Quote Sheet: Post-Match Quotes from Men's Olympic Opener, U.S. vs. Czech Republic
CLIVE CHARLES, U.S. Men's Olympic Team head coach
On how much respect he thinks the U.S. team earned after tonight's competition: "I know that sometimes the United States is considered a basketball country and a gridiron country, but I tell people all the time that we've got players in the United States who can play very well in any arena. I think the guys proved it tonight."
On holding off until the 85th minute for a substitution and using just one of three allowed players: "Well, I learned a long while ago that if things are going well, don't mess around with them. I brought Chris (Albright) off because he was cramping up. We'd done a lot of work, and I didn't have a reason to make a change. I felt that we had more of the game than they did, and I felt that we were creating more chances, so I wasn't going to mess with anything. They were all doing the jobs that they had to do."
On U.S. forward Conor Casey's performance: "I think Conor played very well. I think in the first 15 minutes, he was noticeably nervous. He had a little trouble controlling the ball, but as the game went on, he started to gain some confidence. I think that Josh and Conor up front in the second half combined really well. You've got the only kid who's playing in college, and I think he came out here and did very well. But again, they all played well. Not one player had an average game. They all played very well... [long pause, then jokingly to Albright] except for maybe Chris."
On the play of the defense, particularly late defensive starter Danny Califf: "We told Danny at the last minute he was starting, after the injury to our captain Brian Dunseth, and he came in and was outstanding. If you look at the height advantage that the Czech Republic had over us, the back four dealt with everything. Even people like Frankie Hejduk, who's... what - 4'2"? [Albright responds, "4'10"!"] I think it was a great performance from all four of them. Not only did they defend well, but they maintained possession and they played to feet. The two fullbacks got forward all day, which is something that we wanted to do and had been working on. Our best defense tonight was the fact that we attacked well. We played a lot in their half of the field, which was nice."
On what it will take to advance to the second round: "We have to play that well, in our next two games."
On if there is disappointment in not getting the three-point win after sometimes dominating the match: "Yeah, I suppose. We were one up, and we were 2-1 up, and we had most of the chances. So, a part of me is disappointed, but it all evens itself out. We're going to play a game somewhere down the line maybe when we get a result that maybe we. The players were disappointed, and that's what made me feel good, because they came off the field feeling that they were the better team and they should have won. The way I look at it is: if you can't win the game, don't lose the game. And I'm quite happy with a point."
JOSH WOLFF, U.S. Men's Olympic Team forward
On the potential penalty kick call in the 88th minute: "I got it into Conor and I was able to get in behind him. Whatever decision the referee makes... obviously we would have liked the call, but it's his decision. It's a decision we have to live with, but I still think we're pretty happy with a 2-2 draw."
On whether the game felt special or like the Olympics: "Sure. This is what we've been waiting for. We said it before the game. Three years--and we've been waiting. We got an opportunity on a big stage tonight to allow ourselves to play well and I think we came out and did that. After the first 15 minutes, we gained some confidence, and I think it shook the Czechs up a little bit. And then when we got a goal, I think they realized that we were able to play and I think they picked it up a little bit from there on."
CHRIS ALBRIGHT, U.S. Men's Olympic Team midfielder/forward
On whether or not the Czech Republic was surprised at the U.S. team's overall speed: "I think we caused some problems for them out wide and up front. I think we took advantage of our speed. I think that was our strongest part of the game was the ability to get behind them and run at them on acounter. I definitely think they were surprised."
On the condition of the field and if it was slippery: "The field was fine. A lot of guys had studs in--I know I has studs myself. I think at night the field gets a little dew and the top surface gets a little slick. But the field was in great condition. I commend the field crew that got it together. They really did a great job."
BRAD FRIEDEL, U.S. Men's Olympic Team goalkeeper
On whether the game felt special or like the Olympics: "You know, it was good. It was a good atmosphere when we came out. You could tell it was something like an Olympics or a World Cup, because the crowd was more of a neutral one. I thought we really got the crowd behind us more than behind them. I think we can take away a lot of positives from this game. I think we can hold our heads pretty high. If we play like that, we will be in the next round and win our next two games."