Quote Sheet: Post-Match Quotes from Men's Olympic Team Match vs. Japan
ADELAIDE, Australia (Saturday, September 23, 2000) -
CLIVE CHARLES, U.S. Men's Olympic Team head coach
Opening remarks: "I've been involved in a lot of games over the years with World Cup games and World Cup qualifying games, and this may have been the most exciting game that I've ever been involved in. Japan was a tremendous team. They gave us all kinds of problems throughout the game. It was a very entertaining game. Both teams were committed to attack. It had everything. It had quality soccer. It had incidents on both ends. The game was hard, but fair. I'm just very proud to be a part of this. These guys here were phenomenal. The team never gave up. We came from behind twice. I'm exhausted. I have no idea how these guys feel. I just felt it was a tremendous performance from the U.S. team today."
On whether he thinks the U.S. is a better team than Italy or Brazil, who failed to advance: "I wouldn't like to say that we're better than them, because I'm sure there would be a lot of people that would disagree. It's nice to be in a competition of this magnitude and still be involved at the end when there are a lot of world class teams that haven't got this far. We're just very proud to be involved at this stage. But I'm not going to say that we're better than Brazil or we're better than Italy just because we're still in it and they're not. I think that would be unfair."
On how the victory ranks among those of past U.S. Men's National Teams: "I don't really know. I think that it's a major competition, and the United States is still involved and we're in the semi-finals. All the team have their best players here, and we're still here, so obviously it must make some kind of a statement. We have a good team and the United States men are good players. It's nice that we can now prove that by our results. I've always believed that the United States has good players, and hopefully now everybody else will."
On how he decided who would be the five penalty kick takers in the shootout: "First of all, I got everybody together after the game and asked them who wanted to take them. And then, basically I put them in order. Then Peter (Vagenas) told me that he wanted to go first. I gave him the privilege of going first and then moved everybody down one. I originally had him down to take the last one. So Peter decided who went first and then I made a decision on the other four."
On how the team plans to celebrate their accomplishment tonight: "(Looking at the players before the answer:) Easy, easy, easy. (Jokingly:) They're going to bed as soon as they get back. Then tomorrow they're going to get up."
PETER VAGENAS, U.S. Men's Olympic Team midfielder
On the feeling of advancing to the medal round: "At the moment, it's definitely a surreal moment. I don't think it's really sunk in yet. Maybe tomorrow when we're going to Sydney to actually play in the semifinals, it will sink in. But as Clive said, the match could have gone either way. When it goes down to penalty kicks, everything goes out the window and it's just a little bit of luck. Fortunately, it was on our side and hopefully we can keep this going."
On how he's coped with the pressure in converting all three penalty kick chances in Olympics: "A penalty kick is a penalty kick. I've taken them a million times. The atmosphere and what-not is a little different, but that doesn't change what I'm supposed to do when I'm up there. It's a pretty basic thing to do. The only problem I had tonight was that my coach jinxed me and he asked me if I wanted to take another one after the game, and I hesitated a little there but I decided to stick with it."
JOSH WOLFF, U.S. Men's Olympic Team forward
On finally getting to go to Sydney and stay in the Athletes Village: "It's going to be pretty wild. We're going for a medal and it'll be exciting."
On his post-goal celebration in which he squatted at the corner flag and imitated rolling a pair of dice: "The celebration is just out of fun. I guess the guys have seen some casinos, but I don't think anyone has really went to them. (I was) just making a little makeshift casino in the corner and rolling dice. (It was) nothing real big, I don't think."
On whether he thought the team was headed for a loss before the 90th minute penalty kick: "I don't think we were dead at any point throughout the game. We were down twice, but we kept our spirits. We knew we were getting chances and we were getting behind them. I think they were getting a little tired and their legs were going and basically that's what it was--running down a ball. I got myself in front of that guy and he clipped my feet and I was forced down. It was a good PK and we got the tie, and fortunately we were able to get the win in PK's."
On how big of a result the match was for U.S. Soccer: "This is a big win. As far as internationals and tournaments go, it's huge. For us and U.S. Soccer, I can't compare it to the (full) men's team, but it's right up there with some of their wins. I think it speaks loudly to the generation that's coming up. We're setting the bar pretty high for the next group. That's what you're supposed to do, and I think that's what will make our future better at U.S. Soccer. As far as tournaments go, it's definitely the biggest win I've had in my career."
On the team's ability to come back twice to tie the match: "It's a different class out there with these guys. You go through stages when you're down, or even when it's tied, when things are just not going your way. We responded really well in both games--against Cameroon and this one. It's one thing to have heart, but it's another thing to get the result also. You could say that we've been fighting hard, but we've been getting the results, so it has paid off."
On what he thinks of the "next generation" of U.S. players: "I think it's kind of a youth movement with the national team. With the younger guys like (Chicago Fire teammate DaMarcus) Beasley and Landon pushing, like Ben Olsen, myself and Chad McCarty, there are starting to be new faces with the full team. I think (the Olympics) is part of the process."
SASHA VICTORINE, U.S. Men's Olympic Team midfielder
On the game-winning penalty kick goal: "The first thing I was thinking was that I just wanted to make sure I hit the ball solid. I wanted to put some pace on it and get the shot to go in. If he could get to it, then the best to him. I just wanted to hit it solid, and that was about it."
On how unusual it was to come in as a sub in the first overtime: "Its' been tough because in all of the other games, I've been watching and supporting from the bench. This time, I got a chance to do it on the field. It feels so much better to be able to help your team on the field."
On his reaction to scoring: "I don't know. I might have just seen it hit my foot and, all of a sudden see it go in the goal instantaneously. You always do a double take to make sure it went in, but it was something that you're just amazed. I don't think it will hit me until I get home and see my parents and family and girlfriend. It's something that will last forever."
On going from not being on the original team to playing a vital role in the team advancing to the semi's: "One thing I can say from that is that it shows how deep U.S. soccer is becoming. There are guys that aren't even here that could be on this team and step into roles on this team and do what guys have done on the team. For me to have a shot to do that has been amazing."
On when the last time was that he took a penalty kick in a game: "In practice, maybe about three months ago? No, I don't remember. Probably at UCLA was the last time I took a PK."
On whether or not he thought the team needed a sub before he actually came into the match: "I thought we could use a spark, a little movement. The guys were giving everything they could out there. It's hard to sit there from the sideline. You want to go in so bad, but you're watching you guys out there putting in a lot of heart and trying to win the game. It was exciting to see them tie the game up. When they gave me the call to give me a shot, I was just ecstatic."
On his reaction to being picked as the fifth and final person for PK's: "Well, I don't know if it was me being placed the anchor man or what. Pete wanted to take it first to get us started and Clive just kind of put us around, and I ended up number five. I was watching and watching and then I thought 'Wait a second. I might start becoming kind of important."
FRANKIE HEJDUK, U.S. Men's Olympic Team defender
On the effectiveness of substitutions at the beginning of the second half and overtime: "They were two great substitutions. Sasha kept the ball for us, and Landon (Donovan, U.S. forward) brought us some attacking soccer, and that's what we needed at that point. When you're a goal down, you need someone to come in and provide some offense, and that's what Landon did. He's very good at that. He's a good finisher, and he brought that to the game. Late in the game, Sasha brought (an ability to) keeping the ball for us. He's a bug guy and he holds the ball well and is very patient. We needed those substitutions. You can't go that long with out making a sub. Guys are tired and it's good to get some extra legs in there. It just worked out great."
On the feeling after the match: "It was incredible, just the emotions after the game. I don't know what I did. I could have done a backflip. I don't know what I did. I could have done ten in a row. I have no clue still, but it was an awesome time."
On what it means for U.S. Soccer: "It's incredible for U.S. Soccer. This is the farthest we've been pretty much in the biggest tournament ever. This is a huge tournament, too. This proves that we're right there with the rest of the world now. Our upcoming kids, these young guys on this team, are right there with the rest of the world. I just think it's going to get that way in the future more and more. We're going to be competing now with the best teams and I think we're going to gain a lot of respect in this tournament. Teams aren't just going to say, 'Oh, great. We get to play the U.S.' Now it'll be like, '(Damn), we're playing the U.S. today.' They know that they're going to get a battle out of it no matter what."
On if he would like to see this team go up against Costa Rica in the next World Cup qualifying match on October 11: "Oh, totally. Like I said, the energy around this team is so positive. All of the guys are really getting along. We're laughing off the field, we're laughing on the field. For me, it's been a great experience being here. It's been nothing but positive vibes with this group."