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World Cup Quote Sheet: MNT vs. Belgium - Howard, Jones, Dempsey, Gonzalez, Bradley, Besler

U.S. MNT goalkeeper TIM HOWARD
On his immediate reaction to the loss:
“It’s heartbreaking. I don’t think we could have given any more. What a great game of football. We left it all out there. We got beat by a really good team. They took their chances well. It’s heartache. It hurts.”

On the sense of urgency in the last minutes displayed by the U.S.:
“That’s human nature. Once you go behind, there’s a trigger in all of us that we feel like we have to claw ourselves back. That just happens. That’s the way sports are.”

On being under pressure for the majority of the match:
“That’s my job. That’s what I signed up to do. It’s part of it. In these big games against top-quality competition, the levy is going to break at some point. Hats off to Belgium, they were fantastic, but we gave a valiant effort.”

On having hope throughout the match:
“Oddly enough when you’re in the game you don’t really think about that. You just try and fix the problem and always believe you can do it. What an incredible group. Sometimes when you give your best, it doesn’t come off, but I’m proud of this group.”

On the feeling between the extra time periods when the MNT was down 2-0:
“When we changed over, we just said, ‘Try and get a goal.’ If we get a goal we can put them under real pressure and at 2-1, I think we did that. Dream fell short, but this is an incredible group, and we’ll never forget this night.”

On DeAndre Yedlin:
“Brilliant. Pleasantly surprised with DeAndre. He’s got a bright future. He’s fearless. He’s gets forward, he’s strong, he’s fast. It’s not a cakewalk and I thought he handled it really, really well.  As the team got tired, we opened up, but you talk about one-on-one, he won those battles.”

On the potential of this team:
“I think the sky is the limit for this team and this was a good taste for these guys. Really young team, the guys got some good minutes and saw what it was about. You learn some lessons, sometimes they’re harsh. I think we’ll grow and it’s exciting to see where this team could go.”

World Cup Quote Sheet: Jurgen Klinsmann Final Press Conference

Thanking the media and those in Brazil who helped the MNT on the trip:
“First of all, before we get into the questions, we really would love to thank São Paulo FC for hosting us during those couple weeks. It’s been tremendous. It’s been an amazing experience for all of us. Also, [thanks to] the setup of the hotel in the city and the people there. Everywhere we went we were just welcomed with open arms. It’s been a special time here. We want to thank you guys for hanging in there with us. It’s been almost seven weeks now. A lot of you were already up in Stanford and the whole journey through New York to Jacksonville down here, then obviously city by city here in Brazil. A big thank you to all of you, the way you approach everything very, very respectfully. A great relationship. We are all in this together, as we always say. We all try to make this game grow in our country and get it to the next level and working hard on it. It doesn’t mean you can’t have critical questions or critical comments or critics. It’s all totally fine. I think it’s been a great time. Unfortunately it came to an end last night with that game against Belgium. We have to accept that. But overall I think everybody’s proud of their team that went to their limits. Everybody can take a lot from those six, seven weeks that we spent together.”

On how to continue developing the team and soccer in the U.S.:
“I think it’s hugely important for us to make the game grow, the players grow, and really find ways to improve on every front. Having next summer’s Gold Cup with that, hopefully being qualified for the Confederation’s Cup in 2017; in 2016 having an Olympics that is very, very important to us. We’ve got to do much better than the last cycle there. Having a Copa America in the United States, it’s pretty much the second biggest competition you can have. I understand the European Championship is huge, but Copa America is huge as well. Hosting that means a lot to us. That’s another huge platform to make the team grow, make players grow and obviously hopefully qualify for the Confederations Cup. Every year you have big benchmarks that you can approach. In all that, the relationship with MLS is extremely important. It’s very good. We bounce so many things back and forth. We’re constantly communicating with each other. We’re trying to get on the same page more and more schedule-wise, which is important so we hopefully can get all the players that we need in order to be internationally successful.”

On how each of the players can grow from the World Cup experience:
“After analyzing every game of this World Cup, and we will do that, we will watch them over and over again and then look at details and communicating those details then to the players, in a couple weeks from now after they have their break, we’ll tell you in which areas we need to improve, in which areas we have to learn. When you play a tournament like that, I mentioned it last night, you play every four or five days, so you have to be on top of your game in every one of them. In the tournament, the maximum is seven games, but if you go through an entire season and you play in a rhythm of every four days, that is really demanding. This is about consistency, it’s about living the right way, all these on and off topics. It’s about keeping the highest tempo, the highest level of concentration, not giving away anything. It’s about the spirit of the group, being connected, helping each other out everywhere.”

On helping players regardless of where they play their club soccer:
“We always said that if they play in Mexico, if they play in MLS, or if they play in Europe, our job is to help them to play to their highest capabilities, to reach their highest personal level. When we get the players, we will try to push them. I think quite a lot of the players reached their highest level in the last couple weeks. I think we saw outstanding performances. This is our job as coaches. We are not there not to control their personal paths in terms of what clubs they play in and how they structure their careers. We don’t really have that much of a say in them. I mentioned it many times, I maybe sound like a broken record – do we want them in the biggest clubs possible? Do we want them in the highest competitions possible? Yes. I think that’s just normal. It’s in every sport the same way. But no matter where they are coming from, if we are convinced that they have the potential and they have the quality to be part of the senior National Team, we’re going bring them in no matter where they play and help them to raise the bar again.”

On injuries, the medical staff and the rigors of the World Cup:
“We knew that bringing Jozy on the bench was not meant to have Jozy on the field. He still needs a couple more days. But he’s healthy now. He’s ready to go back and build. We kept them on the edge with training and demanding because we knew that we’re going to play the best in the world every four days, so you’ve got to maximize every little area you have. Our fitness coaches did a tremendous job. Out medical staff was on top of the players every day. They worked day and night on all the players. This is what a World Cup is about. It’s a non-stop thing. It’s 24/7 for these couple of weeks.”

On Tim Howard’s performance against Belgium:
“I think it’s been a fantastic performance by Tim. He kept us in the game and he made it possible that we could have won this game or at least equalized in the last couple of minutes and go into a penalty shoot-out. It would be better for him to answer that question, maybe it was the best game that he played in his career, but only he can tell us. I didn’t watch all of his games. It’s fantastic because it also shows you how all the games of the World Cup were received back at home. Many people watched this competition, maybe more than four years ago in South Africa. It’s fun to see that and he deserves every compliment for his game last night.”

On the intensity of the knockout round:
“It’s little things that decide if you go on in the knockout stage or not. All of the knockout stage games were great, with two or three exceptions, but other ones were very, very close games and went into overtime, went into even penalty shootouts. Brazil had to go through that right away. It shows you that things are doable. In order to make them happen, it’s little things that make the difference. A little bit of luck, also maybe a little bit of individual plays that put the ball in the net or not.”

On the mentality and accountability of players changing with the growth of soccer in the U.S.:
Overall, we’re going in the right direction. I think the players understand – we often talk about this grinding attitude or mentality. You’ve got to wear a team down. You can’t loosen up. You can’t relax, never in a game. In CONCACAF, you can go and think it’s going to be an easy game; it’s no easy game anymore. All the teams globally caught up. They know how to train. They know how to play an all year-round season. They have strong domestic leagues. Their best players play in Europe, most of them. Therefore, you know how challenging it is. I think with the competition that we have now happening every year, it will help us to understand that we need to become more consistent. It’s also more demanding, more demanding on the players. Not just letting them get away with things, getting critical in certain moments, and make it clear that if you would have put that ball in the net yesterday, we would be in the next round. So think about that for a second without making it too harsh, but they need that sense of accountability, a sense of criticism, and people around them care about it. It’s good. We discussed that many times. We all have different opinions. We all would play 11 different players from the beginning on, but that is good because it gives a sense of people caring about the game. This is what happens right now in the United States. Fans and the media, you care about it and you bring in your own opinions and different opinions that the coach or the players have, it makes them feel accountable and not just walk away from a bad performance and nothing happens. No. If you have a bad performance, people should tell you that so you can make sure the next game is not bad anymore and you step it up and be alert about that. This is the growth of the game in our country. People now are starting to care about it. Fans care about it. They comment on social media, they comment everywhere about it. And that’s good. We need to make this grow and make that continue, that they get a sense of that.”

On if he feels vindicated looking back on the tournament now about his comments that the U.S. wasn’t ready to win the World Cup:
“I think saying that we come into the World Cup [that we are going to] win the World Cup is not right because you would raise the expectations to a level that is just over the moon. Is it possible to come through the group that we were in? Yes, because we did it. It is doable, it is possible. Is it possible now to go game by game and maybe even win four games? Yes it is possible. But, you can go in there and say we are going to win the World Cup because you have teams like Brazil, Germany and all the big, big countries in there. You have to take it one step at a time. If we equalize the [Belgium] game, if Wondo’s ball goes in and you win it 1-0 in the last minute, you play now Argentina and is Argentina beatable? Absolutely. If you go through Ghana, Portugal, Germany and Belgium then you take on Argentina. Absolutely we would have taken on Argentina. Crazy enough, Greece won the Eruos in 2004, and everybody though this is unbelievable. But it depends on how you create the focus in our own environment going into a tournament like the World Cup, and I thought it’s not the right thing for me to say that we’re coming to Brazil to win the World Cup. Is this a dream for everybody? Absolutely.

On what the expectations would be when the U.S. is a regular top eight or top four team in the world:
“This is definitely something we want to break into rather sooner than later. Was it our goal to come here and make it to the quarterfinals? Absolutely. Or, Maybe even surprise some people more and make ti to the semifinals? Absolutely, yes. After the ending last night we have to wait another four years for trying to do that, but I think we can only grow. Our upside is far bigger than a lot of other countries because the game is breaking through on all levels. We have to help the game grow in many different ways: with coaches educations, with referee education , with player development, with connecting the dots between the professional leagues and with U.S. Soccer as well. It’s still a work in progress, but why not try to get into those top eight? We tried before the tournament to get friendlies against different countries, they said, ‘No.’ They said, ‘We don’t want to play this U.S. team because we don’t know how to take them; they might beat us.’ They don’t want to go with a negative experience to the World Cup. Now after this World Cup, a lot of countries look at us differently and say OK, and they give us a game. If it’s South American countries, or it’s European countries; they’re not taking us lightly anymore no matter where we go. So, we’re building that respect more and more. Hopefully, we are ready now to say we are in those top eight, top 10 teams rather sooner than later.”

On which players over 30 he sees being part of the team moving forward:
“There’s no, ‘Thank you and bye.’ It’s always defined by performance, by what you bring to the table. I think there’s a good thing about going into the next year is that we have the opportunity to see a lot of young players come into our platform, into the senior team and we can give them time to show where they’re at right now. So the more experienced players, we can tell them now for the next couple of months, listen, ‘Play in your club environment. We know you inside and out. We know what you bring to the table.’ But, maybe right now for the next couple friendlies that come up and for the next year, we want to see the young players grow and see how far they can make it. Then obviously comes the Gold Cup. We want to go to the Gold Cup with the strongest team possible. Then it’s going to be similar to a World Cup or the last Gold Cup; we want to play our best team possible. We want to see how many of the more experienced players are still in it and how many of them are out. This transition year now coming up is definitely an opportunity to bring a lot of young players through the ranks and see what they are capable to do already.”

On if U.S. players are good enough to win more World Cup games on a talent level and how he can help make them better over the next four years:
“We get benchmarked at the World Cup and our benchmark ended last night. There’s definitely stuff we have to improve and get better in. It’s many things off the field and many things on the field. Playing at that kind of a tempo, at that kind of a rhythm every four days – this has to become the norm, which [it is not yet.] Maybe an example is Fabian Johnson with Hoffenheim, he never played every four days because they don’t play Europa League or Champions League. So he played every week just one game. Now suddenly you hit this kind of level at the highest tempo and your body gives you signals [that it’s too much.] Even though we trained the Send-Off games, players are not used to it yet. So our job as coaches is how can we make it clear that in order to get further and further we need to add the work load, we need to add the competition level, we need to make them understand what recovery time means, what their life off the field plays a role in many things you can achieve in your career. We have to continue to communicate that, to show them and especially start to implement that with our Under-17, Under-18, Under-20, Under-21, which will be the future Olympic team because that’s the next Generation that’s going to break in. The more we get that message to those kids, the more we will benefit a couple of years from now. When you go out in the Round of 16, clearly it gives you the message you have a lot of work still ahead of you.”

On how he can get the players to play higher up the field, toe-to-toe with top teams:
“I think it’s a mentality topic that we have to break through in a certain way because the interesting thing is every time we go down a goal, we shift it up. Then suddenly we build the pressure higher up and give [our opponent] a real good game. There’s still this sense of too much respect often. That’s why I try to play friendly games against European teams. Yes you respect your opponent, but to leave that respect off the field and go and give them the real games. A good example was in Bosnia. We were down 2-0 at halftime and I told the guys, ‘You have a game here. You just have to take it. You Have to shift it up there, put them under pressure and they will be surprised.’ We turned that game around, won 4-3, and Bosnia after the game said, ‘Yeah, actually [the U.S. can do that.’ So, it is still a mentality topic that we are working on. Not dropping to deep, not giving the opponent the first move all the time. Once you concede a goal, what’s your reaction? Now you have to chase the game and suddenly we are capable to do it. We could have turned [the Belgium] game around in the last 15 minutes of extra time. Absolutely, we had enough chances to win it 3-2 in extra time. But why not do it earlier? This is a constant discussion we have. This is why it’s so important that I have [U.S. U-20 MNT head coach] Tab Ramos with us, [U.S. U-18 MNT head coach] Javier Perez with us, [U.S. U-17 MNT head coach] Richie Williams with us, to make them clear that we have to start this process earlier with younger players, so we are not reacting to the opponent, and we try to take the game to them. Play it. Play it and here and there if you lose a game you get a lesson and that will be it. I believe it’s more a mental topic that we have to work on then it is a talent topic.”

On how losing Jozy Altidore changed the team’s tactics for the subsequent games:
“It had an impact definitely because he’s a big part of our spine. He’s a player that keeps two center backs on their toes, he can hold the ball and he gives Clint then more space and more freedom to roam around him and to get the whole game higher up the field. Not having Jozy was not ideal for us; it had an impact, but it’s not a complaint. It is what it is. Injuries happen to other teams as well, so it’s not at all an excuse, but definitely it had an impact.”

On the positives to take away from the World Cup and the first thing to start working on:
“We look into the younger generation first of all. We look into what comes through now in the U-21s, U-20s and U-18s. We have had discussions already with Tab and Javier, and we want to see how much of the talent there is going to be close to break into the senior National Team. This year coming up is an opportunity to work on many different fronts and the next benchmark will be the Gold Cup next summer. We are eager to keep working. We have a tremendous staff built now; a staff that not only works within the United States but works internationally. I think the help of Berti Vogts this last couple of weeks was a real pleasure. It was outstanding with his wisdom that he brings to the table and his eyes on things from the outside was very helpful to us. We have an established network now in Europe that can observe our young players coming through the ranks in Europe, which we have a couple of very good talents coming there as well. We built all that now over the last two, three years. It’s there, it’s working and we continue to build on it, but still in every area we discuss about player development we can do better.”

On how he views the record viewing numbers in the U.S.:
“We are all very excited about that. We are excited seeing soccer breaking through or just getting a lot of recognition in the United States now. A lot of people being on TV and being at fan festivals and getting that connection to millions of people. The game has always been very popular in the United States. Millions of children play soccer. It’s popular in high school, college and the league now is a national league that does tremendously well being built 20 years ago, getting better and better. At the end of the day, like in every country, the locomotive of getting to the next level is the National Team. The National Team, whenever a World Cup comes along, it has to do well, it has to inspire the home country to jump on board. This team now inspired the fans back at home to jump on board and have fun, to enjoy those dramatic games that they saw and keep their fingers crossed and go through emotions positively and negatively. It has been huge what happened the last couple of weeks and the connection to the fans in the United States through you media people. They should be proud of that, the players should be proud of that and the fans should be proud of that too. We saw this building the last two, three years with the American outlaws coming with more and more chapters throughout the country. Our World Cup Qualifying games were all sold out, we had a huge response there. Our Send-Off games before the World Cup, we’re finishing them in Jacksonville in front of more than 50,000 people. That all shows you that soccer’s breaking through. That is deserved recognition without taking anything away from the other big American sports. I think it’s important that people identify themselves with how the American team is playing. The energy and the commitment and tempo that we played with made people proud at home and surprised a lot of people outside of the United States, maybe in Brazil or in Europe. I got many emails and comments from European people in Italy, France and Germany who said, ‘Wow, we never saw this before that you were so close to beat the big ones.’ That’s a compliment and we take that compliment but it makes us even more hungry for the next time.”

World Cup Quote Sheet: MNT vs. Belgium - Sunil Gulati, Jurgen Klinsmann

U.S. Soccer Federation President SUNIL GULATI
On the team’s effort against Belgium:
“A heroic effort. Belgium is a very good team. Two guys from Everton were the difference: Timmy Howard kept us in the game with an extraordinary performance and [Romelu] Lukaku obviously made the difference coming on. Even when we were down 2-0, I thought we would come back, and we had four, five chances. There was so much pure emotion.”

On the Jurgen Klinsmannn’s impact on the team:
“I don't think there’s any doubt about that and I think the players would agree. We’re still building and it’s obviously disappointing not to get a little further here. It’s no longer the case that we’re happy just to be in the second round. We want to advance, the players want to advance and they know they’re capable of it.”

On Tim Howard¹s performance:
“Tim Howard is an important player on our team and he’s expected to make big saves. Tonight he made a lot of big saves, the most since 1966 in a World Cup. That’s what he’s supposed do, that’s his job and he’d tell you that as well. It was an extraordinary performance.”

On the growth of soccer in the U.S.:
“The country was paying attention, and I think we’re building on something. We’re building on something: Bob [Bradley] did a great job, Bruce [Arena] before him – Jurgen is building on that. We’ve got some new exciting players, so there’s progress on the field and it’s especially progress when you think about the number of people at home who were paying attention.”

Opening comments:
"It's a bummer for us ending on the losing side after a game of 120 minutes that gave everything to the fans, to the crowd – a real drama, a thriller. We had enough possibilities to equalize that game and we meant to put it away earlier, but big compliment to Belgium and congratulations to them to move on into the quarterfinals. It was a game that just went to the extreme. We all are very, very proud of our team, of every player stepping on the field today gave everything they had. I think they made their country proud with this performance and also with their entire performance in this World Cup. You have to swallow this for a second, but after a little bit of a break, you have to move on."  

On his initial thoughts about the game:
“You can stop them in a certain way. There will be chances on their end but I think we had our chances as well. It’s opening up after a certain time, after an hour and 17 minutes into a game like this, things will open up because the legs get heavy and they’re going to push it to the limits. That’s what we did. We had our chances to win. We didn’t put it in; they put it in at the end. But it’s been a thriller. It was dramatic; it was everything that a football game really wants to have. I think the whole country and all the fans that came down to Brazil can be proud of their team.”

On starting Geoff Cameron and the tactical approach to the match:
“With Cam coming in at this point, we hoped that he would take on (Marouane) Fellaini and that’s exactly what he did. I think he had a very, very good game. It’s a little bit of a different style. I think we had to push it higher up and then find Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey up higher. It worked out well. It was the right thing to do, but at the end when you have the opportunities at that level you’ve got to put them in.”

On the midfield looking tired and saving a substitute until extra time:
"They were all on their limits, every player on the field because the way we played our games with high energy through every game we knew that sooner or later the team will hit the wall. It's just normal. You don't want to give a substitution away too early because maybe another player goes out with injury or cramp. We needed to wait with the third sub a little bit longer and then made it then. All of the players today it just went beyond their capabilities and I told them in the locker room that they should be very proud of themselves, and take a lot of positive steps back home after this World Cup."  

On the injuries and DeAndre Yedlin stepping in: 
"What leads to injuries is fatigue. What leads to injuries is playing on the highest level with the highest intensity that you've never played before. We did a really excellent, amazing job, until this point today having 23 players. We had Jozy coming back but it was a little too early for that. I think our staff did a tremendous job preparing our team for the extreme conditions in this World Cup. You always have to expect at some point that a player, or two or three going down. And that's why you build someone behind him, and we built DeAndre Yedlin behind Fabian and we knew, OK, now it was his turn. The way the kid played tonight and previous occasions there was just no fear at all and doing very, very well. It is a completely different level that we experienced here. A lot of players are not used to going every four days on the highest level and then extra time. That's what we prepared them for and I think they did themselves proud. "

On Tim Howard:
"This was definitely an amazing goalkeeper performance. There is no doubt about it. He should be very proud of himself and we are proud to have him with us. Tim played tonight just phenomenal, he was outstanding. He kept us a long time in this game. We knew that going forward sooner or later we would have our chances, but he had an absolute amazing match tonight and you can just give him the biggest compliments in the world. "

On Tim Howard keeping the team in the match:
"The longer he keeps you in the game the more you hope let's get some breaks and go forward and find our own chances. The more the game went on, the more chances we created. That's what you want to build on the back of Tim, getting back in the game and then finding opportunities to score.Those games are decided by little, little things. Thanks to Tim we had that possibility throughout 120 minutes because he kept us in there."

On Julian Green:
"Julian was growing at a very fast speed in the last seven weeks, and we guided him through that process. If the occasion [to put him into a match] had been there already we would have done that. I knew that the moment would come today, but then the injury to Fabian early, issues at other positions delayed it and delayed it because when you go into extra time you want to make sure you're not making the third sub too early. We knew that he was ready. I told him before the game watch the No. 2, read him, have a specific eye on him and he knew that he might get this chance today. It was just phenomenal how he came in and scored that goal and gets us back now and then we just need a little bit more luck to get the second one and that was not the case. It's fun to watch that kid grow."

On the impact of the team’s dual nationals:
"We're looking for all Americans around the world. No matter what dual background they have. We have more coming through and that's just part of globalization as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago."

On the difference between the U S., Germany and Belgium:
"Here and there, I think it's a little bit still the mental approach. We have to learn more and more. I think that we are in that process to take our game to the opponent no matter what their name is. Here and there, we wait just a little bit too long to start our game. We told them from the beginning that we're trying to create. We're going to win the one-against-one battles especially in the midfield and create in our own end. There is still a little too much respect on our end when it comes to the big stage; why not really play? It is something that we have to go through, I don't know how many years it takes. I think it is a process that the players need to realize that you have to take it to the opponent. Don't back up so much. I'm screaming my lungs off on the sideline to push them higher up the field. I think that this is something that we just need to get out of our minds that we start to shift the whole game further up, even if it's against talented teams.

On the team's progress in his first three years:
"I'll leave that up to you. It's kind of your job. I think that we worked tremendously over the last couple of years. I said at the beginning of the last couple of years that I continue on the foundation that Bob passed on to me which was a very strong foundation with the great job that he's done. I found ways to introduce new, young players into our program and develop the game on every front of it. If it's on the younger level, it's on the senior level, on the organizational side, wherever it is, I think we've done a lot, a lot of work those couple years. Now it comes to a point where you have to swallow a game like this today and have to find a way to move on. Obviously we're excited about some young players through the ranks, some young players that maybe were not there yet but we know now what we have with them. We are excited with building a next Olympic team cycle which is huge for us going to Rio de Janeiro in two years. We have a very exciting competition two years from now with Copa America in the United States. The way that the people, the fans, embraced the team and the sport in the last couple years will only continue to grow, especially with a league that is getting stronger and stronger and with the competitions we have ahead of us next year with the Gold Cup, then Olympics and Copa America, and then hopefully the Confederations Cup and then the four year cycle goes into the World Cup in Russia. I think we've done a lot of work. We would have liked to continue longer in this tournament. There's no double about it there's a disappointment there. It's just normal. We had the chances to put them away and on the other end Belgium had their chances too. I think there's a lot to build on going forward."  

On takeaways from the 2014 World Cup:
“We take a lot, a tremendous amount away from this experience. We grew a lot. We now know that we can play eye-to-eye with the big nations. The teams that we faced here are favorites to win the World Cup and we’ve done tremendously well against them. We see a couple of young players coming through the ranks. To see Julian Green jumping on the field and scoring right away and DeAndre Yedlin, we have many other youngsters waiting. After you finish a World Cup, you discuss the future of it and that goes towards the young players that we have in our country and we build the next cycle.”

On looking forward after this World Cup:
"What you hope is that your team really takes this experience and understands now what this level means, what this intensity means, what the pace of the game means and the demands. It's not only just going to training or to go play a game on the weekend. It's about lifestyle. So much comes into this. The experience of the last seven weeks, every little piece plays a role in building a successful team for a World Cup. I think they learned a tremendous amount. I think they all went to their limits. They gave everything they had."

U.S. MNT Wins Best Moment at 2014 ESPY Awards

CHICAGO (July 16, 2014) – The U.S. Men’s National Team won Best Moment at the ESPYs this evening for its 2-1 victory against Ghana in the team’s opening group match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Natal, Brazil.

U.S. MNT defender John Brooks scored the game-winning goal in the 86th minute to give the U.S. the dramatic victory after a hard-fought match that the U.S. had led for most of the way. Captain Clint Dempsey scored the fifth-fastest goal in World Cup history when he tallied just 30 seconds into the match, but Ghana tied the game in the 82nd minute. The victory marked the first for the USA against Ghana, which had defeated the U.S. in the previous two World Cups.

Dempsey accepted the ESPY for Best Moment along with seven of his teammates live on stage at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. Joining Dempsey on stage were Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Jermaine Jones, Nick Rimando, Chris Wondolowski and DeAndre Yedlin.

Other nominees in the category were Mariano Rivera’s final game and Kevin Durant’s MVP acceptance speech.

The U.S. Men’s National Team also won Best Moment at the 2010 ESPY Awards for the dramatic 1-0 victory against Algeria in its final group match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The ESPY Awards have been given out annually since 1993 and are determined by fan vote.

Altidore on Alert

SALVADOR, Brazil – In the mid-day heat, the U.S. Men’s National Team began its training session as it normally does: with a huddle around head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

On Monday, though, the crowd gathered around another old friend. Greeted with hoops and hollers from his teammates, Jozy Altidore stepped into the middle of the circle as his teammates jumped around him. A round of applause followed. Officially speaking, Altidore is available for selection after a hamstring injury suffered in the team's opening game of the World Cup.

Vai dar Tudo Certo

The term “Vai dar tudo certo” is used by Brazilian locals to mean “It’ll all work out.” This is what USA fan Oscar Choi used to describe the upcoming challenges that face the U.S. MNT as the players head into their Round of 16 game against Belgium.

Choi is not alone.

More than 1,500 fans supporting the USA gathered together at Fan HQ in Salvador with one familiar thought in mind: “I believe that we will win.” With the event RSVP list maxing out in less than two hours, excited fans arrived early to the event sporting red, blue and white.

Many fans bought tickets to the Round of 16 match in hopes that the USA would advance out of the “Group of Death” and play at the Arena Fonte Nova on July 1.

Familiar cheers, hollers and chants could be easily heard over the booming sound of the speakers. A giant banner that read “Uma Nacão. Uma Equipe.” encompassed the idea of national unity with a Brazilian culture splash. Fans took turns posing next to the sign, with their family, friends or strangers who they had just met but shared a connection with through the USMNT.

With the success of fan parties in Natal, Manaus and Recife, this event was hastily put into works when the news of USA’s advancement was finalized. With uncertainty being a key factor when purchasing tickets for matches after the group stage of the tournament, many USA fans optimism was repaid by the success of this young American team.

Most individuals bought tickets before the start of the tournament, gambling that their team of choice would make it through the group stage. Chelsea Glavin was one of the lucky fans.

The 29 year old from Vancouver, Washington, mapped out her entire trip of teams and cities they would play in and booked her plane tickets after. She attended the England- Uruguay, England-Costa Rica, USA-Germany and Costa Rica- Greece matches.

“My parents are from England, and obviously, I’m American so I looked up where England would be playing and where the U.S. would be playing and mapped it out from there,” Glavin said. “Everything else I just guessed and did off of tourist information of what the best cities would be and then I just got really lucky with tickets.”

Glavin plans on going to a quarterfinal match as well as the final in Rio de Janeiro. She was excited to see the U.S. advance and would love to see the team make it to the quarterfinals.

“It’s a huge deal that we made it to the Round of 16. Even though we lost the last game, it was like we still won because it’s creating history in the U.S. for this sport and progressing it through to an even high level; now we will gain more popularity; more fans.”

A few of these fans will be in attendance for the USA game. However, this could easily be coined as a mere coincidence because most purchased their tickets during the FIFA lottery. Tom Pellet from San Francisco was given advice by South Africa World Cup fans who told him to go into the lottery for the Round of 16 and quarterfinal games.

“We actually had these tickets before we found out it was a U.S. game. We lucked out. We have, what may be, their second game in Brasilia,” Pellet said. “We got in the lottery months ago, and we got a quarterfinal game and a Round of 16 game and these happened to be the two.”

Some fans made spontaneous trips to Salvador for the sole purpose of seeing their team play. Trey Porter from San Antonio, Texas, decided last minute after the U.S. MNT advanced that he would buy a ticket to see the team play at Arena Fonte Nova.

“I just did everything I could. I got here four hours ago, got tickets three hours ago, so yeah I’m thrilled,” Porter said. “I just got lucky at the last minute because I wasn’t going to come to the World Cup and not get to see them play.”

Like many fans, Porter believes this World Cup is a huge step forward for the growth of soccer in America. He already purchased a plane ticket to Brasilia in hopes that he will be able to follow the team there.

Hope was in the air, as many fans had their Arena Fonte Nova tickets previously purchased with the confidence that the U.S. MNT would advance to that location. Anyan Owens planned his trip to attend the USA vs. Germany game and the Round of 16 match. He plans on making an effort to follow the team as long as they advance in the tournament.

“It’s absolutely huge. This is two World Cup’s in a row,” he said. “I think this idea with the deep run, with the time-zones, great media coverage, high definition everywhere, everything is just set up that this is going to catapult soccer everywhere to a place that it hasn’t been in the States, which is where people will care about it.”

By taking one look at the hundreds of fans at the event, this is an easy conclusion. USA supporters present at FanHQ freely share a firm belief that the team has proven itself and will appear once again on the 2014 World Cup stage.

 Oscar Cantu, 29, of San Francisco, is another fortunate American soccer fan who is impressed and optimistic about the future of the 2014 U.S. squad and is prepared to follow them around the country if they continue in the tournament.

“I knew that there was a good chance they would be here. If they make it to the next match — even though I’m scheduled to be in Rio — I’ll go to Brasilia to watch them,” Cantu said. “I think it’s amazing. I think that despite what any American will tell you, I don’t think anyone really thought they’d get out of the “Group of Death”. To see them get out with such class shows that there is something to be said about U.S. Soccer and what we are today.”