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Post Draw Quote Sheet: Players' Reactions from the FIFA World Cup Draw

Post-World Cup Draw Quote Sheet:
2010 FIFA World Cup Draw
Dec. 4, 2009

On the draw:
“Obviously it’s an exciting day for everybody. I found myself pretty nervous as the draw started and the second pot was unveiled. I think the idea of playing England is very exciting, especially in our first game. Then we have some work to do in researching Slovenia and Algeria, teams that don’t really get a lot of publicity but are clearly very good teams. They got through difficult qualifying to get here and got through elimination games to get to the world cup, so it will be very exciting for us.”

On whether the USA-England matchup boosts fan interest:
“We all know there are a lot of Brits, and especially English people, in America. Those of us who grew up around soccer know that you didn’t grow up playing without being influenced at some point by someone who was British. It’s going to be interesting. it’s going to be exciting. I know I’ve already been in a bar doing an interview and there were a lot of Americans and there were a lot of English who are very excited about this game. It should be a lot of fun.”

On how many seconds it took to realize he would be playing against L.A. Galaxy teammate David Beckham:
“It took about half a second. It was pretty interesting, too, with him being there. I wish we could have gotten a shot of his face directly as it happened but I’m sure he was thinking the same thing. It’s pretty unusual in Major League Soccer, and I don’t know the exact numbers, but I don’t know how many players from our league will actually be participating in the World Cup, so to play against one of them would be pretty special in its own right. To play against your own teammate is actually pretty incredible. I don’t know how many other opponents will be able to say that against each other. It will be a lot of fun.

On preparing for Slovenia and Algeria:
“We’ve played, throughout the course of qualifying even, some teams that we don’t know a lot about. Barbados certainly was a team that we didn’t know a ton about. Even Trinidad, teams like that, and El Salvador, you don’t know a lot about their players. But Bob and the coaching staff do a really good job of getting the tapes and then breaking them down in a way that’s useful to us. Soccer is not like other sports where you can break down the tape and have an exact idea of how you’re going to play, but you can get some sense of what the game is going to look like, and they’ll do a good job of that. And it’s up to individual players, too, to take time to learn the players, watch them in the coming months if you get a chance to and figure out who exactly you’re playing against. It’s not too uncommon to have a situation like this and something that will just take a little bit more research than it would playing against a team like England, where we know most of their players or all of their players.”

On how the U.S. will guard against underestimating Algeria and Slovenia:
“I want to reiterate that when you get to the World Cup these are, in essence, the top 32 teams in the world. There might be some debate on that but, for the most part they’re the top 32 teams in the world. What you also have to remember is that qualifying is very difficult. Algeria beat a very good Egyptian team that almost beat Brazil in the Confederations Cup. Slovenia had a playoff against Russia and got a result in Russia, which almost nobody does. These are very good teams. Clearly the focus for us, not because of who they are but because they are the first game, will be England. After that, you decide you’re going to move forward depending on how the other results go and things like that, the tactics you’re going to use and stuff like that. I certainly don’t overlook them. I know on paper it seems like a better draw than we had last time but that all goes out the window when the games start.”

On whether he feels pressure to advance out of the group stage after the results of the 2006 FIFA World Cup:
“Clearly the expectation level around the sports fan and soccer fan is that we’ve got a good chance to advance. There’s nothing we can do about that, really. For those of us who were there in 2006, we’ve been waiting a long time for this opportunity. We still have to wait six months to get there but this is everything to me. I want to make sure that I’m as prepared as I can be and that the team is as prepared as it can be. I’m sure we will be and then it’s about getting on the field and playing the games.”

On whether not advancing would be considered a major failure and whether it’s important to get a point against England:
“Anytime now that we don’t advance, we’re going to be disappointed. Even in 2006, as hard as that group was, had we beaten Ghana, which is a team we felt we could have beaten, we would have advanced. That’s our expectation level now, as a team, and that’s good, that’s healthy that we’re to that point now.

“The first game in any tournament is important, not only from a mental standpoint and starting off the right way but the way that game goes determines how the other games are played. So everybody is still alive in Game 1, for the most part everyone is still alive in Game 2, it’s not always the case that everyone is still alive in Game 3, so you have to take that game seriously and you want to get off to the right start so that you can position yourself to get through in Game 3 and that’s what our goal is.”

On whether he would have preferred to play one of the other Group C teams in the first match:
“The reality is that you have three games and the order, I guess, can make a difference depending on what happens but there’s no controlling that. I guess you can look at it two ways. You can say, having England first is great. If you get something out of the first game you’re in a good position. Or you could say, maybe we have a better chance, in theory, to win the other games and then the England game might not be meaningful or might not be necessary. There’s no rhyme or reason to any of this and we’re not Brazil or Spain or Argentina where we get to worry about those kind of things. We take each game when it comes and then we see what happens.”

On his impression of England’s playing style:
“With England, they’re just physical and they’re big and they’re used to playing the game at a very high pace. This kind of game is going to favor them because they’re used to it. They’re used to making decisions in circumstances. The good thing is that we’ve got a lot of guys who have played in Europe now, who have played in high-level games like this and we can match that. Are we as talented as England? Probably not. But we think on a given day that we have a chance to beat them.”

On the travel schedule during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and whether that helps the U.S. team:
“That’s definitely a part of it. I remember in Germany there was quite a bit of travel back and forth between venues. I think that will certainly help, it doesn’t hurt, but at the same time, every one is traveling a little bit, everyone is good with it. Clearly any advantage we can get, we’ll take.”

On whether this U.S. team is capable of playing three solid games in the group phase:
“I do and the reason I say that is because we have recent results to prove that. Even in the Confederations Cup a lot of people, in the first two games, thought those weren’t good games for us. I actually thought we played quite well in both of those games, especially considering the red cards. Then we carried that on with Egypt, Spain and Brazil, again. That tournament was really important for us, not just the results but mentally to know that we can put those types of performances and results together. My thought is that if we put three performances together like that then we have a good chance of getting out of the group.”

On whether it is imperative that the U.S. train at altitude prior to the World Cup:
“A mile high, in my experience, is about the point where it can affect you a little bit. It’s not going to be as dramatic as it would be in Mexico City. But certainly any advantage you have with the altitude, you want to take. Heading into a World Cup, there are a lot of things you can’t control. The draw, you can’t control, where you play and who you play, how your opponent plays, you can’t always control that stuff. But the things you can control, you want to control. We’ve always done a great job of this. We want to be, mentally, as prepared as possible and physically as prepared as possible. The game dictates what happens but if you can control those two things it gives you a really big boost in helping you qualify for the next round.”

On whether he will expect a circus-like atmosphere as the U.S. and English media prepare for the USA-England match:
“I’m sure it will get pretty intense, especially in the world we live in today with blogs and the internet and stuff like that. I’m sure it will be a lot of fun. Our job is to, obviously, to try to stay insulated and just worry about the team. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m excited as much as a fan of this game, for this game as I am a player. I’ve already had a chance to interact with some fans of ours and you can see how excited they are and how passionate they are. A lot of our fans are showing up in numbers in South Africa so we might have, I’m hoping we have some sort of advantage there and that can help us.”

On his initial reaction to drawing England, Algeria and Slovenia:
“First, we saw we’re with England, which is interesting and exciting on its own. The other two we don’t know that much about. Algeria and Slovenia, we kind of have to do some research to figure out what they’re about.”

On his reaction to drawing England due to being a teammate of David Beckham’s:
“It’s going to be fun. David was there at the Draw so I’m sure he recognized it right away. I hope we’re both there. Obviously we have to stay healthy and get there. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

On the draw:
“It was pretty cool. I was watching it with a few of my teammates here and when they announced the USA-England matchup it was pretty exciting. Obviously we have Algeria and Slovenia after that. I’m more excited to know who we’re playing and where we’re playing. Now it feels like it’s finally here, after we’ve qualified and now it’s something with substance. We know where we’re going. We know who we have to face. I’m really getting the World Cup fever now.”

On how knowing so many England players adds to the first game:
“It’s going to be a fun matchup. A lot of us have played there and we have a lot who are playing there at the moment so we’re pretty familiar with their players and it just brings a little bit of extra excitement. They’re a big team with loads of history and they have a lot of good players on their team. It’s something that’s exciting for us: the first game to kick off a world cup, playing against England in South Africa. That’s a pretty cool thing, not only for us. I think the fans are going to be pretty jazzed about that and I imagine the media is going to pump this one up quite a bit.”

On what that matchup means for MLS:
“Anytime you can get attention to our domestic league, that’s great for us. England is quite familiar with MLS because [David] Beckham is over there. But now, who knows, maybe a few more games will be on TV. I’m sure [Fabio] Capello and his staff will definitely be paying closer attention to MLS games now.”

On whether any of his teammates know much about the Algerian players:
“That was kind of cool because that’s a big thing with France and Algeria. When I was watching, they were excited and were like, you know, Algeria, they were trying to tell me the connection between them and those guys and I was like, ‘I know guys, I understand.’ It was cool. Actually, we play Lorient tomorrow night and they have a player on their team from the Algerian World Cup team, so I’ll take a look at him tomorrow and after this I’ll just be asking questions and trying to get more information. I’ll have a chance to check out their roster and see where other guys are playing and will look for Slovenia as well. Well, the England team, I can watch, really.”

On how difficult it was to mentally overcome the loss in the first game of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany and how that relates to playing England as the first game at the 2010 FIFA World Cup:
“That first game is a very important game in terms of getting off on the right foot and going in the right directions. Saying that, we had a really great experience down in South Africa, not in a good way but it was something we could learn from. Actually it was the first two games didn’t go the way we wanted them two. We lost and we still hung in there. We had a chance and we went through at the end of the group phase. The big thing about these tournaments is that you have to have a short memory because once the first game is over you have to go right into the next game and start concentrating on that opponent. It’s easy to say but you really need to do that. It’s important. That’s something our group did well at the Confederations Cup and also throughout the final phase of CONCACAF qualifying. We had a few losses and we had to come back directly three days later and turn it around and get a win for ourselves. That’s something we’ve experienced and I hope it can help us as we go along. Hopefully we can start it off on the right foot against England.”

On his initial reaction when Cote D’Ivoire was seemingly drawn into Group C, before it being announced that they would go into Group G:
“I didn’t notice that too much because I was watching in French so I wasn’t understanding the entire thing, so I didn’t actually get a grip on that one. But I will tell you this, if Ivory Coast would have been drawn into our group that would have been another tough opponent because they are regarding as the top team coming out of Africa. We’re kind of glad we didn’t get them, I guess.”

On whether not advancing would be a failure:
“We have our own expectations. We as a group and as a team we know what we’re capable of and we have a great confidence among the group. Our last two friendlies that we just played in Europe against Slovakia and Denmark, we were upset that we didn’t get better results against them because we know we can do better than that and we know our level now and we didn’t perform to our level. That was disappointing for us. As far as our expectation, as a group, we are confident and this is something that we feel we need to get out of our group and we need to make some noise down there in South Africa.”

On playing England at Royal Bafokeng Stadium where the team defeated Egypt in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup:
“It’s a nice stadium. It will be the first game of the group so it’s going to be exciting with the media attention and all that stuff leading up to the game. We just want to get out there and get going but we’re familiar with the stadium, we’re familiar with the lay of the land. If we can get ahead in any way that would be great for us because we’ve been there and done that already. If we get any kind of advantage that would be great of us.”

On how the distance from Royal Bafokeng Stadium to the city could potentially affect the atmosphere:
“I think it’s open as well, so maybe the noise doesn’t affect us as much. But, who knows? Maybe that could work in our favor if we have a good contingent of U.S. fans and maybe get a bit of a home crowd there. All the variables go into it but, to be honest, when it comes down to it, we just have to play, get on the field and do our job out there. All the little things can be great, fan support and stuff like that, but we need to do the job on the field, first and foremost. That’s our main thing.”

On whether he looks at the match against England as a chance to prove that the U.S. is a strong team:
“The pundits and people are saying what they need to say. We know England has quality. Everyone around the world knows they have quality. I think some of the comments that have been made about us, we can look at the positives of those. They like our athleticism. They like our work rate and organization. Those are all things that we pride ourselves on and we build our team around. Technically, yeah, maybe we’re not technically as great as England but technique is not always the thing that wins games. We’re excited to play them, one way or another. You’re going to read so much of this stuff leading up to the first game and you kind of have to take it with a grain of salt and just get on with it. But, saying that, it’s going to be a fantastic game for us and we’re looking forward to it.”

On the different level of expectation the team is facing at this tournament:
“America loves winners and, to be fair, maybe it’s our performances over the past few years that have made these expectations grow. American fans are thinking that we should advance out of the group and I like that. I like how they’re thinking. We feel confident as well that this is a group we can get out of. As far as managing the expectations, Algeria and Slovenia are very good teams. They’re both difficult opponents. Just because everyone sees England in the group and maybe they’re not so familiar with the other teams doesn’t mean that they’re going to be pushovers and it’s going to be a cakewalk for the USA and England. Obviously there are a lot of variables at the World Cup but these are two very good teams. Slovenia came through in European groups, which is difficult, and Algeria beat Egypt in their playoff, which were African Cup of Nations champions a few times. That’s just something you have to live with. These are all good teams in the group.”

On what the team can take away from the friendly against England on May 28, 2008:
“We can take away that we didn’t have a very good game against them. That’s something we’ll look back upon and build upon. We know we didn’t play well. We weren’t out on that night. They had a good game. Also, we played them in Chicago about four or five years before that as well. We’ve played them a few times and they have similar players on their team still. When it comes down to the World Cup, it’s a whole other ball game. It’s a one-off match. We’re familiar with their players already because the Premiership is so widely watched on TV and also we have a few guys that play there. Also, we’ll get more familiar with them, watching tape and their tendencies. Bob will have us prepared and we’re going to be ready to go.”

On the lessons learned from losing the first match at the 2006 FIFA World Cup:
“The first game is very important but it’s not the fail end all. We lost that but then we got a good result against Italy and we had a chance to go through…. That first game is important but sometimes you have to have a quick memory in soccer and once that first game is out of the way, we have to concentrate directly on the other games because the first game is over and we can’t do anything about it anymore and we still have a lot to play for. Win, lose or draw that first one, in the second or third one there is still a lot left. You have to have a quick memory.”

On how playing in France can prepare him for the different styles he will face in South Africa:
“Anytime players are playing in leagues outside their domestic league it can help the national team. It’s great that we have quite a few guys playing in Europe now and we have quite a few guys playing in MLS, so it’s a good mix for us. We can bring similar style and a different tactic to the table for the U.S. team and put them all together and make a nice blend. As far as France goes, for me, I’m just happy because it’s a good quality league in Europe and I’m getting good, hard competition week in and week out against other people who are going to the World Cup as well. The good thing about us as Americans is that, no matter where we are, when we come back with the U.S. team, we put everything to the side and we focus on this. Our starting points are our work rate, our strong mentality, our fitness levels and our dedication. These are things that wherever we go, we’re going to keep. We bring extra things from the various places we’re playing. But those are our main principles and that’s our starting point, so we’ll go on from there. We’re excited to go down there and compete and make some noise down there in South Africa and hopefully do something special for this USA team.”

On the results of the Draw:
“First of all, it’s awesome to finally get some faces and colors and nations in the picture. Now we know where we’re going and who we’re playing against – it’s super exciting. In regard to the draw, it definitely could’ve been worse, but it’s not an easy group. If we play to our abilities, we have a good chance of moving on.”

On opening against England:
“It’s the opening game of the World Cup and everyone will be flying and motivated. It’s a huge game and any sort of result we get on that night would be perfect for us. I’m really looking forward to it.”

On the unknowns of Slovenia and Algeria:
“They have solid teams. Both teams are difficult to beat and they work really hard as a collective unit much like Slovakia who we played less than a month ago. They’re tough teams to beat but they aren’t traditional powerhouses so I have to believe that if we are functioning to our best ability, we can win.”

On the time between now and the World Cup:
“After the excitement of today goes away, we can concentrate on the rest of the season. But once the season is over, 100 percent of our concentration goes toward the World Cup and preparing for the games against each of the three opponents. With a team like England, we’ve played them before so we know what’s coming our way. But with Algeria and Slovenia, we’ve never played them before so we’ll hopefully play similar opponents in preparation. I’m sure the coaching staff will do their homework and we’ll have plenty of video on all three teams. So right now there’s some initial excitement but then we’ll get back to work in a couple of months.”

On he USA's placement in Group C:
"We have respect for every team there, and we know every team has to earn their way to the World Cup. When we look at it, we feel that when we play well and do the things we do well as a team, then it's a group we have a good chance to come out of."

On opening the tournament against England in Rustenburg on June 12:
"Certainly to start the tournament off with such a big game against a big team like England adds to the excitement. We played England at Wembley last year, and we know they're a good team. Fabio Capello has done a great job of really adding good qualities to the team. They have big players who play at the best clubs in the world. It's a difficult game but it's one we all look forward to."

On Slovenia and Algeria, two teams the USA has never faced in any competition:
"Every team deserves to be there. Qualification out of every region is a long, challenging process that only the best and strongest teams come out of. We know Algeria and Slovenia will be two difficult games. But that said, when you look at the group as a whole, on our day we can beat any of the teams. If we have the right mentality and our form is good, then it's a group where we have good possibilities."

On what the next six months have in store for players trying to make the World Cup squad:
"The main thing for everybody is concentrating on performing week in and week out with their club teams. There's one international date in between, but certainly the main thing for everybody is to be playing well and playing week in and week out with your club. As the World Cup gets closer, the excitement will grow, and we need to make sure we come into camp focused and ready to give everything."

On his reaction to finding out they’ll face England:
“It was good, it’ll be a chance to get some banter going on the club, but I’m looking forward to the tournament and I think it’s a good group. I’m excited to play against England, they’re a great team with great players.”

On how the Confederations Cup helped the U.S. prepare for the World Cup:
“I think it was good for building confidence, to get results against teams like Egypt and Spain, and to take Brazil to the wire. I hope we can stay healthy and stay on form heading into the World Cup so that we can go into it with confidence.”

On how the U.S. can defeat England:
“We’ll have to play the same style of play we used against Spain, we need to stay compact defensively and hit them on the counter. Hopefully we can be confident and take the game to them a little bit.”

On the importance of crowd support in the World Cup:
“I think having a good crowd is going to make a more exciting game, but I guess it depends on who the crowd is cheering for. I think sometimes having the crowd on your back can make you lose confidence, but we got a lot of love last summer in South Africa, so hopefully they’ll be happy to see us come back there.”