San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Sam Cronin will train with the US Men's National Team in Los Angeles through a January 22 friendly against Chile. For more information about tickets to that match and about the USMNT camp, visit USSoccer.com. Also, take a look at in-depth coverage on the USMNT Blog.
First and foremost, Happy New Year. I hope as you're reading this blog, your 2011 is off to a great start and that you haven't broken any of your resolutions...yet.
Despite a USMNT January Camp invitation cutting my off-season short, I was still able to accomplish plenty during my time off.
I started out with a bang by getting engaged less than a week after our Eastern Conference Championship loss to the Colorado Rapids. Then, without soccer obligations, my fiancé and I were able to explore some NorCal hotspots – Carmel, Pebble Beach and Muir Woods.
Although these trips were a blast, nothing compares to spending quality time back in North Carolina for the holidays with friends and family. My time back home in NC with family allowed me to recharge my battery and get ready for another busy year of soccer (hopefully one week longer than last season).
From NC "I took my talents” to New Orleans to celebrate the New Year in style in the Big Eazzzzy and, finally, after all the jet travel in December, I arrived in LA on January 4 to start camp with the USMNT.
"The Golden Boy" Chris Wondolowski and I (roommates) caught up for a couple hours when I arrived at the hotel before heading out for a team dinner where Bob Bradley and his staff outlined the rules and schedule for camp.
What’s it like rooming with Wondo, you might ask? I wish I could fill you in with some horror stories, but the dude is just a regular guy.
Apart from learning that he is a master at "Friends" trivia, it appears that Wondo is unchanged from last season, which is probably the best thing I could say about him. He is still sleeping more than a human should, his goofy laugh sounds louder than ever and although we have mainly played small-sided games, his goal-scoring touch is still intact.
As one might expect, the first training session was played at a frenetic pace with everyone trying to make a good impression. The quality of play has slowly improved in the days since and everyone is starting to get their legs under them again.
Our first week training sessions were mostly small-sided games, but we are working our way to 11v11 games with Chile two weeks away.
That's all for now. I’ll report back later in the week with more details on training and hopefully a good story or two. Have a good week and talk to you all soon.
Fan Twitter question: What does Sam think are the strongest and weakest parts of his game, in terms of what's needed to succeed at international level?
Through my limited time with the National Team, I have definitely learned that the game is played at a much faster pace. Passing lanes close quicker, making it essential that I am always aware of where my next touch and pass will be. For me, this sense of anticipation and awareness is the main area I need to be more consistent to sustain my play, especially as a central midfielder. When my anticipation is consistent, I feel more confident in my touch, technique and ability to contribute.