The Staples boys soccer team played host to 250 younger players today, in a sun-filled, joyful warmup to the US-Portugal World Cup match.
There were mini-games, an obstacle course, a speed gun, penalty kick contests, food, a raffle, and plenty of smiles. It was hard to know who had more fun, the kids or the Staples guys.
The only drag was the final result. Portugal scored with 10 seconds to go in injury time, to tie 2-2. But perhaps one of the kids who chanted “USA! USA!” in the auditorium will be on the field for the USA in a World Cup 20 years from now — and will remember this as the day that started it all.
Taking it steady on one part of the obstacle course. (Photo/Kim Lake)
Denzel Robinson (left) and Sam Kantor help on another part of the obstacle course. Denzel said he loved watching the little kids smile. (Photo/Kim Lake)
Checking out a powerful kick, with the aid of a speed gun. (Photo/Kim Lake)
Best buds, playing the game they love — and lovin’ the US jerseys. (Photo/Kim Lake)
Staples captain Andrew Puchala shows future stars how it’s done. (Photo/Kim Lake)
Part of the crowd this afternoon. The Staples players sit proudly at top. (Photo/Kim Lake)
It doesn’t get better than eating pizza and wearing US face paint. (Photo/Doug Fincher)
Kyle Martino — the Westport soccer star who was National High School Player of the Year in 1998, earned MLS Rookie of the Year honors, and shared the Los Angeles Galaxy field with David Beckham — is going to the World Cup.
He won’t be playing for the US national team — though he’s done that in the past. For a month starting in mid-June, Martino will be a key part of ESPN and ABC’s radio crew. He’ll announce games with TV veterans J.P. Dellacamera and Tommy Smyth, and former New York Cosmos star Shep Messing.
Martino has earned praise for his ESPN television work, covering the US men’s team and MLS. However, for the World Cup, Disney — ESPN and ABC’s parent company — has signed a largely British TV crew.
That will be particularly interesting on June 12. It’s the Americans’ 1st game of the tournament — against England.
Don’t want to hear a Brit call the match? No problem.
Gather in front of a huge hi-def screen. Mute the sound.
And listen to Kyle Martino, live from South Africa.
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