The United States will begin its World Cup preparations in earnest on May 15, but they won't do so in Southern California.
Wednesday's announcement that Bob Bradley's domestic pre-World Cup camp will be held in Princeton, N.J., came as no surprise. The Americans play their final two domestic preps on the East Coast, and it's an easier jaunt to South Africa.
Home Depot Center in Carson is the home base of the national team, but the U.S. Soccer Federation is headquartered in Chicago and sites in Chula Vista and Bradenton, Fla., also have been used extensively for U.S. national teams.
Since the run-up to the 1994 World Cup, the national team has most often trained in California. Its 18-month camp before the '94 Cup was in Mission Viejo; the coach at that time, Mexico-based Serb Bora Milutinovic, called Laguna Niguel home. Steve Sampson, who succeeded Milutinovic, is an Agoura Hills resident.
When current Galaxy coach Bruce Arena was national team coach, there were more East Coast camps. Arena was born in New York and lived in Virginia while in charge of the U.S. team.
Bradley has East Coast roots, but he has lived in Manhattan Beach since taking charge of Chivas USA in 2006. Princeton will be a homecoming: He is an alum of and former head coach at Princeton University. Assistant coach Jesse Marsch, who retired from Chivas USA after last season to join Bradley's staff, also attended Princeton.
Players and coaches will arrive May 15 for the camp, and the first training session will be held May 17. The U.S. will play the Czech Republic on May 25 in East Hartford, Conn., and Turkey on May 29 in Philadelphia. The Americans' final pre-Cup friendly is June 5 against Australia in Roodepoort, South Africa.
The U.S. face England (June 12 at Rustenberg), Slovenia (June 18 at Johannesburg) and Algeria (June 23 at Tshwane/Pretoria) in the World Cup.
Bradley must submit to FIFA a preliminary list of 30 players by May 11, and his final 23-man roster is due June 1, with all 23 coming from the preliminary list. Injury substitutions to the roster can be made until 24 hours before a team's opener, and all players are eligible whether or not they're on the preliminary list.
Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, barring injury, will be brought into the camp, and Chivas USA defender Jonathan Bornstein also appears a certain call-up. Galaxy forward Edson Buddle and Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan also could receive invitations.
The Galaxy play host to Toronto FC and Chivas USA plays at Columbus on May 15. No word yet on whether Bradley will allow national team players to play for their MLS clubs on that date.
Galaxy players on the World Cup roster could miss from four to seven MLS games, and Chivas players could miss from three to seven.
Orange County native Scott French has been writing about soccer for more than 30 years for dozens of publications and Web sites. He was senior editor at Soccer America and was managing editor of MajorSoccerLeague Magazine from April 2007 until last summer. He has covered three World Cups for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and Los Angeles Daily News, two Women's World Cups for Soccer America, the Olympic Games, European Championship, U-20 World Cup, eight MLS Cups and all four professional women's championship games.