U.S. MNT vs. Ecuador Post-Match Quotes
TAMPA (March 25, 2007) - The U.S. Men's National Team defeated Ecuador 3-1 this afternoon at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. Here are quotes from head coach Bob Bradley and players.
March 25, 2007
U.S. Head Coach Bob Bradley
"We're certainly pleased with the outcome. I thought it was an exciting game, highlighted of course by a great performance by Landon. Throughout this camp, you could tell that he had really stepped things up in terms of his role on the team. He was our captain today; more than that, he really came through with the goals and good movement off the ball, which is something that he does really well. I felt that the group as a whole put in a very good effort. Ecuador, as we know from last summer, is a very talented team. I thought that there was a period in the first half that we didn't handle that well. As we got into the second half, the team made some very good adjustments and was able to play a little bit more disciplined and a little more solid in our defending and our organization, and still pretty good about going forward and taking advantage of the opportunities we created."
On the adjustments at halftime:
"I would say it was two things. We made a change at halftime. Michael Bradley came in for Eddie Johnson. What that did was push Landon up underneath Brina. Ching. It put Michael more alongside Benny. I felt that defensively we were able to secure that area in the center of the field better. And then we reminded thee players in the back that against good, strong, fast players you have to move your feet a little bit better. You can't just make a stab at the ball because they can stick their arms out and hold you off. So, the individual discipline of some of the players was better."
On Landon Donovan stepping up in this game:
"The first camp of the year is a tough one. It's very much a preseason camp. Guys have been off, and in Landon's case he came in late. Now he had the chance to go back in with the Galaxy. I think he felt he came into this camp fitter. You could tell his focus was excellent. We've asked a lot of some of the returning players. Some of these guys are not that old, but they are players with experience. Their ability in every camp to set the standard, set the tone and push the camp is important. There is a lot of responsibility tied to that. For me, in the first camp maybe there was some other things that were going on. In this camp from the beginning you could tell it was different, and it made a huge difference in terms of our preparation."
On the atmosphere at Raymond James Stadium, with the largest attendance ever for a friendly game in the state of Florida:
"The atmosphere today was great. I was part of MLS when the Mutiny was here, so I have been here before. It's a great stadium. The crowd today was excellent. The opportunity to play in a great stadium where the crowd is into the game, where you look into the stands and see red, white and blue, you see yellow and blue - that kind of passion and atmosphere is what all the players and coaches want all the time."
On the performance of the European-based players:
"Overall, I thought that all of those guys did a good job today. There's always a learning curve when we bring them into a camp. The nicest part about this camp was having the five or six days of training and starting to establish how we do things. I thought we got a lot accomplished throughout the week, and obviously that group of players made up the nucleus of the team on the field today. So I think they deserve the credit."
On the play of DaMarcus Beasley:
"I have the advantage with DaMarcus because I've known him a long time. Damarcus is a talented player. It's always key to make sure he is focused on being part of the group and not distracted by other things. We had some very good discussions this week. I like him a great deal. I respect him. When I bring him into camp, I want him to contribute in the same ways that I was talking about with Landon. It's a big responsibility. Often times you have young players in this country and the first thing they are trying to do is make a name for themselves. But then as they move up the ladder, they must start to look around and make sure that they are good examples and good role models. You can't just focus on yourself anymore. You have to start to focus on the group and how to make the group better. When we were all together in Chicago, we had guys like Peter Nowak and Lubos Kubik. I reminded DaMarcus that as older players in MLS, they still everyday came into training and paid attention to all the little things that were going on around them and tried hard to make it better. I think that that is very, very important for him. When he has that kind of mentality, he is capable of great things."
Midfielder Landon Donovan
On the match:
"A good result. I thought in the first half we were a little disjointed and got caught up in a back and forth game against a team who is probably better than us at that. I think at half time we figured it out. We felt we were going to get chances going forward, so if we shored up the middle of the field and took away their opportunities that we would get chances and score some goals."
On connecting with Ching on the second goal:
"I love playing with Chingy. The second half was better. I was a little closer to him. The first half I couldn't really get around him. He sees the game the right way. He does little things that people don't always see. On [his assist on ] the second goal, there's a lot of good, talented players can't play that ball. You think of Chingy as a big man that doesn't know how to play and create space like that. What a great ball."
On whether or not he had a sharper focus for this camp:
"At the end of last year and the World Cup, as bad as that was for me personally, I feel like I learned a lot from it. I think I grew up a lot. I got married this off season, which helped me grow up a lot. I am now embracing a leadership role. I used to say that I would love to be a leader, but it's not good enough just to say it. When you're not as fit like I was in the first camp, you can't do all the things you want to do. Now I'm fit, and I feel like I'm playing well. I'm trying to be that type of leader."
On the sequence of the first goal:
"We talked about early on that [the game] might not be pretty, but when the ball was coming forward to get into good spots. It's funny, as the ball was traveling you kind of get the feeling that it might drop down to me. When I saw the defender head it, it came to me and I was just focusing on getting a good first touch. My first touch was pretty good. I've also been working a lot this year on shooting from outside. It wasn't a perfect shot, but I don't think the goalie saw it and it caught him a little off guard. It helped us a lot."
Midfielder Clint Dempsey
On the match:
“I thought it was a good game for us. We moved the ball well and created a lot of chances. Hats off to Landon, he did great job finishing the chances he had. As a whole, I thought we played well and played good soccer.”
On the wing play:
“(Beas and I) have been working all week in training to get into the attack and create chances for the team. I think we did a good job of staying organized as a team and picking our times to get into the attack. I think that’s what allowed us to be successful.”
On facing Guatemala next:
“It will be a similar game. They’re a team that likes to possess the ball, but if we stay organized and press at the right times, it can make it difficult for other teams, so I see us playing similar as we did today.”
On the atmosphere:
“It was a good atmosphere. The pitch was decent and it was good to play against a good team like Ecuador. It was a good result for us and our development moving forward to the next World Cup.”
On halftime adjustments:
“I thought we did a much better job in the second half to make it more difficult for them to make passes and earn their goals rather than just hand them to them.”
Goalkeeper Tim Howard
On defensive adjustments made in the second half:
“It was just making sure we were communicating all on the same page. It was warm out there and obviously that is going to take its toll. Fatigue is going to set in and mentally we’re not going to be all as sharp as we’d like to be. We just talked about staying tight, staying together and covering for one another, and I think the communication in the second half was improved.”
Defender Steve Cherundolo
On the difference in the second half:
“I thought the energy in the second half was very good. Our movement going forward and finding good spaces with the ball and moving the ball quickly forward was the difference in the second half. Guys instead of dribbling we took two touches and found the open guy. We were really dangerous and had them on their heels the entire second half. I think we definitely deserved to win this game with a two-goal difference.”
Forward Brian Ching
On playing with Landon:
“It’s always fun to play with Landon. I just think we understand each other on the field. He looks to get the ball out for me and I look for him every time I get it. I’m not going to dribble by anyone so I leave that up to him and just give him the ball and get in the box.”
On getting kicked in the face in the first half:
“I tried to head the ball and the guy kicked me in the nose, and it kind of started a fountain of blood. It’s OK, I’m pretty sure it’s not broken. It just bled a lot.”
On assisting on Landon’s second goal:
I knew the last defender was marking me and I saw Landon just take off. He’s going to pretty much beat anyone in a foot race, so I just looked to get the ball in and behind the defense. He got on the end of it and made a great finish.”
On the atmosphere:
“It was fantastic. As soon as I jogged onto the field and heard the crowd roar it kind of gets our blood pumping and gets us motivated. It kind of gives us a little bit more life on the field.”
Defender Oguchi Onyewu
On dealing with Ecuador’s attack:
“We knew Ecuador was a big team up top and their speed is one of their strengths. They played to that in the first half and got us a little stretched out but I think we came in the second half organized and they didn’t really get any chances except for free kicks. In the run of play they didn’t do too much.”
On the team’s performance:
“This is a new group, a new era. I didn’t know half the guys in camp this week and it’s just going to take some time for us to get the veterans with the new guys and get us clicking on both sides, the defensive side and offensive side. I think our defensive side in the last part of the first half and the second half was amazing. We didn’t give them too much space at all.
On their attack:
“It was good that we were getting chances and getting in front of goal. Steve Cherundolo played some great balls from the right side. I thought our forwards did well holding the ball and Landon of course did well with the three goals he had. All in all, I think Bob will be pretty satisfied with the result.”