Pre-Game Quote Sheet: Altidore, Spector, and McCarty
Jozy Altidore, Jonathan Spector, Dax McCarty and Peter Nowak preview tomorrow night's match against Canada.
March 19, 2008
On what to expect from the U.S. tomorrow night:
I think the most important thing for us is to get the guys to believe. This is for the Olympic Games and it’s the chance of a lifetime. For most of these guys this will be their last chance to be able to play in the Olympics. Freddy and Jozy will maybe have another chance in four years, but it’s the biggest event on the planet with eight billion people watching. I don’t think our players need extra motivation before the game. I think that the players realize that even though maybe we didn’t play our best through the first three games, it wasn’t important. We didn’t need to play nice soccer. We have to make sure to keep our team unity – the spirit with the players is very good, and we’re very excited to play in this game tomorrow night.
On keeping the players emotions in check in a high-pressure game:
I think we’ve already done a lot of work on the tactical part of the game. The most important thing to do now is to stay relaxed. We can’t go into the game thinking about too many things, because sometimes if you think too much about everything than sometimes the soccer will not work the way we want it to. We have to be confident, but also relaxed. Whether it’s going to be 90 minutes, 120 minutes or PKs, we want to think that we’re going to be the winners.
On what he expects from the leaders of the team:
The most important thing is to have 11 leaders on the field. In some moments, one of them will take the leading role on the field and in another moment it’s another one. I’m looking to have 20 leaders on this team. That’s why we chose this team and that’s why we’ve been working so hard over the last six weeks to achieve what we want to achieve. That’s winning tomorrow’s game and going on to Beijing.
On the challenges that Canada presents:
They’re a very athletic team. They wait for their chances to score and they defend pretty well. They have a couple of good goal scorers of top. We saw in their last game against Guatemala that they can score the goals. We have to be alert, we have to be compact and see what we can do to break them down. The game will be 90 minutes, 120 if necessary, and we have to be ready for it.
On what Michael Orozco brings to this team:
I think that Michael brings stability. He’s another piece in our puzzle that we were looking for. We looked at a lot of players in a lot of combinations and Michael did a very good job not only fitting into the team but communicating with our back line and our goalkeepers. I’m really pleased with his work and his game, so we’re looking forward to developing our relationship with him and our national team program in the future.
On Freddy Adu:
Freddy has been very positive since the beginning of this camp. It was very encouraging to see not only a guy who scores the goals and creates the chances, but he’s also a team player. When we need to pick up our tempo, he’s there. There is still a lot of work to do with him, and he recognizes that too, which is very important. There are still some holes in his game and he can’t be satisfied with what he did in this tournament. It’s important that he knows that he can play better, and there is still more he can do for this team. I think he’s starting to see the bigger picture and what he can achieve as a player.
U.S. forward Jozy Altidore
On tomorrow’s match:
It’s very exciting. It’s a win-or-go-home game and you dream about this game, about the chance to go to the Olympics, so we’re all excited and ready to go.
On how to beat Canada:
It’s going to take good football, and you have to have a combination of attacking soccer and discipline. It’s going to be tough, we know they’re a very good opponent so we know it’s not going to be easy.
On only scoring three goals in the group stage:
The final touch hasn’t been there for us yet in this tournament, and it’s been a little bit frustrating but I think as a team we recognize that we can make it better, and in a one-off game, we know we can’t afford to miss those opportunities.
On today’s weather affecting training:
We’re not going to let the rain bother us today, we’ll just go with the flow.
On the spirit of the group:
The group is good. Everybody is very excited about the game, and pumped up to go. We just can’t wait until tomorrow.
U.S. defender Jonathan Spector:
On whether he’s gotten over his jet lag:
Yes, definitely. It’s all part of being an international player, getting used to the travel and being accustomed to it quite quickly.
On tomorrow night’s game:
It’s a really big game for all of us. It’s a chance to be an Olympian, which is something not many people are fortunate enough to be able to do. It’s just another opportunity to represent my country and that’s something that’s extremely important to me, as it is to all of the other players here.
On the transition from club to country:
There are certainly challenges. We played the Blackburn Rovers on Saturday and I traveled on Sunday. That was a big win for us and all of my focus was on that game leading up to it, and as soon as that game was over, my focus shifted immediately to what I needed to help accomplish here and what I need to do to get prepared for the upcoming game on Thursday.
On getting reacquainted with his teammates:
Well, this is the first time I’ve been with this group of players. I’ve played with a number of them previously with the Under-17s and the Under-20 World Championships, and even with the full Men’s National Team, so I know a few of the players. This is the first time I’ve been in this set up though with this team. So, it takes a little bit of time to get to know the guys and that was my first priority – to meet the guys and get to know everyone. Fortunately there are some really talented players here, and it’s really a good group of guys with a good team spirit, which makes it really easy to fit in and prepare for the game.
On having one chance to qualify for the Olympics:
We’re all aware of what happened with the 2004 team, but we don’t want to repeat that. The U.S. has a pretty strong history of qualifying at every age group for the world championships and that’s something we want to continue. We’re taking this game very seriously, and we know that it’s one game. If you win you go to the Olympics in Beijing, if you don’t then it’s a disappointment.
On his familiarity with Canada:
Generally speaking I don’t really know the players. There are a few that I have played against with other youth teams, but our team has changed drastically from when I was in the youth championships at the Under-20 level, and I’m sure their team has.
U.S. midfielder Dax McCarty
On the pressure of tomorrow’s game:
We know that it’s basically one game and we have to leave it all out there. There are no second chances, and we know that anything can happen. We’re really looking forward to the game and we know what’s at stake.
On the U.S. not qualifying in 2004:
We don’t like to look back, we like to look forward. This is a completely new team and we have very high expectations for ourselves. We don’t feel any extra pressure because of that, we just deal with our own pressure. We’re a new team and we’re looking to qualify for Olympics.
On the potential weather conditions for tomorrow night:
We’ve experienced some pretty nice weather in Florida and maybe that did spoil us a little bit, but we’ve had a couple days of training here now in this weather and it’s been fairly nice. We’re getting used to it and no matter what the weather is like, we’re all professionals and we know the task at hand.