Late blogging today because I headed out to the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team week-long camp at Home Depot Center in Carson today, the first under Coach Peter Nowak.
I’ll have more on the camp in Tuesday’s column in the Daily News and Daily Breeze, but here’s a pictorial taste of Day 2 courtesy of Daily Breeze photographer Brad Graverson.
At top left is Nowak, top left and middle right is Columbus Crew midfielder Robbie Rodgers, who despite what the U.S. press officers say grew up in Rolling Hills Estates in the South Bay; middle right is Red Bull New York (for now) striker Jozy Altidore; bottom left is defender Mike Randolph, virtually the only member of the Galaxy’s back four who covered himself with a measure of distinction last season; and bottom right is a winded Altidore.
Incidentally, the Crew’s Eddie Gaven Eddie Gavin was a late scratch from camp for personal reasons (good ones, I was told without anyone being specific) and replaced by Aaron Hohlbein of the Kansas City Wizards.
Rogers, who came on strong during the latter part of the Crew’s season sounded like he enjoyed playing with Argentine star Guillermo Barros Schelotto and hopes he will return to Columbus next year.
“Every time I played with him it was so much easier,” Rogers said. “It made me a better player, playing with him.”
Fontana’s Maurice Edu who said he set – and achieved – his goal of becoming the MLS Rookie of the Year is reveling in living and playing in the multicultural, European-like atmosphere of Toronto.
“I like it a lot,” he said. “(The fans) are really passionate about the game. They live and die for it.”
Striker Sal Zizzo said the same about Germany, where he believes he’s getting closer to making the 18-man first team squad in Hannover. His last name is pronounced Ze-Zo, by the way, not Ziz-Zo.
The last time I saw him in person, Zizzo was the best player on the field for UCLA in a preseason game against Loyola Marymount a little over a year ago.
Now he’s turned pro, got picked up by a Bundesliga team and made his debut for the U.S. National Team.
“It’s been a wild trip since then,” he said. “It’s great. (I’m playing) the best soccer I’ve ever played.”
Now if he can just pick up the language (Zizzo has had two dozen German lessons).
Peter Nowak, who has a reputation for being brusque with the press, was friendly and accommodating, by the way.
I asked about the differences between coaching in MLS and at the national team level and Nowak observed that unlike in the frenetic pace of club soccer, you don’t necessarily have 10 months to work with a team on a daily basis to put things right. There’s less margin for error and the job is consequently more challenging despite the apparent slower pace, he said