Behind the Badge: Make a wish
This past weekend, D.C. United teamed up with the Make-a-Wish Foundation to make one soccer player's dreams come true. Tyler Yates, who traveled cross-country from his home in California, joined the Black-and-Red for the team's pre-game and game-day festivities leading up to their win over the previously undefeated New England Revolution last Saturday. Yates, the oldest living survivor of a rare bone marrow disease, is himself a goalkeeper at the University of Redlands where he is currently a rising sophomore.
Yates, who was accompanied by his mother, a friend, and a representative from Make-a-Wish, jumped in goal during the team's Friday morning training session.
"Practice was amazing," said the 18-year-old. "I had some nerves, but I learned a lot of things that helped me in my game. Plus, the fact alone that I got to play in an MLS practice."
After playing in Friday morning's practice, he spent the rest of the afternoon attending the team's meetings and meals. Yates warmed-up with the players prior to Saturday night's game, and watched all the action from a seat on the bench.
"The best part of the last few days was the surprise of getting to warm up with them and sit on the bench during the game. I had the best seat in the house and got to cheer right there with all the guys."
After splitting two defenders to finish in the lower right corner of the goal, Jaime Moreno celebrated by brushing the bad luck off of his legs having ended a personal scoring lull of sorts. Though the veteran forward has netted six goals on the season so far, four have come on penalty kicks rather than from the run of play. Following the congratulations of his teammates, Moreno pointed up at the boxes overlooking the field in RFK Stadium, a gesture intended for former D.C. United head coach Bruce Arena, who was in attendance for Saturday night's game.
"Bruce and I are close," said Moreno. "We always joke around. He told me earlier in the week that he'd like to see me score a goal outside of a penalty kick. I was simply saying, 'There you go. That one was for you.'"
Arena, who guided the Black-and-Red to MLS Cup Championships in 1996 and 1997, is currently the U.S. national team Head Coach.
After a stunning upset at the hands of Italy, Freddy Adu and the U.S. U-20 national team are on their way home from the Youth World Cup in Holland. The team's strong run through the tournament ended Tuesday after falling 3-1 to Italy in the Round of 16 at Arke Stadium in Enchede, Holland. The U.S. was the better team in the first 45 minutes and took a 1-0 lead into the half on a Hunter Freeman penalty kick, but Italy stormed back with a formidable attack and a bit of luck as two of their three scores were officially ruled own goals.
The U.S. Under-20s finished their two-year cycle with a 16-6-4 international record, with 13 of the 16 victories coming under the direction of Sigi Schmid who took over in November 2003. The U.S. will finish the tournament no lower than 14th place and no higher than 10th, depending on the other four results in the Round of 16 that will be played on Wednesday in Holland.