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U-17 MNT vs. Haiti: Post-Match Quotes - April 7, 2013

Post-Game Quote Sheet: U.S. U-17 MNT vs. Haiti
April 7, 2013

On the game overall:
“We’re very happy we got the three points. I thought the guys did a great job. A lot of times the first game of a tournament is difficult, with a little bit of nerves. I thought that the guys did a very good job and we got a result; that’s important.”

On whether he was surprised by Haiti’s showing:
“No, not surprised at all. I’ve played against Haiti when I played for the National Team and you saw Haiti in the Under-20 qualifying and they have a lot of talent. They’re athletic, they’re strong, they’re fast and they can play. They’re definitely a difficult team to play against. We tried to make sure our guys were aware, and early in the first half they came at us with pace. We thought if we kept our composure, we passed better and kept our shape a little bit better we would get our opportunities, which we did. After our defense settled down, I don’t think we gave them too much to look at in front of the goal.”

On Christopher Lema, who scored the game’s first two goals:
“Chris had a great game for us. He was very good on the ball, very good passing, was able to link up our defenders with our attackers, obviously took the penalty and had a nice second goal. He was very good tonight. Chris has been improving with our group from Day 1. He’s a valuable player for us and it’s great to see him grow as a player and to go out and score some goals for us.”

On the first goal settling the team down:
“I think it definitely helped, for sure, to get the goal. I still thought we had some chances. We had one really early in the game in the [first] minute of the game [from Ahinga Selemani]. Anytime you get an early goal and the first goal, it’s really important. It definitely helped us and gave us confidence.”

On Corey Baird, who moved into an attacking role during the second half:
“Corey’s been doing a great job for us as the number 10, and he does a really good job usually finding space in between the back four and the midfielders. He was having a little more of a difficult time in this game in the transition finding the ball. It looked like a little bit of man marking going on with him, so we thought by moving him out left, we thought Alan [Winn] got a little bit tired and we put Corey out left, brought Joel [Sonora] in to see if he could have a little more success holding the ball for us, which I thought worked.”

U-17 MNT midfielder COREY BAIRD
On drawing the penalty kick leading to Christopher Lema’s game-winner:
“We strung a bunch of passes together and I found the ball out wide. It was a big gap. I knew I could take the guy on. I got past him and he just put me down.”

On switching from a midfield to forward role in the second half:
“When I first came to Residency two years ago, I started playing as a winger and I moved over to attacking midfield about six or seven months ago. It was a position that I was not used to. It was good to find my way further up the field today and attack more.”

On the team’s improvement during the course of game:
“We just picked it up, and we all started playing the ball, passing, finding opportunities, taking the shots. In the second half we came out stronger than the first half and just pulled through it. We got the three goals and the win. That’s what we needed.”

On the first-half penalty kick:
“My teammates trusted me taking the PK. Therefore I have to trust myself. I did a little stutter step, saw the goalkeeper move and just went to the other side.”

On the buildup for his second goal, assisted by Rubio Rubin:
“You would expect a forward to cross that ball back into the box or go for the header himself, but he saw that I was there, flicked it back to me and I just finished. Once I hit it, it felt perfect.”

U-17 MNT goalkeeper JEFF CALDWELL
On rebounding from a slow start to shut out Haiti:
“It was a little shaky the first 20 minutes, getting the first-game-of-the-tournament nerves out of our system. Once we got in a flow and we started stringing some passes together, we got in our rhythm, we got the first goal, Corey drew the penalty and Chris tucked it away. That’s always huge to get the first goal. Overall, I thought the back line was great. I didn’t have much to do today but we got our feet under us. We got into halftime up 1-0, came out the right way in the second half, stayed composed, got the second and third goal and did exactly what we needed to do. At the end of the day, we got three points, three goals for a positive goal difference and we’re looking forward to Guatemala.”

On the excitement of kicking off the big-stage event:
“It’s tremendously exciting. It’s great to finally be here and get it done. This is what we’ve been working toward. For me, it’s been eight months. It’s exciting to get out here and be in the moment and take advantage of it. There were jitters, but it’s what we’re here for. I enjoyed it, and I think everybody enjoyed it too after we got rolling.”