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Terrence Boyd and Aron Johannsson Q & A: “It definitely helps the more times I get called into camp because it … makes you more confident.” - AJ


ussoccer.com : You have 10 goals in all competitions for Rapid Vienna this season. That’s a good start .. .
Terrence Boyd : “Yeah, I’m off to a good start. The stats are looking good. I think I can bang in more goals, so there’s still room for improvement. It’s alright, but I can do better. I’m feeling comfortable at the club and know that I will improve over the next month and hopefully the goals will follow.”

ussoccer.com : Have you been able to take what you learn with the National Team and use it to make yourself better? What’s that process like ?
TB : “Jurgen Klinsmann told us to focus not only on the pitch but off the pitch. Live as a professional 24/7. That’s what changed my tune. I’m not going out that much anymore. I’m just more calm, eating better, acting like every day is a match day. It helps me during the game and practice because you have more energy. This is a big part of why I’m getting better now.”

ussoccer.com : Jurgen has challenged the younger players to make a mark on the team. What have you done to push the guys in front of you ?
TB : “First of all, I’m thankful for every call-up I get. Whenever I’m in the camp I’m trying to do my best and play to my strengths. Because we all play for the United States, we all want to succeed. In practice it’s a big test because everybody wants to get that ticket to Brazil. This mentality is for every player, just to bring our level higher up and it shows in the game. We need to step up every time, every game. I’m happy how consistent we play and you can see that the team gets better too. You just do what you can do, and hope you get more chances to prove yourself on the pitch.”

ussoccer.com : What areas in particular have you worked on and improved the most in the last year ?
TB : “There are many things, but the tactical things like how I hold my position better as a central striker. I’m a box player, so just focus on your strengths, and play easy. I’m working on the first touch. There are a lot of things I’ve been working on.”

ussoccer.com : Talk about the older players. How do you help them and they you ?
TB : “I learn a lot from the older guys. Jozy [Altidore] is a big role model for me. At the same time he’s a fan of mine, but you can learn a lot just by looking at him play. Jozy’s a big player and in practice you see a lot of things you can improve on yourself. I push hard to give a performance that’s worth something. I’m putting in work, so they have to step up too. The situation right now is good because I can work on what I want and feel free in practice and try everything I can to succeed. I’m learning a lot from the other players.”

ussoccer.com : You and Aron Johannsson are two of the younger guys. How do you two work to make each other better ?
TB : “Aron and I think similar about the situation. We just want to get our chance and use it. That’s all we’re waiting for. That’s why we keep pushing every practice and every game.”

ussoccer.com : You and Aron played together in the team’s 3-2 win in Panama last month. You played the ball to him when he scored. Do moments like that make you think ‘I can play at the international level’ ?
TB : “We just want to make a difference. It was nice to contribute to another goal. It was nice that we could make a difference. It was a beautiful strike from Aron. That’s what we train for. It’s good we can deliver on the pitch as well.”

ussoccer.com : With regard to your production with Rapid Vienna this season, what have you been doing well that has helped you capitalize on your scoring opportunities ?
TB : “This season I focus more on the tactical stuff. I’m keeping my position more. Last year, I was running around everywhere and our midfielders were doing the work but didn’t have anywhere to cross it into the box if I was playing outside. So I make sure I’m in the box and making trouble. I’m reacting faster. I’m the first one to the ball when a cross comes in when someone flicks it through. I’m getting more opportunities this season than last year. I’m quite satisfied with my midfield because they deliver a lot of good passes to me. The more chances you get, the higher percentage you will score.”

ussoccer.com : What does it do for your mentality to know that often times coaches from the National Team are at your games to watch you play ?
TB : “The fact that the scouts are watching the game with me, it’s nice. But, when you’re on the pitch you’re not thinking about it. It’s always good to know that they are watching you and you’re not forgotten. It’s a big motivation to deliver even more. I have more pressure when my stepdad watches because he’s even more motivated than me, so that’s funny. In terms of pressure it’s not a big deal, because during the game you don’t think about it.”

ussoccer.com : How has your club form helped you in the instances you have been called up to the National Team ?
Aron Johannsson : “It definitely helps me a lot because I’ve been playing a lot of games, scoring a lot of goals and getting more confident in myself. When I come here, I try to show it in every training and the minutes I get to play on the field."

ussoccer.com : Jurgen and the staff have really pushed always playing with the mentality of achieving the next level. How has that resonated with you personally ?
AJ : “I feel like now that I’m in Holland, I’m in a good league, but there’s always another step to a better league and a better team. Now, I just try to focus on playing well for my club team and for the National Team when I get a shot to play here. I just have to wait and see where that takes me.”

ussoccer.com : How much more comfortable are you since your first match with the National Team against Bosnia in August ?
AJ : “It definitely helps the more minutes I get and the more times I get called into camp because you get to know the whole staff and all the players. Getting to play with them on the field makes you more confident.”

ussoccer.com : How much do you think you have pushed the established players in your position since joining the team ?
AJ : “I don’t really know. I just try to do my best in every game and every training. In the end, it’s the coaches’ decision who’s going to play. We have a lot of good strikers. If I get any minutes then I’ll do my best and try to score some goals for the team.”

ussoccer.com : What has the competition been like in the deep group of strikers ?
AJ : “In this camp we have six strikers, and I think all six can play. They want to play and feel like they should play. I don’t know if there’s one or two positions we’ll be able to play in, but it’s a hard competition and you just have to show yourself every time you get an opportunity to do it.”

ussoccer.com : What areas do you focus on both on and off the field to help you get to the next level ?
AJ : “I think I can improve a lot of things. It’s not one thing in particular. I have to improve everything in my game. I’m playing well now, scoring goals and setting up my teammates, but to be able to go to the next level I have to improve a lot of things. I’m working on that with my coaching staff at my club and also when I come here.”

ussoccer.com : You recently converted a penalty for your club team AZ Alkmaar. Talk about what it means that your teammates believe in you in that kind of pressure packed situation .
AJ : “I’ve practiced penalties for a long time, but it’s never the same to take a penalty in training or in games. When we got the first penalty at my club, I demanded to take it and they gave me a chance to take it. I scored the first one and now I get to take all the other ones.”

ussoccer.com : You and Terrence Boyd combined well when you scored your first goal for the National Team. Talk about your relationship with him as another young striker in this deep group .
AJ : “We both came off the bench and helped each other to get the winning goal. When you’re on the bench and you get to come in the only thing you want to do is help the team in every way you can. He was unselfish and played me the ball, and I scored the goal, but in the end it’s a team sport and you have to do the best you can for the team.”

ussoccer.com : What can you take away from your experience with the National Team that will help you become a better professional every day with your club team ?
AJ : “When I come here, Jurgen is talking about players needing to go to the next level, and when I come here I meet guys that are on that level for me. We have players in the English Premier League and Italy and in a league that I would want to go to next time. So, I talk to them and they help me out.”

ussoccer.com : You have been part of the National Team since August. How have your conversations with Jurgen changed since then? What does he tell you he is looking for from you now that you have had time to settle with the team?
AJ : “Every time I come in, it’s the same thing - just try to do my best in training and show the coach that he should be picking me in front of someone else. If you put hard work in both training and games, that’s the only thing you can do. In the end it’s the coach’s decision to decide who’s in the roster and who’s going to play in the games.”

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