Chat with Team USA's Carlos Bocanegra
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, U.S. Soccer captain Carlos Bocanegra stops by to chat about the U.S. national team's preparations for World Cup 2010.
Bocanegra, a defender, scored a second half goal in the World Cup qualifier against Honduras, a 2-1 U.S. win. He missed group play at the Confederations Cup, but returned to captain the team in the semifinal win over No. 1 Spain and the loss to Brazil in the final. In his last game, Bocanegra scored the lone goal in a 2-1 loss in an International Friendly against the Netherlands.
Bocanegra earned his first cap with the senior national team in 2001 and has since amassed 68 caps, scoring 11 international goals.
The California native played collegiately at UCLA and began his professional career with the Chicago Fire in 2000. He was the first two-time MLS defender of the year in 2002 and 2003 and now plays for Stade Rennais F.C. of France's Ligue 1.
Send your questions now and join Bocanegra on Monday at 11 a.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (10:55 AM)
Carlos is here!
Carlos, what plans do you have to keep yourself occupied during the flight down?
Carlos Bocanegra (10:57 AM)
I got a lot of DVDs. We got Ambien. I got to finish my Tucker Max book as well. My iPod too.
Carlos, Do you have any pre-game rituals?
Carlos Bocanegra (10:59 AM)
Not too much. The main thing is that I like sparkling water and I won't drink it on gameday. I'll just drink regular water. I feel it doesn't hydrate me properly. I don't know if it's scientifically true, but that's what makes sense in my head.
What will your strategy be for next month?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:00 AM)
For me, it's just a big mental exercise. Making sure you take care of yourself on the field and get your rest and recovery off the field. Doing all of the thing that you can to peak by the time you're at the tournament. This started about a year ago when you start to prepare your body. You can't start last minute.
Frank (Coram, NY)
Hi Carlos! What do you feel is the biggest strength of the USA team and what is one of the team's biggest need to improve on?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:01 AM)
Our biggest strength is our comraderie. We have great team work. Our athleticism and work rate really stand out. One thing that we can work on, and every team will, is gelling and becoming one unit. We play on different teams all over the world and when we come together, it's about becoming a unit as quick as possible.
Josh (Lincoln, NE)
How are you feeling after the surgery? I had the same in 2002. It sucked.
Carlos Bocanegra (11:01 AM)
Yeah, it wasn't the funnest thing I've been through. I'm feeling good now. The first few days are the worst. Which doctor did you go to?
Ryan (San Diego)
How is Onyewu coming along and will he be ready to go in a few weeks?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:02 AM)
He'll be ready to go. He's been training with us and looking sharper each day. He'll just need to sharpen up his soccer skills.
Carlos, Other than England, which of the Perennial favorites do you feel your current squad matches up with best? Italy? Argentina? Brazil? Spain? Germany? Portugal? France? Someone else?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:03 AM)
I'd like to personally have another shot at Italy, going back to the 2006 World Cup. That game was crazy. In the Confederations Cup, I think we were playing well against them. The Italians are someone we would like to get our hands on again.
How do you defend a speedy winger like Lennon?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:04 AM)
That's where you need help from your holding midfielders. Your team defense comes in. They can slide out and eventually force him into putting him on your terms instead of letting him dictate the situation.
Brad ((Columbus, OH): )
Carlos, The US team went into the last World Cup brimming with confidence. And, unfortunately had a dismal showing. Heading into South Africa there seems to be even more confidence than going into Germany. How do you feel the US team is different than last World Cup?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:05 AM)
That's not Brad Friedell in Ohio is it? That's a pretty fair assessment. The media was hyping us up and I think we kind of believed it. We're confident amongst the group. We don't feel like we need to say much, because we know what it takes out on the field. Learning from the Confederations Cup, we know what we have to do to get results out there. Talking and the hype does nothing for you.
Ian (New York)
Has Bob Bradley and the coaching staff gone over strategies for the group stage games?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:07 AM)
A little bit, but it's not a just now that he's been talking about things. The past three years we've been building towards this. He's been putting messages into our heads about each game and tournament that we've played in. They've done a good job of getting us good quality games and good environments to try to prepare us for the World Cup now. It's not just talking strategy now at the last minute.
hayden (logan, utah)
who is the best soccer player right now?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:08 AM)
Nick Romando from Real Salt Lake, duh.
Blake (Abilene, TX)
Carlos, how much practice does the US team get outside of World cup Qualifyers, Gold Cup, and friendlys? Can somthing like chemistry with other players be figured out by talking with the players or does it take lots of practices together?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:09 AM)
I think it takes time around the group. We get zero time outside of competitions together. We have a good group of guys and the core group has been together for four years now. We stay in touch. We don't have big egos on the team, which that can be problems for some teams.
What forwards have been the most impressive in camp so far? How have Gomez and Buddle looked?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:10 AM)
They've all looked really good. They're hungry, working hard, scoring goals. All of the forwards up top, they've been doing well in training and making our lives difficult as defenders. I'm hoping that Finley will be one of the surprises of the tournament. I think he's got something special to take guys on one on one.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the best & the worst stadium that you ever played at?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:11 AM)
Stade de France is pretty sweet. I played there with my club team. Enfield was great too. Those two stick out in my mind.
Los, what can we expect to see in the friendly tomorrow in terms of strategy and line-up?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:12 AM)
Actually that's a good question Brian, because I was wondering the same thing. Hopefully I'll find out tonight at the team meeting. He might to see guys that are on the bubble or whatever or he might want to get some lineups out there to gel. I don't know what he's going to do.
How devastating it Ballack injury to Germany's chances to moving forward?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:13 AM)
I think it's just kind of a bummer for Ballack in general. You never want to see the world's best players, and him being captain of the team, going down before the tournament. Players like him make the tournament exciting. It kinda sucks.
TommyO (Somerville, MA)
How excited are you and the guys to see the media coverage and overall attention from people in the US change in the past 4 years. In 2006, my buddies and I had to make our own WC Bracket, now ESPN took all all the hard work out of it. Cannot wait for June 12. See you at Rentschler tomorrow night!
Carlos Bocanegra (11:14 AM)
I think first and foremost, John Skipper here at ESPN has made the World Cup the priority and it's cool to see. Playing in Europe, I haven't seen the fanfare, but getting back this week, it's everywhere. It's cool to see. It's exciting for us. It makes us feel like the World Cup has arrived.
Adam (Danbury, CT)
Carlos, going into the World Cup many people were criticizing the U.S. defense, citing it as the probable weakness of the American team. Now however, with Charlie Davies as a seemingly missing link up front what do you see as the most important aspect of the team to work on moving forward?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:15 AM)
Charlie was definitely an important part of the group. He was just a little short on time in making the comeback. We're a team and we need to be strong all over the field. We have guys that can score goals, we just have to give the team effort and the rest will take care of itself.
hayden (logan, utah)
how HUGE will this upcoming win over ENgland be?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:16 AM)
It's an exciting match for us. I know with the fans in our country and in England as well, it's a natural rivalry. It's exciting to kick off the tournament against one of the bigger teams and powerhouses.
Stuart (santa fe nm)
Carlos, What type of tactical training is Bob Bradley putting you guys through? Do you do lots of shadow play to learn about the atticking options off the ball and player movement?
Carlos Bocanegra (11:17 AM)
He is running our butts off at the moment. It' been a lot of game like situations and a lot of running. A lot of fitness at the moment. The hard part is behind us at the moment and sharpen us up for game like situations.
Carlos Bocanegra (11:17 AM)
Go buy the Miller Lite tall boy can with my picture on it! At your local convenience stores. Drink them for me, because I can't drink it until after the World Cup.
Buzzmaster (11:18 AM)
Thanks for chatting Carlos!