Quote Sheet: Ellinger and Wolff Discuss Olympic Roster
CHICAGO (Tuesday, August 15, 2000) -
JOHN ELLINGER, U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team assistant coach
On the decision process of selecting the three overage players: "Chris Armas has been emerging not only as a ball winner but also as a play maker in central midfield. Armas will add a lot in the middle and we feel he will combine well with John O'Brien. With the injury to Steve Cherundolo we needed to make adjustments to our back line and Jeff Agoos and Frankie Hejduk were the right fit. Agoos and Hejduk both have experience in the back and are able to get forward, which will fit well into the team."
On Landon Donovan's role: "Landon can play two positions. He can play the attacking midfielder role and also as a front-runner. He has gained valuable experience with the U-17s in New Zealand and training with Bayer Leverkusen's first team in Germany. We expect him to contribute either off the bench or as a starter."
On who will be the main play maker: "It really depends on what formation we play. If we play a 4-4-2, John O'Brien and Chris Amras will share the roles. If we play with three midfielders we will look to Vagenas or Donovan to fill that role."
On selection of team: "The team has always been a solid core. We have had around 25 players that have been in the pool the last two years but we have also had the chance to look at a lot of different players. We feel comfortable that if someone went down with an injury that we could fill that void. The addition of the overage players took some time because of injuries. We did not want to commit to soon. The final roster going into the Olympics is very deep in the back because you never know what your going to run into in terms of injuries or cards to your back line. You don't want to be shuffling players around into different positions because that will only disrupt your chemistry. Sometimes, having the right chemistry is what gets you through a match."
On Chris Albright's role: "He can either play on the flanks in midfield or as a striker. He has tremendous size as a target player up front and he also has the pace to play out wide."
On Brian Dunseth as captain: "Dunseth established himself in 1998 as one of the leaders on this team and has been our leader on the field ever since. He will keep that position heading into the Olympics. We are very pleased with what he has done both as a player and as a captain."
On Adin Brown: "Adin is emerging as one of the top goalkeepers in the country and before his injury he was pushing our top 'keepers on the full national team. He has great size and remarkable reactions. We feel very comfortable with him in goal and so do his teammates. We expect good things from Adin in Sydney."
On Evan Whitfield: "He has played very well for us lately. There was a stretch just prior to naming the qualifying roster that he had a confidence problem and as result was not named to the qualifying roster. Since then, he has regained his confidence and is playing extremely well with Chicago. He also played well against Bolton. He is a tremendous worker, has great pace and loves to get forward. He has reassured himself as a force on this team."
On Jeff Agoos: "We brought in Jeff Agoos because of his experience. We are young and some what an inexperienced team. Agoos' international experience in the back and being able to get forward will help this team."
On Chad McCarty: "Chad McCarty along with Brian Dunseth, adds a lot of stability in the back. McCarty is a very versatile player. He is great marking back and also likes to get forward. McCarty has been a very stable person for us and he brings not only solid technical skills but a great understanding of the game."
On not brining in Carlos Bocanegra: "We had Carlos Bocenagra during the Pan-Am games and were also able to see him play with the U-20s. We saw him, Nick Garcia and Rusty Pierce play. They are all having great MLS seasons. The primary thing is that we play with four in the back. The three players I mentioned, are playing primarily as marking backs in a three-back system and we felt that we didn't need any more marking personalities. What we need were defenders that could get forward."
On Frankie Hejduk: "Frankie has a lot of experience playing on the 1996 Olympic Team and in the 1998 World Cup. He may not be in top form right now, but his experience will help us in Sydney and we know that Frankie will be fit come Sept. 1."
On choosing Pete Vagenas over Sasha Victorine: "Basically, it came down to a numbers thing. We decided that if we go to a 4-4-2 formation, the player that can help us connect is Peter Vagenas in midfield. Sasha has been with the team a lot and played well."
JOSH WOLFF, U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team forward
On reaction to being named to the U.S. Soccer Olympic Team: "I am very excited to make this team. This was one of the reasons that I left college early, to be on this team. It is a dream come true. There is a lot of enthusiasm on this team to go forward and do well at the Olympics. Our focus is to get to the second round and we feel that we have the capability to do that. I think this team is very strong in many aspects and advancing to the second round is definitely something that we can accomplish."
On his role on the team: "I think that coming into MLS I had a lot of success as a substitute. Towards the end of last year and into this year I have been a starter for the Fire. It is something that I have worked hard for. A starter or substitute in the Olympics doesn't meaning anything -- the experience is the same. This is a team sport and you have to be ready as either a substitute or as a starter and I will be prepared for both in the Olympics."
On overage players: "Jeff Agoos has over 100 caps which amounts to an enormous amount of experience. His experience will guide us as we go into an environment that we have never experienced before. Armas has proven to be the best defensive midfielder in the country and he is able to mark players out of the game like no other. Hejduk is a good attacking player on the flanks and will be able to help us. Overall, the selection of the three overage players were excellent choices and they will help our team."
On being away from his club team - the Chicago Fire: "I think that the downfall is that you are leaving the team at a crucial time. We have been missing players here and there throughout the year but we have been able to adjust and do what is needed to prevail. I don't think anyone is upset that we [Chris Armas and Evan Whitfield] will be gone and playing at the Olympics. I think our teammates will be excited and will continue to battle while we are at the Olympics."