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U.S. U-20 MNT vs. Cuba Quote Sheet

Post-Game Quote Sheet: U.S. U-20 MNT vs. Cuba
March 1, 2013

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach TAB RAMOS
On the performance against Cuba to advance to the final of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship:
“We’re very excited that we’re going to the final. That was one of our goals coming into the tournament. I thought the team did a good job of handling a Cuba team that normally if you allow them to play transition they’ll give you a lot of problems. We cut that off and we did a good job.”

On what it would mean to win the CONCACAF U-20 Championship for the first time:
“We’re going one game at a time. Every game has been a final. The players have responded well even though we’ve had to change the lineup many times. That’s what we’re here for. Hopefully we can get that done. We have the possibility of winning the tournament, obviously that’s a great accomplishment for us.”

On the shorthanded squad and goalkeeper Cody Cropper staying through the final:
“At this point from what I know, Cody is going to stay with us through Sunday. Other than injuries, we can’t really lose too many more. We still need 11 for Sunday.”

On the stadium experience and getting to a final:
“The experience was great for this game because it was a World Cup-type atmosphere for us. Cuba’s a very good team and they’ve qualified for the World Cup and so we’re playing a World Cup opponent in an environment where you can see as the stadium started to fill, the fans were starting to cheer for Cuba. The atmosphere was good for us and I thought the players responded well. To get the opportunity to go to the final against Mexico, that’s an experience I hope my players get to live.”

On Benji Joya being named captain and his performance:
“Benji plays every minute for us. He has great charisma on and off the field, the players like him, he gets the players to rally around him and he’s a very good player. He had all the ingredients, once Caleb Stanko left [to his club team], he had all the ingredients to be captain today. Benji did a tremendous job. He’s a good player. He’s able to carry people on the field, so I think he’s done a great job in every minute of this tournament, and I’m happy that today he was able to lead us into the final.”

U.S. Under-20 MNT midfielder BENJI JOYA
On wearing the captain’s armband against Cuba:
“It was pretty exciting. I always like to carry the team on my shoulders and being captain out there really meant a lot to me.”

On his path from cleaning offices two years ago to playing a big role on the U.S. U-20s:
“All my life I’ve worked for this. I helped my mom in the janitorial service, and I think the support she gave me, as well as my family, is paying off. Playing for the U.S. is just a dream come true because I’m representing my country. ... It’s just another game for me. It’s a final. We came here and our first objective was to qualify for the World Cup. The second is to be champions. If we continue to play the way we’ve been playing, we should be fine. It really doesn’t matter where we play. Yeah, we’re in Mexico, but I think I’m pretty used to the environment.”

On getting the early 2-0 lead in the first half:
“It’s always good to start off well at the beginning. Getting those two goals put us in a good situation. Now we’re just concentrated on not making mistakes and keep playing the way we started, which got us the two goals. The team did a pretty good job.”

U.S. Under-20 MNT defender/midfielder DILLON SERNA
On his first start of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship:
“I was really excited to get the start. I didn’t really know coming in I was going to be playing a defensive role, but I played left back for the U-20s, so I thought I did my job. I’ve never played right back before. It was good. I had Shane O’Neill talking to me – we both play for Colorado, so the chemistry is there and he did a really good job talking to me and helping me out.”

On the defensive shutout against Cuba:
“First half they were coming at us and the second half we were up 2-0 and we knew we had to keep the game locked up. The things we talked about at halftime was keeping our goal at zero, so I think we did a good job.”