Arena, Moore, and McBride Preview Key Week of Men's National Team Matches
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Thursday, June 14, 2001) -
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%BRUCE ARENA, U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach
On the close proximity of the two games and if that determines what players to use: "A little bit, but to be honest with you, our focus is on the first game and to get the three points. Then we can make the adjustments we need for the next game. We are not pacing our team throughout these two games. We will travel to Jamaica with approximately 20 players and have players prepared on Wednesday, but I anticipate there will be changes from Saturday to Wednesday."
On the strength and organization of the defense and backline: "We have a couple of advantages. One is that we have outstanding goalkeepers. There are very few 'keepers I would trade for ahead of (Kasey) Keller and (Brad) Friedel. Second, I have a very big comfort level with a number of our defenders, notably (Jeff) Agoos and (Carlos) Llamosa, who have played for me at D.C. United and know the way I like our team to play in the back. In addition, we have Eddie Pope as one of our center backs, so that is an easy transition for me and for the players. And (David) Regis has been pretty steady for us over the past year and (Steve) Cherundolo has picked up real quick the transition to the National Team rather easily. In addition to the back four we generally play, Chris Armas has been a fixture. In the goal and in our backline - as well as our holding midfield - has been pretty consistent over the last 10 games or so that made it pretty easy. To win on the road you need to defend well, we've build our team from the back forward so you can say that the nucleus of our team is in the back, our goalkeepers and defenders."
On if he feels the team is in transition due to recent injuries to midfielder/forward Clint Mathis and forward Josh Wolff: "In all honesty, in many people's terms, we've been in transition from the start of this, so this is not unusual for us. We have rarely had the same starting line-up from game to game from both our semifinal and final round of qualifying. In the opening game against Mexico, we didn't start with (Josh) Wolff or (Clint) Mathis, and (Brian) McBride was hurt early. We were missing a number of players in the second game against Honduras and some against Costa Rica. So it is the same thing and our team has learned to adjust to this, so I wouldn't call this a team in transition as much as a team that has been adaptable every step of the way."
On if Brad Friedel and Kasey Keller will split goalkeeping duties for the back-to-back World Cup qualifiers on June 16 and June 20: "I haven't made any decisions yet because any decision we make is going to be based on the result of the first game."
On the heat and humidity in Jamaica: "We prepared down in Ft. Lauderdale and we think the conditions are very similar. I don't think the conditions are going to be as extreme as last summer when we played in Costa Rica and Guatemala in July. We are playing about four or five weeks earlier than last year, so it is not as warm and certainly not as humid. Our players have been able to adapt much quicker this time around than in 2000."
On if he will team forward Joe-Max Moore and Brian McBride up front vs. Jamaica: "They have played a number of games together over the last year or so. They are comfortable playing with each other, our team is familiar with their style and I don't think they are going to miss a beat. They are going to fit right in with our team."
On his and the team's familiarity with Jamaican players who compete in MLS: "It is an advantage knowing the opponent. We are very familiar with Marshall, Williams, Lowe and Harris. But on the other hand, they are very familiar with us because they know a number of our players. So I am a lot more comfortable having those field of players on the pitch."
On what kind of crowd to expect in Jamaica and any possible effect on the game result: "A very enthusiastic crowd and environment. I don't think it will be any different than the situations we dealt with in Costa Rica, Guatemala or Mexico, but it's certainly going to be a home field advantage for the Jamaican team. Jamaica has great fans and it will be a sold out crowd. It will be a bright yellow crowd in the stands and very enthusiastic following where Jamaica has stated publicly that this is game that they need to win and they are going for three points. There's going to be a lot of pressure on the Jamaicans. They have a 50-game unbeaten streak at home and that puts a lot of pressure on them so we are eager to go there and deal with that kind of challenge."
On what style of play to expect from Jamaica: "I think they are going to be pretty similar to the other matches we've played against them. A good addition for them is Frank Sinclair who plays in Leicester (City in England), who's a good experienced center back and who's going to control their backline. Besides that, I think we are going to see the same faces on the attack such as Lowe, Andy Williams, Deon Burton, Ricardo Gardner, Theo Whittmore."
On what role midfielder Earnie Stewart will play: "We are going to continue to use him in the same role we have used him before in the midfield and sometimes as a striker. Earnie knows that is his role in the midfield and the possibility of playing up top."
On the field condition of Jamaica's National Stadium: "First of all, the field is entirely covered by grass this time around. I don't think it is the same field our team experienced in 1997. We played there in September of 1999 (a 2-2 draw) and it was fine. And I believe the condition will be similar on Saturday. It is not the greatest field, but fine. I don't think we'll need to make any adjustments because I don't think it will be similar to the one in 1997. We will train on the field tomorrow and I don't think this will be a determining factor on the game this Saturday."
On his decision not to bring forward Landon Donovan into camp: "The plan was for Landon to go with the Under-20s to World Championships in Argentina. Certainly, we could have requested for him to come in with our team. That would have been a mistake to do it at the last minute, because that team (U-20) is certainly built around Landon and I believe we have enough quality players to fill in the void with the losses of Clint Mathis and Josh Wolff."
On the possibility that midfielder/forward Cobi Jones will play on June 20 in Foxboro: "It is up in the air. We watched his game last night and Cobi had an injury so I wouldn't even make that decision until after Saturday."
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%BRIAN McBRIDE, U.S. Men's National Team Forward
On his most recent injury and the absence of Mathis and Wolff in the lineup: "I feel great. My knee has healed completely, so I am ready to get back with the team. It is part of soccer and the goals of the team that it is good that some one else can step in and do the job. Injuries happen in soccer and in all athletic competitions. The only thing you can do is do everything you can to get back to where you need to be and not worry about were you stand with players because that is something that I can't control."
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%JOE-MAX MOORE, U.S. Men's National Team Forward
On comparisons from this team to the team that qualified for the 1998 World Cup: "I think this is a better team, we've had a lot of good young players come in and make a difference. We had a very experience team back then with a lot of players playing overseas, but I think this team had better ability from front to back. We are much better than 1998 and we will show that on Saturday."
On how he feels with young players competing for his position: "We have seen in the past the last few months that there are players that can step up. Josh Wolff and Clint Mathis have scored some good goals and tore it up. There is no mistake these young players have done a good a job and will continue to, but that's competition and that is what it is all about."