President Obama welcomed the LA Galaxy to the White House on May 15 to congratulate the team on its 2011 Major League Soccer Cup Championship.
The team, which has three of soccer’s biggest stars on its roster– David Beckham, Landon Donovan, and Robbie Keane–won a tough championship match after going undefeated at home all season long.
“So everyone who’s a part of this club — the staff, the players, the fans back in L.A. — together you pulled off one of the toughest feats in team sports: You lived up to the hype. You combined star power, hard work; it paid off,” President Obama said.
After the ceremony in the East Room, the team took questions from young soccer players as part of a Let’s Move! event encouraging kids to take up sports as part of a healthy, active lifestyle.
White House welcome for All White
On the same day he was named in the All Whites soccer squad for their upcoming internationals, Kiwi midfielder Dan Keat was being hosted at the White House by United States President Barack Obama.
The 24-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy player and his teammates were honoured at a reception for winning last year’s Major League Soccer title.
Keat, who made his international debut as a substitute against Jamaica in February, joined stars David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan at the event on Tuesday (US time).
The USA bounced back from a 19-28 loss to Wales in the Bowl Quarterfinals to clear Russia by more than 20 points and fought to the last second against France in the Shield Final.
Since USA Head Coach Alexander Magleby took over in March, the team has improved, but the wins have still proven elusive.
“I wish for the boys that they could get a few more wins out of it, but the important part is building the foundation,” said Magleby.
The coach cited the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifiers in August as the targeted competition now that the Series has concluded. The outlook for that tournament looks good as parts of the USA’s game have proven lethal.
The Eagles finish the IRB tournament on 41 points and in 11th place.
The USA attack has become more potent in the last four tournaments and snappy attack and individual brilliance typified the Eagles’ London offensive campaign. Colin Hawley is playing the best sevens of his career, Shalom Suniula is growing into his role as playmaker and captain, and Zack Test is great on both sides of the ball.
Mike Palefau was a leader by example and was often the cool head for the team and exemplified a killer instinct on attack. Andrew Durutalo and Peter Tiberio were impactful when they came on and Durutalo’s power earned him a starting spot from Hong Kong onwards.
As a unit though, the Eagles’ defense has something to be desired. Looking forward, the team will address the issues and continue to improve.
The USA will look to the Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifiers this August and then begin preparations for the 2012-2013 Series that will start in the Fall of 2012.
Tries: Hawley, Palefau, Test
Cons: Enosa (2)
Tries: Smith, Thomas, Price, Walker
Cons: Walker (3), Jones
Tries: Durutalo, Palefau, Test, Edwards (2), Hawley
Cons: Enosa(3), Suniula
Tries: Ostroushko, Galinovskiy
Tries: Hawley, Durutalo
Tries: Delmas, Saubade, Laousse
Cons: Albaladejo (2)
The USA Eagles fell behind Kenya to 12th in the IRB Sevens standings after a mixed-bag tournament in Glasgow last weekend.
Still, earning tournament points is always a good thing.
In the end, USA was beaten by Kenya – a team they’d beaten in earlier round play – in the Shield Final, by 22-17. It’s now on to London for the tournament finale this weekend. Coach Alexander Magleby believes that, on a good day, his team can compete with the best and are steadily improving. In pool play, the Eagles played the Aussies close, until giving away two tries in the final two minutes and losing 29-14. They also played the English hard, tied 12-12 until deep into the second half, before going down 19-12. In their final pool game, the Eagles beat Kenya 29-14, with emerging star Rocco Mauer scoring two tries.
That performance put the Eagles into the Bowl quarterfinal against Russia, where they lost by just one point to move to the Shield segment of the four-trophy format of a Sevens tournament. The points from Glasgow put the Eagles in 12th place, tied on points with Kenya and just two behind Scotland. With just the London tournament remaining, the Eagles will have to shine to meet their pre-season goal of a top ten finish.
For the record, the New Zealand team extended its lead at the top of the table to 11 points over Fiji.
The Keelhaulers came from 16 points down in the second half of their semi-final game against University of North Florida to win 31-26 and book their place in the Division 3 National Championship game.
The cadets from California Maritime (see below post), who visited New Zealand last year, gave it a good run in the finals against Salve Regina University of Rhode Island. In the end, though, they fell just short, losing 22-15.
Our friend Steven Hiatt, the cadets’ coach, wrote to us, saying “We were over the line THREE times, but couldn’t get points from any of those. Despite the loss, (it was a) great run and great experience for the lads.”
Hear, hear and well done from all your friends in Wellington. Steve also reports that it’s possible to watch both matches at ustream.tv: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/22228100 (Championship Match: Cal Maritime vs. Salve Regina Univerity), http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/22197989 (Semi final Cal Maritime vs. University of North Florida)