Thursday, February 26, 2009

Interview with Jeff Larentowicz

Jeff Larentowicz, a former All-American at Brown University and now a perennial starter with the New England Revolution, was nice enough to sit down with me(aka exchange emails) and answer some questions this past week. Over the past 3 years, Jeff has played in 82 regular season games for the Revs, starting 75, and has scored 8 goals along with dishing out 7 assists. He and Shalrie Joseph form one of the best center midfield tandems in the league, and Jeff is truly one of the most underrated players in Major League Soccer. Check out the my interview with him below and an interesting video interview conducted by Chris Albright (Courtesy of RevsTV) at the bottom of the post.

1. After suffering an injury to your ankle in the season finale last year, how has the road to recovery been and how are you feeling fitness-wise at this point?

The ankle injury at the end of last year was a real set-back and probably the worst injury of my life. I sprained every ligament in my ankle and tore the main ligament on the outside. I spent my off-season at home in the Philadelphia area and rehabbed there with a former trainer of the 76ers. At this point the ankle is still not yet 100% but as the team trains more I'll be more accustomed to dealing with the pain.

2. How is preseason going so far? What is the itinerary leading up to the opener on March 21st?

So far preseason is going well. It's a shame that we have to spend so much time in indoor facilities but the team is looking pretty good. Probably one of the most unfamiliar groups I've seen since being in NE with tons of new faces and guys with 1-2 years of experience, but it's a work in progress. We leave for Austin, Texas Monday the 23rd and we're there for about a week. Once we get back we're only home for two days before leaving for North Carolina. We'll be there for about 10 days and that will lead us straight into the season opener in San Jose.

3. What are your top 3 movies of all time?

Categorizing movies and music for me is tough because interests and tastes change with my moods. But ones that I will always go back to are Caddyshack (I was a caddy for 4-5 years growing up, a bit of nostalgia there), anything Wes Anderson, anything involving Bill Murray and any movie directed by Stanley Kurbrick. As for documentaries, Hoop Dreams will always be at the top of my list.

4. What are your favorite TV shows at the moment, or that are constantly in the DVD player?

The Wire, The Sopranos and The Office (BBC) -- those are the three I own and will continue to watch.

5. What artists/songs are currently playing non-stop on your Ipod?

Non-stop on my iPod at the moment are Radiohead, The Rolling Stones, recently Wilco, and via Pandora on my phone I'd have to say my Gangstarr or Raekwon stations.

6. I saw you did some cooking lately with some of your teammates, who was the best chef?

We went to the Four Seasons on Valentine's Day to be introduced to the chef's there and get a sneak peak into their work. Other than it being a great experience to hear them talk about food and pick their brains, it was also fun to make a bit ourselves. But the best I'd have to say is Matt Reis. He makes a mean chili.

7. After being taken 45th in the Supplemental draft in 2005, you broke through with the first team in 2006; Are there any young, unknown players on the Revs that you could see emerging this year like you did in your second season?

There are a few that I can see being contributers to the team this year like I was in my second year, most likely Chris Tierney who saw time last season. He's similar to me in that he wasn't the most highly touted player coming out of school but has confidence in himself and has show he can compete at the level.

8. In your MLS player profile, it says that you were named one of Boston's "Most Wanted Singles" by Boston Magazine. Any comments?

Comments: none. Advice: thanks, but no thanks.

9. Having been taken in the Supplemental Draft yourself and gaining experience in the MLS reserve league, what are your feelings on the MLS abandoning both? Do you think it will enable young college players to try and make the team of their choice, or will it discourage and make it more difficult for them to break into MLS?

With the league cutting roster size and eliminating the reserve league it's going to be extremely difficult for young players to be given a proper chance in the MLS. If I had been a rookie at the start of this season I wouldn't have even been given the oppotunity, my career wouldn't exist. I think it's a shame because ultimately the league put the reserve division in place to foster the young talent (most usually American college grads) but neglected to follow up on creating an atmosphere of professionalism within those games to make it worth while. Speaking from my own experience, I showed up to those games and introduced myself to half of the players I'd be playing with that day because we had never met. We were forced to call in local players to help us fill roster spots which is incredibly unprofessional. It's really just a microcosm of the catch-22 that is the MLS. The people in charge and the public are looking for a high-quality product that will give our country legitimacy world-wide and draw foreign talent. But those at the top do not expand rosters to handle the "squad" needed to make a reserve league feasible, nor do they pay the players enough to say, "yeah it's ok to be on the reserve team for two years and develop as a player because you're financially stable which allows you to sharpen your game in the hopes of making it to the highest level within your organization". It's a giant ball of wax that (unfortunately was influenced by current world-wide economic climate) continues to move in the opposite direction. For the young players coming in now it's going to be tough, and for the hopeful, undiscovered talent in the college ranks the possibilities in the US just got a lot smaller.

10. With your contract being up at the end of the year, do you have any European ambitions or will you most likely stay within MLS?

With my contract being up at the end of the year my thoughts and aspirations concerning my location aren't set in stone. What is set in stone is my desire to be rewarded and compensated for the work that I've done and will hopefully continue to do where ever I find myself.

11. What stadium (other than home at Gilette) do you enjoy playing at most in the MLS? Why?

Other than playing at home I enjoy playing in 2 or 3 other stadiums. First is RFK. The atmosphere is always great because their fans are raucous, reek of booze and make it feel like a game should. Plus, I always have a good bit of family there because it's fairly close to home. The other is Columbus. I'm not sure what it is but the surface is always great and because of the style of stadium it really takes you back. I don't know what it is but it always feels good walking in there. Lastly is Toyota Park. Last season was shocking for me there but it's one place that (other than location) I can say that the league and the local financiers in Chicago got it right. Always loud, close to the fans, good surface.

11. What actress/ singer/ model is popping in your mind these days? I think I'd have to go with Jessica Alba and Marissa Miller.

Natalie Portman and Shannyn Sossamon are always at the top, but recently Ginnifer Goodwin has caught my eye. And I thought I was a blonde guy.

12. And finally, red hair, a gift or a curse?

Red hair is neither a gift nor a curse.


K'naan - ABC's

Check out the video for "ABC's" from K'naan off of his new album "Troubador". I had seen a couple of his songs posted on Okayplayer but had skipped over them; That was my bad. Thanks to Christian for giving me the heads up. Who says hip hop is dead, now you just have to a look a little harder for the good stuff.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Eric Licaj on Aston Villa's UEFA Cup Roster

In a surprising development, little-known American defender Eric Lichaj has been named to Aston Villa's UEFA Cup roster for their game against CSKA Moscow tomorrow. Although it is unlikely that the former Tarheel will see the field, it is another positive step in the right direction after signing an extension this past year. Lichaj, only 20 years old and a regular for Villa's reserves, could still have a bright future with the US if he continues to develop.


U-20 Roster for CONCACAF Qualifying

Check out the roster below for the 2009 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, starting on March 6th in Trinidad and Tobago. Some notable players include Jorge Flores (pictured above), Bryan Arguez, Brek Shea, Jared Jeffrey, and Anthony Wallace. Not as many big name as last time (Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore), but hopefully this qualifying tournament along with U-20 World Cup in Egypt will help us identify a few future stars for the senior team. Check out the press release here for the full explanation of Aaron Mund's status with the team.

Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Birthdate
Agbossoumonde, Gale D 6-2 185 11/17/91
Arguez, Bryan M 6-2 175 01/13/89
Hertha Berlin (Germany)
Cruz, Danny M 5-8 180 01/03/90
Houston Dynamo
Davies, Kyle D 5-10 160 04/11/89
Southampton FC (England)
Duka, Dilly M 5-9 160 09/15/89
Rutgers University
Flores, Jorge D 5-11 150 09/16/89
Chivas USA
Garza, Sam F 5-10 165 10/17/89
University of Denver
Jeffrey, Jared M 5-10 160 06/14/90
Club Brugge (Belgium)
Johnson, Sean GK 6-4 220 05/31/89
University of Central Florida
Lambo, Josh GK 6-0 205 11/19/90
FC Dallas
Marosevic, Peri F 5-9 160 05/05/89
FC Dallas
Maund, Aaron* D 6-2 175 09/19/90
Notre Dame
Okugo, Amobi D 5-11 165 03/13/91
San Juan Lightning Crew
Ownby, Brian M 5-11 160 07/16/90
University of Virginia
Perk, Brian GK 5-11 180 07/21/89
Shea, Brek M 6-3 180 02/28/90
FC Dallas
Schuler, Billy F 5-11 155 04/27/90
Taylor, Tony F 6-0 175 07/13/89
Jacksonville University
Wallace, Anthony D 5-11 165 01/26/89
FC Dallas
Williams, Sheanon D 5-11 165 03/17/90
*Pending FIFA approval


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Spector and Simek Earn Starts

In a sign of progress for some of the Americans playing abroad, Frankie Simek went the full 90 for Sheffield Wednesday in a 2-0 win and Jonathan Spector (pictured above) started and went 85 minutes in a 2-1 loss for West Ham. Bradley has to be pleased that his defensive depth is starting to get back to its appropriate level. Also nice to see Maurice Edu at least making the bench for Rangers.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Kid Cudi - Day 'N' Nite (plus remix)

Check out the video for "Day 'N' Nite" from Kanye West protege, Kid Cudi. The song is the lead single off of his upcoming album "Man on the Moon: The Gaurdians". Haven't heard much from him, but this single coupled with an endorsement from Kanye makes me excited to hear his album. If you want a more uptempo version complete with lots of hot girls in the video, check out the Crookers remix after the jump.


US Youth Development, Part 4

Here is Part 4 of the ESPN series by Jeff Carlisle discussing youth player development in the US. This piece focuses on the cost of playing in the Development Academy and the attempts made by USSF and the clubs involved to reduce that financial burden. Check out this post for the links to the first 3 installments.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Simek and Feilhaber Back to Playing

This can only bode well for the US, as Frankie Simek (pictured above) and Benny Feilhaber both participated in games for their respective clubs this past week. Simek with the Sheffield Wednesday reserves and Benny with AGF Aarhus in a preseason friendly. If they can get healthy and fit, it will only add more depth to the US midfield and defense.


Asher Roth - I Love College (Official Video)

Official video for "I Love College" from Asher Roth. Hopefully this starts getting him a healthy buzz and backs it with a solid album. Check here and here for songs by him I previously posted.


LA Galaxy Wins First Game at PPC

LA Galaxy won their semi-final game at the Pan-Pacific Championship (AKA a couple preseason games) behind goals from Edson Buddle and Jovan Kirovski. Only saw a little of the game, but a back line of Eddie Lewis, Omar Gonzalez, Tony Sanneh, and Sean Franklin definitely sounds a lot more promising than the crap they put out last year. Check the highlights above; Buddle has a nice little strike with the left.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Beasley, Edu, Guzan Earn Starts

Damarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu both started for Rangers today in the 5th round of the Scottish Cup. Brad Guzan also received a rare start for Aston Villa against CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Cup. I will be back later with updates on how the games went.


Check out Goff's Soccer Insider for the full recap of American action today. Some good (Maurice Edu) and the bad (possible injury to Damarcus Beasley).


New Videos from Kanye, B.O.B.

Check out the new video from B.O.B called "Generation Lost" above. Very, very simple video, but I am really feeling the song. Then watch the new video from Kanye West for "Welcome to Heartbreak" below. Video is a little hard on the eyes sometimes, but it has some cool visuals sprinkled in there. And don't worry I will be posting about my trip to Columbus, as soon as I get the pictures from my friend that came with me.


Nasty 6 year-old - The Next Zizou?

Damn is this kid serious? I never even played soccer with that many people that could dribble like that as adults. Hopefully his athleticism grows along with his foot skills. Check here for the article courtesy of the Telegraph to get little Madin Mohammed's background. I know it is non-US soccer related, but I figured it would be worth a post.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

DC United Stadium In PG County

A Fan's Perspective by PJ

On Monday DC United top brass held a press conference with PG county government officials announcing their intention to build a new 24,000 seat soccer specific stadium in the county.

I'm cautiously optimistic about this development. I'm going to miss the bouncing seats at RFK, but it is literally falling apart. The lights go out during games. There are potholes in the parking lot large enough to swallow an SUV. More importantly, DC is never going to be profitable there. Victor Macfarlane, Kevin Payne and company are business owners. They're not doing this to lose money. In the long run no profits equals no team, so I don't know how anyone can deny the need for a move to a soccer specific stadium.

I and every other DC United fan would prefer the stadium to be in the city. Urban stadiums are just cooler, they're centrally located for the entire fan base, and they look great on TV (see Toronto). On top of that the team is DC United. It feels sort of wrong for them to play in the suburbs.

That said, I'm amazed at how enraged of a lot of fans, particularly those from NOVA, are about the potential move. It isn't like DC United didn't do everything they could to build a stadium in DC. The DC government has made it clear that they don't care about DC United getting a stadium. DC United has spent a ton of time and money on community outreach. They've worked with the city for years hoping to revitalize the Poplar Point area. And they've put up with constantly changing bid requirements for that redevelopment. Meanwhile, the city council is busy focusing on dreams of luring the Skins away from one of the most profitable stadiums on earth. A soccer specific stadium in DC is simply not going to happen. The only conclusion is that DC needs to look for a stadium in Maryland, Northern Virginia, or, god forbid, another city.

This is where a lot of fans lose me. If you read the comments on Goff's blog you'd think this is the end of the world. Admittedly, the comments on a blog are generally not the place to look for reasoned and considered discourse (my man Chest Rockwell excepted) There also are a lot of people saying reasonable things. Still, I'm surprised at how angry some people are. A lot of Virginians are pissed. Check out some of the comments:

"Total Joke. Good bye DC United. The end of a (great) era. No way I am driving out to PG county for games…how would I get home (ie I like to have beers at the game which makes metro a great option) There goes the spirit of the crowd. It has been said, but ask the Redskin fans to compare the two experiences. Thanks for a losing team and bad stadium location Victor." – kramva

"the fact is since dc united started fans from NOVA have been pulling the freight and been the majority of what is widely considered the best fan base in MLS. We just got hosed. Good luck with "changing" your fan base kevin payne. Let us know how that works out for you." – restonhoops

"I think 24,000 seats in PG will be plenty. The Wizzards/Capitals move to town & the Redskins apparent interest in returning is telling. McFarlane is brilliant, but even he can't make a wasteland 'urban'." – SWTrevor

Now, don't get me wrong, I understand Virginia / Maryland rivalry. As a proud Marylander I get angry every time I cross the Potomac. So I would certainly be disappointed about a move to Virginia. Hell, I live in PG County and I'm still disappointed about a move to PG County. But it isn't like the team is moving to the SoccerPlex way out in Germantown. They're looking around Morgan Boulevard. We're talking about four metro stops. It's next to the Beltway. This is adding 15-20 minutes if you're coming from Virginia. We're not talking about Bridgeview or Frisco. We're not talking about FedEx field, which goes out of its way to make the Metro inconvenient and seats 90,000 traffic clogging fans. If the stadium was being built in Arlington I'd be upset about visiting the former confederacy more often, but I wouldn't cancel my season tickets.

To be clear, my defense is conditional on picking one of the metro accessible sites. The stadium needs to be metro accessible by foot.

Finally, we're still a long way away from singing "How Many Trophies Have You Won?" at dejected Red Bulls fans in a new stadium. So until that glorious day, everyone needs to calm the hell down and hope that DC gets an appropriately sized, modern, metro accessible stadium sometime in the near future.

¡Vamos United!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Christian Gomez Goes Back to DC

Christian Gomez can pick his drum back up and get reacquainted with the Barra Brava because he is on his way back to DC United. Colorado and DC have completed a trade that sends Gomez, Mike Graczyk (GK), and an international slot to DC and Ivan Guerrero, a 2010 2nd round draft pick, and a DP slot to Colorado (with Colorado picking up about half of Gomez's salary).

Looks like Colorado won on this trade at first, but the more you look at the trade, I think it is more even than it originally comes across. DC picks up an international player slot, and trades Guerrero for Gomez while only picking up about a $60,000 cap hit (Guerrero made $140,000 while DC United should only have to pick up about $200,000 of Gomez's $385,000 salary). Other analysts might highlight the exchange of the DP slot, but that was going to go back to Colorado after this year anyway, so if United wasn't planning on using it, why not give it back? A lot of this depends on Gomez regaining his form of course (At least he'll be on the field more than Gallardo). As for Colorado, they drop an expensive player they didn't plan to use, gain a solid veteran, and now have the option of adding a DP. Not bad.


Monday, February 9, 2009

ESPN Preview of US vs. Mexico

God damn, I'm excited. I get to yell at Oswaldo Sanchez in person; that is the kind of thing you think you can only dream about. Nice to see ESPN pulling out the stops advertising this one.


Non-US Related: Goal Celebration

This has nothing to do with US Soccer, but this is a pretty imaginative celebration. A little surprised that the ref wasn't going straight to his pocket for the yellow, but I guess he was just as surprised as I was when I first saw it. Worth a look and worth a laugh on a Monday.


20-Man US Roster (A little late)

Check out the US Roster for the Mexico game below and click here to see the press release from US Soccer. Notable exclusions from the squad are Freddy Adu, Maurice Edu, and Steve Cherundolo (injury), while Robbie Rogers and Marvell Wynne are strong candidates to get dropped from the 18-man roster on game day. I will be leaving for Columbus on Wednesday morning. Is 10 am too early to start pre-gaming?

GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa: 4/3 SO), Tim Howard (Everton FC: 7/5 SO)
DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes: 16/2), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA, 1/0), Danny Califf (FC Midtjylland: 3/0), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew: 14/1), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege: 12/1), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock: 7/0), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC: 0/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers: 21/6), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach: 6/2), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo: 3/0), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA: 6/0), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew: 0/0), José Francisco Torres (Pachuca: 1/0)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Xerez C.D.: 3/1), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo: 12/6), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF: 1/1) Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC: 12/4), Landon Donovan (Bayern Munich: 25/9)


Friday, February 6, 2009

Convey to San Jose, Close to Done Deal

2006 World Cup veteran, Bobby Convey, is close to making a move to the San Jose Earthquakes and MLS. Reading FC has released him from his contract and a move to San Jose will give the Earthquakes a formidable midfield of Convey, Darren Huckerby, Arturo Alvarez, and Ramiro Corrales (unless he moves back to defense). At only 25, Convey is a great signing by SJ if he stays healthy. Although, one can only wonder how much he is going to cost the team against the salary cap.


Lil Wayne - Top 10 List on Letterman

Lil' Wayne delivers the Top 10 reasons why he is looking forward to the Grammy Awards on Letterman. It's Letterman so it is a little corny, but it still made me laugh. I think it is hilarious how much the mainstream has accepted that crazy bastard.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Youth Development in the US, Part 3

As I mentioned before, ESPN and Jeff Carlisle are doing a 5-part piece on the USSF and its youth programs. Check out Part 3 here, where they look at where the USSF got their ideas from on how to shape their new developmental system. Click here to go back and read parts 1 and 2. Once again, I am really impressed with these articles and glad to see the USSF putting so much effort into doing things the right way.


Soccer365 Does My Job For Me

Soccer365 hits us with a bunch of stories today, which makes it much easier for me because now I can take their good work and pass it off as my own (Just kidding guys). First, we have Jared Jeffrey (of Club Brugge and pictured above) looking to make a debut with the first team after just being called into the latest U-20 camp. Second, Benny Feilhaber is close to making his return to practice. Wait does that mean they didn't amputate his leg out of sympathy for the dwindling support that US soccer fans have for the oft-injured player? Finally, Eddie Johnson's career might get a lifeline and he might get some playing time with Swedish club Malmo, after Cardiff City recruited more strikers during the January transfer period.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rongen Calls 26 in for U-20 Camp

Thomas Rongen has called in 26 players for a camp taking place in Bradenton, Florida from Feb. 4-15. The CONCACAF U-20 Championships begin March 6th and this camp roster should give us a pretty good idea of who will be on Rongen's final 20 player squad. After an injury Gale Abossoumonde replaced Ike Opara from Wake Forest. Check out the list, is anyone missing that you would like to see? How do you think this squad compares to past U-20 teams?


P.O.S. - Drumroll

Check out the brand new video from P.O.S. called "Drumroll" off of his album "Never Better". I have to admit I had never heard of him before a few days ago, but this video and the song itself are definitely pushing the boundaries of music videos as well as hip hop itself (especially without a big budget). What do you think?


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

MLS Signings and Player Moves

There have been a few signings, moves and trades in American soccer the past couple days so I am just going to jump right into them. Scott Sealy is no longer an MLS player, having signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv FC yesterday. Toronto FC dealt Todd Dunivant(pictured above) to LA for allocation money (I thought TFC needed defenders?) and re-signed Rohan Ricketts after already re-signing Carl Robinson and Danny Dichio earlier in the season. Currently, the TFC website only lists 5 defenders in all on their entire roster. DC United GK Zach Wells is apparently considering retirement and San Jose just signed a big forward in Cam Weaver(kind of lessens the blow of losing Sealy).

My thoughts on the above moves are as follows. I am already liking Bruce Arena's influence on the Galaxy as he acquires more modestly priced defenders to shore up his defense (no more Abel Xavier). Toronto has a talented midfield and attack, but they are definitely lacking in defense and goalkeeping (they did draft Stefan Frei, but I am sorry Greg Sutton is Pat Onstad's far less talented twin). As a DC fan, I could care less about what Wells does as long as we sign our second round pick, Milos Kocic, to a contract. Concerning San Jose, I don't see them winning the league, but they have done a pretty good job of building a pretty solid roster. That being said, I am not totally sold on Cam Weaver becoming the impact striker they definitely need.


Youth Development in the US

Check out the following articles "examining the structure and organization of the USSF and it's youth programs." Basically, Jeff Carlisle from ESPN is doing a five-part piece examining the current setup of the USSF youth setup. Click here to read Part 1 and here to read Part 2. Hopefully, the reforms that are being made will help us produce better players (Like Jozy), and eliminate the politics and disorganization of the American youth soccer system. It's a pretty interesting read, especially for those have dealt with the BS of youth club soccer.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Rhett Bernstein Interview

Rhett Bernstein was a 3-time First Team All-Ivy League defender at Brown University and was recently invited down to the MLS Combine in Florida. While he was down in Florida for the Combine I conducted this interview with him. After having been passed over in the 2009 MLS Superdraft, Rhett is now exploring his opportunities in Europe. He is a good friend of mine and a promising center back who I am sure will have solid, productive professional career. Check out the full interview after the jump as well as the highlight video from the 2005-2006 Brown season in which Rhett was a freshman and helped Brown to an Ivy League Championship and a NCAA tournament berth.

1. What made you choose Brown over some of your local, higher profile Cali Schools?

I chose Brown based on its reputation both within academics and athletics. Brown is considerably a top academic institution, which I found suitable towards both my needs in the classroom and on the soccer pitch.

2. How are things going down at the combine? Why haven't you been able to get in any games?

Unfortunately, my opportunity of playing at the MLS combine this year came to abrupt halt during the friday training session with my team. I unexpectedly pulled my hamstring towards the end of the training session, and I knew that I would be unable to participate in the weekends matches. However, I persisted to rehabilitate my hamstring in efforts to play. Finally, I decided to cut my weekend short and leave the combine. Hopefully, I will be able to pursue alternative opportunities, and prove myself with some of the nations best soccer players.

3. What is the housing situation down at the combine? Do they have you guys in bunk beds or are you living large in a nice hotel?

Its terrific! They put us up in a very nice hotel on the beach. I shared a room with another Ivy League Player, Sean Milligan (Dartmouth GK). Things worked out well at the hotel, and I think the MLS did a great job running the event all in all.

4. What kind of free gear is Adidas hooking you up with? Cleats, Warm-ups, or just a souvenir water bottle?

Adidas hooked us up with loads of stuff. We got jerseys, training tops, tracksuits, hats, and a bag. I think most of the players were stoked to receive all this cool gear.

5. Are you just looking at MLS or are you also looking at opportunities abroad? I believe you have an Israeli passport, correct?

Personally, I'd prefer to play overseas, because of the great exposure one has to bigger and better clubs. I would consider playing in the MLS, if I were offered something more than an unsatisfying developmental contract. I do not possess an Israeli passport, but I do have access to one if I were to play overseas in Israel.

6. What had you done to prepare for the combine? Had you been cranking out 3-mile fitness tests or just working on your superior heading skills?

Prior to the combine, I worked out everyday, twice a day, with both friends and other combine players. I setup daily pickup games with college/professional players at the local university (University of San Diego). Also, I trained with some elite players with a local club soccer coach, who worked us to death. Basically put, lots of 1 v1's, lots of speed drills, and lots of shooting. It was very difficult, but very productive.

7. You scored an impressive 14 goals as a center back during your time at Brown, how did you manage to find yourself open so much? Were opposing coaches just really bad at scouting?

I think I've matured and developed in several areas to help myself score goals at the collegiate level. I wouldn't say opposing coaches were bad at scouting. Most of the time, they would usually yell out "find number 5", but on the days they didn't, it certainly worked to my advantage. I think scoring goals is something that I can contribute to any team I play on, even if I'm playing center back.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Preliminary Training Camp Roster for Mexico

Now before anyone starts calling for Bob Bradley's head, let's remember that this camp is mainly to keep out of shape MLS players (and Charlie Davies) in top form for their possible selection for the Mexico game. When the game rolls around on Feb 11th, look for most of the US lineup to be comprised of European-based players. That being said, I could see Ching, Hejduk, Klejstan, Bornstein, and Wynne having a chance to make the roster for the showdown in Columbus (With the former 3 pretty much locks). Check out the roster below:

U.S. Men’s National Team Roster By Position
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jon Busch (Chicago Fire), Will Hesmer (Columbus Crew), Matt Pickens (Colorado Rapids)
DEFENDERS (5): Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Ugo Ihemelu (Colorado Rapids), Chris Wingert (Real Salt Lake), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Brian Carroll (Columbus Crew), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Jack Jewsbury (Kansas City Wizards), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), John Thorrington (Chicago Fire)
FORWARDS (4): Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire)


Jozy Altidore Set for Loan Move

After months of rebutting speculation that they would loan out their young American striker, Villareal are set to loan Jozy Altidore to Second Division leaders, Deportivo Xerez. Now that their injury crisis has subsided, the Yellow Submarine now have a chance to get Jozy some much needed playing time. I, for one, am excited to see Jozy tear up the Second Division and get some goals. Only problem is.....when the hell am I going to see him on TV?


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Seattle Making the Right Moves

I was skeptical when Freddie Ljungberg went down. I never liked that they would be playing in a football stadium. But besides those two issues, I am impressed by everything else that the Seattle Sounders are doing. While most teams in the MLS routinely lose money, Seattle is already planning on making a profit this year. Also, contraty to how San Jose was solid defensively but inept on offense throughout much of their first year back in MLS (until they made a few trades later in the season), Seattle is focused on having a quality team from day one. Excluding players they obtained through expansion draft, they have already signed Osvaldo Alonso, Fredy Montero(Highlights above from his time in Colombia), Taylor Graham, Patrick Ianni, Chris Eylander, Kasey Keller, Sebastien Le Toux, Sanna Nyassi, and Freddie Ljunberg. Alonso, Graham, Le Toux, and Eylander all come from USL, and it is nice to see an MLS team bringing in top players that are MLS-quality from that league. I am also liking the move for a young foreign attacking prospect like Fredy Montero. O yea, don't forget that they drafted the best attacking prospect in the MLS Superdraft, Steve Zakuani, with the number 1 pick. I don't know if I see them making the playoffs in the first year, but I definitely see them putting in a better performance than RSL, Chivas USA, and San Jose did in their expansion years.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'm Back

I am sorry. I have been slacking. With inauguration weekend in DC (It's a celebration bitches!), a trip to NYC this past weekend, and a busy work week in between, I could not find any time to hit you up with some updates. That time is now over. I will be posting my thoughts on all the off season trades and news, as well as my thoughts on the Sweden game this past weekend. I will also be posting some interviews with a couple players so check back to see what I put up.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

2009 MLS Superdraft Picks by Team

Here are the 2009 MLS Superdraft Picks by Team:

Baggio Husidic (Round 2, 20th pick overall)
David Sias (Round 3, 43rd pick overall)
Jokull Elisabetarson (Round 4, 52nd pick overall)
Richard Jata (Round 4, 58th pick overall)

Chivas USA
Michael Lahoud (Round 1, 9th pick overall)
Kyle Christensen (Round 3, 35th pick overall)
Jamie Franks (Round 4, 49th pick overall)

Kwame Adjeman-Pamboe (Round 2, 28th pick overall)
Steward Ceus (Round 3, 37th pick overall)
Ross Schunk (Round 4, 47th pick overall)
Jordan Seabrook (Round 4, 51st pick overall)
Henry Kalungi (Round 4, 53rd pick overall)
Michael Holody (Round 4, 59th pick overall)

Paul Gerstenberger (Round 2, 30th pick overall)
Alex Grendi (Round 3, 45th pick overall)
Chris Clements (Round 4, 60th pick overall)

DC United
Rodney Wallace (Round 1, 6th pick overall)
Chris Pontius (Round 1, 7th pick overall)
Milos Kocic (Round 2, 21st pick overall)
Lyle Adams (Round 2, 26th overall)
Brandon Barklage (Round 3, 36th pick overall)

FC Dallas
Peri Marosevic (Round 1, 5th pick overall)
George John (Round 1, 14th pick overall)
Brian Shriver (Round 2, 27th overall)

Daniel Cruz (Round 3, 41st pick overall)
Marcus Tracy (Round 4, 56th pick overall)

Kansas City
Matt Besler (Round 1, 8th pick overall)
Doug DeMartin (Round 2, 22nd pick overall)
Graham Zusi (Round 2, 23rd pick overall)
Neal Kitson (Round 3, 42nd pick overall)
Akeem Priestley (Round 4, 50th pick overall)

LA Galaxy
Omar Gonzalez (Round 1, 3rd pick overall)
AJ DeLaGarza (Round 2, 19th pick overall)
Josh Boateng (Round 3, 33rd overall)
Kyle Patterson (Round 4, 48th overall)

New England
Kevin Alston (Round 1, 10th pick overall)
Ryan Maxwell (Round 1, 15th pick overall)
Andrei Gotsmanov (Round 2, 24th pick overall)
Denaldin Hamzagic (Round 2, 25th pick overall)
Darrius Barnes (Round 3, 40th pick overall)
Tyrel Lacey (Round 4, 55th pick overall)

New York
Jeremy Hall (Round 1, 11th pick overall)
Babajide Ogunbiyi (Round 2, 18th pick overall)
Jack Traynor (Round 2, 29th pick overall)
Nick Zimmerman (Round 3, 43rd pick overall)

Real Salt Lake
Jean Alexandre (Round 1, 12th pick overall)
Raphael Cox (Round 4, 54th pick overall)
Futhi Bhembe (Round 4, 57th pick overall)

San Jose
Brad Ring (Round 2, 17th pick overall)
Quincy Amarikwa (Round 3, 32nd pick overall

Steve Zakuani (Round 1, 1st pick overall)
Evan Brown (Round 2, 16th pick overall)
Jared Karkas (Round 3, 31st pick overall)
Michael Fucito (Round 4, 46th pick overall)

Sam Cronin (Round 1, 2nd pick overall)
O'Brian White (Round 1, 4th pick overall)
Stefan Frei (Round 1, 13th pick overall)
Mike Grella (Round 3, 34th pick overall)
Kyle Hall (Round 3, 39th pick overall)


Galaxy Acquire Two Before Draft

The LA Galaxy acquired Mike Magee and Dema Kovalenko yesterday, concluding what has been a series of conservative moves from the franchise that tends to lean toward big-splash signings (See Abel Xavier, Carlos Ruiz and Ruud Gullit). Mike Magee comes from the NY Red Bulls for a second round pick and Dema comes from Real Salt Lake for a draft pick and some allocation money. Good moves by "the most popular team in MLS" (according to their blog), Magee should add some attacking flair, while the wily veteran Kovalenko should add some bite to their midfield.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

B.O.B. - I'll Be In the Sky

B.o.B - "I'll Be In The Sky"

Before I leave work, I figured I'd hit you guys with some music to help keep you moving and warm in the cold ass weather outside. He already made us laugh with his auto-tune parody, but now B.O.B. is back with a video with an actual budget. Check out the video for "I'll Be in the Sky". This is one of my brother's favorite joints that he has heard from him. I am inclined to agree.


Combine Wrap Up + Superdraft Predictions

The MLS Combine is over and those that participated now have to wait and see how the Superdraft will shake out. The MLS fan like you and me however, can now attempt to make predictions concerning draft order and offer detailed analysis on players we have only seen play a few times or read about. In keeping with that theme (and adding to my knowledge on the subject), Buzz Carrick hits us with his Combine Wrap up and his final Goalkeeper rankings. He also gives us his breakdown of the Top 20 overall prospects, while Ives Galarcep lets us know who he thinks hurt and helped themselves during the MLS combine. Check in tomorrow to see where everyone got picked (including Sam Cronin, pictured above) and read my previous post for some further insight into the build up to the draft.


As the MLS Superdraft Approaches.....

With the MLS Superdraft taking place tomorrow (Thurs., 2 pm, ESPN2), teams are busy solidifying their rosters and making trades so that they know what positions they need to address in the draft. Kevin Alston, the Generation Adidas right back from Maryland, has probably fell some on DC United's draft board as the team has re-signed veteran Bryan Namoff to a new contract. For some more DC United news and roster analysis check out this post by Goff over at the Soccer Insider. The LA Galaxy remained busy, trading the rights to Ty Harden to Colorado for a 3rd round draft pick. For those that don't remember, Harden had a promising rookie campaign for the Galaxy in 2007, only to leave soccer to work on charitable endeavors. Finally, check out Buzz Carrick's analysis of the last day of the combine. As the day goes on, it should become clearer where players should fall in tomorrow's draft.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

MLS Teams and Players Keeping Busy

Landon Donovan is continuing to make an impression on Bayern Munich, as he scored an injury time goal (video above) in his second friendly with the German giants. His home club is staying busy as well, by trading a conditional draft pick to Columbus for midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi. Ives Galarcep reports that they are close to trading for Red Bull midfielder Mike Magee, in this post about the Red Bulls trading Dave Van den Bergh to FC Dallas for speedy forward Dominic Oduro. Last but not least, it looks like San Jose will be resigning veteran goalkeeper Joe Cannon to a new deal. It is nice to see LA making some shrewd moves instead of going for the big name signing and San Jose intelligently bring back one of the best goalkeepers to play in MLS. I also think that the NY-Dallas trade will work out for both teams as NY clears cap room and gets the speedy forward they have been wanting, while Dallas picks up the veteran left sided player that Schellas Hyndman has been talking about since he first got hired.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Asher Roth On Carson Daly and Cartoon Chicks

Okay. I know had a post about Asher Roth a couple of days ago, but after downloading and pumping the Greenhouse Effect Vol. 1 the whole weekend, I figured it was worth another post. Check above to see Asher's performance skills on Late Night with Carson Daly and listen below as he raps about which cartoon chicks he would invite into his bed. The latter made me laugh and think about a certain classic scene from Waynes World.


Feilhaber Rehabbing, Szetela Chilling

Maurice Edu, Michael Bradley, Danny Szetela, and Benny Feilhaber (pictured above) make up the contingent of young American central midfielders that US fans hope will develop into stars for the Red, White, and Blue. The latter two have been getting less of the spotlight as Edu made a big time move to Rangers and Bradley moved to the Bundesliga, but both should still have a bright future with the senior squad. Szetela has been getting significant PT with Brescia in Serie B, while Feilhaber has finally overcome the need for surgery on his bum knee and is close to returning to training. Check out ESPN's piece on Szetela and Yanks Abroad's piece on Feilhaber. Let's hope that Szetela can turn some of that Italian experience into solid contributions with the US and Feilhaber can regain the form and confidence he showed us in the last Gold Cup.


Monday MLS News and Notes

This past weekend, Landon Donovan made his Bayern Munich debut, going 90 minutes in a friendly against Al Jazeera and recording an assist in a 3-2 win. Kansas City showed other MLS teams how you should negotiate, by signing Claudio Lopez to a new, non-DP deal. Lopez had a slow start last year but finished strong, and should be a valuable asset to the Wizards especially now that he isn't a Designated Player. Gonzalo Peralta is returning to Argentina after an injury plagued season with DC United and the Red Bulls will be playing a team comprised of a few players you may have heard of, on June 14th. Finally, there may be trouble with the stadium for the Philadelphia MLS team. At least the DC mayor has come through with the stadium he promised to DC United fans, o wait, hold on a second.......


MLS Combine and Superdraft News

Marcus Tracy, the striker from Wake Forest, just won the Hermann Trophy for best college player in the country. So, he should be drafted in the top of the MLS Draft, right? Wrong. Looks like the 22 year old American will be signing with Danish Champions Aalborg instead. Nick Schiffler over at ESPN, caught up with him yesterday and discussed his decision to pass over MLS for the second year in a row and jump to Europe.

For the players that want to try their luck in MLS, there is the MLS Combine, and the first games of the event were played on Saturday. Gianfranco Panizo and Buzz Carrick both take time to give us their analysis of the first 2 games of the event. Looks like Sam Cronin showed why so many teams are high on him, while some of the Generation Adidas players failed to impress. Buzz even hits us with his report from Day two. Take that SoccerbyIves.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Ben Brackett's PES 2009 (PS2) Review

In what should be the first of many contributions by people other than me, Ben Brackett reviews Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 for Playstation 2. I am currently waiting on my version of the game for my newly purchased XBOX 360 and am pretty hyped about it. Ben Brackett was an All-Ivy defender/midfielder for Brown University from 2003-2007 and enjoys playing darts (the soccer version), long walks on the beach, and sandwiches with a lot of mayo. He has been a frequent contributer to (google him) and is pretty much the man. Check out his All-Winning Eleven team below and his full review after the jump.

Here is Ben's Pro Evolution 2009 “Winning Eleven” with notes (Positions are in order from left to right):

Gk: Edwin Van der Sar

D: Gael Clichy, Carles Puyol, Rio Ferdinand, Danny Alves

MF: Messi, Yaya Toure, Cesc Fabregas, Steven Gerrard

F: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thierry Henry

On the Travel Roster:

Theo Walcott
Sergio Ramos
Ronaldinho (he’s back, Ladies and Gents)

**Notice, this is a free-flowing 4-4-2 with wing backs that will give us width going forward and good cover in the back. I have dominating center backs that are sheltered by a strong central midfield (hopefully the future Arsenal midfield) with some serious attacking prowess in my front 4. Zlatan, Messi, and Gerrard (free Stevie G!!) form a formidable front line with Henry all the way up top to stretch defenses. You’ll see that my first 11, as well as my bench, is very versatile and capable of interchanging under any circumstances (red players, blue players, etc.)**

Written by Ben Brackett

I’ve been mulling over a metaphor for comparison of the FIFA gaming series to the Pro Evolution/Winning Eleven gaming series now for a few weeks. The more and more I beat it up in my brain, the more and more I continue coming back to fact that it’s really the difference between Top Sirloin and Filet Mingon. Additionally, you’re looking at something like MTV music vs. rock and roll or underground hip-hop. But seriously, the difference is in quality. Whilst you may not have perfect likeness in the characters, the subtleties of the game and the gameplay itself totally wins out. If this is a game you haven’t played, play it. If you have, buy it. If you’re a junkie like me, crack a beer and spend some time.

As you turn on the game, you’ll find that it’s very similar in its entrance scene and menu to other versions. The music has been upgraded in that it isn’t ALL cheesy techno. There is, however, some techno. Otherwise, there is nothing earth-shattering. Of course there are updated rosters, updated player ratings, you know the works. Unfortunately, no Bayern Munich or German teams period and the EPL team names are still all f**ked up. It’s pretty easy to figure out who’s who if you follow the game, but if not, you just go online and google “pro evolution team names” and you’ll be all set.

There are some little improvements that are noticeable to a connoisseur like myself. Goalkeepers have gotten much better on crosses and reaction saves. There are less ‘keeper blunders (Dave Semenzas on the Sting Rays) and there’s the ability to start a counter at quicker speed. The AI has shown tremendous improvement as well, which is difficult at first to attack against, but it isn’t an unbreakable code. The AI is also apparent on the other side of the ball as well. Where an opposing team will normally just get it wide, get to the end line, and cross it (or cut it back and cross it), they quickly change their tactics if you defend with a little courage and block wide service.

The most refreshing part of the game is the re-emergence of the requirement to be fluent in R2-ing. R2-ing is an art form – a lost and forgotten part of the (video) game that tends to fall by the wayside when rookies pick it up. It is R2-ing that sets the game a part and in the same breath, is one of the most realistic facets of PES/WE 2009.

**side note – R2-ing is the ability to control your player and, more or less, emphasize certain players’ ability to showcase their strength, speed, and balance**

As an avid soccer player in real life, I take this to be where I find my competitive advantage. The ability to defend individually and collectively is enhanced and, as was mentioned prior, the game’s AI has significantly increased. This has given the gamers’ control over team shape and defensive pressure a real boost. Conversely, on the other side of the ball it becomes possible to change players’ runs and really body defenders in an attempt to win balls and spark the counter.

There is also an extremely cool (seriously the only way to describe it) new feature where you can build your own player and, from first person POV, manage his development from age 17 on. You are beamed into a low level professional game and must put in a good performance in front of big-European scouts. This is where my character scored an own goal, yet redeemed himself by scoring the equalizer and helping himself to Man of the Match honors. From there, you are given the opportunity to progress through the ranks by taking a contract with a totally shite team where you have to prove yourself as a sub, earn a starting role, and go from there. Eventually, you are able to play for the big names and get called in to the national team, etc., but you must cut your teeth a little bit first.

Personally, I haven’t spent a large amount of time on this feature. Along with the first person POV, you can also pick to play this feature in a normal gameplay mode, but you can only control your player. Additionally, you still have Master League mode and the World Tour mode, both of which are very enjoyable ways to spend a few hours (or days) a week.

The greatest part about the Pro Evolution/Winning Eleven series is the way it has evolved (no pun intended). I began playing Winning Eleven 6 and every year, Konami comes out with what is basically the EXACT same game with fantastic improvements. It’s almost like they are sitting around with me and my buddies drinking beer and playing winner-stays-on and we’re simultaneously critiquing the game. Every little thing that we enjoy or dislike seems to be taken into consideration. Cheers to another great one.


Eric Lichaj Signs Extension with Aston Villa

Little known American defender, Eric Lichaj, has signed what is believed to be a 2 year contract extension with Aston Villa. The 20 year old former North Carolina player, signed with the club in 2007 and after overcoming a series of injuries, has featured prominently for Villa reserves this term. Nice to see a young American hanging on with a top tier club like Aston Villa. If he is able to break into the first team in the next year, that would make 3 Americans plying their trade with the first team. Brad Friedel and Brad Guzan already man the nets for the Villa.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

MLS Offseason Continues...

As the off season continues, Ives checks in with some of the trade rumblings around MLS. Also, the Galaxy released Eduardo Dominguez and signed Leonard Griffin, Steve Cronin, and Jovan Kirovski. The official release from LA is here. Seattle was also busy as they signed Chris Eylander to become Kasey Keller's backup. Finally, the league released the list of Generation Adidas players that have signed with the league and will be available in the upcoming draft. I would have posted this yesterday, but every soccer blogger on the planet linked it on their website so I figured there was no rush. Seems to be a pretty solid class, with Steve Zakuani (highlight video above) from Akron and Omar Gonzalez from Maryland looking to be locks to go in the top 3.


Asher Roth, Rapper and Hero?

There is a reason I am excited about 2009 and the world of music. It's not just that Eminem is returning and the Blueprint 3 is supposed to be dropping, but also because of new artists like Wale, B.O.B., Charles Hamilton, and Asher Roth. The latter is not only dropping hot songs like the ones above, below, and after the jump, but he is apparently fighting terrorism. Kudos to Asher for assisting in detaining a crazy man on a plane, as well as being a skinny, dorky, white kid that is injecting some fresh music into the hip hop scene. Can't wait to see if he can turn some of the promise he shows in these tracks into a solid debut album. When watching the video below for "Roth boys" check the cameos by Akon, DJ Drama, and the first time flip cup has ever been featured in a rap video.


Charlie Davies from MNT Camp

Check out Zac Lee Rigg's interview with Charlie Davies over at I'm really hoping that Davies gets a good amount of PT against Sweden because I think he has the potential to be a goal-scoring machine for the US. In his recent appearances with the Senior and Olympic teams he has been pure energy once inserted in the match. Also, I have to point out the Vegas mention at the end of the interview (Check out the pictures over at The Offsides Rules). It's crazy how when you are a professional your social life gets put in the spotlight, if I was in Sin City I would have been doing the same thing. If it was me though, the bottles of champagne would of probably been Andre instead of Dom Perignon. You can still pop bottles with cheap champagne, don't hate.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

DC United Making Moves

Before the start of last season, DC United looked to be the favorite to win the Supporter's Shield once again. Skip ahead to a year later and most analysts aren't even penciling them into the top four in the Eastern Conference. As a result DC is focusing on keeping the players that performed well for them last year, and they have taken two steps forward in that regard by resigning Marc Burch as well as Santino Quaranta (Clyde Simms and Devon McTavish have already signed contract extensions). Despite their lackluster performance last season, with the addition of a quality center back and a couple young talents through the draft, DC United could be return to their usual place among the MLS elite. That is of course if Marcelo Gallardo, Luciano Emilio, and Fred can all stay healthy. Now we we just have to wait and see what happens with veteran Bryan Namoff's contract situation (O and if Ben Olsen makes a miraculous recovery).


Theo - Dillagence

Never heard of Theo before today, but after watching the video above and him kill it over that J Dilla beat, I have to say I am intrigued. Theo is straight out of Rhode Island and I had to give him a little play after having gone to college up in "The Ocean State". Check out his mixtape "The Birth" available for download over at and give him a listen.


Parkhurst and Torres Speak

Jose Francisco Torres and Michael Parkhurst, two young American stars who are not in the January camp, took some time to talk to the media recently. Parkhurst speaks to Andrew Hush over at ESPN and Torres chats with Jack Bell of The New York Times. Although I am not totally sold on either player yet (Parkhurst because of lack of physical gifts and Torres because I just haven't seen him enough), I think both have a solid future with the Senior team, Torres especially. Anybody who is consistently starting for Pachuca in big games at age 21 is fine with me.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Monaco Ties Juventus, Adu Draws Penalty

In a friendly that took place today in Messina, Italy, Freddy Adu started and drew a penalty in a 1-1 draw with Italian giants, Juventus. Although it is a meaningless game during the winter break, it is nice to see Freddy get some playing time and make an impact against such a high quality opponent. Juventus wasn't joking around either as Nedved, Del Piero, Buffon, and Sissoko were all in the lineup for the Italians. Let's hope this translates into increased playing time for the diminutive striker in the second half of the season.

Updated with video higlights:


US vs. Mexico News

When my friend informed me that he had ordered our tickets today for the Mexico game in Columbus, I felt it was only appropriate that I make a post about the game and the teams involved. First, chips in with a couple articles about the Mexican team, one a preview of Mexico in the Hexagonal and the other an analysis of the state of Mexican Football. Just like a good journalist and newspaper should always do, they cover both sides of the story by posting some exclusive video from the US National Team. They have Sacha Kljestan talking about taking a leadership role with the Senior team (above) and Kenny Cooper talking about staying in Dallas next year (let's hope they at leat raised his salary a little bit). Last but not least as I steal all of's content, Andrea Canales checks in from the US training camp in California.