Pre-Game Quote Sheet: Jozy Altidore, Maurice Edu and Sacha Kljestan
Quote Sheet: Forward Jozy Altidore and midfielders Maurice Edu and Sacha Kljestan talk about the upcoming Olympic Qualifying campaign
March 10, 2008
On the team's preparation:
"It’s been good. We've been there for 9 days and had some good training sessions. It wasn't a lot of fitness, because most guys have been in preseason here and the guys in Europe are three quarters of the way through their season, so we did a lot of playing. We did a lot of work on getting the group to mesh so that when qualifying starts we're ready. It was tough to lose some guys, but obviously we had to make the final trim for the team, and of course everyone is happy to be here and ready to start the tournament."
On the team’s recent training camps:
"I think it was good that we made the trip to China, and we had a camp in LA and two camps in Bradenton earlier this year. It was important that the team got the time together that we did; a lot of teams don't have that time, especially with the European season going on. But it was important that we had the few camps together, and we took the most time we could trying to get to play together and be around each other as we learn how to become a team.”
On the opportunity to potentially play in the Olympics:
“I think the Olympics are one of the most important sporting events in the United States. Obviously the World Cup is the biggest for Soccer, but in America the Olympics are always a really big deal. It’s been a dream for all of us who have tried to make this team to play in the Olympics one day. Qualifying for the Olympics and going to Beijing is a goal all of us and everyone here wants to have the opportunity to participate in the Olympics games."
Forward Jozy Altidore
On the training camp leading into qualifying:
“The guys trained really well; we found out a lot about ourselves and how we're going to play. We found out a little bit about our opponents as well and I think overall it was a really productive camp. Because of the limited time we've had together, whenever we do come in we all have to take it very seriously. We need to take advantage of each training session, whether it be a little 5 v 2 drill or 11 v 11, you have to take advantage of it to learn how everyone moves and plays. It'd be great to be together for longer, but with the time we've had we've made the best of it.”
On the opportunity to be part of the Olympic experience:
“My family all grew up watching the Olympics and now I have the chance to be the one they watch (in the Olympic games). It means a lot to me, my family and of course the fans as well. We have to take it upon ourselves now to get the job done.”
On playing Cuba in the first match:
“I saw Cuba when they played in the Gold Cup and they're not a bad side at all. No games are going to be given, and the soccer (in CONCACAF) has gotten to a high level where things are often unpredictable. Whether we're the favorites or not, we're going to have to roll our sleeves up and do the work. We haven't heard too much about them, but sometimes that's the dangerous thing. You never know, maybe the day when you play them can be the day they catch you off guard. We just have to make sure we don't take them lightly and that we don't underestimate them.”
Midfielder Maurice Edu:
On the difference between the Men’s National Team and U23s:
"There are a few differences, but for the most part, the atmosphere, the coaching style and the mentality they try to bring to the team is pretty much the same. When you go from camp to camp, you try to maintain the level that you've played at and take the things you've learned, whether it be from the senior team to the U-23s or vice-versa. It is good that Coach Nowak has been with the full team and now he's with the 23s so that helps with the transitional process. The coaches have tried to really implement the idea that you have to have pride in wearing the U.S. jersey and it’s something that you can't take for granted. Every time you get called in and every time you play, you really have to represent your country well and play not just for yourself but for your teammates too.”
On the team’s recent training camp:
“The past 10 days have been great and we've gelled well. I think the camp has been really competitive and everyone worked as hard as they could to earn a spot. Everything has come together well and now we're just anxious for that game. The guys are all hungry for it, the coaches are hungry for it and we're ready to get that first game [against Cuba] under our belt and then we'll go from there."
On the opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.
"Qualifying for the Olympics would be huge. We didn't qualify in 2004 and that team was very talented, with guys like DaMarcus Beasley and Landon Donovan. This is a new team and a new identity and it’s so important that we go out there and represent our country and ourselves well. The Olympics is a huge tournament globally and it’s very important to the United States, so we need to go out there and do well and qualify."
On playing Cuba in the first match:
"Because we don't know that much about Cuba, it’s even more important for us to go out there and execute our game plan. Obviously, not knowing that much about them, we'll have to do our best to adjust to the circumstances within the game. We'll need to follow the game plan, control what we can control, and stick to the plans that Coach Nowak was laid for us."