ST JOHN'S, Antigua -- In light of all of the recent discussion about what it means to train hard for the United States men's national team, Carlos Bocanegra was asked a simple question: What is a good training session?
Yeah, we're talking about practice.
"I think when players say that they trained hard this week or had a good week of training, a lot of that means the concentration levels are high," Bocanegra explained. "There was a lot of focus on the training. Clearly, we run around and do the same thing every day, but when there's a little more levels of concentration and focus out there, it brings the level of training up. "
Training has been a simmering topic since Jurgen Klinsmann began his first run at the World Cup as coach of the U.S. team last June. He has openly spoken of the training habits of his younger players, particularly Jozy Altidore, who was omitted from this month's roster despite excelling overseas.
From a casual observer's point of view, it can be very difficult to differentiate between a player who is working hard or one who is taking plays off. Most of the time, the players are doing laps or just steady drills. However, Bocanegra explains it is quite easy for fellow teammates to tell when a player is slacking on the field.
"You can see it from the sidelines when someone is being lazy out there or giving the ball away when they shouldn't," Bocanegra said.
As for his advice to all players trying to make an impression in practice, Bocanegra says, "You just need to train like you're in the game."
To the satisfaction of both Klinsmann and Bocanegra, training levels have been high during the camp in Miami, according to both men. With a few newcomers on the field in Alan Gordon and Eddie Johnson, Bocanegra believes the team is excited to get the next two World Cup qualifiers started.
"Our training in Miami was good, the group's excited," he said. "We know this is important for us. Everyone had a good attitude this week."
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- Carlos Bocanegra
- Jurgen Klinsmann