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Thursday, May 27, 2010
Obama, Biden, Clinton welcome U.S. team

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton welcomed the U.S. men's national team to the White House on Thursday morning, with Obama delivering a message the coaches, players and staff won't soon forget.

US men's national soccer team meeting President Obama, Biden and Clinton at the White House today
The U.S. men's national soccer team met Thursday with President Obama, Vice President Biden and former President Clinton at the White House.

"This may be the best-dressed soccer team I've ever seen," Obama said.

Dressed in khaki pants, brown dress shoes and Nike U.S. soccer track jackets with "White House visit" embroidered on the front, the team met with the trio of leaders for about five minutes at the north portico of the White House.

Obama addressed the team briefly, wishing the group good luck and commending members of the team on what they've already achieved.

"We're going to be proud of what you do in South Africa," he said. "And you will have somebody in the Oval Office watching ESPN to make sure things are going OK."

Obama said Biden would support the team in person. Clinton, who is also planning to attend, is the honorary chairman of the USA Bid Committee seeking to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

Clinton couldn't stop commenting on the team's matching brown dress shoes, which U.S. soccer officials later said were Cole Haan Capers.

"This is the only team I've ever seen that has had these cool shoes," Clinton said.

The former president then pointed the shoes out to Biden who joked, "I've got a pair already." Biden then told the team he wanted to make a bet that the first thing Obama would notice when he walked up were the shoes.

Bob Bradley/Bill Clinton
Clinton chats with coach Bob Bradley.

"Every day I walk into the office and he points out my shoes," Biden said.

Obama arrived shortly thereafter and didn't say a word about the shoes. Perhaps his mind was elsewhere, like the meeting he'd just had with the NCAA champion Duke men's basketball team in the Rose Garden, or the imminent nationally televised news conference update on the Gulf oil spill. The president shook the hand of each player before briefly addressing the team and posing for photos.

As quickly as he arrived, he was gone. But not Biden. After the team finished with the photo opportunity, the vice president made small talk with the team and then took the entire 70-member travel party on a personal tour of the West Wing. Afterward, they gathered in Biden's office, where each member of the team introduced himself and mentioned his hometown. After that, the vice president gave each of the players a commemorative vice presidential coin.