Arena and Players Comment On Win Over El Salvador
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sunday, November 17, 2002) - Bruce Arena and several players commented after the U.S. Men's National Team defeated El Salvador, 2-0, on Sunday, using a relatively inexperienced lineup as the team began to focus on preparations for qualifying for the 2006 World Cup.
Nov. 17, 2002
U.S. Head Coach Bruce Arena
"I thought we had a good performance today. For the first time out for a number of guys, I thought they did well under difficult conditions. We played some good soccer at times and created some good chances. We had a good week of training. It was a good to get to know a new group and get this process started all over again.
"I was pleased with the pace of the game. I thought it was pretty fast in the first 20 minutes, which was good to see. We wore them down a little bit as the game went on. There was good speed in the game. You always like to see your players be able to push the pace of the game."
On the team's schedule in the beginning of the year:
"We'll get them back in early January for training camp. We'd like to get in three friendlies hopefully from the third week in January into the middle of February."
On the play of Ben Olsen
"I thought he had a good game. He's still not there, but he's a guy with a fair amount of experience and good qualities."
On the performance of the defense:
"I thought Carlos Bocanegra did well. I was happy that our backline looked organized and efficient today, because we had some issues during the week. Sasha Victorine did pretty good. We do have challenges getting a back three or a back four over the next year or two, and he's a candidate for right back. Overall, I thought they did a good solid job"
On the play of Clint Mathis:
"He was rock solid. I think he was excited to get back into camp and to demonstrate that he's looking to be a player to be reckoned with both in the league and his international career. He took on a good attitude and was rewarded by being named the captain. He did a good job and was a good influence on our team."
On what he looks for initially when judging a player's ability to play at the international level:
"One advantage I now have is I have a picture of what it looks like down the road. You know what qualities you need in both qualifying and a World Cup final. We have a profile of international players at certain positions, so we look for players that have the qualities and characteristics to put us in a position to qualify for the World Cup, and then compete in the finals."
On getting back on the field for the last time in 2002:
"It was nice that we received a lot of praise over the past couple months, and I'm grateful for all of that, but I really want to get on with the business. We've had our congratulatory tour, and now we want to get started all over again."
U.S. captain Clint Mathis
On wearing the captain's armband:
"It was exciting. It was important for me and my career. I'm no longer the younger guy like I was for the past few years. I'm flattered to represent the country and take the field as the captain. I hope to continue in that roll and be a leader for the younger guys."
On getting a few good scoring chances and not finishing:
"The most important thing is winning the game. If the game ended 0-0, then I would have been disappointed. But you can't really complain about a 2-0 win."
On whether he was bothered by the criticism he received during the year:
"I never really paid much attention to that. I think a lot of that was frustration and people sticking their foot in their mouths. I knew that there wasn't any problem with me, other than a little frustration after the World Cup and not having a good season. I have to bite my tongue to it. I think all of that is swept under the rug, and as long as I don't let it bother me or affect my play then it doesn't really matter what anyone says."
U.S. midfielder and Chevrolet Man of the Match Ben Olsen
On returning to play for the national team after a nearly two-year absence:
"It was a nice feeling, especially to do it at home. It feels good to put on the uniform again. I've been excited all week to get back out here. I like the way they do things. It was good to be coached by Bruce again. This capped it off pretty well."
Describing the goal:
"I closed my eyes. The ball hit me in the head and it went back post. Seriously, Chris Klein hit an outstanding ball. It seemed like when we crossed the early balls we were dangerous."
On where he stands with his fitness level:
"Offensively I felt like I was there, both mentally and with some of the runs. Defensively sometimes I got caught, where before I was a little bit quicker. But that will come. I'm going to take off the next couple weeks and rest the ankle, and then we'll get back at it."
On playing with the new group of players:
"The youth on this team is exciting. I think you saw a lot of talent out there. We've only had one week together, so I think you saw that at times with runs and bad passes and losing possession. But it's a fun group. We're all the same age, and have a lot in common."
U.S. forward Taylor Twellman
On his first appearance with the U.S. MNT:
"It's been everything I dreamed of and more. Being in D.C., where I played my college ball, was great. I wasn't really nervous. If you're nervous, you're going to be left behind out there."
On his performance:
"My job is being a target, and I thought I did a good job of that. I was trying to fit in and take some knocks, and I was able to do that."