U.S. Men's Olympic Team Quote Sheet
U.S. Men's Olympic Team members Michael Bradley, Brian McBride, Jozy Altidore, Stuart Holden, Sacha Kljestan and Marvell Wynne discuss their selection to the Olympic roster
July 17, 2008
On how much he’s personally looking forward to the experience:
I can’t wait. Like I said, the opportunity to play in the Olympics is once in a lifetime. Being at home over the last couple weeks and seeing the commercials for the Games on the NBC stations and watching the different trials really makes you start to realize how special it is to represent our country. We want to play well and be successful. I know that I’m very excited, and in speaking with some of the other players, they feel the same way. At this point now we just can’t wait to get in together and go from there.
On whether there is added pressure on this team after the 2004 team did not qualify:
I think we’re all aware of that, but I don’t think we can change it at this point. It’s just up to us to get ourselves ready and to put our best foot forward and make sure that when the first game comes around that we’re ready to go. The excitement of the Olympics and of being a part of something like this will certainly help get us all ready to go.
On his favorite memory of watching the Olympics:
In 1996 when the Olympics were in Atlanta, my Dad was an assistant coach and I remember being at the first game against Argentina in Birmingham, Ala. I remember being at their game against Portugal at RFK Stadium, so I do have a little bit of personal experience there in being part of the environment. Now I’m excited to be the one playing.
On how the Olympics will be different from his other career experiences:
I think the pure magnitude of the Olympics in our country puts this event on such a pedestal above everything else. People in our country maybe don’t know about the World Cup or the Champions League, so for people in America, competing in the Olympics is the most prestigious thing you can do as an athlete. For us to have this opportunity now to go to Beijing and realize what a special opportunity this is, we want to be there for the experience but we also want to go and compete and do well and come home with a medal.
On whether there’s pressure on the team to perform well:
I think there will be a certain amount of pressure that we put on ourselves to make sure that we go there and play well. The better we do, the more coverage we’ll get here at home and the more people will start to take notice. If we can go there and are able to put some good games together, I think people in America will really take notice of that and we’ll in turn be encouraged by that. The pressure is always there before a big tournament, but that’s exciting. That’s what makes it fun, and as an athlete you wouldn’t want it any other way.
Forward Brian McBride:
On how he first got onto the Olympic Team radar:
It’s actually a pretty funny story. We had just finished a game against West Ham and [Men’s National Team player] Jonathan Spector was outside the locker room and [Olympic Team assistant coach] Lubos Kubik was there with him – they were just talking. I knew Lubos from when he played with the Fire and Jonathan and I are pretty good friends. So, we all just started talking and all of the sudden Jonathan said jokingly ‘Lubos, did you hear Brian wants to play in the Olympics?’ After a few more jokes I told Lubos that I would seriously consider it if he would. Then I threw it out as just talk at the time, but a few days later, Peter [Nowak] called me! I was a little shocked but that’s really when it became an interest and a possibility. The idea has come a long way since then but it was pretty crazy at the time. I just feel terrible that Jonathan ended up getting injured, as I know that he really deserves to be there, too.
On why he wants to play in the Olympics:
Of course I grew up watching the Olympics. I think some of the things that stood out to me was when the U.S. won ice hockey in 1980. I was just starting to get into hockey then and there wasn’t really much hockey on television at the time. Then of course there’s the gymnastics and track and field – sports that you tend to get really excited about around the Olympics. Back then there wasn’t any soccer on TV, at least not the Olympic Games so unfortunately I didn’t get to watch that.
On being the most senior member of the Olympic by almost 12 years (and the only one alive when the U.S. hockey team won gold):
That’s pretty funny. I don’t look at myself as being 36 and I certainly don’t feel 36. For me it’s more about the mentality so I think I have a little more upstairs as far as experience that will help me. When it comes down to it, it really is all about how you play on the field, and being a part of this team, regardless of what age you are, is a great honor.
On what his experience will add to a team of young professionals:
I think for anybody, regardless of where you’re playing, it’s important that you focus on the things that you can do well and not be concerned about the things that go on when you get into big tournaments like this. I wouldn’t call them distractions, but there are a lot of things that go into how each team plays. You have to try to put those things out of your mind as much as possible and focus on what got you there. I think that will be one of the goals for us.
Forward Jozy Altidore:
On how it feels to be named to the Olympic Team:
It feels great. It’s such an honor to be part of the team. It’s a big competition, the world will be watching and it’s just a chance to represent my country. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
On what the Olympics represent:
To me, the Olympics are a symbol of peace. Anything that is going on in the world that seems to be affecting people across different continents, the Olympics seem to be the factor that just calms things down, even if it’s only temporarily. Looking beyond sports and medals, the Olympics are a time that the world comes together and things are simplified. Everyone enjoys being part of something like that.
On the U.S. team heading into the tournament:
Like last year’s Under-20 team, I think I’m fortunate to be on another team that’s very talented. This team has talent from top to bottom and I expect a hard effort from each player in each game, no matter who is playing. That’s just what this group of players is about. I’m excited to play with these guys, there are a lot of good players here and a lot of up and coming players who can use this tournament to further showcase their talent. More importantly, it’s just a good group of guys and I’m excited to be a part of it.
Midfielder Stuart Holden:
On being selected to the team:
I’m excited. It’s a huge honor to go and to represent the USA. Now that I’ve been selected I can shift my focus to trying to win a medal and I think that’s something we are all ready to go after.
On being part of the Olympic Games:
I don’t think it’s really sunken in yet, and I don’t think it will until we actually get there. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time though and I was brought up watching the Olympics and now to think that I’m going to be a part of that is kind of surreal. I’m looking forward to it and I’m going to try to take everything in while we’re there and enjoy the experience.
On his favorite Olympic memory growing up:
I always enjoyed the Opening Ceremonies, with all the athletes together and the big crowd. Just knowing that there are millions and millions of people all over the world watching is pretty special. An event that sticks out more than anything else to me was Michael Johnson sprinting and wearing his gold shoes.
On what he’s looking forward to most about the Olympic experience:
Representing the U.S. on that stage and just knowing that you’re representing a whole country. We’re not only representing all the other athletes but also the U.S. as a whole and that’s something not everyone gets to do in their lifetime.
On the USA’s chances:
I think we have a good team. Everyone seems to be playing well and is in good form, and I really think that’s going to help us as a team. I think we can compete with anyone. We’re going into this tournament with a Gold Medal on our minds.
Midfielder Sacha Kljestan:
On being named to the final squad:
It’s such an honor to be part of Coach Nowak’s plans. Olympic Qualifying was a big step for us and I was proud to be part of that team, but being named to the final roster is truly an honor. It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the Olympics.
On being part of the Olympics:
I’ve always grown up watching the Olympics and Michael Johnson was an idol of mine growing up. I knew I was never going to be a sprinter but I always dreamed of wearing the red, white and blue at the Olympics. To know that I’m going to the Olympics now means a great deal to me and my family.
On his goals for the team in Beijing:
We just want to try to be successful, and of course we want to try to win a medal, which I think is everyone’s biggest goal in the Olympics. I also want to be able to take in the atmosphere in Beijing. I’m a big fan of the other sports as well – I love swimming and watching track and basketball, so I hope to be able to take in a few other sports while we’re there.
On his team’s chances:
I think we have a great group of guys on this team. There are so many players with a lot of talent in this country, so there was a deep pool of players to choose from. The 18 of us that are going over there will just try to represent that group as best we can and try to be successful. I’m very excited and very happy about our chances.
Defender Marvell Wynne:
On being part of the Olympic experience:
Growing up, I think every one of us watched the Olympics and wondered if we could ever be a part of it. To be able to say that I’m going to make it there is pretty amazing.
On being an Olympian:
The fact that we’re going to China and going to be part of the Olympics is just being a part of something that a small percentage of people in the world will ever experience. It’s something that no one can ever take away from us. We are now and forever Olympians and that’s something special.
On his favorite Olympic moment:
Michael Johnson running the 400 is something I’ll never forget. It was a proud moment for all Americans to watch him just glide an entire 400 meters at such an amazing pace. Everything about that moment was just about perfection and athletic prowess. It was just an amazing moment in sports. There are so many of those moments that come out of the Olympics, like when (gymnast) Kerri Strug hurt her ankle. It’s just great to be a part of the whole thing.
On the U.S. team:
The chemistry on our team off the field is something unique. We’re all great friends and that’s something that carries onto the field. When there is a comfort zone with everyone you play with, that affects your mentality and can give you a boost when you need one or help you calm down if things get frustrating. Friends are the best thing you can have on or off the pitch and I think that’s going to be an advantage that we have.