Sunday, August 24, 2008

Shoe Trials

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Nike was on hand to let players sign out different types of cleats for their games. Here are a few athletes trying them out.

And the Last Game Kicks Off

The last game of the 2008 Women's Nike Friendlies' has kicked off, the U-16 Strikers vs. Sereno match on Field 4 wrapping up a successful weekend of good games in great weather.

As the tournament winds down, here's a look at the event via all_acccess video.


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Saturday, August 23, 2008

More Highlights: U-14 GNT 2, U-16 Sereno 0

The 'Stripes' team faced U-16 Sereno on Saturday.


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More Highlights: U-14 GNT 1, PDA 1

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More than Just the Games

While the games are the biggest part of the Women's Nike Friendlies and what we hope the participants remember and benefit from the most, there are plenty of other things that the event offers to enhance the experience via both education and overall enjoyment.

Hydration & Nutrition:
Gatorade has provided product for both at the benches of all six fields that are in use, and also had provided several varieties of bottled product for the Gatorade Bar, where all of the teams have been rushing right after the conclusion of their games. There are also apples, oranges and bananas available for the athletes as well.

Inspiration: One of the things every soccer coach tries to convey to his or her players is to watch soccer on TV, so what better way to do this than have the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal match playing on the 42" Panasonic Vieja TVs in the Athletes' Lounge.

Sports Medicine: Members of the U.S. National Team medical staff are on site in the Medical Tent and on the field to tape ankles, provide ice and in the event that there is are an injury, be able to provide top level care and advice.

Referee Education:
In addition to some talented local referees, more than 10 of the top young women's referees from around the country are on site. This not only provides the participant with better officials for the matches, but allows U.S. Soccer to evaluate women's referees that are candidates to be involved in WPS matches next spring.

Shoe Trials: Nike, the headline sponsor of the event, is on site allowing all participants to try the latest Nike soccer cleats in their games.

FIFA '08: TVs are set up with gaming consoles that are set up with EA Sports FIFA '08. When players are relaxing in the Athlete's Lounge, they can face off against their friends.

U.S. Soccer Store: While each participant was provided a backpack and sweatshirt from Nike, the folks from ussoccerstore.com set up on-site for participants and fans pick up any of that U.S. Soccer gear they might want to get their hands to on show their support for the gold-medal winning U.S. WNT.

Friday, August 22, 2008

87,000 Words and Counting ....


... that is, if you say a picture is worth a thousand words. Imagine if writing a 2,000 word term paper you could just include two pictures and not have to write anything?

Well, the YNT blogger likes the sound of that so we decided to put together some more photo galleries at ussoccer.com for your viewing pleasure and to save us from carpal tunnel on this Friday evening. We'll have more throughout the weekend and early next week.

U-15 GNT Scores Big


Alexandra Doll and Christina Murillo (left) each scored a pair of goals, and Olivia Schultz and Caprice Dydasco each added one as the U-15 GNT topped the U-17 Irvine Strikers, 6-0. Shea Groom (right) assisted on Murillo's first goal.

We'll have video highlights and reactions later, but here's a game story.

Friday's Games Underway

At the Women's Nike Friendlies, each team gets a day off so that team's can focus on playing quality soccer without being worn out. Half of the teams have Friday off, and half of the teams have Saturday off.

Here's a look at today's slate of games:

U-15 Sereno vs. U-15 PDA
U-15 Mustang vs. U-15 Crossfire
U-15 GNT vs. U-17 Irvine Strikers
U-15 Slammers vs. U-15 Real So Cal
U-17 Colorado Rush vs. U-17 Seacoast United
U-17 Real Colorado vs. U-17 FC DELCO

As always, results will be posted here when they come in. The first game should be ending at about noon PT.

all_access at the Friendlies

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Here's a quick all_access video that was just posted at ussoccer.com that's a quick recap of the welcome event and breakfast that included all of the athletes watching the 2008 Olympic Final.

Of course, Cat Whitehill was the star of the show as the only Gold Medalist in the room. Enjoy!

Stuff We All Get *

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* Except Cat

One of the little benefits of the Women's Nike Friendlies is the whole Nike part. Participants always walk away with some sort of cool Nike gear, and this year is no except. In addition to a backpack, each participant also got a white, zip-up hoody courtesy of our friend and yours from Beaverton, Ore.

In the clip above, WNT defender Cat Whitehill, who served as emcee of the welcome breakfast, goes part stand-up comic, part runway model as she shows off the hoody.

And, she wonders where her backpack is. But don't worry, everyone ELSE got their bag on the way OUT of breakfast.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Golden Goals

The games have wrapped up on Day 2 of the 2008 Women's Nike Friendlies, and results will continue to be posted here as they are reported.

In the photo above, the U.S. U-15 Girls' Team, no doubt inspired by their Olympic heroes' effort earlier in the day, celebrates their first goal as they put on a scoring show in their first game of the weekend.

Picture Perfect Morning

This image is one of many from a photo gallery from this morning's welcome event to kick off the 2008 Women's Nike Friendlies. The event was attended by almost all the players participating. The run of show included the following:

  1. Watch the U.S. Women face Brazil
  2. Cheer for the USA after they won the gold medal
  3. Hear 2004 U.S. Women's National Team gold medalist Cat Whitehill speak
  4. Hear USC Women's Soccer Head Coach Ali Khosroshahin speak
  5. A Q & A with Whitehill and Khosroshahin
  6. Eat breakfast

Live on Today in LA

John Cádiz Klemack from KNBC's Today in LA came out to join in the festivities as he did some line updates for the 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. morning show based here in Los Angeles. Cat Whitehill was on hand and was his No. 1 guest, although U.S. U-15 midfielder Haley Rosen also got on the are to talk about the game, the Women's Nike Friendlies, and of course to say 'Hi Mom & Dad!"

Today in LA

In case you haven't noticed, the U.S. Women's National Team defeated Brazil 1-0 to win the Olympic Gold Medal. But enough about the WNT, as we've got three youth national teams and 25 other U-17, U-16 and U-15 teams here in Carson.

Many of the players gathered this morning in at The Home Depot Center, where before breakfast the USA-Brazil game was played in the Stadium Club.

Marta caused them to ooo and aaahhh, Hope Solo's big saves caused some gasps and applause, but the packed house was loudest when Carli Lloyd struck, errr, gold.

We'll have more photos and video from this event later.

Also, with the Olympic final going to overtime, the entire schedule was pushed back 30 minutes (so all of the start times on the schedule are all off by 30 minutes)

2008 Women's Nike Friendlies Kick Off


The 2008 Women's Nike Friendlies kicked off last night as the U.S. Under-14 Girls' played U-16 Real So Cal. The U.S. team, mostly playing together for the first time, lost the game but will have two more chances to show what they've got.

Results from all the weekend's games will be posted on ussoccer.com as soon as we can get them there, and we'll also blog from the event and have some videos here and there.

If you're following from home, let us know who you will be cheering for and we might go find them to do a little shout out.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hard to Believe It's Over



Things tend to turn around pretty quickly, which means today is already travel day. Players and staff return to their home or club, obviously disappointed with the way things turned out but having enjoyed every moment of the experience anyway.

We'll leave you with a recap of last night's game, and remind you to keep following the WNT as they make their run through the knock-out phases.

USA vs. Nigeria Recap:
We can't thank everyone enough for their support. To be an Olympian is something special, and to have the amount of support from home that we had was amazing. The people of China have put together a great spectacle and we were proud to be a small part of it.



More to the Show

Now there is some sort of martial arts demonstration going on across the field from where we're sitting. It seems to be part martial arts and part dance routine for the fans on the far side from the benches.

A Different Atmosphere

Wow, there is a different atmosphere here in Beijing. Present at the stadium tonight are cheerleaders, dancers... and the Olympic Mascots!

As the teams are warming up, the dance team and the cheerleaders are doing their routine on the track while the huge mascots are bouncing around.

We definitely did NOT see anything like this in Tianjin, that's for sure...

Tonight's Starters

Tonight’s lineup - Danny Szetela and Jozy Altidore will step into the Starting XI spots vacated by suspensions to Michael Bradley and Freddy Adu, respectively.

Guzan

Wynne – Edu – Parkhurst – Orozco

Rogers – Holden – Kljestan – Szetela

McBride - Altidore




NGA Starters

GK: 1-Vanzekin

D: 2-Okonkwo, 5-Adeleye, 15-Ambrose

M: 6-James, 8-Kaita, 10-Promise-capt, 12-Ajilore

F: 7-Ogbuke, 9-Obinna, 11-Okoronkwo

Sharing Olympic Moments



This is a photo of the elevator lobby in an office building close to the hotel that also happens to host a Starbucks. Instead of getting on their elevator and presumably going back to work in the middle of a Wednesday, everyone paused to watch the USA and China battle it out in the Women's Gymnastics Team competition. In case you haven't watched it yet, we won't give away the results, but we just thought it was cool that these strangers came together to watch the final round on the TV.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Game Day in Beijing



You know the scenarios. You know what's at stake tonight at Workers Stadium in Beijing and you'll be awake at 5 a.m. on the East Coast or 2 a.m. on the West Coast to see the action live from across the world.

We'll be back from inside the stadium with pre-game and in-game updates. You can watch it live on the USA Network, NBC Olympic Soccer Channel and follow the game live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker.


One-Stop Shopping

We've got some good stuff for you to check out before tonight's game if you're so inclined...

You can find all your pre-game insight and info in one place at ussoccer.com

America.



Usually team locker rooms, especially in foreign countries, go for the easy label of "USA". Everyone pretty much seems to understand the three-letter abbreviation for our team and our country. The people in Beijing have opted for the more rare label of "America" on our locker room at Workers Stadium. Maybe we can convince the fans to chant "AM-ER-I-CA" instead of "U-S-A!", but it just doesn't have the same ring to it...


What Happens Next

Confused about all of the different ways that the USA can advance to the quarterfinals? We've taken the liberty to map it all out for you...

How the U.S. can advance to the quarterfinals:

1) A win against Nigeria
With a win, the U.S. would end up with the most points in the group (7).

2) A draw against Nigeria
With a draw, the U.S. would end up tied with Nigeria on points and goal differential, but would finish ahead on the next tiebreaker, goals scored.

3) A loss against Nigeria AND a Netherlands draw or loss against Japan
With a loss, the U.S. could still finish in second place and advance to the quarterfinals with four points, but only if the Netherlands, sitting on two points, either lose or draw against Japan. A draw would only provide the Netherlands with three points, finishing below the U.S. at four points (Japan has no chance of catching the U.S. with zero points going into the final match).

How the U.S. can win the group:

1) A win against Nigeria
With a win, the U.S. would end up with the most points in the group (7).

2) A draw against Nigeria AND Netherlands draw or loss against Japan
With a draw, the U.S. would end up tied with Nigeria on points and goal differential, but would finish ahead on the next tiebreaker, goals scored. If the Netherlands, only sitting on two points, either lose or draw against Japan, they would end up with at most three points, finishing below the U.S. at four points

3) A draw against Nigeria AND a Netherlands win AND win the tiebreakers
With a draw AND a Netherlands win, the U.S. could still win the group depending on the tiebreakers (goal difference and goals scored). In this scenario, both teams would finish with five points. The U.S. would finish with a +1 goal differential, which means the U.S. would need the Netherlands (at a goal differential of 0 after two games) to only defeat Japan by one goal, putting them tied on goal differential at +1. If the Netherlands win by more than one goal, they would win the group. If the Netherlands win by just one goal, the next tiebreaker is goal scored. If it moves to this tiebreaker, as long as the U.S. scores at least as many goals as the Netherlands it would also win the group (after two games the U.S. is at 3, while the Netherlands are at 2).

However, if the U.S. and Netherlands are equal on the points, goal difference and goals scored, their ranking would be determined by a fair play point system, in which the number of yellow and red cards each team has received is evaluated. And if they’re still tied, the group winner will be decided by drawing of lots by the FIFA Organizing Committee.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Everywhere We Turn..



One of the (many) cool things about being in the Olympic host country is that no matter where you are, there is always a TV nearby to watch whatever live events are on at any given moment. And in the Olympics, it doesn't matter if you had any idea that a sport existed - because it's in the Olympics, it's exciting!

Here the guys pause on the way out of training to watch the Weightlifting Clean and Jerk Finals. Even though our guys could probably take that Venezuelan lifter in arm wrestling, they were pretty impressed.



The Olympic Village



Anyone who has ever been fortunate enough to step into an Olympic Village understands - this place is HUGE. Without even venturing to the outskirts of the Village to the Birds Nest and the Swimming Arena (both of which are absolutely beautiful by the way), there is a lot going on at the Village.

Rows upon rows of apartments and dorms fill acres of space. Flags of every nation you can think of - and some you've never heard of - decorate the buildings. The Olympic Rings can be seen in pretty much every direction in one form or another... hedges, sidewalk imprints, the sides of every wall....

The cafeteria is absolutely massive. Walking in, the first thing you see are the familiar Golden Arches of McDonalds, which makes it feel like home! But really, you can find just about anything to eat in the dining hall that is seemingly endless. There are water and drink machines everywhere that require no money, just a button push.

Here you can get your hair, nails and eyebrows done (so far none of the guys have tried those things). You can send packages, buy plane tickets, buy clothes, hang out in the internet cafe and play foosball. Honestly, just about every need is met without traveling outside the Village walls... We'll have much more on the whole thing of course, but honestly, this place is remarkable.

Also Enjoying the Olympic Experience...

Some of the players met him at the Opening Ceremonies, but soccer fan (and NBA superstar) Kobe Bryant is just one of the athletes here in Beijing. While visiting the Village this afternoon, he happened to be walking out of the gates at the same time as Brian McBride and Peter Nowak were heading to their pre-game press conference.

Bryant was sitting down waiting for his escort as Nowak and McBride walked by. Not wanting to bother him, the pair just gave a friendly wave, but upon recognizing them as soccer players, Bryant popped up off his seat and shook their hands enthusiastically. The three Olympians chatted about upcoming games and past results before having to go about their business, but it was a cool Olympic "Team USA" moment that the athletes have been enjoying.

The Olympic Lane

On our drive to Beijing from Tianjin, there was a lot of security - police escorts, random searches of vehicles sharing our highways and even policemen standing in the middle of the highway on our way out of Tianjin, similar to the way we arrived.

As we approached Beijing, the security increased and suddenly we found ourselves speeding past three lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic. Then we started to notice the Olympic Rings painted in our lane of the highway and realized that there are entire highway lanes dedicated to Olympic vehicles! Not only that, but people were actually following the rules and sitting in traffic when there was a perfectly good (read: empty) lane just a few merges away.

We could tell that the energy was highly geared towards the Games here, but an Olympic Lane? Sorry commuters of one of the largest cities in the world, we're coming through...

So Long, Tianjin!



This morning we had to say goodbye to Tianjin and all of the wonderful staff and volunteers in the city that held our first Olympic memories. The team got up for a regeneration session, ate some lunch and then hit the road, making the two and a half hour bus ride to Beijing - the Olympic epicenter.

The bus ride, as you can imagine was pretty standard: sleeping, iPods, cards and movies. We passed some interesting sights along the way, including trucks that were filled with live chickens and pigs. But we have safely arrived at the Olympic Village! More on that later...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Post Game Thoughts

We have heard from several people in attendance that last night's game against the Netherlands was one that they'll never forget watching. Judging from the post-game locker room, we don't think the players will ever forget playing in it.

In case you missed it - in which case, shame on you! - you can read all about the game here. Photos... here. Post-game reaction from Coach Nowak and his players here.

We'll be back after the big move from Tianjin to Beijing!

Stadium Update: Makaay In?

Yea - We didn't really believe Coach Foppe de Haan would keep him out either if they needed him. Despite all the reports that you probably read about him being injured, he has just entered the game for the Netherlands, minutes after they went down a goal.

Stadium Update - Altidore Puts the US Ahead!!

Less than 10 minutes after entering the game, Jozy Altidore found the end of a perfectly placed Michael Orozco cross and gave the USA a 2-1 lead!!

The whole American bench SPRINTED toward the corner where Jozy was celebrating. We don't think Coach Nowak has moved that fast since his playing days!

Stadium Update - We have a ball game!

Sacha Kljestan's 64th Minute strike just leveled the game for the U.S.!!!

The midfielder put forth a great individual effort there, fighting through a few defenders to get into the box alone and the U.S. has drawn even. Kljestan (which was pronounced KA-LA-JESTAN by the Chinese PA announcer here) celebrated his goal with his now-famous karate kick in the corner.

Following the goal, Jozy Altidore came on for Robbie Rogers, and will now be running on the left wing.

Stay tuned!

Haftime: NED 1, USA 0

The U.S. heads into the locker room in a 1-0 hole, but has created a number of dangerous chances that has the raucous crowd on the edge of their seat. Make sure to stay tuned - the second half is gearing up to be a good one!

Netherlands 1, USA 0

Netherlands' Ryan Babel just put his team on top, pouncing on a rebound of his own header and knocking into the upper netting of the goal from close range. Impressive work from the Liverpool striker. Let's see if the U.S. can battle back!

Stadium Update - Impartial Fans

The Chinese fans have started THEIR famous chant "Ji-o!", which basically translates into - "GO!"

Also, the rain seems to have let up for now. The field is still wet from the downpour, but the air is noticeably cooler and less humid, so we'll take it!

Stadium Upate - Packed House

This place is PACKED. Their loud and they're ready for action. Right now the American and Dutch fans are competing to see who can be louder, with that famous "U-S-A" chant echoing throughout the stadium. It's game time!!

MT Live From The Globe Pub


The MatchTracker crew has set up shop at The Globe Pub in Chicago, one of three members of the U.S. Soccer Bar Program showing the match live this morning. Hopefully the fans at Nevada Smith's in New York City and Summer's Grill in Washington, D.C. aren't disappointed that we didn't make it there, but we promise to take the MT show on the road soon. Meantime, the coffee is brewed and we're ready for action.

Stadium Update: Well, We Were Wrong..

Our hopes of a dry game are looking pretty grim right now. Not only is it absolutely pouring, but the thunder and lightning has started too! For a while there it was hard to distinguish between the lightning and the camera flashes, but trust us... it's definitely lightning.

The teams are warming up on patches of grass outside the track in order to preserve the pitch as much as possible... at least for now. The goalkeepers are doing their thing in the box, but the field players are keeping off the grass.

Wanna know tonight's starters for the Netherlands?

Vermeer; Zuiverloon - Marcellis - Jaliens; De Guzman, Emanuelson, Maduro (c), Drenthe, Bakkal; Babel, Beerens



The Starting XI

U.S. Lineup for tonight:
Guzan

Wynne – Edu – Parkhurst – Orozco

Rogers – Bradley – Kljestan – Holden

Adu

McBride


The only change from Thursday is that Stuart and Robbie will switch wings. Be sure and tune in to USA Network or the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel, or follow along on ussoccer.com!

Nigeria 2, Japan 1

Nigeria took a 2-0 lead, but Japan fought back to score late. It wasn't enough for the Japanese though, who are all but mathematically eliminated after a pair of losses.

It started pouring around the 75th minute and didn't let up until the 90th. It seems to have let up a bit now though, so hopefully it will hold out for the duration of the USA-Netherlands game, which kicks off in about 45 minutes.

Nigeria's win means that the USA can't win the group tonight, but they can assure themselves a place in the quarterfinals with a win.

Stadium Update - NGA vs. JPN

Well here's something you don't see every day... following halftime of the Nigeria - Japan game here at Olympic Center Stadium, two Nigerian players came out of the locker room wearing No. 12. One of the #12s had to leave the pitch to change.

We think what happened was: he changed his shirt in the halftime locker room because it was soaking wet, and picked up the wrong dry jersey on the way out. Woops!

As for the game itself, Nigeria just took a 1-0 lead and the stadium is PACKED. The U.S. team arrived just in time to see Nigeria's first goal from close range from a dugout area just outside their locker room. It was a pretty impressive celebration from Victor Obinha - a few back handsprings followed by a flip.

We're just over an hour from kickoff of the USA-NED game, so stay tuned for more Group B updates from Tianjin.

Game Day Two



There she is - Olympic Sports Center Stadium, site of the team's second game of the tournament against the Netherlands, which kicks off tonight. If the USA wins, they're assured of a place in the quarterfinals.

We'll be back with live updates from inside the stadium, so stay tuned. You can watch tonight's game live on the USA Network, at one of U.S. Soccer's Official Bars or follow the action live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Podcasts with Michael Bradley and Sacha Kljestan

For your perusal, we're presenting a pair of podcasts:

First, ussoccer.com caught up with Michael Bradley ahead of the U.S.' game against the Netherlands on Sunday. Bradley has a unique perspective on the Dutch team, having played in Holland for the past couple of seasons. The U.S. midfielder also touched on the great experience of the Olympics and be sure to listen for a brief cameo by Brad Guzan.

Listen to the full podcast here...

Next, you can listen to Sacha Kljestan talk about the team's experience at last night's Opening Ceremonies, the close knit nature of this Olympic team, and goal celebrations.

Listen to the podcast with Sacha here...

Team USA Fans

The Men's Olympic Team has found a way to watch the WNT games here in China, even though they're not on TV. China doesn't have a Soccer Channel like you have in the States! But the Men have gathered in the rooms of a handful of players with Slingbox, and are able to watch the game on the USA Network from home until they have to head out to training.

Good luck to the ladies from Tianjin!

Guest Blog: Guzan Talks Opening Ceremonies


USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan shares his experience of the Opening Ceremonies... Below is his account:

We hopped on a police-escorted bus for the trip to Beijing from Tianjin, and we joined up with all the US athletes at the USA House in the Village and took a bus over to the fencing arena.

Our outfits were interesting. Obviously they were professional looking, they were just a little warm for the weather. But, the U.S. definitely looked professional and that’s what they were going for. From our squad I’m going to have to say that that Charlie Davies looked the worst in the hat, but that’s only because he thought he looked the best.

Then we got to meet President Bush. I had never met him before but apparently Stuart is best friends with him. He walked down and took a group photo and met with all the athletes, which was pretty cool. He got to our team and Peter introduced him first to Brian and then to some of the other guys. He got to Stuart and President Bush did kind of a double-take and said “we’ve met before!” Oh, sorry Stu. I didn’t know you and the President were so close!

We started walking and we had all of the athletes from all of the countries sitting in the gymnastics arena across the street from the Birds Nest. Then they called us down as a country and we walked around this path that they had barricaded off to make our way over to the stadium. As we were going into the Birds Nest there was the tunnel and it was just filled with athletes from the country before us, some volunteers and workers and fans.

I looked up and saw that light at the end of the tunnel that opening into the stadium. There were so many people there and we could just hear them cheering. As we were going through, we all started chanting U-S-A, and it just gave me goosebumps. Seeing our flag bearer and our flag, and then seeing everyone from the U.S., just entering the stadium was a moment that I’ll never forget.

It was unreal. Being able to go into that stadium and as we started to walk in, the people who could see into the tunnel were chanting “U-S-A” with us. Once we got out there it was just a sea of people. I couldn’t even tell how big the stadium is or even see individual faces.

The basketball guys were getting a lot of attention from our party, but once we got into the infield, Roger Federer there surrounded by a wall of other Swiss athletes, so I think he was one of the biggest international figures there. Then there’s Kobe Bryant and Yao Ming, who was of course a popular figure as well. And yes, he really is as tall as he looks on TV, without a doubt. He was, of course, the flag bearer for China and when he walked in the whole place went crazy. You can definitely pick him out – he was a few heads above the rest.

I have to give a shout out here to Brian McBride. As we were standing in the infield and the torch was running around the track, we could see the last guy that was going to get the torch and about 30 seconds before he got it, Brian said ‘is he wearing a harness?’ I couldn’t see that far – it was at the other end of the stadium! All of the sudden we see him get hoisted up there. I have no idea how he saw that. But it was really cool to be able to see the whole thing and from what I’ve been told (from assistant coach Tim Mulqueen, whose wife gave a full report from the Today Show), is that he had never rehearsed that part. That was his first time doing it. To see him running and with the pictures behind him of everywhere the torch has been was amazing. Then the actual lighting of the torch just gave us more goose bumps. Obviously for us, the whole thing started the day before, but that was the official start of the Games and to be there for that moment was pretty cool.

It was a long day, but I think we’ll all look back at it and be grateful for the opportunity to be there and experience that. Obviously now we turn our full attention to our big game tomorrow against the Netherlands.

Friday, August 8, 2008

MatchTracker Goes Mobile to The Globe Pub

ussoccer.com's MatchTracker hits the road this weekend for the U.S. Men's match against Netherlands on Sunday morning at 6:45 a.m. CT when the crew sets up shop at The Globe Pub in Chicago, a member of the U.S. Soccer Official Bar Program. Our gang will be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (fingers crossed) at 6 a.m. at the premier soccer hangout in Chi-Town, where they will be providing minute-by-minute updates on the game to those following along online around the world. Heck, we might even invite a little guest commentary! See y'all Sunday morning ...

Studio 90 News Update - Weekend Preview

The latest edition of Studio 90 News is up and running with a preview of the weekend's U.S. Olympic Soccer action as both the women and men face crucial contests in the second matches of group play. Watch Carli Lloyd and Angela Hucles talk about the need to bounce back from their opening day loss, while Michael Bradley gives a scouting report on a Netherlands squad that boasts four players from his club team, SC Heerenveen, as well as leading Dutch marskman Roy Makaay. Don't forget to check back on ussoccer.com all weekend long where U.S. Soccer's All_Access video will have post-match reaction and all the news and updates from China.

Update from the Ceremonies

We know those of you in the States can't watch the Opening Ceremonies live, at least most of you anyway, but let us assure you that the Chinese know how to put on a show. The ceremonial part is just finishing and the athletes are starting to come in for the parade! It will be well worth your time to check out the first part. And, as we mentioned below, the U-S-A marches in at No. 139 of 204 countries. Be sure to wave hi to the boys when you see them!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

See If You Can Spot Them!

It's a pretty quiet day here in the mini-village of Tianjin ... Yes, it's standard for the day after a game to be light, with the players going through some regeneration. But this is no ordinary day-after-a-game day. The players are packing and getting ready for a full day in Beijing to attend The Opening Ceremonies.

We can't tell you what they're wearing, only that they're going to look sharp in their Polo Ralph Lauren outfits. So make sure that when TEAM USA marches in as the 139th team in the parade (out of 204 countries), to keep your eye out for our boys. After all, they already have a step up on most of their USA teammates, already beginning competition and getting the win.

We'll have a full report of the days activities, but in the mean time, just know how excited they really are to be able to experience The Opening Ceremonies and continue to represent their country here.

Man of the Hour

Guess who got the loudest reception when he walked into the meal room after tonight's game? We'll give you three guesses....

If one of them wasn't Stuart Holden, please stop reading this blog. You must have gotten here by mistake. The Houston Dynamo midfielder was the man of the hour at the post-match meal after scoring the USA's game-winning goal against Japan, and due to a Studio 90 request for a quick interview just outside meal room he was the last player to walk in, igniting a impromptu round of applause from his teammates, coaches and staff.

Stuart took it in stride even when the lights went out a few minutes later and the hotel staff walked in with a "Congratulation" cake (yes, it said "Congratulation"... no "s") and put it in front of him. Although, he did wimp out when the team started chanting "Speech! Speech! Speech!" Well, truth is if he tried to start to actually say something, they all would have just started cheering...great little game they play - trust us, we know first hand.

Possibly later we'll have a quick video of Stuart getting his "Congratulation" cake, so check back.

U.S. on Top of Group B

The second set of today's games has just finished up, and the U.S. sits atop Group B with three points. Nigeria and the Netherlands finished their match deadlocked in a 0-0 draw and, as a result, the standings look like this:

Group B

Team W L T Pts GF GA GD

USA 1 0 0 3 1 0 +1
NED 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
HOL 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
JPN 0 1 0 0 1 2 -1

Aug. 7.
Japan 0, USA 1
Netherlands 0, Nigeria 0

Aug. 10

Nigeria vs. Japan, 5:00 a.m. ET
USA vs. Netherlands, 7:45 a.m. ET

Aug. 13
Netherlands vs. Japan, 7:45 a.m. ET
Nigeria vs. USA, 7:45 a.m. ET

Game Update: More Wardrobe Malfunctions

As Brian McBride just came off the field, we noticed that he was missing the 1 from his #17 on the front of his shirt. This, after Marvell's shirt was torn in the first half.... Equipment Manager Gabe Vogler has a busy night ahead of him!

McBride just came off the field for Jozy Altidore... or "ALTIDORE Jozy" as they just called him over the PA...

Game Update - 66th Minute

The USA fans are making their presence felt here in the second half. We've just heard the third or fourth U-S-A chant that has become so common at the Olympic Games. Sounds like it started in the American friends and family section, which is just behind us.

With an announced attendance of 37,177, we're happy to report that the U.S. fans are being heard!

GOAL USA! 47th Minute

Stuart Holden just opened the scoring for the USA in the 47th minute, giving the Americans a 1-0 lead just after the break!

Holden combined with Marvell Wynne down the right flank. The speedy defender powered through his man and slotted the ball across the box. There, it deflected off a defender right to Holden, who powered a shot on the ground that Nishikawa couldn't handle.

Pretty good celebration there too by the 23-year-old Houston Dynamo midfielder.

Halftime Update: Glad We Have Extras

Marvell Wynne is going to have to make a wardrobe change at halftime after his was torn during a footrace in the first half. If we know Marvell like we think we do, that attacker will pay for what he did.

Now if you'll excuse us... The Olympic mascots are dancing on the big screen and we can't turn away...

Halftime Scores

While the USA and Japan are locked in a scoreless draw, here are some other updates from around the tournament:

Group A:
Australia 0, Serbia 0

Group C:
Brazil 0, Belgium 0

Group D:
Italy 2, Honduras 0

Game Update - 43th Minute

With temperatures climbing into the 90s and the humidity feeling like it's on the rise, both teams seem to have an understanding that water breaks are allowed at just about every stoppage of play. During Japan's last corner kick, there was a slight delay as both teams took advantage of the water bottles around Brad Guzan's goal.

Game Updates - Atmosphere - 35th Minute

So far it sounds like the Japanese fans are a big louder than the American fans in general, but those who are impartial seem to favor the U.S. A fan waving an American flag just ran around the entire upper level of the stadium, much to the delight of the fans in the higher seats. It was sort of the same effect as the 'wave', only with cheers instead of the stand-up-arm-raise.

In Game Updates from the Stadium - Eighth Minute

U.S. Captain McBride is indeed the oldest since 1992 edition when the new format was approved at Olympics (U23 teams + 3 overaged).

In 2008 competition top three oldest players are:
McBride, Carlos PAVON (HON 09.10.1973) and Gerald SIBON (NED 19.04.1974)


The oldest ever at all Football Olympics since 1908 is still Ricardo PICCININI (Guatemala 07.09.1949) that played at the age of 39 years in 1988 tournament.


Others oldest players in all Olympic Tournaments are:
2. Joseph WILSON (GHA) that played at 38y10months in 1968
3. KIM Yong Sin (KOR) 38y in 1948,
4. Hussein HEGAZI (EGY) 37y7m in 1924
5. Luis LOPEZ (GUA) 37y3m in 1988
6. Kenneth HUNT (GBR)36y6m in 1920,
7. Bernd FRANKE (GER) 36y5m in 1984



That makes McBride 36y2m the eighth

USA vs. Japan - Starting 11

Here is the starting lineup for the this morning's opening match of the Olympics against Japan...

---------------Guzan--------------------
--Wynne – Edu – Parkhurst – Orozco--

--Holden – Bradley – Kljestan – Rogers--

---------------Adu---------------------
--------------------McBride (capt.)------

Kickoff is set to commence in about 10 minutes on MSNBC, and you can follow the game live on MatchTracker on ussoccer.com

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Game Day.




It's finally here - all this preparation and it's finally here. As one staff member so aptly phrased it at breakfast this morning, "it feels like Christmas."

The families have all arrived, tickets are in hand at the family hotel and the players seem ready to go. Right now they're resting, relaxing and talking to loved ones in the States - Standard procedure on game days.

We'll be back leading up to tonight's game against Japan, which kicks off at 5 p.m. local time, which is 5 a.m. ET. You can follow the action live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, join one of U.S. Soccer's Official Watch Parties or watch the game live on MSNBC.

Olympic Viewing Parties - U.S. Soccer Bar style

Let's face it - one of the greatest parts of any soccer game is the atmosphere in which you watch it. What's better than being surrounded by jersey-clad fans that live and die with every breath-taking goal, nerve-racking foul and brilliant save? If that's the tradition that you're looking for - and some great food to boot - head to the Official U.S. Soccer Bars to take in the USA's matches as they search for Olympic Gold. Whether it's at The Globe in Chicago, Summer's Grill and Sports Bar in D.C. or Nevada Smith's in NYC, you can cheer on the Red, White and Blue alongside fellow die-hards for the USA’s matches during the 2008 Olympic Games at the best darn soccer bars in the country. So head to an Official U.S. Soccer Bar and show your true colors. Our teams will be giving it their best – shouldn’t you?

If you want to plan your viewing schedule for the USA group matches, check below. For the most complete and up-to-date schedules, log on to the official website of each bar.

(All times local)

The Globe
1934 Irving Park Rd.
Chicago, IL 60613
773-871-3757
www.theglobepub.com

Thursday, Aug. 7 USA Men vs. Japan 7 p.m.
Saturday Aug. 9 USA Women vs. Japan 10 a.m.
Sunday Aug. 10 USA Men vs. Netherlands 6:45 a.m.*
Wednesday Aug. 13 USA Men vs. Nigeria 7 p.m.
*Live

Summer's Grill and Sports Bar
1520 B. Court House Rd.
Arlington, VA 22201
703-528-8278
http://www.summers-restaurant.com/

Thursday, Aug. 7 USA Men vs. Japan 8 p.m.
Saturday Aug. 9 USA Women vs. Japan 7:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m, 8 p.m.
Sunday Aug. 10 USA Men vs. Netherlands 7:45 a.m.*, 2:30 p.m., 7 p.m.
Wednesday Aug. 13 USA Men vs. Nigeria 5 a.m.**, 12:30 p.m., 8 p.m.
*Live
**tentative – will confirm on Aug. 11

Nevada Smith's
74 Third Ave.
New York, NY
212-982-2591
http://www.nevadasmiths.net/

Thursday, Aug. 7 USA Men vs. Japan 12 p.m. (repeats all day)
Sunday Aug. 10 USA Men vs. Netherlands 7:45 a.m.* (repeats all day)
*Live

Invisible Noise

Invisible noise? That doesn't make any sense you might say. You might say noise is neither visible or invisible...and you'd be right. Although, the title of this entry deals with something we've been hearing here during our time in Tianjin, but rarely seeing -- cicadas. You've probably heard of them before as they're pretty common in the U.S. and around the world...including China as we sadly found out. Known sometimes as locusts, jar flies or dry flies, these little buggers aren't harmful to people (they don't sting or bite), but they do one thing really well - annoy. Cicadas come out in the summer here in China and are known for the loud "signing" they perform basically non-stop, but unfortunately their "song" is basically non-stop.

Anyway, whether we're at practice, out shooting video or even just in the hotel (yes, we can hear them through the window), the cicadas are buzzing away. Not sure what they sound like?? Well, you're in luck. Here's a quick video during practice. Enjoy...or not.

video

Guzan Cam

Brad Guzan is one of the players that brought a personal video camera with him here in China for the Olympics, and we can tell you he definitely isn't missing any chance to test out his film-making skills. You'd know what we're talking about if you checked out today's episode of Studio 90 which previews the MNT's opening match. We asked a number of players some questions about preparing for Japan, including Brad you stated "Sure you can ask me questions on camera...but only if I can film you as you do it." Ha, ha, we laughed...only to find out he was serious. So...if you watching S90 and wondering "what in the world is Brad doing with that camera?"...well, he's filming us asking him questions. Something tells me that's not going to make the final cut when he gets home and puts all his footage on DVD...

Check out today's S90 episode if you haven't already.

The Olympic Spirit in Action

Just got to witness some of the Olympic spirit in action. The Chinese women, who were victorious in their opening match against Sweden, got a very warm reception upon their return to the hotel. You know by now that China, Sweden, Canada and Argentina are the four women's teams stationed at the hotel here in Tianjin, and the hotel staff gave a rousing ovation to their hometown Olympic heroes. A pretty cool sight, and a good indicator of how much these Games mean to the Chinese hosts.

A Shout Out for Henry



At the end of training today, Pat Ianni took some time to work with our team liason office, Henry, on his juggling. We think Henry is a hustler, because even though he claims to not play football, he wasn't bad. We don't think he knows what the word "hustler" means though.



Game Day Approaches


"One World. One Dream."

Today the team held its last training session before their opening match of the Olympics, working on some set pieces and cleaning up a few odds and ends. It was another humid day here in Tianjin, but wasn't as hot as it has been. As the women's tournament kicks off, the Men practiced today at a nice secluded training ground just a few minutes from the hotel.

Tickets were handed out today for friends and families who have made the journey all the way to Tianjin to see their loved ones compete in the Olympics - that must mean game day is getting close!

There are a lot of Moms, Dads, siblings, girlfriends, fiances and wives making the trek across the Pacific. But one player has to have set some sort of record. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan has 19 people coming to see him. 19! People must really like him...

Traffic Signs

Pardon the slight blurriness of these photos, but we were in a moving vehicle... These are various street signs that we passed on the way to training the other day, and we can't figure out exactly what they're trying to say. What do you think?









How to Catch the Action

Wondering how you can catch all the action from China? Every U.S. Soccer game at the Olympics will be broadcast live on the NBC family of networks. For a complete schedule, click here for the release on ussoccer.com. For the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel, check with your local cable or satellite TV provider for more information. As we get update on replays of the matches, we'll update the page on ussoccer.com.

We'll also have full bonus coverage available on ussoccer.com before, during and after Thursday night's match against Japan so make sure to check in.



U.S. Men's Olympic Soccer Team TV Schedule:

Aug. 7 vs. Japan Venue: Tianjin Kickoff: 5 a.m. ET
MSNBC 4:55 a.m. ET
Universal HD 4:55 a.m. ET
NBC Olympic Soccer Channel 5 a.m. ET

Aug. 10 vs. Netherlands Venue: Tianjin Kickoff: 7:45 a.m. ET
USA Network 7:30 a.m. ET
NBC Olympic Soccer Channel 7:30 a.m. ET

Aug. 13 vs. Nigeria Venue: Beijing (Workers’) Kickoff: 5 a.m. ET
USA Network 5 a.m. ET
NBC Olympic Soccer Channel 5 a.m. ET

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

SuperLiga Wager

Dynamo midfielder Stuart Holden and Revolution defender Michael Parkhurst are here in Tianjin, but their squads are battling tonight for the SuperLiga crown in New England. They have placed a friendly wager on the game - the loser has to serve dinner to the winner in the meal room. We'll keep you posted on the results!

Talent Show Tuesday

The talents just keep pouring out of the players... tonight's performance was from Freddy Adu, who was spotted by Peter Nowak as he playing the bongos in the players lounge of the hotel. Coach Nowak knows a good bongo player when he sees one, so he asked Freddy to show his stuff and it was pretty impressive.

Jozy Altidore joined in on the action, adding a tribal dance to the bongos and then shooting a fake dart into Mo Edu's neck, much to the delight of the rest of the delegation. (Don't worry, no fake injuries from the fake dart!)

Have we mentioned the camaraderie on this team enough?

Stadium Training

The U.S. hit the Olympic Sports Center Stadium in Tianjin - site of their first two games of the Olympics - today for training. The field is being used tomorrow for the kick off of the women's tournament, which is the reasoning behind having our "official training session" two days before the match. Here she is from the outside...









...and the inside. Thursday night they're expecting a sell-out crowd of 60,000 people, so all those seats will be filled and the stadium will be loud.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Seranades

We swear we didn't know this was happening - otherwise we would have had pictures. Tonight at dinner Charlie Davies showed off some dancing talent as he perfectly mimicked the music video to Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean", much to the delight of his teammates.

Then it was time for the singing portion of the talent show ... Charlie teamed up with Benny Feilhaber for some Boyz II Men "I'll Make Love to You", with Mo Edu surprising everyone and providing the bass vocals.

It was an impressive performance by everyone involved, and a good way to end our first full day here in the mini-Village.

Photos From Training

Just completed our first training session here in Tianjin and we thought we'd show you some pictures. The Olympic colors are everywhere here, and around the field was no exception!























Sunday, August 3, 2008

Podder with Parkhurst

We caught up with U.S. defender Michael Parkhurst, one of the team's three overage players and one of only four players to play the whole 180 minutes during the team's ING Cup warm up games. Michael talked about the opportunity to play in the Olympics, missing his team's SuperLiga matches and his traveling family in this exclusive chat. Click here to listen.

Okay, One More About Today's Arrival



The players got their first taste of the security at the Olympics, going through a tougher security system than some military bases to get into the team hotel. There are a total of eight teams staying here - four men's and four women's, and pretty much no one else can get into this place. The credentials have a bar code on them that is scanned in the driveway of the hotel, and a little green or red light comes up to say whether or not you actually do have access to this building.

Once you get the green light (thankfully, everyone in our delegation did!), you make your way around to the front entrance where they screen your bags as closely as they do at the airport. (Fortunately the 3 oz. liquids rule doesn't apply here.) Then you walk through a very sensitive metal detector and finally enter the building. Armed military police were also seen patrolling the property when we arrived. Bottom line, we're pretty secure.

Tianjin Arrival - Yep, There's More



We had to make a pit stop before we made our way to the mini-Olympic village that is set up in our satellite venue - the accreditation center. It's basically an office that the International Olympic Committe (or, IOC for those in the know) has set up for every athlete to come through and make sure their credentials will get them to all the right places. Also pretty cool - the credentials also serve as our Visas to get in and out of China. Luckily the pit stop was made a little more exciting by being right across from our stadium, the Tianjin Olympic Sports Center Stadium.

There was also a huge wall covered with the Olympic Games logo, so there was a great photo op. Below, Stu Holden, Mo Edu and Sacha Kljestan pose for a few cameras:



Tianjin Arrival - Part Two

The Men's Soccer Team has landed. The reality of being at the Olympic Games has finally hit the U.S. Men's team, thanks to their arrival in Tianjin today. There was quite a crowd there to meet them in the airport, a lot of volunteers and members of the local organizing committee were also there to make sure everything went smoothly with our arrival.

We arrived (along with the Dutch team on the same flight) and hopped on a bus (without the Dutch team) and proceeded to drive straight to the accreditation office. Literally, straight there... do not stop for red lights or worry about other traffic because, well, they closed the roads completely for our journey. Below is a police officer standing in the middle of the highway making sure the coast is clear






That right there is the traffic mess created by our journey. Sorry commuters of Tianjin - we're coming through! (Note: The white van is going in the opposite direction - they let people go the other way).

Tianjin Arrival Day - Part One



Does this cute little guy strike fear into your hearts? Well he should. He's been charged with making sure that every bag that comes through baggage claim is sniffed out for, well... whatever it is he's sniffing for.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Thanks, Hong Kong



Tomorrow the team departs for Tianjin - its official Olympic venue for the first two matches. We'd be remiss if we didn't say thanks to the city of Hong Kong for serving as a great host as the team got acclimated to the time change and to the weather before the Games. The people were friendly and our hotel was beautiful - as were the views of the very nearby harbor. Though we're excited to get to the actual games, we will definitely miss this huge city and its people.

Hong Kong is actually the host city for the Olympic Equestrian competition, which takes place close to our game stadium. As you can see in the building pictured above, the city is proud and excited to be a part of the events - the famous Olympic rings can be seen all over the place. We know that the equestrian competitors will be very happy here!



Olympic Spirit




Some camaraderie between the two Olympic squads was evident before tonight's match... Despite a bit of a language barrier (many Cameroon players speak English but only Stu Holden speaks French), there is definitely a mutual respect between the squads as they depart for their respective Olympic venues. Cameroon will actually be heading to Qinhuangdao, where we know they'll meet the U.S. WNT at their mini-Olympic village, while the U.S. heads off to Tianjin. Maybe the two teams will meet again in the knock out stages?

Cameroon Wins 1-0

That'll do it from Hong Kong Stadium. We'll have more later on ussoccer.com (once we really get it fixed - we promise, we're trying!)

90+ Dax McCarty has come on for Stu Holden late in the game...

79th - A couple more changes from the US coaches... Danny Szetela has come on for Michael Bradley and Benny replaces Robbie Rogers

69th - Here's Charlie Davies coming in for McBride.. he'll pair with Adu up top and McBride witll turn the captains armband over to Michael Bradley

64th minute - Adu has come on for Altidore, and will partner up top with McBride

The only halftime sub from Nowak is Chris Seitz coming on for Brad Guzan... We'll keep you posted with any chenges during the second half

HALFTIME - Cameroon takes a one goal lead into half time... Both sides have stepping up their attack, with the U.S. holding much of the possession and Cameroon playing a more direct style of attack. After hitting the cross bar in the second minute and having a header saved off the line by Robbie Rogers, Cameroon has probably gotten the better opportunities, but as the U.S. continues to possess the ball and move forward, we expect the second half to be exciting. Stay tuned!

24th minute - Cameroon earned a penalty kick in the 24th minute after a hard tackle in the box that saw Mbangue taken down. Fongang stepped up and successfully converted, slipping into the side netting JUST past the outstretched hands of Brad Guzan and putting Cameroon up 1-0.

Technical Issues/Starters

Surely you've noticed by now, but in case you haven't... ussoccer.com is having some sort of technical issues. We're working hard to fix it before kickoff, and we do apologize. Don't worry, we'll have Match Tracker going just in case some magic happens during the game. We'll also try to keep you as posted as possible from our seat here in Hong Kong Stadium.

Here are Peter Nowak's starters for tonight's game against Cameroon:

Guzan

Wynne - Parkhurst - Edu - Orozco

Rogers - Bradley - Holden - Kljestan

Altidore - McBride

Friday, August 1, 2008

Big Moves From Halfway Around the World



You may have read that Brian McBride's transfer to Chicago became official on Wednesday, and now, Brad Guzan's appeal for a work permit came through late last night. We were able to catch up with Brad last night just in time to beat curfew and you can listen to what he had to say by clicking here.

As you can imagine, it's not easy to work out transfer deals and work permits when you're halfway around the world in Hong Kong, but what matters is that they got done and both players are very happy with the results!

Happy Birthday Stuart!



That's right... two birthdays in two days for the Men's Olympic Team! Yesterday Michael Bradley turned 21 and today Stu hit 23. It's not always easy to celebrate a birthday away from home, but Stu had the support of his teammates, who of course turned in another solid performance of Happy Birthday. He also got some special attention from the fans that gathered outside of the hotel, who even gave him some birthday cards! Thanks Gloria!

We Told You it Was Humid

The players have adjusted to the humidity here in Asia, but that doesn't mean they're not sweating. It just means that they've taken precautions to not get dehydrated and overly tired.... This is Chris Seitz squeezing the sweat out of his 'keeper gloves today after training:




...and these are the two puddles he had made by doing that. Nothing a little Gatorade can't handle!