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Quote Sheet: U.S. Manager Bruce Arena, Frankie Hejduk and Brian McBride Talk About Grenada


U.S. Manager BRUCE ARENA

On opening up World Cup qualifying:
“We are excited to kickoff this World Cup campaign, and we’re always happy to play in Crew stadium.  It’s been a great home for U.S. soccer, and we’re hopeful that we get great support on Sunday.  The road to Germany is an extremely long one, and we think qualifying this time around will be more difficult that the last.  Right now we’re focused on having our team prepared in the right way to play Grenada.”

On the danger of taking Grenada lightly:

 “We don’t take any of our opponents lightly, and we think there is certainly a potential to have a very difficult game on Sunday if our team isn’t prepared to play.  We’ve had some experiences earlier this year with one of the smaller countries in the Caribbean, namely Haiti, and it was a very difficult match.  I think that game was a slap in the face for our guys, and we’ve managed to get three good results after it, so in the end I think it was a good lesson.”

U.S. Forward BRIAN McBRIDE

On the Grenada game:
“I think this game is as important as it gets right now.  It’s the beginning of the World Cup qualifiers, and especially in these two games, if for some reason you’re not on top of your game you could go out and not even be involved in the semifinals.”

On getting the team to come together in a short period of time:
“It’s that way with everybody, but for some reason our team seems to gel quickly. It’s probably based on what Bruce has set up throughout the team.  People can step in and they know their jobs.  With the group being so deep, everybody knows there is no time to take off and relax. When you are a part of the national team, you have to respect it and give it your all.”

On partnering with Conor Casey:
“I like it a lot. Conor played extremely well against Honduras.  He moves off the ball well, has great feet, and is able to hold the ball.  He’s also good in the air, which takes some of the pounding away from me. It’s a good combination.  We can run off each other and he is a good passer of the ball.  He’s got so many great attributes that he’s gonna have a great career.”

On getting adjusted to being back in the United States:
“Soccer-wise it’s great, and off the field has been a lot of fun. I’m getting to see a lot of friends that we miss, and I’m looking forward to getting on the field and playing again.”

On whether or not he has improved while in England, and if that helps him with the national team:
“I’m the same player in certain ways and a little better in others.  You always want to grow.”  

On how the team is different than the last group going into World Cup qualifying:
“I think that first of all, we have a deep group.  Inside that deep group, we have a lot of guys that can do different things. I think this time around in qualifying we are a little bit more versatile.  We have quite a few very good experienced players that have intertwined with some unbelievably talented young players.  That mix is really proving to be a good push on for us.”

U.S. defender FRANKIE HEJDUK

On playing in front of the hometown Crew fans:
“It’s just gonna be a fun game for me. I have the support of the fans in my home stadium, and Crew fans are known to be great fans. Hopefully we can take that onto the field Sunday and they can be our 12th man.” 

On whether the team has a lot of confidence coming into the game:
“Whenever you’re on a winning streak, you have a winning attitude, and that’s what we need to have going into this game on Sunday.  You can never take a team in World Cup Qualifiers for granted.  I think we did that a little bit against Haiti in March, and we learned our lesson.”  

On the mix of players on the U.S. roster:
“It’s just an incredible mix of players.  You have guys from MLS, and the U.S. guys that that are playing for top teams in Europe.  We’ve all been playing together for a few years now, so we know each other and we’re very comfortable together.  Everyone has a good time on and off the field together, and at the end of the day that’s what makes a team.  It is going to be a long road to 2006, but we’ve stepped it up to the challenge before and we’re ready to do it again.”

On whether Sunday’s game will be a challenge:
“Definitely. I think Grenada is going to sit back and drop off a little bit and let us play.  We‘ve got world class players who have played in every big game you could think of, so we’re not intimidated, but at the same time we’re going to go out there with the attitude of trying to get as many goals as possible.”

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