Quotes from Arena and U.S. Players Following 2-0 Win Over Mexico in Columbus
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Wednesday, February 28, 2001) -
BRUCE ARENA, U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach
Opening Comments... "That was obviously a great win for the U.S. team, we really wanted to get three points today against a very fine Mexican team. And obviously we're very happy to walk off the field with three points. We obviously faced a lot of adversity in the first half and had to make a couple of changes and I'm proud of how our team pulled together at halftime and went out and did the job in the second half to get the victory."
On Having to Make Two First-Half Substitutions Due to Injuries: "I really think they made a difference for us in the game today. As you know we rarely play the Mexican team in the U.S. and feel like the home team. I think they made a big difference. The weather wasn't a factor. If we don't play well, and we don't get the ball in the back of the net, the weather doesn't mean a whole lot. But the fans really made a difference."
"The injuries did worry me. We had to take McBride out in the first 15 minutes and in the 30th minute it was obvious that Reyna would have to come out, and we had an issue with Tony (Sanneh). We almost had to burn three changes in the first half, it obviously limited what we could do in the second half. But our guys pulled together and did a great job."
On What This Game Means to the U.S. in Qualifying: "It's a long haul, we can't make more out of it today than it really is. We can't say where we stand at this point in the competition and which players are better than others. I think it is going to be a real battle the next nine games, and we are simply happy we were able to protect our home turf."
On Josh Wolff's Performance as Chevrolet Man of the Match: "Josh Wolff was just terrific, obviously a good ball by Clint Mathis to help create the first goal. And the play he pulled off at the end of the game to beat two players and feed Earnie for the goal that killed the game. That was fantastic and he had a great performance. ... Josh progressed greatly over the last couple of weeks of training and when we got him in the game early in the first half, we didn't think he would be able to go the entire game, but he did and made a difference."
"We talked to Josh the last couple of days and we really emphasized to him that his speed could make a difference in this game. Josh is very good at running off the ball, and I thought he was a factor as soon as he stepped on the field today. I was pleased with his performance and hopefully he can continue to fill a void we've had with having that kind of speed up top and hopefully get us goals."
On the Selection of Wolff to the 18-Man Active Roster: "I had to make a decision between Razov and Wolff (on the active line-up) and we thought that this was a game where his speed and quickness would be a factor, and that is what we told Ante. This is the type of game where Josh's speed could help us get behind the Mexican backline and he proved us right today."
On Earnie Stewart's Performance and Leadership: "Earnie Stewart had a very good second half. We told him at halftime that we needed his leadership as one of our older guys, and he found the game a lot better. Mexico came after us real hard in the last 15 minutes of the game, and Earnie helped pull our team together and he really made a difference in the second half."
On Saturday's USA vs. Brazil Match in Pasadena, California: "We are looking forward to the game with Brazil, now that we can put this game behind us. We are all excited about the opportunity to play Brazil. Obviously they are one of the top teams in the world and our guys are excited about playing them. We are hopeful we will get a great turnout in Pasadena, and that's a game we need support from our American fans, and hopefully that will be the case on Saturday."
General Comments on Wednesday's Match: "We wanted to win the game. We've had a habit of coming out in the second half and starting slow, and we wanted to get after them and we were fortunate to get that other goal."
"This game is about the players and always will be. Tactics and coaches belong in the background. It's all about the players and my hat is off to our players today."
JOSH WOLFF, U.S. forward
Opening Comments... "It was a good win tonight. The guys were excited about coming to Columbus. The stadium is fantastic. The fans were fantastic. This is one of the biggest rivalries that U.S. Soccer has and I'm very proud to be here and very proud to get on top of them 2-0."
On His Game-Winning Goal: "At halftime we said we were going to look to try and get the ball behind them, and they were pushed up in midfield and Clint and I had that understanding, and the ball came to him and I immediately made my run and he delivered a very good ball and Jorge had to make a decision. He came out and I was able to get to it before him and get a little piece of it and tap it in."
On Campos' Decision on His Goal: "It was a tough spot for a goalkeeper. He's not sure if he is going to be able to get it. I was able to use my speed to my advantage. He might have hesitated a little bit, and I was able to get there, but that is a goalkeeper's decision."
On His Assist on the Second Goal (by Earnie Stewart): "I think at the end of the game, we are trying to hold the lead. I was looking to hold the ball, but as soon as two guys came, I tried to hold it up and scoop the ball in behind them, and somehow it worked. And we had two guys in front of the goal, and it was just a matter of finding one of them."
On Coming in as a Substitute: "Any time you come in as a sub, you are trying to make an impact. And I think that is why Bruce had me here, so that when I come in off the bench I am able to contribute and tonight was another example of it. I was able to do that and I'm very excited it was able to happen tonight."
On the Pro-American Atmosphere in Columbus: "To be able to get into a stadium where we are going to have predominantly American fans, I think it is fantastic. Obviously we were able to see the support all night, after the goals and throughout the evening, they were very excited."
On the U.S. Team Depth Contributing to the Victory: "I think it speaks highly for the team that Clint Mathis and myself were able to come in and contribute. We've been together for about a monnth-and-a-half now and have had 20 guys together in camp, which is why we have 20 players so that when we have to go out there and play without guys like Brian McBride and without Claudio Reyna, our other guys are able to contribute and find their roles. Clint and I have played together in the past so we kind of have an understanding of each other."
On the Rivalry with Mexico: "When we play Mexico it is a big rivalry, it's a little chippy out there, but that is a part of soccer - it's going to be physical, especially when you have the lead, and guys are going to be going after each other. I think after we got the goal, they actually started playing a little better. It got them a little more into it and we lost our shape and discipline for about 20 minutes. We were looking to get the second goal, and once we got that it clinched the game."
JEFF AGOOS, U.S. defender
Opening Comments... "Obviously we are very happy with the result. In terms of our team I think we could have a played a little bit better and a little bit sharper, but anytime you can get a win, especially with the atmosphere here... I can't say enough about the people who supported us here in Columbus. Once again it was a great feeling."
On the Atmosphere: "I think everything was a home-field advantage: the fans, the weather. I think Columbus did a great job putting on the game. Every person on the field and on the bench felt it."
On How He Approaches Playing Defense Against Hernandez and Mexico: "Trying not to let him score, that is the best way I can sum it up. We know that Hernandez and Palencia are pretty potent offensive weapons, and we knew that if they got a goal early, it would be a struggle. So we did the best we could to limit any kind of effectiveness they had. As a group we did a very good job of doing that."
EARNIE STEWART, U.S. midfielder
General Comments on the Match... "In the second half we tried to slow the game down a little bit more by gaining more control in the midfield and knocking the ball around a little more. I don't think we did that too well, even in the second half, but once we got up 1-0 things started to fall our way."
"That is one thing about soccer, the game changes so quickly. You're on the field with 11 and then all of a sudden two players have to go out. Because we were playing long balls all night it was a shame that Brian had to go out, and Claudio obviously brings a lot of class to the game. Claudio can control the ball and hold the ball, and we missed him in the end, but 2-0 is 2-0."
"Starting at home in a great atmosphere, winning 2-0, with no goals against and our next game in Honduras; it gives you a lot of confidence and motivation going into the next match."
BRAD FRIEDEL, U.S. goalkeeper
On the Atmosphere at Columbus Crew Stadium: "I think the crowd helped us more than the weather did. The crowd was wonderful and everyone did their job today. I think when you play Mexico you have to pack the middle of the field as much as you can, and defend well because they are very good crossers of the ball. Eddie (Pope), Jeff (Agoos), Chris (Armas), Tony (Sanneh) and David (Regis), and all the others to be honest with you, really did their job."
"It was nice to come back to this crowd. I think that was a factor in the game. It would be great to play here a lot in the future."
CLINT MATHIS, U.S. midfielder
On Wolff's Assist on the Second Goal: "It is tough to get out of a situation like that, but he was able to pull it off and get us a good cushion. If we don't get that second goal there, anything can happen at the end. That was a huge play by Josh to get the ball to Earnie."
On Whether the Win Takes Any Pressure Off the Team in the Qualifying Round: "I don't know really if it takes any pressure off. We still have nine games left in qualifying, but it is good to get these wins at home. It is a lot tougher on the road to pull a win off. It may take a little bit of pressure off of us as far as going into this next game. Each of these games that we have at home, we d definitely need to pull off a win, and this is huge."