This year, U.S. Soccer finally fields a team worthy of competingand making a serious runat the world's greatest tournament. Heard that one before? Presenting a few reasons June in South Africa could be a whole different story.
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A sneak peek at six standouts from the U.S. Men's National Team.
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Forward, Colorado Rapids
During the off-season, Casey, a 28-year-old Denver resident, hikes fourteeners with his dad and practices yoga to relax. But nothing could have prepared him for what happened last October when the U.S. National Team traveled to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in search of a World Cup bid. Though the country was still reeling from June’s military coup, the city’s 9 p.m. curfew had been relaxed for the night, and the over-capacity crowd was deafening—until Casey nailed two goals to win the game. “It was so loud until we scored,” he said. “Then it went eerily silent. The game had an atmosphere I’d never experienced.”
Defender, FC Dallas
You may find other players here with their nose stuck in a book, but this 25-year-old Modesto, California, native is the squad’s most voracious reader, gleaning inspiration for the soccer field from books he can apply to his life, like NFL coach Tony Dungy’s bestsellers. He’s probably also the only player on the squad who knows anything about being a vintner. “My brother owns a wine label in Napa Valley,” says Pearce. “When he comes home, I have to try his wine.”
Forward, Real Salt Lake
For 24-year-old Findley, professional sports is a family thing: Two of his cousins play for the NBA—guards Mike Bibby, of the Atlanta Hawks, and Eddie House, of the New York Knicks—while another, Shaun McDonald, is a wide receiver for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. In high school in Phoenix, Findley worked out a lot with Bibby. “I got a close-up view of how he took on his job, how to be professional,” he says. But he learned his foot-eye coordination from his dad, a skilled amateur player who grew up on the island of Trinidad.
Kick Started (cont.)
Brian Ching's Preseason Interval Routine
1. Crank the StairMaster up to its highest setting and “sprint” for one minute.
2. Bring it down to a really slow level for two minutes.
3. Repeat seven more times, for a total of 24 minutes or eight sprints.
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Forward, Houston Dynamo
If you live anywhere near Houston, you’re probably familiar with the Dynamo’s leading scorer. The 31-year-old has his own sports segment on a local TV station, Kickin’ It with Brian Ching, on which he offers up advice on everything from becoming a professional soccer player to why you should befriend the StairMaster. While Ching enjoys the fame soccer has brought him, it wasn’t exactly what he expected. “I would rather have been a professional surfer,” says Ching, who grew up on the North Shore of Oahu, “but I needed a scholarship to go to college.”
Defender, Chivas USA
Every serious athlete has pregame
Goalie, D.C. United
Perkins isn’t your average soccer player. For starters, because he’s a goalie, he needs to focus more on anaerobic strength and less on endurance. He’s also a trained mortgage-loan processor, making him the only guy on the U.S. team who knows the difference between an option ARM mortgage and a swing loan. “Goalies can usually play until they’re around 40, so you have to think about a job after retirement,” says the 28-year-old from Springfield, Ohio. And then there’s his austere pregame routine, which entails shutting off all electronics and not talking to anyone for 24 hours. “I’m a miserable person to be around,” he says, laughing. “My wife hates it.”