MIAMI (September 6, 2012) – On any given day, you never know who you will run into at FIU. One day it could be the Miami Heat “Big 3” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh hosting a South Florida All-Star game in the U.S. Century Bank Arena. Maybe you can catch a glimpse of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez at the FIU Baseball Stadium taking hacks in the batting cages.
Most recently, the U.S. Men’s Soccer National Team (USMNT), which includes international superstars Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Tim Howard (Everton) and Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander), trained at the FIU Soccer Stadium in preparation for their Sept. 7 matchup with Jamaica in the 2014 World Cup Qualifier in Kingston, Jamaica. The two teams will then play again on Sept. 11 in Columbus, Ohio.
“Having the USMNT train at FIU is a great motivational factor for our players,” FIU Head Coach Kenny Arena said. “We were very fortunate to have [U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach] Jürgen Klinsmann speak to our players and really open their eyes about what it takes to become the best they can be.”
FIU sophomore forward Quentin Albrecht, who leads the team and Conference USA in goals (4) and points (8), was especially moved by the words of his fellow German countryman Klinsmann.
“Coach Klinsmann talked to us for like 30 minutes,” Albrecht said. “He was very motivating. He talked about how a professional should live and the mentality it takes to play soccer. You have to be mentally strong and it applies to me since I’m a forward. You might think of the missed chances during a game, but if you think of the positive stuff, you might get better. Think of how you are going to score the next goal and not how you would miss it.”
USMNT co-captain and goalkeeper, Howard, was especially impressed by the facilities and hospitality of the FIU staff during his visit to Miami.
“The facilities have been fantastic here,” Howard said. “The soccer field was immaculate. It was perfect for what we needed going into our World Cup qualifier.”
Just like anyone from Miami knows, the weather in South Florida can be as unpredictable as ever. On day one of training, the team was forced inside the arena because of lightning and took advantage of the time in the gym with a pick-up game of basketball.
“It was fun being in the arena today playing a little hoops and to turn back the clock a little,” Howard commented.
The 33-year-old Everton star also had high-praise for the FIU Soccer program and its first-year head coach.
“Kenny comes from a very rich coaching pedigree,” Howard said of Arena. “I played for his father Bruce [Arena] and trained alongside Kenny on numerous occasions. Knowing what I know about him and his family, he has a very strong determination of winning. Kenny has been around a lot of championship caliber teams and you need to know how to win. I think he’s a winner and I wish him the best of success and luck.”
Arena has the Panthers off to a 3-0-0 start, their best since the 2000 season. There’s no telling how far the inspiration from Klinsmann and the USMNT will carry FIU this season. For the Panthers, it was an experience of a lifetime. One they would jump at the chance to have again.
“The staff [at FIU] has given us more than what we could ask for,” Howard added. “All in all, I hope we come back here very soon. It was an awesome experience.”
The FIU men’s soccer team heads into the weekend with the best record (3-0-0) in Conference USA and will play Wisconsin on Friday, Sept. 7, at 7:00 p.m., and UIC on Sunday, Sept. 9, at 1:00 p.m. ET. Fans can watch the match with Wisconsin via www.UWBadgers.com (subscription based) by clicking HERE.
For tickets to FIU home matches, call the FIU Ticket Office at 305-FIU-GAME or log onto www.FIUSports.com. Fans can follow @FIUMensSoccer on Twitter and find us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FIUMensSoccer. Fans can also watch all FIU men’s soccer home matches live on FIUSports.com on our free webcasts.
About FIU Athletics: FIU Athletics is home to more than 400 student-athletes in 18 different sports. Athletic events are played in seven different venues on FIU's campuses (Modesto A. Maidique and Biscayne Bay), including U.S. Century Bank Arena and Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium.
About FIU: Florida International University is recognized as a Carnegie engaged university. Its colleges and schools offer more than 180 bachelors, masters and doctoral programs in fields such as engineering, international relations, architecture, law and medicine. As one of South Florida’s anchor institutions, FIU is worlds ahead in its local and global engagement, finding solutions to the most challenging problems of our time. FIU emphasizes research as a major component of its mission and enrolls nearly 48,000 students in two campuses and three centers including FIU Downtown on Brickell and the Miami Beach Urban Studios. More than 140,000 alumni live and work in South Florida. For more information about FIU, visit http://www.fiu.edu/.
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