2000 Nike U.S. Cup Conference Call Previewing USA vs. South Africa
Bruce Arena, U.S. Men's National Team head coach
On what to expect from South Africa: "I saw South Africa play in the Africans Nations Cup earlier this year and there has been little turnover on that roster. We are familiar with Shaun Bartlett, a strong and powerful forward who played in MLS. What caught my eye though was their midfield especially Manchester United's 22-year-old midfielder Quinton Fortune. I really think the strength of South Africa is their midfield. Their central back Pierre Issa, who plays with Olmpic Marsellie's in France, and their goalkeeper are also very solid players. I think they are going to be a difficult team and I am expecting a very tough match on Saturday."
On the significance of Nike U.S. Cup leading into World Cup qualification: "Certainly my expectations are that we win the Nike U.S. Cup. All of the players know how important these three games are especially with no games scheduled prior to World Cup qualifying. The success we have in the Nike Cup will carry over to qualification. Our goal this week in training has been quality and that is what I expect in this tournament."
On Ante Razov and Jason Kreis development: "Jason is a little more comfortable here. He has been here the last couple of camps and is feeling pretty confident. Ante is adjusting to the demands of the international game but he is also feeling more and more confident heading into the tournament. What Ante needs to do is have the confidence at this level that he has in the MLS. He looks and plays like a forward with confidence in MLS and I am hoping that this is going to come out on the international level."
On status of World Cup qualifying roster: "It is set, but there are some people that are missing, such as Cherundolo. For the most part, we have 75 percent of the team for World Cup qualifying set."
On possible Olympians playing in World Cup qualifying: "We have a couple of players in camp right now. Ben Olsen and John O'Brien are two players that have a real good chance to play in the Olympics and a good shot at playing during qualification."
On John O'Brien role: "He is best suited as a holding midfielder, like a Chris Armas role. He is also a player that can play on the outside and in the back."
On specific areas USA needs to improve: "Finishing! Over the last year-and-half we have been very solid defensively. We have some good balance on our team but I would like to see our forwards as a factor in this tournament and score some goals. It is not an issue solely pointed at our forwards but directed to everyone on the team. It is the responsibility of all of our players. We create chances but now we need to start and finish those chances."
On Cobi Jones scoring slump: "He has had plenty of scoring chances over the last couple weeks in MLS. In the last competition, which was the CONCACAF Gold Cup, he scored a couple of goals. He has had a good week of training and we know what he can do at this level. I am not worried about it right now."
On development of world class forwards in Major League Soccer: "Right now the only solution is that we have players in that position on regular basis and we do. We have players that can play in numerous different positions. Developing home grown world class forwards is not just an issue in MLS but also in Spain, England and the leagues across the world but hopefully as the league moves forward those things will work themselves out."
On Adin Brown and his religious beliefs (Christian Scientology): "His play will move him up to the full national team not his race, religion or color. Being healthy does play a part in being able to play at the international level but it is something right now that is not a big issue on our team or on Clive Charles team."
Claudio Reyna, U.S. Men's National Team captain & midfielder
On pressure of carrying the USA on his shoulders: "I haven't read much about it so I don't feel much pressure. We have a lot of players with a lot of experience, so we just need everyone to do their job. We are trying to build a complete team where everyone works together. We have a lot of good players that can carry their load. I just want to do my role and hopefully the team will do the same and we will be successful."
On largest tactical advancements the U.S. team has made since the '98 World Cup: "I think that the one thing is that as a unit, every time we step onto the field we have a very clear idea what we are going to do, and the attitude on the team is one of the major changes since the last World Cup. We have a great spirit and a great mix of youth and experience and a great hunger to get back to the World Cup. A lot of credit needs to go to the coaching staff. The priority has been how the team plays, not focused on individual needs."
On ideal venues for World Cup qualifying: "I think most importantly is that we have a nice field to play on. I think some teams, no matter where we play they are going to have a lot of their fans with them. It is obviously up to Bruce and I think he will make a good decision on that."
Cobi Jones, U.S. Men's National Team forward
On Mexico roster: "I don't think it is a problem. As far as I am concerned whoever they bring is their national team. Players come and go out of national teams all the time. As far as I am concerned this is their national team and it will go down into the records as the Mexican National team regardless of who is on the roster."
On ideal venues for World Cup qualifying: "I don't think it is too much of a concern for the players. If we can get a little advantage that will help but most importantly I want to be on a field that players can play on."
On finishing scoring chances: "In my opinion you want to have a lot of opportunities to score and we have. There has only been one game, against Russia, in which we have not scored. I think that this has been really overblown and to be honest we are not really concerned about it right now."