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June 12, 2010: U.S. Men vs. England

June 15 Media Roundtable Quote Sheet

U.S. defender and captain CARLOS BOCANEGRA
On his impression of Slovenia based on their match against Algeria:
“They looked good, they look like a solid group. Very disciplined, they stay compact and look to hit you on the counterattack. A few times in the game I think the excitement got to both teams and it opened up a little but, but they’re very technical and organized defensively. It’s going to be a good game for us.”

On losing the edge after playing such a big opponent in England:
“That’s a normal thing in sports, especially with all the hype around the England game. I think what helps us in this is that Slovenia won, and we know we can’t lose this game or it will be very difficult to qualify for the second round. We’re going in with the mindset that if we lose, we’re out. That’s a big factor for our team, but as far as the leadership roles we have to keep everybody going and put England behind us. As it gets closer and closer to the Slovenia game, it’s still in the World Cup and our team does a pretty good job of staying mentally prepared.”

On the millions reportedly watching the United States’ first match against England:
“It’s a good feeling. To me, it means the sport’s definitely growing and getting bigger and bigger every year. That’s a lot of support for us, which is a good feeling and helps us out. It’s always good to know that people are pulling for you and watching to see how successful you are.”

U.S. defender JAY DEMERIT
On the ability of the defense to gel despite the health issues that prevented them from playing together before the first game:
“The good thing was that most of us have played together before. It wasn’t like we needed a huge amount of gelling time, and I think we showed that on Saturday. The good thing is we put in a performance like that with still a lot to work on. Hopefully now as the tournament goes on we can continue to look at game tapes and fix the little things. We didn’t have that much time to work on that in the previous games because of the health issues. But again, it comes down to the individuals at the end of the day, in that 90 minute period are you willing to put all of that aside, do your job, concentrate and we all did that. I think that showed the character we have and it also showed that we’re willing to work and do those things for each other.”

On the reaction to giving up a goal in the 4th minute against England:
“It’s initial disappointment, because that’s the last thing you want in the fourth minute against a team like that. But again, I think going back to the character of the group, we take confidence in the fact that that’s happened to us before. A lot of our best results over the past couple of years have come from goals like that, where we say ‘Ok, that wasn’t the best start, but let’s continue to concentrate and work and eventually things will come.’ That’s exactly what happened again, and I think we’re really starting to rely on that attitude. Now, think about if we don’t concede that goal but we keep that attitude, then we can really move forward.”

On what Slovenia presents to the defense compared to England:
I think a work ethic. They’re a big, physical team that we’re going to have to fight with and battle with. So on a physical level, they’re going to be a challenge. I think on the technical side, England, as physical as their players are, because they are such a technical team sometimes their physicality goes by the wayside. With Slovenia, they’re such a hard-working, together team that they rely on their physical presence quite a lot. Maybe a little bit different than England. So we’re going to have to be ready to battle.”

On managing being labeled as favorites the game after being underdogs:
“I think it’s a challenge. I think preparation is key, I think mindset as a team is key. Going into a game as possible favorites would be different for us, especially in this World Cup, and that does pose a challenge on the pressure side of things, to know that you’re under pressure to get three points, or get a good result. But I also think we need to use that as a positive to say that we should expect more as a team. There’s no reason to come to tournaments like this, and get results like we did on Saturday to not put in a good performance against Slovenia because that completely takes it all away. That makes all the hard work and fight and the whole performance that we put in against England not worth while. It’s games like this that are going to get you to the next round, not the game against England.”

On whether he considers Tim Howard one of the best goalkeepers in the world:
“I think so. People ask me the best goalkeeper I’ve played with or against, and he’s definitely in my conversations. He’s a fantastic athlete, he’s a good leader, he’s vocal, he organizes, and he’s got all the attributes that make all good ‘keepers who they are. Timmy’s right up there with them. I think his will to win, his experiences—people forget that he was Manchester United and the Premier League’s goalkeeper of the year. To have that tag on your resume already puts you in those conversations.”

U.S. midfielder CLINT DEMPSEY
On what he expects from Slovenia and whether he watched their game Sunday:
“I didn’t get to see a lot of it, just the last 20 minutes, but they’re going to be a tough team. They keep the ball away, they have players who can cause problems so we’re going to have to play our best game to get something out of it.”

On the midfield play against England:
“After the goal I would say that we did play well in the first half. We did manage the ball well, managed the game well, kept possession and created chances. In the second half we needed to do a better job of that. I kind of thought we got away from it. We defended a lot, so hopefully we can play more like we did in the first half.”

On how much the experience of playing in the Confederations Cup helps the U.S. team:
“Well, it gave us confidence that we can come to a place and do well, and we have good memories from the Confederations Cup. It’s a positive mood that we’ve done well here before here, and every time you go somewhere that you’ve been successful before you kind of have that in the back of your mind. We just hope that we can keep going and we got a good result against England, a point is good. It still keeps us in a position that, if we get two results in our favor, that we can advance out of the group and that’s been the main goal from the get-go.”

On whether the team plays better under pressure:
“I think it’s one of those things, I don’t know why, but it’s like we have nothing to lose. I wish we could play like that when we’re not down a goal actually, but at the same time we did a good job in the Confederations Cup against Egypt and Spain, and we didn’t need to go down in those games to figure it out. We did a good job managing those games well so hopefully we can play like that.”

On what Slovenia did against Algeria that impressed him:
“I didn’t get to see much of the game, but to get a result against a good team is impressive. They kept the ball well, and beyond that I really can’t comment too much on the game since I only saw the last 20 minutes of it. We know it’s going to be a tough game. I got to see them play against Russia, and they did well in that game against a tough opponent, grinding out a result. Even though there was a lot of talk about us against England, we all knew that we still had Algeria and Slovenia to play and those games are going to be tough. Every team is going to be fighting as hard as they can because, how many times do you get to play in a World Cup and do something special? That’s the best part about the World Cup, that’s why we’re here. I think Slovenia is a good team but I hope we’re the better team.”

On whether the pressure is on the U.S. now in this game:
“There is pressure every game. You have to play every game like it’s your last and that’s been our mentality from the first game. You could say England is dealing with a lot of pressure because Slovenia beat Algeria and if England doesn't get something against Algeria, they’re going to be in trouble. I think there is pressure on us and England because Slovenia won their first game.”

On whether the team can thrive in the role of favorite:
“We’re comfortable no matter what. We’re going to go out and play hard. We have this sense of togetherness about us where everybody is on the same page and we know that we all have the guy next to us who is going to put in the work. We feel confident heading into games.”

U.S. midfielder LANDON DONOVAN
On how he sees Slovenia after their game against Algeria:
“It was pretty hard to tell from that game because I feel both teams played a little conservatively. Both teams were very solid defensively and were looking to take advantage of a player or two on the [attacking] end, and Slovenia made the play when it counted. We had yesterday off, but we’ll start tonight watching video and getting a really good grasp of what they’re about.”

On tactical changes that may happen against Slovenia:
“It will be different. Obviously England was very aggressive and they like to dictate the tempo and the way the game goes and you have to match that. It will be interesting to see how this game shapes up because with a win, Slovenia are qualified. So it’s hard to know whether they’re going to go all out or whether they’ll be happy with a point. We’re going to have to try to assess that, and adjust in the game accordingly depending on how they play.”

On the strengths of the U.S. team:
“First and foremost, our team spirit is our strongest point. You could see that in the England game. A lot of teams go down in the first few minutes like that and would have crumbled. Our guys stuck together, we got the goal and in the end had a chance to win the game. That’s our starting point. Defensively we’re very good, and I think what we’ll learn from the other night is that we can be a little better going forward and trying to get more goals.”

On coming down from a good result against England:
“In the past I would have worried abaout that a little but it’s not like we were popping champagne in the locker room. We were satisfied with the point but nobody was ecstatic. Everybody understands that we’ve got a lot of guys now who know what’s going on. As much that was made of the England game, we knew that was only the start of the tournament, so we understand what Friday is all about.”

On how to play against a team as organized as Slovenia:
“When a team is organized like that you have to take some risks if you want to score. Certainly part of that is getting our outside backs involved. Another big part of the game I think will be set pieces, and our deliveries and how we are in front of goal when we get chances on set pieces.”

On the most impressive thing he’s seen from Slovenia:
“I think there’s nothing flashy about them, there’s not a player that we need to 100 percent stop that player or else we’re in trouble but they seem to be a very good team. They seem to have good chemistry, they know each other well. They’ve obviously played a lot of games together through difficult European qualifying and come out of it. They’re going to be solid, they’re not going to be spectacular but a very solid team that will be difficult to beat.”