US SoccerUS Soccer

Quote Sheet: Bruce Arena

U.S. Head Coach

When asked is ‘honestly speaking’ he would have predicted the U.S. to be in the World Cup quarterfinals, one game from going the distance in this tournament:
“‘Honestly speaking?’  I’d have a hard time doing these press conferences if I had to “honestly speak.’  No, who would think the U.S. team would be in the last eight?  But I’m not surprised.  I felt we could beat Mexico.  After two games we were in position to be in the Round of 16.  We got there and we made the most of that game.  Now how we deal with expectations?  There aren’t any expectations, this is the easy part for us now.  The Germans are heavily favored and we can just go along for the ride.”

On why he has chosen to make consistent changes to the U.S. starting 11:
“I really think our team is best suited to play that way, because we have a lot of people who are comparable in many ways and have some interesting qualities that help our team against certain opponents.  I was even considering a goalkeeping change at one point, because I really feel the one player who has been short-changed a little here is Kasey Keller.  He could easily be in the goal for us and do well.  That is the way we have moved along with our team the last three and a half years.  Actually in the 1999 Confederations Cup we platooned our team and we played with two different squads.  I am a believer in that.  Injuries and suspensions and other things are factors in changing our 11.  We had no choice but to make changes because of injuries and other things as well.”

On Kasey Keller’s reaction to not being the starter in this tournament:
“Kasey, I think, has been a great professional.  Certainly I can’t say he has been elated and jumping for joy, but he is very happy for the team.  I think he also knows that he could do as well, and I think he also realizes that when I made the decision to go the other way, he has been in the same situation at both the club level and the international level.  I think he is a great goalkeeper and I have a hard time believing that he won’t be the first choice ‘keeper for Tottenham next year.”

On the play, selection and experience of U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel:
“He is a tremendous athlete and he has grown greatly in the goal.  Playing for Galatassary, being at Liverpool, getting the opportunity at Blackburn, he has grown tremendously.  Goalkeepers reach their prime around 30 years old, and that is where Brad is right now. … I think over the next couple of years he will get any better.  Off the field, he is a very personable guy, he is very bright and has a good sense of humor.  He gets along with his teammates.  He was a tremendous number two ‘keeper as well.  I know he would not like to hear this, because that is always a difficult position for a ‘keeper to be in, but whenever he was in that position he was a great professional.  He supported the guy ahead of him and was great with his teammates.  He has been a great player for U.S. Soccer and his time has come.  In 1994 he was a back-up, as well as in 1998, and this time around he got his opportunity and he has made the most of it.”

“It could have gone either way, to be honest with you.  But the one thing about Brad that we thought is that he has a great kicking game.  It is often reported the wrong way, and by that I mean goal kicks, punts, balls played back to goalkeepers under pressure.  Years ago the goalkeeper used to be able to pick the ball up, and that has changed and goalkeepers are under pressure and Brad is outstanding at it.  We felt in the first game against Portugal we were going to see a lot of pressure in that part of the game, and he is outstanding at that.  In those games where there is a lot of pressure and we can play in the other half of the field easily, it is a big plus for our team.  And Brad is able to deliver that.  In the goal, he is outstanding and so is Kasey.  But we thought Brad had a little bit of an edge in the kicking game and that is what swayed me in the opening game.”

On his thoughts on the USA-Germany friendly in Rostock, Germany in March:
“Well, I do think you need to keep in mind that that game was a friendly.  And friendlies are entirely different from World Cup matches.  Both teams probably played 18 players in the game, and we were not anywhere near full strength, and neither were the Germans.  The key word there is friendly.  The one thing you pick out of that game is certainly the physical presence of the Germans.  It is a very big part of their game and it is something we need to be aware of.”

On his thoughts on the German team:
“Obviously they are a very talented team.  Their physical presence is one of their greatest qualities.  They have good goal scorers.  They have ways of scoring goals.  Klose has scored five goals in this tournament, and probably five with his head.  That tells you something there.  There flank play is impressive.  They serve good crosses into the box.  They have big strong strikers in Klose and Jancker, and they bring Neuville off the bench who has a little bit of pace, and they have Bierhoff.  So they are all about big strong strikers and getting service into the box.  We know what they are about and they are obviously very good on restarts with their physical presence.  And they are a good team period.  We know there physical qualities are tremendous and we need to try and neutralize them.”

On the standout play of Eddie Pope in this World Cup:
“He has played quite well.  The key word with Eddie is consistency and being their game in and game out.  Over the last few years he has been in and out of our team because of injuries.  He started the year coming off of surgery in December, and we were not able to use him in January in the Gold Cup and we couldn’t use him against Italy in February.  His first game for us this year was in March.  It has been a long road back.  In planning, we never knew if he were going to make it back for the World Cup.  He got over the hump in about mid-April or so and he has performed quite well here.”

On the young stars from MLS who have made a name for themselves in this World Cup:
“Notably, I guess Donovan and Beasley have had terrific performances, no doubt about it.  Donovan continues to show he is a player with great potential and Beasley has exhibited that as well.  They are fantastic kids … kids?  They are men.  They are no longer teenagers.  Beasley was actually a teenager when we got on the plane, but he became a man over Alaska I think.  They’ve done very well for themselves.”

On the difference between the U.S. team that faced Poland and the one that faced Mexico:
“About two minutes.  For some reason, I don’t want to be critical of all the experts in this room who have evaluated that game, but there were some freaky plays in a matter of about two minutes that turned that game around.  You take about two minutes away from that Poland match and we have done pretty well in this World Cup.”

On what it was like for the team to receive a call from the President of the United States:
“It is not every day we get to speak to the President of the United States.  It was a wonderful gesture and certainly got the attention of our players.  Maybe we need him to call again on Friday morning?”

On the USA’s lack of possession in some games in this World Cup:
“Actually that is one of the things we decided at the start of the year, that we would throw away possession to be a little more dangerous.  We were generally a good possession team.  The one game in this tournament in which we dominated possession was against Poland.  We have not been able to be a team that could get out on the break and counter, and that is something we worked on at the beginning of the year thinking about the World Cup.  We told our guys to give up some possession to be more dangerous, and at times we have been pretty effective at that.”

On whether there are any more U.S. lineup surprises coming:
“This is game five in the World Cup.  Everybody knows everybody.  There are no more surprises at this point..  I can probably tell you the German starting line-up on Friday if I had to and they probably can’t tell you ours.”

On the team’s perceived lack of experience entering such a big game:
“It is not going to be any different than the last four games.  Obviously the knockout round is different from group play, but you say we don’t have any experience, but we do.  We played a game yesterday that was very important, so that is the experience we need.  We understand our opponent on Friday and the significance of the game, and we will be ready to play.”

On whether the team’s run in this World Cup tournament will define a U.S. style of play:
“Well we’ve played four games so I guess that is our style.  If you watch England in this World Cup, they aren’t playing tremendously different than how we play.  When England got the lead against Argentina, they got 10 players behind the ball real fast.  As teams continue to advance in Cup play, when they get a goal, they are going to hold on to it.  So we are not playing in the dark ages with the things we are doing.  Our style of play is whatever you want to define it as.  The idea at this point in time is to get results.”

On the follow up question of whether playing “entertaining and attacking soccer” is the key to getting American fans excited:
“Is anyone following the team now?  What are the buzz words?  Entertaining and attacking soccer?  In the United States, and everywhere in the world, the fans want to support a winner.  The most entertaining and attacking team that I’ve seen in the World Cup so far is France.  They are a great team, but unfortunately this is a business of results right now.”

On the follow up of whether he thinks the Germans play “entertaining and attacking soccer”:
“(joking) Are you German?  Have they entertained you.  They don’t need to entertain me.  Eight goals in one game is pretty entertaining.”