In a word…Scrumtrulescent.
TSG had a fine day at camp with the USMNT in what was the team’s longest practice of the camp so far. Bob Bradley kept the intensity level high as the team went through warm-ups, drills and conditioning before finishing with a scrimmage.
Some observations before we file some longer pieces on our experience later this week. (One quick note: Remember one of our favorite sayings at TSG, “You can’t look at one observation in isolation, you have to look at the whole body of work.”)
- So, what do the USMNTers drive to practice? Caddy? Escalade? Benz? Charter coach? Nope, US players drive themselves in certified soccer mom-mobiles. That’s right, they pile out of minivans just like they presumably did when they were seven.
- Two things that stand-out when you are at field level just feet away from players…Size and the pace on their shots. Boombosa is right!
- Marcus Tracy, Kevin Alston, Robbie Rogers and Chris Pontius were absent for today’s practice. Alston came out and ran laps…so much so that I wondered if it was punishment.
- Zach Thornton is….MASSIVE.
- Long-time readers will be happy to know that Matthew’s head did NOT explode when Benny Feilhaber buried one in the back of the net during the scrimmage nor during his interview with the Benny! at the conclusion of practice.
- Any San Jose Quakes fans out there? An auburn-cleated Brandon McDonald played exclusively at right back today, acquitted himself well and received counsel from Bob Bradley in the center of the pitch post-practice. Beyond losing the ball on a forward run during the 2nd half of scrimmage, TSG came away very impressed with McDonald’s play today who also netted a goal off a corner kick.
- While Benny! scored today, it was off a Jeff Cunningham feed. The Golden Shinguard of practice today goes to Cunningham narrowly beating out the aforementioned McDonald. Cunningham was able to snake his way through the offensive third on multiple occasions. One asterisk, Cunningham still got knocked off the ball quite a bit, but showed well overall.
- Alejandro Bedoya was a new specimen for TSG and showed chops down the left flank. He’s a little slight for consideration this year, got reprimanded in a passing drill and still has some maturing to do, but nice run today. Remember, a single observation from TSG today.
- Real’s Nick Rimando and Troy Perkins were the quicker cats between the pipes today than Kevin Hartmann and Zach Thornton….but I guess that is to be expected.
- At the end of practice in the crossing drills, you had Heath Pearce, Johnny B. Good (more impressive in person), and Brad Evans looping the ball in from the left. From the right, you had Bedoya, Geoff Cameron and Marvell Wynne. Cameron, for his part, played the midfield in the scrimmage.
- Heath Pearce had a difficult practice while Eddie Gaven had a good one, highlighted by at an attempt at a bicycle kick on a cross.
- Teasing one of our interviews…TSG spoke with Sacha Kljestan today and was surprised by the maturity of his answers.
- Perhaps the best moment of practice was the energetic and very audible Coach USA pausing practice to lament a back pass at the expense of an attack during the scrimmage. Said, Bradley:
All the games, all the goals scored against us….all of our headers for our goals….came from an inswinger or wide run from that point right there (Bradley points to the left flank just beyond the half line). Don’t make the back pass, push the ball up the field. Go for the scoring opportunity.
And two bonus updates from US Soccer:
- Contrary to some media reports US Soccer always planned to have a February camp and friendly. A potential MLS work stoppage had no bearing as the decision was made some time ago. Expect a formal announcement from US Soccer on the February friendly later this week.
- Based on research, the US will not hold a high altitude training camp in preparation for the US prior to the World Cup despite elevations of 5,000+ feet in South Africa. Though the specific location is undecided, the camp will take place on the East Coast.