COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – It has been over a year since the U.S. Men’s Field Hockey Team faced an international opponent. Their last competition was at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara where the U.S. shutout Mexico 6-0. Now, the U.S. is in the final stage of their preparations for World League Round 1 where they will face Mexico again, only this time on their home turf at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Cali.
The U.S. will host the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Mexico for the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) World League Round 1 event, November 16-18. The victor will qualify for World League Round 2. The World League will be used to determine which teams qualify for future Olympic Games and FIH World Cups.
Usafieldhockey.com caught up with Men’s National Team Head Coach Chris Clements to talk about their final preparations and their thoughts on the opponents they will soon face.
The U.S. Men’s Squad recently relocated to Southern California to train full-time at the Olympic Training Center. How has the move and the implementation of a centralized training program in Chula Vista helped the team during their preparations for World League Round 1?
The ability to have a large number of players training together on a regular basis allows our athletes to develop and perform more consistently. This is a huge piece of our program which is now going to establish the base for players to develop.
Are you excited to have this event in your “backyard” and do you feel the U.S. will have any sort of advantage playing on their home turf?
It is great to have a “home” event and hosting an international tournament is a huge honor. It doesn’t happen that often so when it does it is great to share our performances with family and friends although we do have a good fan base that follows us on tours from time to time.
How are you spending the last two weeks preparing for World League?
We have three inter-squad matches this weekend at Moorpark College in Moorpark, Cali. and then our regular training sessions and meetings to fine tune everything.
Did you hear that all World League matches will be streamed live on usafieldhockey.com?
Yes, this is fantastic news! To have the ability to promote the game not only across the U.S. but to the entire international hockey community is terrific.
Any thoughts on the opponents you will face during this tournament, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Mexico?
We know Mexico well from the previous Pan American Games and matches and we have faced the Dominican Republic in previous Junior Pan American Championships. Guatemala recently started field hockey in their country so this will be our first competition against them.
What’s the difference between the U.S. team who competed last fall at the Pan American Games to the U.S. team now?
Seven of the players who attended the Pan American Games are not in contention for a spot on the World League Squad. We are in a new phase with the national program and typically when that happens you are working with a younger group. We have some very talented young players who have been knocking on the door of the Senior Squad for a while and some of them may get their chance to prove themselves this month.
What is the team's goals for this tournament?
To expose the new and young players in the squad to international competition, play consistently throughout the tournament, and to win. We are confident in our programs path not only for success this month but well into the future. Our sights are set on participating in Round 2 of the World League early next year.”