PRETORIA, South Africa -- Gameday for the U.S. soccer team has a dependable structure, albeit with some built-in down time for the players, the amount depending on whether the United States is dealing with an afternoon or a night-time kickoff (local time) as with this Saturday's contest against Ghana:
Here then, is what a United States soccer team game day looks like from wake-up right up until the moment the players assemble for the march to the field, with the familiar World Cup anthem in the backdrop:
Menus for all meals are designed by head athletic trainer
The team training and treatment room is open during this time. Players can also get a muscle message at this time, although most who do like a pre-game message prefer to wait until stadium arrival.
This may also be where everyone discovers who is starting. Sometimes the team is told the day before. If not, they'll all find out here when they walk into the meeting room, where charts will be posted with the starting lineup, the projected opposition lineup and all the appropriate diagramming of restarts.
Finally, in World Cup qualifiers, this is where the roster will be pared down to a selection of 18 (11 starters plus seven subs allowed to dress). At a World Cup however, all 23 players are allowed to dress, so this part doesn't apply in South Africa.
Upon arrival, the managers and trainers set up the locker room, prepping everything from trainers' tables and message tables to snacks and liquids. Game kits are set out at individual lockers.
An itinerary has been posted and distributed the night before to all players and staff. This will detail precisely what time the team bus will pull away from the hotel/lodge.
There are rarely individual meetings at this time. But if coaches have any last-minute details to cover regarding specific opposition attacker tendencies or something along those lines, this is where they might informally meet with players to review it. Mostly, this has all been covered in the practice; but in the case of a short-turn (like Saturday's), there may be more need for squeezing in last-minute details or even a late video review prepared by team personnel.
By now everything has been laid out for players and the music is already bouncing through the locker room. That part seems fairly essential. The music is selected by equipment manager
Also available to the players at this time is a variety of fruit, drinks and coffee.
Players begin getting pre-game messages or chiropractic adjustments now. The coaches always have their own area, separate from players, to review any last minute details
Here, coaches sign and turn in their official lineups and get the other side's official selections. Teams may still make changes but it's a little complicated at that point, so alterations are rare from this point until kickoff.
At this point, the important defensive assignments on restarts go from pencil to pen. If there is a surprise personnel change on the other side's official lineup, coaches will quickly make the last-minute tactical adjustments here.
A member of staff is on radio with FIFA game operations staff regarding the official game countdown. So the U.S. staffer is giving Bradley signals, as in, "Five minutes to go ... " etc.
When the word comes from FIFA that teams need to assemble in two minutes, the staffer gives Bradley that signal. At that point, the coach calls the team into the center of the locker room, says a few quick words and then hands to up together in a big circle. Bradley says a few more words, always ending with "On three ... 'U.S.A.!'"