Nguyen, Hill

F: Jordan, Shea

Lets go boys!!

Lazy Friday...

In case you've ever wondered what players do all day before a game, we're happy to fill you in... nothing.

Some players walked around a bit this morning to loosen up their legs and get some fresh air. The rest mostly slept or watched the limited amount of movies or television available in English. Then it was time for a late lunch and pre-game meeting before beginning the process of ankle taping/getting dressed/cleaning the boots/etc.

Exciting, isn't it?

We'll be back a little later with tonight's starting lineups

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kyle's Prize

As we mentioned, the players finished training with a drill that some call "power and finesse," where each player shoots from distance (about 20 yards), and then continues his run and finishes from about 12 yards or so out. After a few rounds, Coach Nowak made it a contest with simple rules - if you miss both shots, you're out.

In the end, defender Kyle Davies was the winner, putting away both balls to beat Sammy Ochoa in the final round. Kyle's "prize" was to be carried by his teammates to the stretching area (which was a pretty short distance, but long enough to look pretty funny).


Okay, probably not spies, sent by the Ivory Coast to keep an eye on the U.S. training today. Some of the neighbors came out to see what was going on during our training today, which was held right off of a main street in Toulon. In the top photo, the pedestrians are crossing over the highway from the "Palais des Sports" on the other side, and were trying to figure out what was going on below.

It's not every day that the people of Toulon get to watch a U.S. National Team train, and on a nice sunny afternoon at that.

They didn't see much today, as the players who played last night went through more of a regeneration session with Tomek. Those who didn't play as much ran through some keep-away drills and some finishing. More on that later...

Sweatin' to the Oldies

...And on the way back from training today, the same driver decided to switch to music (he probably watched the rest of the game while we were at training). Music style of choice? American songs from the 1960s, turned up to full volume.

We've also noticed that there are a lot of French commercials that use older American songs, but still do the voice over and text in French. It's a strange phenomenon that we wish we could figure out....

Wow, That was 10 Years Ago?

Today, for the second time on our trip, we had a bus driver who was showing the 1998 World Cup Final between France and Brazil, that was of course won by France on their home soil.

Some great names in that Final include Zidane (of course), Djorkaeff, Desailly, Deschamps from the Champions, and a Brazil team that included Cafu, Ronaldo, Dunga, etc.. the list goes on and on.

This led us to wonder... Was everyone in France issued a copy of this game after it happened? How often do they watch it? At this point, you'd think they would have had to convert all the copies from VHS to DVD. Right?

Also, just to make everyone feel old... there are players on this team who were born in 1990 and don't remember that game.

It's Like a Collection

Jules Valentin added a new scar and a couple more stitches to the collection on his face. Still wearing headgear to protect his old scar from opening up (again), Jules somehow earned a new gash during yesterday's game. He only required two stitches for the cut above his right eye, which at this point Jules probably could have just stitched up himself in the mirror (he didn't try this, we promise).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What a Game

The sound of the French announcers of tonight's Champions' League final could be heard from every room of the hotel tonight, as it feels like everyone in France watched Manchester United take the trophy in sudden death PKs.

Even though we all watched it in a foreign language, it ranks up there with some of the best finals ever.

We really hope to calm down so we can get some sleep...


Well... the U.S. didn't get the three points against Turkey, but the second half is sure to build confidence and momentum in the team going forward in the tournament. Some post-game tibits:

-Eric Brunner's goal came in his first-ever international game
-The Olympic-bound teams are taking full advantage of the opportunity to scout each other at this tournament. The U.S. coaches were all in attendance last night as Japan beat the Netherlands, 1-0, and the technical staff of both teams were out in full force tonight.
-The match against Turkey was the only game of the tournament that all 22 U.S. players will be available.
-Dominic Cervi and Benny Feilhaber will both leave the team tomorrow and fly to London to join the Men's National Team in advance of next week's match against England.
-Benny Feilhaber left tonight's game in the 67th minute with a knee injury. He will be evaluated upon his arrival in England tomorrow.

U.S. Lineup vs. Turkey

Here are tonight's starters against Turkey:

Leathers - Brunner - Valentin - Wagner
Ashe - Dalby - Feilhaber - Nguyen
Ferrari - Ochoa

See you after the game!

Kudos to Kenny

While we were sleeping last night, Commentor 'Kenny' helped us out by posting the French underwear blooper on youtube. Thanks Kenny!

In case you missed it:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I See London, I See France.

If anyone can find this clip on youtube, please pass it on...

Pretty early in tonight's France-Chile match, during a seemingly routine shoulder to shoulder battle, a Chile player stepped on the French players shorts with his cleat. As the French player took a step, the Chilean player kept his grip on the shorts and pulled them all the way down to his knees. The French player was was wearing bikini-style dark underwear.... I guess we should just be thankful he was wearing any at all!

Group A Begins

All eyes are glued to Eurosport here in France as the tournament has now officially begun, and two completely different games were on display in the opening night.

The players watched most of the Netherlands/Japan match up - they had to take a break for dinner. Both teams came with their U-23 teams, and Japan has 11 players on their roster who were part of the squads successful Olympic qualifying campaign. Tadamari Lee scored the game's only goal on a rainy night, giving Japan at least temporary control of Group A in Toulon.

In a wide open affair, France started off strong in the second game of the night, taking an early two-goal lead over Chile. But Chile battled back and scored three pretty late goals to wake the 5-3 win over the hosts, who went down to 10 men in the second half.

All the games of the tournament are being broadcast here in French, but as we've mentioned before, football is the players' universal language.

En Italiano Per Favore

Gabe Ferrari is one of several U.S. players who speak more than one language, and today he got to show off his fluent Italian (he also speaks fluent Portuguese) in an interview with Italian television station Sky Sports.

Sky Sports is one of over 100 media outlets covering the tournament in Toulon over the next 10 days. In addition to Fox Soccer Channel in the U.S., the tournament will be televised live in Japan, Chile and across Europe.

Monday, May 19, 2008

All In (Finally)

Forward Lee Nguyen has made it to Toulon, officially rounding out the 22-player roster. Ngyuen arrived from Denmark, where he started and went 55 minutes in Randers 1-0 win over Viborg.

Interestingly enough, the bus we took to training today was one short of being able to seat our entire delegation. An experienced Chicago public transit rider, equipment manager Gabe Vogler volunteered to stand. Luckily, he held on tight, as today's driver liked to come within mere inches of the car in front of us when stopping...

Dodging Raindrops

This was the sky that loomed over Toulon this afternoon as the team was preparing to load the bus. But the weather held out during training until a distant lightning bolt while the team was finishing up their final stretch. The rain didn't start until everyone was dry inside the hotel.

Ready for the Festival

While walking around and exploring Toulon, it's hard not to notice these signs every few blocks along the way. Stade Mayol, where our first game will be played, is just on the other side of downtown. While we don't know what expected attendance figures are in the stadium that normally used for the very popular local rugby club, we do know that it holds about 14,000 people.

Most Important Optional Meal of the Day

Quite often, the word "optional" in front of breakfast essentially means "no breakfast". Players usually take the chance to sleep late, and figure they'll find something to snack on until lunch if they get hungry. Surprisingly though, this group came out in force to the optional breakfast.

Jules had the bragging rights of the day, after the Galaxy's 5-1 drubbing of FC Dallas last night, but Brek sat at the same table with him anyway. A lot of the players were able to watch the game on their computers, as it started at 9 p.m., just after the team meeting. It was a nice change of pace from BBC to say the least.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

French Rap Video

Maybe the French aren't known for the rap music, but on the bus ride to the weight room this afternoon the team got a taste of some interesting native music videos. The bus was quite a bit smaller than usual, but it came equipped a TV that dropped down from the front like some of the newer SUVs in the U.S. The driver quickly put on a music channel of some sort, and we were treated first to a rap video, and then to more of a Top 4o-type song that featured a singer that looked just like assistant coach Tim Mulqueen. He even had the same glasses.

The buses here, though smaller than the coach buses at home, have both front and side doors, making the loading and unloading of 21 players, 10 staff and all the equipment much more efficient.

Some Photos From Training

Today was our first sunny day here in Toulon, and the first training with 21 players in action, so we thought that warranted some training photos:

A first look at Quentin Westberg

Kyle Davies

Kamani Hill, Bryan Arguez, Benny Feilhaber

Tony Beltran

Cool Down

Ligue One Action

The talk of the breakfast table this morning was the crazy finish to the French Ligue One last night. There are really only two English-language stations on the TVs at the hotel, and they are BBC and CNN. Not that the players don't appreciate knowing what's going on the world, but the stations do tend to repeat their programming every half hour or so.

Anyway, the Ligue One finale was last night with 10 games played, and even though it was in French, the players appreciate exciting football. The channel broadcasting one of the games was going a split-screen whenever a goal was scored throughout the league... That happened 43 times in 10 games. The ridiculous scoring rate created a lot of interruptions but if you don't speak the language, it made for great television!

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Four more players have arrived - meaning there are just two to go!

Benny Feilhaber arrived at the hotel late last night and participated in training this morning. Tony Beltran and Chris Seitz arrived this morning, traveling a long way after Real Salt Lake's Thursday night game against Colorado. Quentin Westberg also joined the group this morning after going the full 90 in Troyes game last night.

The trio that came in this morning missed training, but went through a light work out

So... there are three goalkeepers now instead of one - Dominic is happy to finally have some sparring partners in net.

Gabe Ferrari is due into Toulon late tonight, and Lee Nguyen will join the team on Monday morning after a game with Randers on Sunday. Our liason, Pierre, has been keeping very busy making airport runs!

More Training in the Rain

The skies opened during part of training today, drenching pretty much everyone and everything. But, the downpour didn't last too long, and by the end of training, the rain had been replaced by sun and humidity. In our short time here, we've noticed that the weather is changing very quickly. Locals tell us that this is because the city is so close to the sea, which makes sense. We're just trying to figure it all out.

The team went through some light fitness work this morning before playing some possession games, and capping off the training with everyone's favorite - finishing drills.

After a long session this morning, the players had the afternoon off... we're guessing most of the time was spent shopping, exploring and sleeping. We'll have more details when the team reconvenes for dinner (and we hope by then to figure out why our camera isn't working with our computer so we can post pictures!).

Friday, May 16, 2008

Breaking Language Barriers

We knew then Quentin Westberg speaks French, but with Quentin scheduled to arrive on Saturday, we knew we would have to figure out a way around the language barrier without him. Luckily, Greg Dalby picked up a good amount of French in Southern Belgium playing for SC Charleroi. Says the defender - "Belgium is an interesting country in that in the north they speak Flemish and in the South, French." You learn something every day. Greg was called upon to talk to the bus driver at the airport as we were loading the equipment.

Later that evening, assistant coach Lubos Kubik arrived and helped relieve Greg of his (minimal) translation duties. Lubos picked the language up during a brief stint with French club FC Metz. Sitting at the front of the bus, he's now in charge of helping out with the drivers on the way to training, and with the wait staff in the meal room. For some reason, they didn't know English words like "salami" and "syrup".... we don't mind working with the language barrier though, as long as they keep those baguettes coming. Yumm...

Work the Circuit

This afternoon the players hit the weight room again, as the rain continued on and off all day. (Of course, while we were in there the sun was pretty much out the entire time.) Strength and conditioning coach Tomek Kaczmarek took the players through a circuit of nine core, upper and lower body techniques in the Musclation room.

There are members of the gym, like a YMCA, as well as other teams who also train there, and every now and then a member would wander in alone, and then realize that there are 20 people in there all dressed alike and rotating stations. It's fun to see their faces though as try to figure out what's going on... you can almost see them thinking. Sometimes they come in and work out - we don't mind, there's plenty of room! - and sometimes their nerves get the best of them.

Breaking Out the Balls and Weathering the Weather

The team took to the field this morning for the first time since arriving in Toulon and got their first touches on the shiny new Nike Omni balls.

Unfortunately, the rain came down this morning and is not expected to let up until late tomorrow. The rain varied between drizzle and downpour throughout training, but the good news is that the field stayed in pretty good shape. We're the only team training on it throughout the tournament, so hopefully it will hold up well.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Coming straight from their exhibition against USL side the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Galaxy contingent of Julian Valentin, Bryan Jordan and Mike Gavin arrived at the team hotel tonight in Toulon. It was a long travel day, but you can tell that the trio is excited to be here - they anxiously hit the hotel's fitness center to loosen up a bit before bedtime and get ready for training tomorrow.

No Time for Jet Lag

As you can see, the players didn't hesitate to shake out their understandably road-weary legs this afternoon. The players on hand went through some light running, biking and stretching in order to start regenerating their bodies before two training sessions scheduled for tomorrow.

You may also notice in the photos that the U-23s have officially become the first youth national team to get their hands on the new warm up gear, previously only worn by the Men's National Team. We were going to try to keep a secret, but wanted to prove that the guys were already preparing for next Wednesday's opening match.

Also, we admit to not knowing much of the French language, but it has to be said that we love the French word for weightlifting, "musclation". No really, that's actually the word for it. Check it out on the sign outside the door:

Check Out Out View!

We mentioned our long travel day, but what we didn't mention is that our flight from Munich to Marseilles included incredible views of the white caps of the French Alps from above. We were also treated to the beautiful Mediterranean countryside, including the below views, on the bus ride from Marseilles to Toulon this afternoon:

We Made It! (Well, some of us anyway... )

Most of the U.S.- based group has arrived in Toulon after a four-city that has taken us across the pond... the players traveled from wherever they were to JFK in New York to meet up with the group, then it was an overnight flight to Munich followed by a late morning jaunt to Marseilles. After a pretty lengthy delay both on the plane from Munich- due to air traffic caused by the Cannes Film Festival - and in luggage claim - due to a broken baggage belt that may or may not have been caused by our equipment - the team hopped on a charter bus and made the final one-hour drive to Toulon.

In all, eight players and a number of staff made the journey from New York, and we met up with Kamani Hill and Greg Dalby in Marseilles. The Hertha Berlin duo of Bryan Arguez and Ellis McLoughlin arrived shortly before the team departed for training. The remaining players will be streaming in over the next couple of days. We'll be back later tonight with more, but for now... time for a cheese-and-baguette dinner!