US SoccerUS Soccer
Michael Bradley

Media Roundtable Quote Sheet for June 8

On the U.S.’ chances of going through into the second round:
“We’re an optimistic team. I think the results we’ve had recently mean we’re not going to sneak up on anyone this year. Obviously getting to the final of the Confederations Cup last year was a highlight of U.S. Soccer, so I think teams have done their homework on us. We’re still the underdog I think, and it’s going to take a lot for us to get out of the group, but I think we’ve got as good a chance as anybody else.”

On why the team still thinks the world sees them as underdogs:
“Just because we’re American, and in the world of football, people still don’t think Americans can play. We like being underdogs, we don’t mind it. It’s just part of the history and how the media portrays us and we’re fine with that role.”

On the impact of the Confederations Cup on the team’s confidence:
“Obviously it gives you belief and confidence, knowing that we beat some good teams. We beat Egypt, the African champions, we beat Spain, and anytime you play Spain and beat them that says something in itself.”

On the pressure on England to win this game:
“I think there’s pressure on all the teams, it’s the World Cup. Every team wants to get out of its group. The World Cup brings pressure on yourself and it doesn’t matter what team you’re playing on. There are always surprises in the first round, and we’re looking to be one of those surprises.”

On the team’s preparations for England:
“We’ve done our research, and the coaching staff here has been good about preparing us and going over England and what they bring. Although it’s no secret what great players that England has, and we respect them as a team, come June 12 it’s going to be an exciting match.”

On reports that Wayne Rooney had a difficult game Monday and whether the U.S. pays attention to reports from their camp:
“I think Rooney’s a world-class player, and the way he plays is that he leaves everything on the field. That’s a testament to the player he is, in that he’s so competitive and he wants to win so bad that he loses his temper a little bit. But that’s a part of football, and I think there are other footballers out there that play with that same type of passion and leave everything out on the field.”

On the importance of the game against Australia and other friendlies:
“I think they’re good in terms of preparation and getting a feel for playing in the altitude, playing with the ball at this altitude. It did a world of good for our confidence, 3-1 against an Australian team that had some good results in their friendlies. The mood within the camp is good, we have a great team spirit here and everyone rallies around each other on and off the field. I think the Australia game was a good friendly for us to finish on and prepare for England.”

On Edson Buddle’s impact on the team:
“Edson has had a great season with the Galaxy and scored a number of goals, and he started against the Czechs and played a half but this was his first real run-out against Australia. I thought he did well, scored two goals and held the ball up well, you could see his strength on the ball. He’s a guy that always has a smile on his face, but when he steps on the field he gives everything for his team.”

On the U.S. preparation that’s gone into scouting England since the draw:
“We use our scouts, we use the people that have watched them throughout the past couple months to try to exploit those weaknesses, if there are some. That’s when you rely on those types of avenues to give you the best advantage on the day. Obviously we’ve had coaches watching them for the past couple of months, and this is the time now when we need to use them to make sure we go in with the most advantages possible come Saturday.”

On whether his role changes whether he’s paired with Onyewu or Goodson:
“Not really, I don’t think so. I’m used to playing with those types of players, and I shouldn’t have to change my mindset because they’re very similar not only in the way they play but in their stature and their physical presence. When I play with those types of players, then I can just concentrate on my job.”

On whether the U.S. team still feels like they have something to prove:
“Yeah, I think being Americans we always have something to prove as far as soccer is concerned. We’re a team that has gained prowess throughout the years, but has always continued to fight for attention in America when there is so much going on. But as players you can definitely feel a shift, and that’s great, taking nothing away from other sports. We understand who we are, and we understand there’s a long road. But we can physically see the improvement. We can see people starting to care. We can see people starting to say ‘yeah, these guys are actually pretty worthy’ and that’s all in a very positive way. So we need to continue to try to have success as a program and try to have success as individuals, because in a media-driven place like America it’s that kind of success that’s going to continue our success down that right road. It’s our job to make sure that we keep it positive.”

On whether the strength of belief and confidence is stronger in this particular U.S. team:
“I think so, because we have players who have played in big games, in big leagues and have had success. So you take that confidence with you, and I think it helps you to keep moving forward and keep doing well.”

On Glen Johnson’s role for England and how he matches up with him:
“He’s a good player, he’s done well for Liverpool. When he plays, he’s definitely effective going forward, but I think when he goes forward you have the chance to get them on the counter. That’s what any good team that gets forward has to worry about, when their outside backs get forward there are going to be holes in the pockets that they leave open. So we need to make sure people are aware of that and be able to move the ball in that direction because there’s going to be a hole open.”

On the lack of belief that the U.S. can do well at the World Cup and how his experience with Fulham reaching a European cup final contradicts it:
“No one thought we were going to get into the final of the Confederations Cup, we did that. It doesn’t matter what anybody thinks of us, it matters what inside the group thinks of themselves. If you have belief that’s contagious, and hopefully everybody says ‘Why not?’ You can’t live life in fear, you have to go out and take advantage of your opportunities to do something special. I think the guys here have that mentality and we have to make sure that we show it in these games.”

On the changing perception in England that Americans can succeed at the highest levels of soccer:
“I think it’s not so much what we’ve done on the national side, but what we do week in and week out in the Premiership. We’ve been known a long time for how good our goalies have been, and it’s good to see we’re showing that we have people that can play on the field, and play a good style of football and be successful over there. Obviously the Confederations Cup didn’t hurt, but we know we need to do something special during the World Cup and hopefully we can do that.”

On his role as a holding midfielder to the United States:
“When I get on the field, I try to do my job. I try to win balls and close space down, I like having the ball at my feet to control the ball, so when I go in I try to do what I know best. My job is to control the midfield and try to get the ball to the forwards.”

On how he’d characterize the U.S. style of play:
“I don’t know, that’s for you guys, or other people to characterize. We have a group of guys who fight for each other and are committed to the team and are willing to run, tackle and fight and give everything they have for each other and for the team. In addition to that, I think we’ve shown that we have good ability to be dynamic and mobile going forward as well.”

On the approach the team takes into the first round as opposed to one-off games:
“It’s not different, on our side we’re looking at one game at a time. Right now we’re looking at Saturday night against England in an awfully big game. From there we’ll look to the second game, and the third game and so on. The exercise of looking ahead and, in your words, changing your approach—it’s a World Cup. You have to respect every team and be ready to go every game. If you start to take things for granted and start to look ahead, that’s when you’ll get yourself into trouble.”

On the English midfield he’ll be facing:
“They’re very good players, playing at the biggest clubs week in and week out, playing in the Champions League. We know it’s going to be a big challenge, England has good players all over the field. We have respect for their team, for their players, but having said that, as a player you want to challenge yourself against the best teams and the best players. I think collectively we’re looking forward to that challenge.”

On the chance to start your first World Cup against a team of England’s fame and stature:
“You know, as a soccer player, your career only lasts so long. So you know that in your career, but also in your life, you only get so many opportunities to really do something special, to do something big and important. Not just the game Saturday, but the World Cup is a chance for our team, for everybody to put aside everything else and to focus on doing something that takes every guy giving everything they have for the team. To start that off with a game against England is exciting. The games don’t get any bigger than that, and as a player you want to play in the biggest games, on the biggest of stages. To start a World Cup against England certainly falls under that category.”

On the hardest part about playing again after being out for so many months:
“It depends on the injury, obviously. For me, for the patella injury, the hardest part was to get the muscle back in the quad. I worked many months on that, and thankfully it’s where it needs to be right now in order to play and to be at 100 percent.”

On whether he can play 90 minutes:
“Yeah, I’m physically fit. I’ve done all the fitness with the rest of the team, even beforehand I had to do physical fitness tests in Milan to be considered for match fitness. So there are no issues in terms of me playing a full 90.”

On how much better he feels now compared to his first game back against the Czech Republic:
“It was a progression, and the Czech game was my first game back in seven months. I could have anticipated that not being my greatest outing, but you get better as you go and right now I feel fine and I’m ready to start this tournament.”

On a sense of urgency in camp following the conclusion of their last friendly against Australia:
“I think from the beginning of camp in mid-May, there’s always been a sense of urgency for different reasons. First to cut the 30-man roster to 23, then once the 23-man roster is set everybody’s competing to be on the starting XI. So there’s always a sense of urgency amongst the players, and I think that’s good for the team, for the chemistry and the competitiveness of the players.”