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Next up for U.S. men's water polo team: Canada

July 23, 2011 |  5:45 pm

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Terry Schroeder, coach of the U.S. men's water polo team, has been providing updates from Shanghai on his team's progress at the World Championships. A top-three finish would earn the U.S. men a berth at next summer's London Olympics.

Here's his latest update leading up to Sunday's game against Canada, scheduled for 1:50 a.m. Pacific time:

Friday Team USA was able to get some frustrations out with a lopsided 20-3 win over South Africa. It may have been just what the doctor ordered to get us some positive energy going.

In our training yesterday, the team was more focused and seemed more hungry. There is certainly a lot of work to do when we return home, but at this point all we can do is take it one game at a time while we are here and put in our best effort. You never know what will happen in sports -- that is why we play the game. If you believe that you have a chance and go out and give it your best, than you have a chance to win each and every time you go out there.

[Sunday] we have a very important matchup against Canada. There are two reasons that this game is critical for us. First and foremost, every game now is an elimination game.  The winner today advances to the top eight, and the loser goes to 9th-12th. So it is time to play our best. 

Canada actually wanted this matchup with us. They feel like they are closing the gap between us, and they have something to prove. This is a dangerous scenario for us. We cannot for one second think that this game is going to be easy. We have to come to play at the top of our game. If we do that we will take care of business and keep our hopes alive to medal in this tournament.

The second critical reason for doing well in this game is that Canada is our chief rival in the Pan Am Games in October.  If we do not qualify here, then the Pan Ams become our qualifier for the Olympic Games in London. Today’s game is important for us to send Canada a message and take all hope away from them as we go forward.

We have a relaxed morning with breakfast and then a stretcher at the hotel pool. The hotel has really worked out nicely here. They have a great gym and pool and we have been able to utilize these facilities without having to drive all over town for our trainings.

The food has been great and the fact that we are situated on the side of the river away from the busy part of town is great for keeping the team focused. Also, the competition pool is really only 10-15 minutes away from the hotel, so that has been awesome too. All in all, it has been one of the better hotels I have ever stayed in on any USA Water Polo trip.

[Sunday] we will test the waters again and see if all the meetings and talking about playing with pride and intensity have hit the mark. This will be a truer test to see if we are ready for the big boys or not. I am excited about seeing if we can win some games here. Four games to go.... All we have to do is win our next four games and we will be the champs!

For now, we will just focus all of our energy on winning this game [Sunday]. It really is all that matters right now. We have something to prove, and today is the day to do it.

See you at the pool,

Coach

ALSO:

Coach Terry Schroeder discusses U.S.'s 8-5 loss to Italy in water polo

Blake Griffin honors students, says he won't play outside U.S.

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Brian Alexander (6), Timothy Hutton (10) and Shea Buckner of the United States (6) outnumber Ryan Bell of South Africa (8). Credit: Adam Pretty / Getty Images

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