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Quote Sheet: Arena and Mastroeni Conference Call


BRUCE ARENA - U.S. Men’s National Team Manager

On if these upcoming games are looked at as individual games or preparation for World Cup qualifying  …
“I think it is both.  Certainly our focus in the next couple of days is strictly on Argentina for the team, for the players and coaching staff.  However as a coaching staff, we have a vision of the long term and try to evaluate these players in our current pool and try to project where they may be a year down the road, because we think it is likely we will have to start qualifying early next year.  The timetable has been pushed up a bit, so obviously there a few things in mind.  There is the short term looking at these games – Argentina, Jamaica – as well as looking down the road and having the team prepared when we start qualifying in 2004.”

On Clint Mathis …
“I don’t think Clint has ever been a problem in terms of what he has given to us. But I think he is more determined to improve his fitness level and more determined to start this year on a high note. So I think in that sense he is more focused.  He has been a great leader in camp, he is playing well and is getting sharper every day and he realizes when he came in here his fitness was ok, and he has worked hard to get it better.  I think we’re going to see a better Clint Mathis in the Argentina game than we saw against Canada.”

On preparing for World Cup Qualification and also the Gold Cup and the Confederations Cup …
“Given the fact that it is the national team you never quite have the kind of ability to prepare a team for that competition like you would like.  Therefore, every camp and every game we have with the national team is really preparation for the Confederation Cup and the Gold Cup. However, you need to understand the dynamics and the dynamics are this is a camp of MLS players.  For the game against Japan perhaps we will have the opportunity to introduce some European-based players.  Some of the other games before the Gold Cup and the Confederation Cup will give us the opportunity to mix the European-based players and the MLS players.  It is never going to be perfect.  We will never have any particular time period where we can focus on getting the team ready for the Confederations Cup, with the exception that we may have a game before we leave for France.  We have to make due with the situation the best we can.”

On positions that the team needs to develop…
“In think it is in every position.  You can never be content with the positions you have all the time.  You can say that our goalkeepers have always been outstanding, and yet we know that our top keepers will turn 35 or 36 years old by the next World Cup, so it is valuable to develop younger guys in this position.  That is a factor in all of our positions because you are always worried about injuries as well.  So I am always keeping an open mind and looking at other players in all the positions.”

On looking to move players into certain positions …
“As you go along the way, we’ll see. Obviously you saw in the last game we had two midfielders paying as outside backs, we’ve done that and we’ll continue to do that and keep an open mind.  We’re looking to find our best players and players we think can be successful at the next level.”

On what he has thought of Argentina in their first two games this tour …
“I saw them play Honduras, but haven’t watched the Mexico tape yet.  They played Honduras in Honduras on a field that wasn’t ideal and in the rain and I thought their control of the game was outstanding.  They played like a typical Argentina team, same system and they have excellent players at every position on the field.  They’re a team that will be very fun to play against because they have such great players.”

On qualifying and lessons learned from the previous qualifying campaign …
“I think qualifying in CONCACAF is a unique experience, and I think there aren’t any givens - I think that is one thing you learn.  You learn that nothing is predictable either.  It is just a tough grind and if you understand that and your players understand that you are going to be better prepared for it from the start.  Regardless of how good you are, wherever your team is at the beginning of preparation, you have to realize it is going to be difficult.  And the bottom line for us is going to be that we want to qualify for the next World Cup and we’re not that concerned with the kind of fashion. Whether it is done earlier than later, doesn’t really matter.  There’s a bottom line and clearly our goal for this team is going to be put ourselves in position where we are playing in Germany in 2006.”

On the match against Argentina being a test for MLS against the Argentine league…
“I don’t look at it that way.  This is our U.S. National Team. However, you can say that Argentina is playing with domestic players and so are we.  We look at the game as a great challenge because we know that many of their key players come from their domestic league.  Once again, it is a great challenge but I don’t look at it this Saturday’s game as a match-up between the two leagues.”

On Bobby Convey’s progress with the Men’s National Team …
“He did very well as the left back against Canada, although it wasn’t a game where he was tested defensively.  He did his job in the position and contributed to the attack when needed.  As an overall player, I believe he has gotten better in MLS playing in the midfield position.  He has a lot of talent for a 19-year-old and is confident and very mature for his age.”

On the style he expects Argentina to play against the USA …
“I don’t think I can answer that because you can never tell how a game will unfold.  I think this will be a game where we will be defending for 90 minutes.  With Argentina, of course, we will go forward to create some goal scoring opportunities and I’m sure they will do the same.  They are an outstanding team, but I will not sell our team short and I think this will be a great game.”

PABLO MASTROENI - U.S. Soccer Midfielder / Defender

On his family’s Argentina connection…

“I don’t have many memories since I came to the USA when I was four, however I went back to Argentina and trained twice two months at a time and I fell in love with Argentinean Football.  That is something that we watched a lot in my parent’s house.  Obviously, a lot of my heritage and customs are from Argentina and from that aspect it is a special game. Anytime, you are on the field, you want to win and there are no feelings for a country that you left several years ago.  Most of it comes from my father who grew up in Argentina.  So he will probably be more into it than I am.  I grew up in America, raised by Americans, I play American soccer and am part of the American team, so my main objective is to represent the USA on Saturday and play well and hope the team can come out victorious.”

On possibly being named captain for the match against Argentina…
“Obviously, it is a nice honor, but the most important thing is that it is another international friendly.  It is going to be a great experience, being born in Argentina and always watching them growing up, but to me it is no bigger match than any other international friendly.  It will be a real competitive game and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.

On his family’s loyalties for this game …
“To be honest I haven’t even spoke to my dad about it. I’m not really worried so much about what my family thinks.  I’m sure he’s going to be torn both ways, but I’m sure at the end of the day he’s going to support his son, who is playing with the U.S.”

On if he is becoming more vocal and taking more of a leadership role …
“I think so, especially in that position in the middle of the field, it just helps everyone to be a little more vocal.  Being one of the older guys with Clint (Mathis), I am taking on some of the leadership responsibility.  It is split evenly across the board, and the youth are just as important as far as being leaders as I am and Clint is. It is a lot of good, collective leadership. I find myself being a little more vocal and trying to do as much as I can to make the other guys’ jobs easier.”

On Argentina in the last World Cup and pressure on future teams …
“It’s apparent that anytime the Argentines step on any field that they feel like they should win, and any defeat whether a World Cup or a friendly is a big disaster to the country, because soccer is everything I guess.  The World Cup was tough for them, and it was interesting to see that once Argentina was eliminated, the city that I grew up in Argentina – Mendoza – was kind of riding on the U.S. coattails.  I still have family in Mendoza, and my family was being hounded by the media. It was interesting that so many Argentines were interested in the U.S. National Team after Argentina was eliminated.  Soccer is just so big that they find anyway to stay attached.”

On his days with the Fusion …
“Under Ivo Wortmann everything was really controlled. He was an amazing tactical coach. There was always a scheme, and there was always a plan.  Ray came in during tough times, and he wanted everyone to be who they were and he wanted them to express themselves.   We had dynamic players in Preki, (Ian) Bishop, Diego Serna and guys who he felt like if we had any kind of defensive shape going forward everyone had the ability to express themselves.  For the first time in my professional career I felt I was able to get back to some of the things I enjoyed and going forward and making my own decisions going forward.  Obviously we had a plan in defense.  He was a guy who really enjoyed great ‘football’ as he would say. It was a new life for me in that I was able to play the way I have always wanted to play.”

On Beasley, Donovan and the differences in their leadership …
“I think both of these guys have a crazy amount of confidence on the field.  When Beasley gets the ball he takes players on and Donovan has composure and his vision has improved over the years and him wanting the ball at all times puts him in well deserving of number 10.  These guys are leaders, not vocal leaders but leaders by example.  They are excellent professionals and it is great they are doing it at such a young age.”


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