COLUMBUS, Ohio (Sunday, July 6, 2003) - U.S. Men's National Team manager Bruce Arena and players comment follow the team's 2-0 victory over Paraguay in an international match at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday.
U.S. Manager BRUCE ARENA
"It was a good game. We played against a good team in Paraguay, with very experienced players, and it was a battle. They had to concentrate for 90 minutes. Obviously there are going to be some growing pains with some of our young players, but I think they benefit from the experience. We're happy with the win. It's always a good to get a quality type of game before we go into a competition like the Gold Cup. Hopefully we can move forward from here and be ready to defend our Gold Cup championship."
On the play of DaMarcus Beasley:
"DaMarcus played very well. I think it took us a little time to get him into the game. He didn't see much of the ball in the first 10 or 15 minutes, but then he was a handful. He did a great job creating the goal, and certainly had a good second half as well. He continues to grow as a player. I thought Donovan and Mathis worked well together also, and that was good to see. It's been a much improved effort from what we saw in the Confederations Cup."
On areas where the team needs to improve for the Gold Cup:
"There's always areas where you can improve. I think you never know how your team is going to react in these competitions, but I feel this was a great game to get in for us. Bringing in our experienced players is a real benefit; having Keller here today, Earnie Stewart, and getting Reyna back on the field was big. McBride only played a couple minutes, but it's good to get him back involved. As we move into the Gold Cup, I think we're going to go into the tournament with confidence."
U.S. goalkeeper KASEY KELLER
On his first game back with the national team since the 2-0 win against Venezuela on March 29, 2003:
"It was great. Obviously it's always a little bit tricky when you have some new faces. The guys played very well in front of me. We had a couple little incidents that we were able to get through. We got a couple goals, and it was fantastic on a real hot day to have the guys battle hard and have the right kind of attitude."
On the breakaway save in the 39th minute:
"Those things happen. You try to stay as big as possible for as long as possible and give them as little angle to shoot at as you can. What makes it so much easier is when the guys are chasing him from behind. You try to slow him up as much as you can, and when the guys start to pressure him from behind and make him make a choice. It was very nice to look up after I made the save and the first person I saw coming back was my own man, Greg Vanney. When you get that type of work rate after a mistake, it makes it so much easier for me to make the save."
On playing his first match since having elbow surgery in May:
"I felt good. I had some good training before I came into camp. Seattle didn't have the heat that Columbus had, that's for sure. It took a couple days to get used to the heat and the training again. I didn't feel the elbows at all throughout the whole week of training and during the game. It's nice to get a game under my belt as we head into the Gold Cup."
U.S. midfielder CLAUDIO REYNA
On playing his first competitive match since suffering a torn ACL in October of 2002:
"It was great to get out there. I got a nice reception from the fans, and that put me at ease and calmed me down a bit. It's been a long road since my surgery, and everything went well. It's really just the first step of many more steps to keep improving. For the first game, it was great."
On his status for the Gold Cup:
"It's something we're going to talk about. Since this was a friendly, it was the perfect situation to bring me in for about 30 minutes. The game opened up a little bit, and I was able to get some time on the ball. Now that the tournament starts, and he's going to have to make some decisions. If he wants to start me, I'm ready, and if he wants me to play two minutes, I'm ready. I'm not going to complain. I'm just happy to be back and involved with the team."
U.S. midfielder EARNIE STEWART
On the game:
"It's good to come here and get a win. The most important thing is that everyone has a lot of confidence going into the Gold Cup."
On scoring his first goal for the MNT since he had a pair in a 3-2 World Cup qualifying loss on Sept. 1, 2001:
"You always try to work hard and try to get involved in the game. It's great to finally score. I've been on the unlucky end of not scoring over the last couple months, and I'm happy to be on the positive side of it."