An angry sun glared down on D.C. United’s training session on Wednesday afternoon, scorching the squad with a nasty one-two punch of 96-degree heat and simmering humidity at the RFK Stadium auxiliary fields that made the workout noticeably more taxing than the team’s usual mid-morning practices.
A few players grumbled and tempers might’ve run a bit shorter than normal. But it was a small price to pay for the opportunity to catch one of the most memorable moments in the nation’s soccer history earlier in the day, the U.S. World Cup team’s stunning, last-gasp victory over Algeria in Pretoria, South Africa.
“Oh, it was great. It was fun to watch and I’m happy for those guys, for sure,” midfielder Clyde Simms said. “They kept fighting to the end, and it’s almost like it’s the American way. They haven’t given up in any of the games.
“We’ve had to alter our training schedule a little bit to watch the games, but it’s good for us to watch. I feel like it gives a lot of guys some motivation, especially for the younger guys who could have a chance at the next World Cup … You can learn some things from those players—they’re world-class.”
The Yanks’ heart-stopping performances have riveted the entire nation, reminding United’s professionals of the delirious emotions that fans of their sport enjoy – or endure – in unforgettable moments like Wednesday’s 1-0 win. Santino Quaranta exchanged congratulatory text messages with several members of the U.S. squad after the match’s astonishing conclusion.
“Man, it was emotional,” Quaranta said. “I talked to Stu Holden after the game, and he said it was an amazing feeling – the whole country’s behind them.”
Quaranta has been a teammate of U.S. match-winner Landon Donovan at both club and international levels, and he noted the long and winding road that the L.A. Galaxy star has traveled to reach this rarefied moment.
“Nobody deserves it more than Landon, I think, because he’s been through so many ups and downs throughout the last couple of years and he’s really done well,” he said. “I’m excited for him.”
Quaranta spent plenty of time with the USMNT during Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying over the past few years, and he believes Bob Bradley’s current group has the unity and resilience to go even deeper into the tournament’s knockout rounds.
“It definitely looks like a team that’s destined to do some pretty good things," Quaranta said. "With the chips stacked against them – you look through the tournament, and even on [Wednesday], with the [disallowed] goal early, they still keep fighting. They might not be the most talented team, but when you look at the French, look at some of these teams – the U.S. is a team.”