So…How Was Your First Day At Camp?

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.

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20 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by KMac on 2010/01/12 at 3:46 PM

    Great piece and update – appreciate all the superior intel and observations! Interesting about the high research…is that because they will have enough days to acclimate when in S.A.?

    Also, interesting result for Algeria today as well – smoked by Malawi 3 -0. Highlights I saw looked like a very suspect defense – but need to see who was in the lineup (blurry youtube vid quality). Like you said though, must look at the body of work, not a data point.
    KMac

    Reply

  2. Posted by MichaelN on 2010/01/12 at 4:20 PM

    Brandon MacDonald, eh? I thought he was an interesting call-in….glad to hear he showed a little something. Keep us updated on how Cunningham vs. Findley plays out, those two might be the most interesting battle in camp

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/01/12 at 7:32 PM

      Cunningham won today, no question.

      He literally squirted through spaces that I didn’t think existed. He was like a Dave Meggett or Warrick Dunn coming out of the backfield….

      Best finisher on the day…though he skied a ball over the goal that he should have laced the net with.

      Reply

  3. Posted by dino1er on 2010/01/12 at 4:23 PM

    i was out there today also its awesome how close we are 2 the practice pitch, very funny how they were all in soccer mom vans. All the guys were cool and i got my american outlaws shirt signed by half the squad and eric wynalda and Thomas Dooley very nice …………………………..

    were u on the actual pitch i was out there looking 2 meet you guys.

    Reply

    • Posted by Mark T on 2010/01/12 at 4:26 PM

      Sorry we missed you Dino1er, we were the only two guys down on the field not in athletic gear. I was snapping pictures with a jacket on and Matthew was next to me.

      Reply

  4. Posted by KMac on 2010/01/12 at 4:25 PM

    Good stuff man, keep it coming. Very interesting boots on the ground intel.
    I guess the high alt research you are referring to is that they will have enough time at camp in SA to acclimate adequately negating the need to practice at altitude Stateside?

    B/T/W – also interesting result for Algeria (Malawi 3 -0 over them). Your point is well taken about looking at the body of work of that team, but the defense fielded on that day looks quite beatable. Hard to tell who was on the field yet due to youtube quality…more later.
    KMac

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/01/12 at 7:27 PM

      @KMac:

      I think Algeria is very beatable. I saw a team that wilted under the pressure of Egypt at Egypt in the qualifier and eek’d by in the game to go.

      Put an asterisk on the result above though as I think no team–especially those with players accustomed to much better pitch conditions–want to be at that Africa Cup right now.

      Reply

  5. Posted by dino1er on 2010/01/12 at 4:26 PM

    findley actually had a nice header goal in the scrimmage

    Reply

    • Posted by Mark T on 2010/01/12 at 4:28 PM

      I believe that was MacDonald…green boots…he trotted back to RB after the goal right near us so we are pretty sure.

      Reply

  6. Posted by dino1er on 2010/01/12 at 4:28 PM

    thats what i figured must be nice……………….good job guys keep up the awesome work u do.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Milad on 2010/01/12 at 4:37 PM

    I got to watch Bedoya at Boston College, and he was a terrific talent. Not as great as Charlie was (when healthy) my freshman year at BC, but still great. He has great speed, good vision for a winger, and plays intelligently. It would be awesome to see him make it on the team. Also look out for Boston College goalkeeper Justin Luthy, hes gonna be on senior team USA down the line (hes only 19 now)

    Reply

  8. Posted by Kevin on 2010/01/12 at 4:37 PM

    On Cunningham is it possible that he did better because the majority of the people there are MLS players?

    I’d also like to point out that based on the picture above it clearly looked as if Alston and Davis were the most determined at the camp.

    I also figured I would throw in a Houston oriented comment. How did Geoff do at midfield?

    I almost forgot, but I I just found out that US Soccer released its list of the official cities that would play host in the World Cup should we win our bid. I thought you would just like to know.

    Reply

    • Posted by Mark T on 2010/01/12 at 4:44 PM

      Kevin, thanks for the info on the bid cities. I think the biggest story that people are buzzing about there is that Chicago got dumped. Matthew and I were talking to about covering the US bid sometime soon, so stay tuned.

      As for Cameron, I didn’t focus too much on him, but I am headed back tomorrow so I’ll give it a shot.

      Reply

      • Posted by Timmy on 2010/01/13 at 7:32 AM

        I was also surprised that Chicago did not make the final cut. However, I think that move could turn out to be a smart one in my opinion. Chicago’s recent failure in its Olympic bid might have had something to do with that decision.

        Reply

        • Boston is there, so I’m happy, although I think the soccer community in my home city of St. Louis would have really supported a great world cup experience. I guess the major problem was that unless the game was at Busch, it would be indoors in the dome and that would have probably been a terrible idea (My dad took me to the ’94 WC game in Detroit, terrible idea, half of us in the cheap seats wanted to take off our shirts but stadium staff got really pissed when we did. Good thing it was between two courteous, awesome countries (Swiss/Sweden), else there might have been a damn riot.

          Btw, there is a picture somewhere of me (age 7) w/ a group of Swedish female soccer groupies, two of which are kissing me on the cheek. Too bad that doesn’t happen anymore. Maybe I should get some tips from Sasha.

          Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/01/12 at 7:30 PM

      Kevin I watched Geoff in the middle…two challenges in observation…he was manning the right halfback position on the opposite side from us and his side didn’t have the ball that often.

      So his number of touches were down.

      His crosses were decent at the end of the practice…but that’s all the report we have. He’s much bigger in person than I imagined.

      Reply

      • Posted by Kevin on 2010/01/13 at 3:41 PM

        Did he play right back? I’m a little confused but if he played right back he has a shot at us playing time. I’m really just hoping he can play in A world cup but I’m not sure where he would fit in. With marshall and gonzales still young I don’t know how he’ll ever play center back

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/01/13 at 6:03 PM

          Kevin:

          The time that I saw Cameron on the pitch he was at right half ahead of Marvell Wynne.

          Reply

  9. Posted by Timmy on 2010/01/13 at 9:44 AM

    @ pckilgore:

    Funny… I am also originally from STL and I also went to a WC game in Detroit in ’94 with my dad. Although it was the US – Switzerland game. Yes, it was hot as hell in the Silver Dome because they didn’t have A/C in the Silver Dome. It was a game and experience that I will never forget. I hope it comes back to the states in 2018 or 2022. To me, it doesn’t really matter where the games are to be played in the US (i.e what cities)…I will try to be there!

    Reply

  10. Posted by Kevin on 2010/01/14 at 10:26 PM

    @Matt I understand what you mean now. I got my halfback fullback stuff confused. Well I would rather see him at defense. He’s decent at mid but a whole lot better at D. I hope Bradley can figure that out because kinnear could and I hold BB to higher standards.

    Reply

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