Leading up to their World Cup Qualifying match tonight, the U.S. Men’s National Team trained for the first time in Orlando as they prepare to take on Panama. The game holds huge implications for the U.S. as a win puts them closer to securing a bid for the 2018 World Cup. For this specific game, however, it holds a special significance for two U.S. players: Dax McCarty and Graham Zusi.
McCarty, who grew up in Winter Park and went to Winter Park High School, has yet to play in Orlando’s new soccer stadium. He is looking forward to playing in front of all his friends and family in the new stadium.
“Really excited,” McCarty said on Monday, “I grew up 10 minutes from where the Orlando City Stadium is, so that’s great to see. It’s great to see how far soccer has come in this community and obviously with the success that Orlando City has had with their fans, it’s been amazing. For me, it’s going to be an honor to be able to put on the crest in the place I grew up. I think there’s no greater honor.”
Zusi, who grew up in nearby Longwood and went to Lake Brantley High School, used to play at the Seminole Soccer Complex when he was growing up. The field that now houses all of Orlando City’s youth teams is just nearby where the Lions MLS team trains now.
“I’m extremely excited,” Zusi said, “I had the opportunity to play in Orlando in MLS this year and I was blown away by the fan support and the atmosphere they created. I’m looking forward to a lot of the same come Friday.”
The game will kick off on Friday, October 6, at 7:00 on ESPN 2 and UniMas