Bruce Arena, John Ellinger, Landon Donovan and Santino Quaranta Talk About U.S. Soccer's Big Week in Missouri
ST. LOUIS (Thursday, April 19, 2001) -
%=macroPart|font/arialblue2=%Bruce Arena, U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach
Opening comments on USA-Costa Rica (on April 25, 2001): "The U.S. Men's National Team completed their fourth day of training here in St. Louis, where we chose to train to have a presence and be supportive of our Under-17 team as they try and qualify for their world championship. The entire team was at the game last night, and had a great time watching the team beat Jamaica. The entire four days we have been in camp have been great, and today we are releasing 11 players to MLS, where they will rejoin their teams for this weekends games. It is possible that some of them might return when we head to Kansas City on Sunday."
Updating who has left camp, who is in camp, and who has yet to arrive: "The players leaving camp are: Steve Ralston, DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey, Dan Califf, Carlos Bocanegra, Greg Vanney, C.J. Brown, Mike Petke, Carey Talley, Zach Thornton and Adin Brown. As of today, we still have 13 players in camp, with Preki and David Regis joining us today. The players still in camp are: Claudio Reyna, Josh Wolff, Clint Mathis, Landon Donovan, Ante Razov, Eddie Lewis, Chris Armas, Tony Sanneh, Richie Williams, Jeff Agoos, Carlos Llamosa, Preki Radosavljevic and David Regis. The other players we are anticipating arriving on Sunday or Monday are: Earnie Stewart, Steve Cherundolo, Kasey Keller and Tony Meola, and possibly Gregg Berhalter. Additionally, Chris Klein will be joining us when we begin training in Kansas City."
On the team's current position in first place: "We feel good about having six points, but it is too early to feel real good about yourself or real bad about yourself. History shows that in the last round, which was a shorter round, we started off with one point from two games and were counted out, but ended up winning our group. We are in this for the long haul. It's a 10-game series. Costa Rica is a key game for us and our focus is on three points. Costa Rica is going to be a tough battle right to the end."
On getting victories against Mexico and Honduras in the first two games: "I think it is helpful, but again all six teams in this group are pretty close together. I don't know who the best teams are in our group right now. Honduras is sitting there with one point and Mexico has three. And Trinidad & Tobago is a team that is going to beat some people, and they have zero points. Right now it is hard to think about anything but the next game and the next game for us is Costa Rica and they are clearly one of the strongest teams and if we get three points we will be very comfortable. But every game is a battle right now. We are not content where we are right, but will only be content when we have qualified for the World Cup."
On the large 29-player training camp prior to this match: "The reason for the 29-player camp was not only for this game, but to continue preparing for our upcoming games in June and for the rest of qualifying. We have a bunch of players in this camp you have shown very well. We had at MLS where there was only one mid-week game, so we had a chance to look at some more players. Our team is still a little thin in some areas, and with these games coming up, especially with the double date in June (June 16 and June 20), we are at a point where when we have some injuries and suspensions, we need to have the next group of players ready to go."
"The strategy was to prepare both long-term and short-term. I am very comfortable where we stand with our depth, and this type of camp lets me focus on the kind of players we might need if the case arrives or in the case of emergency. With the double date in June, two games across five days, we will need a larger roster to expand and choose from in case we suffer any kind of emergency."
On Clint Mathis' emergence in the midfield: "Obviously Clint has done well, but he would be the first to tell you that he didn't have a particularly good game in Honduras. But he is the kind of guy that can turn around the game with one play, and that is what he did against Mexico and in Honduras. He is a dangerous attacking player, and is maturing. He is a guy we can think of getting into the starting line-up. He's not going to replace Claudio Reyna, but certainly we can manage a way to get them into the starting lineup at the same time. Certainly there is room on the field to have both of them there."
On Kasey Keller: "He is an outstanding goalkeeper and we have a lot of confidence in him. The most important thing is that his travel goes well and that he arrives in Kansas City timely on Monday and is ready to go (he has a game on Sunday with his club team Rayo Vallecano in Spain). All of our goalkeepers are very good and will be called upon to help us through this qualifying group."
On Preki and his return to the National Team: "He brings some experience to the team. He has had a great influence on some of our younger players, giving them some good advice. He is still a dangerous attacking player and a good passer of the ball, and he can still score goals and he hits set pieces very well. He knows at this point that he is not a 90 minute player in international soccer, but he is confident if we need him for 20 or 30 minutes in a game we can count on him."
On not having Cobi Jones (out with a red card suspension) and what his absense does to the team: "With Cobi out of the running, we lose the extra dimension he brings to the team. He would have been called upon as a reserve in this game, where his pace can help change things around for us in the last 30 minutes if we need it."
On Steve Cherundolo's World Cup qualifying debut in Honduras: "I think it was a difficult game to put him in, especially when you are playing Honduras on the road in a World Cup qualifier. I think he held his own, played very well and was comfortable with the starting position. I don't know whether he'll start this game because I obviously haven't chosen a lineup yet, but we'll see how he is physically after returning from Europe. He has a game this Saturday so we need to see what condition he will be in for me to make a decision."
On Eddie Lewis' status with Fulham F.C. (recently crowned champions of the English First Division and promoted to the Premiership for next season) and the National Team: "I can not speak on Eddie's playing status with Fulham, but I can tell you that he will get on the field with the first team. He is playing much better since last July when he was with the National Team. So I am certain that he is a player that we can count on in the future."
On the Under-17 team and their victory: "I think Jamaica did a great job making it difficult for the U.S. yesterday. The U.S. missed a couple of chances in the first half, and then Jamaica got a goal to go up 1-0 at the half. That is sometimes part of the game. The U.S. did well to come back in the second half and get the win. One of the issues with this team in last night's game is they haven't been in that situation before. The other teams have played some tough games to get to this stage, while the U.S. hasn't been behind often, but they got settled in and came back. Getting this game behind them is beneficial. This is a very talented group of players. It was a good result and a physical game. I am very pleased for the team and look forward to them qualifying for the World Cup."
On Costa Rica and their style of play: "Against Trinidad & Tobago, Costa Rica controlled the game in the first half, but weren't able to finish. Costa Rica played quite well; they have a very good team. Wanchope missed the first game and played about 30 minutes against Trinidad. He will be on the field for 90 minutes against us, so we will have to deal with him. (Ronaldo) Fonseca is very good and has been playing extremely well. (Hernan) Medford is very good. Their back line has played well. They have had a coaching change since the last time we saw them and look a little different. They have solid goalkeeping and a solid group of defenders."
"I don't know about their 'traditional' game, but I can tell you that in the last two games against us Costa Rica has been difficult. They are a team that plays very well at home (Saprissa Stadium) and use it to their advantage. They are a talented group with excellent defenders and dangerous offensive scorers that means it difficult for their opponents."
On Costa Rica's Paulo Wanchope: "I believe he is a physically dominating player who is terrific in front of the goal. He is dominating in the air and is a real difficult forward to play against. His excellent speed enables him to be very dangerous off the counterattacks."
On whether Costa Rica is considered the nemisis of the U.S.: "Do I consider them to be our nemesis? No. We've faced them twice in my short time with the team, and we haven't won one yet, but that doesn't trouble me. Our time could come on Wednesday. Everyone in this group is a nemesis. We treat each opponent with the proper respect."
On the danger of the first place U.S. being overconfident: "I'm very confident in saying we will not be overconfident. At the same time we have the confidence in our selves and believe in what they are doing. Our next opponent is a good team. Regardless of the result on Wednesday, we will not enter the game being overconfident. We will enter the match very well prepared and will have a great confidence."
On the other two matches of April 25 (Honduras at Jamaica; Mexico at Trinidad & Tobago): "For Honduras, they are very desperate to get some points. I think they are a very talented team. These two games are going to be very interesting and are going to have a great impact on the standings. I favor Honduras, though; they are outstanding. But Jamaica is tough to beat at home. Honduras knows a tie gives them two points from three games, so they have to win."
"With Mexico, Trinidad doesn't have a point, so they won't be happy with one point coming out of the game. They need to go out and try and get three points. For Mexico, if they come out with three or four points from three games, that wouldn't be too acceptable. With the exception of maybe Jamaica, none of these teams will be happy with a point. I can't tell you what is going to happen, but there is lots of pressure for sure."
On the crowd expected in Kansas City for the Costa Rica match: "We are pleased with the response in Kansas City, we are hopeful for a crowd of 35,000 or 40,000 and hopeful it is a pro-American crowd. We are happy to be playing in the midwest again, and thankful for the support of a great Kansas City organization. In fact, we are grateful for the unbelievable support MLS has provided the entire Men's National Team. MLS has been incredibly supportive and cooperative in the release of players and in the selection of venues for these games. We are looking forward to playing in Kansas City for the first time."
%=macroPart|font/arialblue2=%JOHN ELLINGER, U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team Head Coach
On the team's match-up against Canada on Friday: "They are different and they have a different look compared to the last time we played them in August of 2000 (4-1 win). I think they will have a similar lineup from the one they used against El Salvador. They are a team that defends in numbers but they counter quickly once they have possession. They have very capable attacking players and have the ability to hold players off and make it dangerous to get around. I expect them to play a similar style to the way they played against El Salvador. We've seen them before, and should be well prepared."
His thoughts on choosing Santino to take the penalty kick: "I have known him for a long time and he has taken some important penalties. Overall, I think he has the ability to finish like any other great player. I never had any doubt he would make it."
%=macroPart|font/arialblue2=%LANDON DONOVAN, U.S. forward
His thoughts on the Under-17s and their overall success in preparing players for the next level of competition: "Well, the physical part of the game is much more demanding. Obviously, the U-17 competition prepares you for the top National Team with several international competitions. It is something you learn when you get older. It felt funny watching this team (U-17) during their qualification process and not being on the field. The team was nervous at first but overall did very well."
%=macroPart|font/arialblue2=%SANTINO QUARANTA, U.S. Under-17 midfielder
On his performance in the U-17 Opener: "I think there was a little pressure on us (when the score was 1-0 Jamaica). We were dominating the game against Jamaica but we were still down in the second half. Luckily we scored the key goals to turn the game around and win the match. It wasn't a bad performance on our part falling behind early. It just enabled us to battle back in a tough situation and come off the field with the victory."