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Post-Match Quotes: U.S. Players Discuss Spain Win

On the scope of the win and expectations moving forward:
“It’s a big win. There’s no way around out. If we want to continue to get better, then this isn’t necessarily the expectation, but we need to expect to be able to compete that way all the time with these teams. That was huge tonight, and you see when you compete like that you have a change to win.”

On the tactics of the team’s win:
“I thought we did a very good job of making it hard on them. Most teams against them respect them a little too much and back off. We did a good job of being harder and more aggressive than most teams are against them. We had our chances, we took them and that was important too.”

On the second U.S. goal:
“It was a good play from Benny Feilhaber, who had come on the field. He made a good move in the middle and slipped the ball to me. My first thought was actually to shoot it, and as I got to that spot I tried to put it across in a good spot because I felt that would be more dangerous. Clint made a great play at the end of it.”

On if it took their backs being placed against the wall to turn around their results:
“That’s what it looks like from the outside, but actually our game against Italy we felt very good about, and we got a poor red card and made a bad decision in the middle of the field and it changed the game. We’ve been playing well throughout the tournament.”

His thoughts on the U.S. advancing to the final:
“Sports are amazing. I've grown up loving sports, and I think this is the reason why people love it. Sometimes the improbable can happen. We were really down and out going into the last game of our group, but give us a lot of credit. We did what we needed to do to get through. We got a little bit of help from Brazil, and tonight we put on a really good show.”

On Brazil and South Africa:
“They both present different challenges. Brazil we know well because they beat us pretty badly a week ago. They would probably be comfortable playing against us, but I think we're in a better place now. If you play South Africa. They are the hosts, and if they beat Brazil tomorrow and are in the finals that stadium will be rocking.”

On the U.S. goals for the final:
“We didn’t come into this competition just to participate. We came here to compete and hopefully win the tournament. Right now we are thrilled to be able to get through to the finals, and it’s one more step. We have to watch the game tomorrow to see who our competitor is going to be, but I think regardless of who it’s going to be we’re going out there to compete.”

On what changed from the first two games to the last two:
“I don’t think too many things changed. I think we were very unlucky (against Italy and Brazil) and playing two great teams with 10 men. The main thing is that we stuck to our tactics, and we didn’t try and change anything. We knew that if we stuck to our game plan and stuck it out things might change for us and they did.”

On Bocanegra stepping in at left back:
“Carlos is a versatile player. He’s played with me in the center of the field, but also with his club team Rennes he plays on the left at left back so I don’t think that was a position that is too foreign to him. Today he was able to play it perfectly. Since 2007, me and Los have been playing together in the middle so we have that kind of understanding regardless of where he is on the field as long as he is next to me. Also, Jay DeMerit has had an outstanding tournament and our cohesiveness together has been great as well.”

U.S. Goalkeeper TIM HOWARD
On the team’s advancement:
“We’re proud that this group is the one that is going to represent the U.S. in the final. We are scratching our heads the same way you are, but it goes to show you what heart work and commitment to each other can bring.”

On the play of the U.S. back line:
“They played great today. Anytime you come out with a shock win you need to take your chances in front of goal – we did – and you need some guys who are defending like bandits, and you need your goalkeeper to come up with some saves and sometimes you get lucky on certain occasions. We rode our luck today, but Spain is unbelievable – I don’t need to tell you that, though. They are No. 1 in the world.”

On the credit Bob Bradley should be given for the victory:
“We’ve had our share of critics and I think everyone, including the coaching staff, stood up and took it on the chin. We just kept going. The press was hard on us, maybe rightfully so, but it never phased him, it never took its toll on him and he continued to prepare the team as though he believed we could do something like we did tonight, and that was infectious.”

U.S. Midfielder and Man of the Match CLINT DEMPSEY
On the win:
“This win is huge for American soccer because it’s the first time for the men to be in a final in a major competition. This one is much sweeter because we were down and out, came back fighting in the Egypt game. No one expected us to win this game. We fought hard, showed a lot of heart, stayed compact defensively, picked our moments when to go forward and scored some goals and that made it difficult on them. I’m excited about the result, and think all the fans back at home will be excited as well.”

On if he ever thought the team would be in this position after the loss to Brazil:
“You never know. The coaching staff came to us and said that there is a possibility. We knew it was going to be a long shot to advance. We knew we would have to score a lot of goals in the Egypt game. We worked hard and the other result went our way as well so we are excited about that. We carried that over to this game. Worked hard with the same mentality and we’re excited about the result but we’re looking forward to the final and whoever we play we know it’s going to be a difficult match.”

U.S. Defender and Captain CARLOS BOCANEGRA
On tonight’s game:
“Spain had the long winning streak, is the No. 1 team in the world and it was a huge game for us, the semifinals of a major tournament. We put in a great effort as a team and it was nice to get a win.”

On whether he thought the team could compete with Spain:
“We played them last summer, and we thought we were a bit tentative when we started that game. So, we wanted to make sure we got after them (tonight) and pressure them and make sure they didn’t have the ball the whole time. I thought we did well with that. At the beginning of the game we had a few chances, and we were getting some shots on goal. Obviously, toward the end of the game we were absorbing a lot of their pressure, but before the game they had all the pressure on them. They were the big team, and we just went out there and play without any worries and it went great tonight.”

On how he felt coming back from injury:
“Tonight I felt good. I was getting a bit tired obviously in the second half because that was difficult to come back to in your first game back, but a lot of guys were doing running for other people tonight so it was good.”

On whether he wants to play Brazil again:
“We played (Brazil) already, and we didn’t have a good game against them, but we’re not worried about that tonight. We’re just going to be happy with our victory and celebrate a little back in the hotel, relax, and then we’ll watch the game tomorrow night and see what happens.”

On how it felt to play at left back:
“I played pretty much the entire season with Rennes at left back so I’m pretty comfortable back there. The guys in the center did fantastic again tonight, and they’ve been doing well this entire tournament. Bob and I spoke about this about a year ago and he said that he was going to use me at left back if we ever needed it. I told him I’m happy to do that, so whether he needs me in the middle or out left it’s not a problem for me.”

On if he thinks Spain was getting frustrated near the end of the game:
“Maybe a little bit. Toward the end they were playing long balls a little bit more but, I don’t know, I’m still in a little bit of disbelief to be honest. We’re in the finals of a major competition and we’re confident, but it hasn’t really sunk in yet. We’re going to go back and just enjoy it tonight.”

On what the team has done to showcase American soccer in this tournament:
“It just shows that we can compete with the best. Now we need to do it on a consistent basis, and that’s the biggest thing moving forward. We’ve been a bit inconsistent, especially in CONCACAF, which we need to improve on. Coming here we’ve shown that we can play with the big boys and we can beat them.”

On the performance of the back line:
“It was certainly a hard fought win and it took the entire team defending, not just the back four, we needed our midfielders and even the front runners. We knew they wanted to go through middle so we forced them wide and defended whatever crosses came in. It was successful for us tonight.”

On the back line changing a lot over the past few games:
“There have definitely been changes to the back four recently and it’s not easy, obviously, when there isn’t as much cohesiveness because we haven’t all played together as much. I think the entire team dealt with it really well.”

On what the game means for U.S. Soccer:
“It’s certainly a huge win for us, probably one of the biggest that the team has had. It’s our first major final and beating a team like Spain is a great result, especially with their win streak.”

On whether he sensed Spain becoming frustrated:
“I think after the second goal you could tell they were, not panicking, but just that they needed to get one back quickly. We all knew that if we could hold them for five minutes that we would have a great chance of going on to win the game. At that point I’d say is when I could feel it.”

On what he wants fans in the U.S. to know about his team:
“Well we certainly hope that we’ll gain a few fans who will watch the final, and we hope that we can turn in another good performance like we just had.”