(EDITOR’S NOTE)– SBI Mafia member and pro sports writer Dominghosa made the trip to Los Angeles on Monday and took the time to head to Home Depot Center to watch U.S. national team practice. Here is his report.)
Hafa Adai and Mabuhay SBI Mafia. (I wanted to get my own foreign language greetings in, apologies to Ives.)
So I got up this morning, looked outside and it was 65 degrees and partly cloudy. You know, Southern California weather in January. Otherwise, it was perfect. I decided to stop by the U.S. Men’s National Team morning practice at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Why not? What else was I going to do on a weekday. Work?
Arrived at the site around 10:17 a..m., parked and watched the team practiced on Glenn “Mooch" Myernick Field, the practice field just west of the Home Depot Center. After warming up and stretching, the team worked on crossing and finishing on each half of the field and on each side of the field.
Here are my observations from training:
Landon Donovan wasn’t in today’s camp. Either that, or I didn’t notice him. He might have sat this one out in the sidelines. Someone with actual press credentials should track that down.
Brad Guzan, in his first practice with the team in this camp, looked great. With a possible transfer to a team in Europe looming, Guzan may have had another jump to his step. Compared to the other goalkeepers that participated in the drill, Guzan’s reactions looked much quicker.
Players who stood out with nice touches included (in no particular order): Kyle Beckerman, Maurice Edu, Chris Rolfe, Clarence Goodson, Pat Noonan and Jeremiah White.
The team then gathered for a pep talk from coach Bob Bradley, who let them know what he was looking for in the next portion of practice – 11v11.
The team broke into two squads – blue and red.
Players that saw most of the ball and did some good things with it:
Blue team: Danny Califf, Marvell Wynne, Chris Rolfe,
Jozy Altidore, Sacha Kljestan , Rico Clark, Taylor Twellman, and Jozy Altidore.
Red team: Brad Guzan, Jonathan Bornstein, Kyle Beckerman, Justin Mapp, Maurcie Edu, Eddie Johnson.
Scoring opportunities were rare as play was relegated to midfield. Each team had one good scoring chance. Red threatened first as Beckerman’s arching shot from 20 yards out hit the top of the crossbar. Blue had its chance 10 minutes later, when Clark’s long ball found Altidore in stride. The ball bounced in front of Altidore, who headed it down, showed his strength by fending off a defender, and shot just wide.
There were some nice passing combinations at midfield, especially a sequence featuring Clark and Twellman, but the pass to find an open scoring chance was missing. Through Bradley’s tenure, the USMNT has stressed quick one-two passing and that was evident during the scrimmage. The Blue team saw most of the ball during the scrimmage.
That’s about it from Southern California, folks. The weather was great, though I still wore a hooded pullover in 65-degree weather. Brrrr. I Even got a chance to meet a coach in the Everton FC system. Good times. Be well. Good night to all SBI’ers and to others, a good Rico Clark kick to the shoulder.