Behind the Badge: Relaxing on the Ranch
Kicking Off Their Cleats
D.C. United players were able to kick off their cleats last Tuesday night and slide into a more comfortable shoe for the remainder of the day on Wednesday. They enjoyed activities such as golfing, fishing, skeet shooting, horse back riding, and relaxing amidst the wondrous beauty of the wilderness at AEG founder Philip Anschutz's 50,000-acre ranch located east of Denver, Colorado.
"It was nice to get away from soccer, to put the balls away and to spend time together as a team," said midfielder Ben Olsen.
The team was able to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and admire the same outdoor beauty that Ernest Hemingway engaged in so many years ago. Hemingway once had a cabin on the property that he would frequently visit to put his thoughts on paper. During the team's brief stay at the Eagle's Nest Ranch, they resided in the Hemingway Lodge.
United players conducted a light training session at the ranch Wednesday morning, which consisted of a 45-minute run, and then had the rest of the day to do as they pleased. Many of the players agreed that the highlight of the trip was the comedy skit performed by the team's rookies.
"The rookies had to perform a skit together. They did an amazing job performing a musical number, a fashion runway show, and a comedic skit centering on a day in the life of a D.C. United player. All the rookies were good, but Shawn Kuykendall stole the show," said forward Alecko Eskandarian.
Still without Simms
D.C. United played without defensive midfielder Clyde Simms the past two games because of his U.S. World Cup qualifying duty. Simms is part of the American senior national team squad that defeated Costa Rica, 3-1 on Saturday. The Saturday before, May 28, Simms received his first international cap in USA's 2-1 loss to England. In the 90th minute Simms entered the match in the midfield for his first international appearance, topping off a remarkable rise up the ladder of soccer in the United States from the USL First Division to MLS to the U.S. national team over the past nine months. The U.S. trained Monday in Salt Lake City and then departed to Panama City for Wednesday's qualifier.
Adu continues his journey abroad
Freddy Adu will be missing from the Black-and-Red line-up for the next few weeks because of his commitment to the U-20 Men's National Team. His return is dependent on the team's performance in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championships, but he is expected to be back in early July.
"Whenever you get the chance to represent your country in a World Cup, it's a great honor. It's a chance to show the world what you've got. I'm looking forward to it," he told mlsnet.com last week. "I do wish, though, that I would be able to stay here and play with D.C. a little bit more, because this is an important stretch for us right now."
In the U.S. team's last international match before the World Championships, the U.S. Men defeated China 2-0. Adu started the match and played 68 minutes. The team moved from the tranquil town of Mierlo to the slightly more bustling Holland city of Enschede and will have four days of training before their opening match against Argentina on June 11.
The team will then face Germany on June 14 (8:30 p.m. local time/ 2:30 p.m. ET) and conclude group play on June 18 (1:30 p.m. local time/ 7:30 a.m. ET) against Egypt. The U.S. will play all three of their first round games at the 13,500-seat Arke Stadium in Enschede. Every U.S. match at the World Youth Championship can be followed live via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
United prepares to defend Atlantic Cup as team visits rival MetroStars
Two of the league's most bitter rivals will resume play against each other this Saturday at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in the first contest of the 2005 Atlantic Cup. Only four points separate the MetroStars (4-3-4 16 pts.) and their I-95 counterparts from D.C. (3-4-3 12 pts.) in the Eastern Conference standings. While United has had trouble scoring on the road this season, the team is hoping to continue their recent trend of dominating the MetroStars. In their last six meetings, including the playoffs, the matches have been anything but close, with United easily taking home the Atlantic Cup, posting a 5-1 record against the 'Stars, outscoring them 16-7. In fact, the rivalry has been fairly one-sided since it began in 1996. United holds a 20-14-2 regular season advantage in the series and a goal differential of +17. In the playoffs the Black-and-Red have easily put away the MetroStars in both series, outscoring their rivals 9-3 and wining four out of five contests. United's only loss came via penalty kicks in 1996, which the club recovered from and went on to win the series and eventually the inaugural MLS Cup.