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US World Cup Team Trains in New Jersey

US Soccer team members training in Princeton, New Jersey
US Soccer team members training in Princeton, New Jersey

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The U.S. soccer team's training camp opened on Monday at Princeton University in New Jersey, about a 90-minute drive southwest of New York City.  The team is using Roberts Stadium, a $13.4 million soccer facility that opened just two years ago.

U.S. team press officer Michael Kammarman told VOA Sports that it is a good location, a great venue and was an easy choice because Princeton is the alma mater of head coach Bob Bradley.

"Bob obviously has a lot of history here at Princeton because he was a player and coach here, and he had a lot of connections which made things easier.  But ultimately the facilities are excellent, the stadium is excellent.  Everything we needed to help ourselves prepare was here," he said.

Unfortunately for fans, the team practices are closed to the public.  The media has good access and Kammarman says interest is high.

"There's been reporters from all over the county that are here.  We have television, radio and print.  We have international; we have different languages.  So clearly the focus on this team and the excitement about this World Cup - from the media perspective - is bigger than it's ever been before," he said.

The 30 players at this training camp were the ones on the preliminary World Cup roster submitted last week to the International Football Federation (FIFA).  The final list of 23 players who will travel to South Africa have to be chosen no later than June 1.

US soccer team forward Edson Buddle, 18 May 2010
US soccer team forward Edson Buddle, 18 May 2010

One of those newly called in players to the U.S. team trying to prove himself is forward Edson Buddle of the Los Angeles Galaxy.  The 28-year-old leads Major League Soccer in scoring this season with nine goals.  He is excited about his opportunity.

"It's great, you know.  I'm trying not to get overwhelmed, and I'm embracing the whole environment and it's been good so far," he said.

Buddle admits he was surprised to be selected to this World Cup training camp.  That is because his only previous appearance for the U.S. soccer team came seven years ago in one game, where he played only 11 minutes.

"I'd never seen it coming, just being here and the quality of players.  I'm going to have to adjust fairly quickly, especially being so close to the World Cup, and just play my hardest and work hard and hopefully the ball will bounce my way," said Buddle.

Edson Buddle's more well-known Los Angeles Galaxy teammate, midfielder Landon Donovan, has no worries of making the team.  South Africa will be his third World Cup and he is the team's all-time leading goal scorer.  He told a packed news conference here Tuesday Buddle deserves his chance.

"I've said this 100 times now that the goals are impressive as a striker.  But more importantly the things he's been doing away from scoring goals have been equally impressive," he said.

Donovan said he has this advice for all the relative newcomers to the training camp.

US soccer team midfielder Landon Donovan, 18 May 2010
US soccer team midfielder Landon Donovan, 18 May 2010

"Continue doing what they do well.  Sometimes guys who haven't been around come into camp and want to do something more or do something differently.  The reason you're here is you've been doing something well at your club team and you need to continue that now," said Donovan.

After this training camp wraps up on Sunday, the U.S. soccer team has two warm-up matches here in the northeast next week against teams which did not qualify for the World Cup in South Africa.  The Americans will play the Czech Republic in East Hartford, Connecticut, Tuesday.  The following Saturday  they will face Turkey in Philadelphia.

The U.S. team departs for South Africa the next day, Sunday, May 30.   The final warm-up match will be against Australia on June 5 in Roodepoort, South Africa.

The World Cup kicks off June 11th in Johannesburg with a match between Mexico and South Africa.  The USA opens Group C play June  against England, followed by matches against Slovenia June 18 and Algeria June 23.

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