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June 23, 2010: U.S. Men vs. Algeria

June 24 Press Conference Quote Sheet


U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach BOB BRADLEY
On the vagaries of soccer and how three minutes can change a game and perceptions:
“That’s the game. It’s the reason that we say over and over that there are certain things we can’t control, calls, bounces. It makes it all the more important that the area that you can control, what you’re all about, how you go about your business, how you play, the level of commitment that you put into the game. Those things become key and you find a comfort level in the sense that you know what it feels like to give everything you have an put everything you have into something, whether you’re a player or a coach. That’s just the way it works.”

On whether he felt proud of the spirit and passion displayed by the team against Algeria:
“Without a doubt. When you have a group of guys over time and you see them believing in each other, believing in what we’re all about, willing to put that part on the line every game and go for it and keep going until the end. In any sport, if you coach, that’s one of the things you want to achieve. At any level, when you get a group that understands what it’s about to compete at a high level, what it’s about to put it all on the line, that team-building part, that process, that’s what makes coaching a great thing.”

On what it is about this U.S. team that it takes 80 or 90 minutes to score the equalizer or game-winner:
“I don’t think there’s an answer for that. You can’t always plan out how a game evolves. Early in the game, I said it the other day, oftentimes there’s a feeling-out process, things are tight, goals dictate so much in soccer and then the responses to the goal. It’s hard to fully understand why, at times, we’ve found ourselves behind, but when you go back and you look closely at the tape and see what’s happened, I think the starting points of most games is good. I think last night was just one of those nights where our plan ahead of time was that we needed to win, and that if we got into the second half and we heard that with the second score, that a tie was good enough, we would certainly factor that in, but early on, we knew that England was ahead. It’s an interesting game because the only chance for both teams is to win, and therefore the game opens up pretty early. It’s at times wide open. Even at the end, it’s both teams trying to push to see if they can make a play to get a goal and keep themselves alive. That was a unique part of last night’s game because it doesn’t always work that way.”

On starting a different defensive lineup:
“We thought that it was important to have both our outside backs being active and trying to get into the attack. Jonny Bornstein had fresh legs coming into this game and we felt that his running on that side of the field, his energy would help us. Carlos and Jay have been a good pairing, going back even to the Holland game, I think those two played well together. The fact is also that, in Gooch’s comeback, before we got going with Czech Republic, Turkey, Australia and then the first two games of the group, he had been out for a long time. You have to also just factor in minutes and those kinds of things.”

On facing Ghana in the Round of 16 and what the scouting preparations were:
“Our staff has done an incredible job. Every one of these guys, Mike Sorber, Jesse Marsch, Pierre Barrieu, Lubos Kubik, Zak Abdel, all these guys, the work that has been put in, Mike Jeffries. We’ve had people at games. We’ve been going through stuff. We had an idea of the crossover possibilities; we’ve seen these teams play. That’s a credit to the preparation and the work that all these guys have done. They’ve been super in the whole thing.”

On what he’s learned about playing in tournaments:
“The main thing is that when you coach a national team, you’re not together all the time. So, you need to try to find a way that every time you come together there’s a clear idea of what it means to be in that camp, or in the team, how you’re going to work, how you’re going to communicate, what the environment’s going to be like. You hope that as you build that, every time you come together you pick up a little bit on what’s already been done. The tournaments along the way are important because it’s time together. From the time that the group got together last year before the qualifier for Costa Rica in Costa Rica, then the game in Chicago and through Confederations Cup, that’s a lot of time together. So you have a chance to prepare for what it’s going to be like. Our goal was always simple: that you talk at the very beginning of the cycle, that you make sure that the experiences along the way mean that when you get to the World Cup things are solid, that there’s a foundation. It’s not like you’re trying to come up with new things at the end. That there’s a trust, there’s an understanding, there’s a way of working, that’s what you try to accomplish during the previous years. In this particular case, I think that the leadership of the team understood that. These guys have taken ownership in terms of how we do things and they get the credit.”

On his impressions of Ghana at the 2010 FIFA World Cup:
“(They are a) talented team, athletic team, mobile. We all know the types of players that Ghana has produced, the great youth teams they’ve had and the fact that they’ve been able to, I think, do a very good job of turning very good teams at the U-17 and U-20 level into very good teams at the full national team level. We know some of their guys pretty well, we’ve watched them a lot and we expect a really good game.”

On how much Jozy Altidore has matured:
“Jozy has done very well for a young player. We rely a lot on him, we ask a lot of him, we challenge him and I think his responses have always been good. I’ve mentioned many times to him over the last few years that when he’s come into camp, even when he hasn’t been playing, you can tell that he’s motivated. You can tell that he’s learned from tough situations with clubs where things just haven’t come easily, but that’s part of the process for a young player. He’s handled those challenges well and again, he’s grown and matured. I think tournament, in tough games, he’s been a presence. He has kept going in games in the second half. When we needed him to be stronger, he’s been there. It’s a sign of a talented young player who is continuing to grow and step up and he’s become a very important man on our team.”

On his feelings on having achieved the goal of advancing to the second round:
“That was our first goal, that wasn’t our goal. It would be important to understand that the way we always discussed it was with the understanding that first you have to get out of your group, it’s three games. I think we’ve seen in this World Cup in so many of the groups that results don’t always go exactly as expected. I think all teams go to great lengths to prepare, physically, tactically, so it produces tough moments for everybody. We understood that going in. I think we feel good about the way we handled the first round, the different challenges and the way we responded along the way. But now, when you get to the knockout phases it’s again the opportunity to see how far you can take it. You can feel good about getting there but now you have to quickly put that behind you and focus on your next opponent and that’s where we are right now.”

On Landon Donovan:
“I think anyone who knows Landon respects and appreciates the type of person he is. He’s an honest person, he’s passionate and so I think we’re just proud of the way he has grown as a person, off the field for sure, and what that means on our team, on the field, inside the locker room with the group of guys. At that point you respect how much he has put into it. One of the great things is still, again, when you get a group of people is this idea that people are willing to put their heart and soul into something, put it all out there. I’m a pretty simple guy. I see things for what they are. I see people who go halfway, I see people who hold back, people who never want to go all the way in because it will look bad if it doesn’t work and I appreciate and want people who are not afraid to put everything they have into something, understanding that when you do that, you leave yourself wide open, but not being the least bit afraid of what happens if it doesn’t work because you know inside what it was all about. I challenge guys in those ways. I probably challenge my children in those ways. I think that’s what counts. So when you see Landon talk that way, when you see him have a moment that’s special, you feel good for him, are proud of him.”

On having the majority of support from the crowd and how that may change Saturday against Ghana:
“To see our fans here, to be on the bus going to the stadium and to hear them shouting USA, USA, to see our flags being waved, that’s a special feeling and it’s one that every one of us on the bus felt. We’ve had experience when we’ve had our fans behind us, we’ve had experience when the stadium was mainly filled with supporters for the other team but we can still always find our supporters in those stadiums. We have always had a very loyal group of people that support U.S. Soccer. We appreciate that. When you look at this World Cup, I think that we experienced it last year as well, the passion for the game in Africa, the way we’ve been received in South Africa, the people in this country, the friendliness that they’ve shown us, the support they’ve shown us last year and again this year is something that all of us will remember. For me, now, it’s my fifth time in South Africa, I was here for the Mandela Challenge, was here for the Confederations Cup, was here for the different draws, I’ve been around looking at venues and possible base camps and it’s an amazing country. That starts with the people because they’re passionate, they’re friendly and we’ve all enjoyed the experience of seeing what South Africa is all about.”

U.S. MNT Midfielder LANDON DONOVAN
On his impressions of Ghana:
“I’ve been impressed with them. I thought they would struggle a little bit without (Michael) Essien but I think they’ve looked very good. They’re going to be a very difficult team to play with. Clearly their athleticism will be difficult to deal with. My guess is that they’re have quite a bit of support. Like a lot of African teams, they can be unpredictable sometimes, which can be a plus or a minus. We’ll spend the next two days looking at a lot of tape, like we always do, and looking at individual players and what they’re strengths and weaknesses are.”

On what he remembers from the game against Ghana at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and whether Saturday’s game is a chance to put that behind him:
“That was not a good day for me or for the team and what I remember most, personally, is my tentativeness and the immediate feeling afterwards, the finality of it and how disappointing that was.

“I’ve already put that behind me. This is a chance to do something very special.”

On the other players being overshadowed with so much of the attention focused on him:
“It's natural as human beings to emphasize the person who scores the goal. There are a lot of parts of that play that don’t happen without, not only the four or five people directly involved, but everyone else involved. I spoke last night about the ability of our back four and Michael (Bradley) to keep them at bay while we kept taking chances. That was as little as I’ve defended in a long time because we had to push for a goal and Steve (Cherundolo) consistently shut down (Nadir) Belhadj throughout the night so that I could do that. Without that, the 91st minute never happens.”

On how this team compares to other U.S. Men’s National Teams that he has been a part of:
“I would compare it, in some ways, to the 2002 team. The difference being that we’ve had greater experiences as a team than any other team in our history. Last year was incredibly valuable for our team, to experience that and the way we experienced it. I think we have a really good group of guys that believe that they can pull off anything and these three games have boosted that even more.”

On U.S. MNT head coach Bob Bradley’s impact over the last four years:
“Bob has a very distinct way of doing things. Some people like it and some people don’t. At the end of the day, we believe in what Bob does and whether it’s the right way or the wrong way in people’s eyes, it doesn’t matter. We think it’s the right way and we believe it. I think it’s taken a long time for a lot of us to wrap our heads around what Bob wanted for us and now we are understanding why he put us through some of the things he put us through and why he challenged us the way he did. He could see the big picture from the beginning while a lot of us were short sighted. It’s nice to know that this is the reason that he did all those things.”

U.S. MNT Goalkeeper TIM HOWARD
On whether he had to make any really difficult saves:
“No. Everything was pretty straightforward. We didn’t give up needless corners. Every time the ball went to the endline and got cut back or whipped in, it seems like Jay (DeMerit) and Carlos (Bocanegra) were in really good spots, as were Jonny (Bornstein) and (DaMarcus) Beasley when he came on, tucking in and making sure they were taking things away. That’s where you start to gain confidence as a goalkeeper in a back four. Because, listen, if you’re getting peppered with shots I don’t care how good of a goalkeeper you are at this level, the players are too good for you to stop all the shots. That’s what you want. You’re going to make saves but you want them to be routine saves, straightforward saves, and that’s what happened last night.”

On what he knows about Ghana:
“We’ve seen a lot of their games. They’re physical, they’re strong, they’re fast, the can create special moments one-on-one. As individuals, I think that plays to us a little bit because I think we’re strong and we’re fast and we like to go head-to-head. I think, collectively, if we do the same things we’ve been talking about, defending well as a unit, staying compact, I think the game will open up for us.”

On what he thought when he saw the ball coming his way in the 91st minute:
“I thought I had a good position on it. Sometimes the way the trajectory is and the way the guys shapes up, it’s different if he’s running onto it and he’s going to power it past you, he was kind of leaning back, I know he stepped into it, but I felt I had the angle covered so it wasn’t going to worry me too much. The only one that would have hurt was if he looped to the back post, but even then, that’s a tough header to get. I knew Steve (Cherundolo) wasn’t going to get there but I knew he was going to make it difficult for them and so he was going to have to head it and I knew which guy was going to head it. So, from an angle standpoint, I felt like I had that all right. In the end it didn’t test me too, too much. It was a power header but it wasn’t too bad.”

On what he saw in the distribution to Landon Donovan that led to the goal:
“This one was easy. I kept saying the game ended up opening up so much and both teams got so desperate that once we created a chance, they countered, and once they created a chance, we countered. When I caught the ball there were so many times where there were so many green shirts right there around me and I knew that if I got myself into a good area there had to be people open. There had to be some U.S. jerseys because there were so many green jerseys on top of us, attacking. I keep saying he does well and what I mean by that is Landon could have easily said, ‘I see Jozy out there, I’ll stay in the mix.’ He pulls wide as well, sees the space, knows that he can operate wide on the flank and my part was the easy part. Those guys did it all.”

U.S. MNT Forward JOZY ALTIDORE
On facing Ghana who knocked the U.S. out in 2006:
“It’s a good chance for us because it’s a rematch. A lot of the guys were on that team in 2006 that got knocked out by them. They all understand what the game means and how important it is to all of us.”

On keeping his composure with the physical play in the Algeria game:
“As I was saying yesterday, we always felt like we were in the game and there was never a point when we said: ‘We’re not going to get this.’ That play was when a couple of us looked at each other and said this is going to be the chance. When Tim threw it out to Landon, it was a four-on-three for us, so I think we did well in executing it. He gave him the ball wide and we kept the spaces good. We got a lucky maybe but you need a bit of luck in these types of tournaments.”

On the mental preparation as a target forward knowing there is going to be physical play:
“The best way to approach any game is to be fearless. You’re going to get hit, but you have to be fearless because chances come from that. When guys are fearless and put their bodies into positions where they know it’s going to hurt, that’s how goals come. In crucial moments of the game, that’s how you’re going to create opportunities.”

On if the pressure is off the team now that they have made the Round of 16:
“No I don’t think so. [Getting out of the group] is the hardest part, definitely. But now the tournament really starts for us. We wanted to get out of the group and then make statement. We have the opportunity to do that Saturday but at the same time we have to respect and understand that it’s going to take a lot – and that has to come from us. The form has to continue, which is what I’m hoping for from a lot of guys.”

On if the crowd will be behind Ghana, who could be the last African team left in the tournament:
“They might be their favorite but we have a lot of people who came to see us in South Africa. It should be an even split hopefully. Either way, it doesn’t change what we’re setting out to do in this game. We’ve done well to come this far but now we want to make a statement and make a push. It won’t be easy and like I said, it’s going to be one of our biggest hurdles.”

On the attacking mentality of the team in the past two games:
“It’s great. We’re talking about how to get Clint, Landon and myself the ball so that’s exciting. It’s good because for our team, with a lot of young players, each game we’re improving. Going forward we have a lot of bright spots. Benny came on and did great creating chances for us. Edson, Herculez, everyone that has been called upon has stepped on and we haven’t missed a beat, which is great.”

On the good relationship among the players and how it can be a benefit:
“I think it’s helped. It’s definitely tough to be away from family, wives, girlfriends and such. At the same time, we see each other every day and we talk to each and we become closer. We’re getting closer now and that helps the team. It makes you want to fight for the guy next to you that much more and it’s a plus for sure.”

On if he can feel the effect of the game from back in the U.S.:
“Yeah, when I looked at my phone I had 134 messages. That’s pretty amazing. People are taking notice of what we’re doing. They realize that it’s not an easy task that we’re doing and they are supporting us, which is great.”

On what about this team that allows it to come from behind and/or score late goals:
“I genuinely feel that we never feel that we are out of a game. In the 91st minute, Landon is out there clapping and getting guys together. Carlos is out there working extra. Just to see that on the field – you know the game is close to being over – but people aren’t saying o.k. we tied. People are still pushing forward, trying to sort out plays. It’s just great to see that we’re never out of a game.”

On if the U.S. team has a fitness edge in finding the goals at the end of a match:
“Yeah, I felt good. My legs were still turning. You’re tired but it’s a different tired – you can still go on. It’s definitely a plus for us because you see other teams cramping up and stuff like that but we’ve yet to have that happen.”

 


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