Pre-Game Quote Sheet: USA vs. NZL
U.S. U-17 MNT head coach Wilmer Cabrera addresses the media ahead of the team's match against New Zealand.
June 24, 2011
“First we are happy to be here. It’s a beautiful facility, a beautiful stadium and we appreciate the welcome. Personally, this is my first time here but I have a very good friend who plays here, Miguel Calero. We are happy to be here and very focused on the game. The opportunity is here for us to go to the next round and obviously in front of us we have a very good team who has the same possibilities. They have the same thought process. So, it’s going to be a tough match, one that will answer who we are as the United States team.”
“We played a very good match against the Czech Republic and then not well against Uzbekistan so what we are expecting from our players is that we need to show who we really are. Is it the first team, or the second team? That can only be answered tomorrow at 6 p.m. Everything is even so we’ll see what happens."
On playing under pressure:
“You have to play a World Cup under pressure. That’s one of the reasons to play a World Cup, to teach the players how it is to play under pressure, how to deal with that kind of pressure. It’s important. In soccer, if you don’t know how to perform under pressure you should be finding another profession. We are all under pressure, coaches and players, the whole time.”
On whether he thought his team would be on three points at this stage in the tournament:
“We never make any kind of numbers. You can’t do that in soccer. You just have what you get day by day. You cannot have numbers going into a tournament. If you say, ‘okay we’re going to be here on this day with three points,’ you should take another job predicting things. We just wanted to be here in a position to qualify. We need to be ready to qualify and we need to play this game. We need to find out if we are good enough to qualify for the next round.”
On how he thinks his team will respond in tomorrow’s game:
“I’ve been working with this team around two years so I know the players very well. I believe that we are the team from the first game, but if I just say it, that doesn’t mean anything. They have to show it. They have to prove to the world that they are a good team. I believe they can come back. It’s all about experience with these kids. It’s all about learning lessons about the World Cup. We talked with them and show them video of Uzbekistan playing well. We said don’t be relaxed and to play with purpose, fighting for their lives. But, even though we told them about it, they were a little bit casual, a little bit checked out and they didn’t respond as well. So, right now they have the two experiences. They need to take the best one and show that this is what we want to try to do. They have to make it happen on the field.”
On what his team has done well in this tournament and what can be improved:
“Basically, for me the most important part at this point is the concentration during the 90 minutes. At this age, you are looking for the best way for them to keep that concentration and stay sharp during those 90 minutes. If you can make that happen, you’re going to have good opportunities to move on. In that aspect, something that I noticed with the players is that they came out with a letdown for the second game. In fairness, we still have the chance to show that it was just a bad day. Hopefully we can prove that against a very good team, New Zealand. They have the same possibilities that we do, but for us, right now it’s about mentality. Who is going to keep the ball better, control it better and try to find the last third of the field and score. Hopefully we can see that tomorrow. That is what I expect as the coach and that’s what we’ve been working on.”