US SoccerUS Soccer

Quote Sheet: Peter Nowak and Selected Players React to the Olympic Draw


On being drawn into Group B with Netherlands, Nigeria and Japan:
“It’s a difficult group definitely, but that’s what we expect in a tournament that includes the top 16 teams in the world. They are very quality teams we will face and we have to be up to the challenge. This is a great challenge for us and we can gain a lot of experience from these kinds of games and this kind of tournament. The goal is still to go from the group stage to the second round.”

On the Netherlands:
“The Netherlands won the European Championship, which is a very big tournament. They have a couple of guys who play for big clubs -- one at Real Madrid and one at Celtic. There are a couple of guys who play at Hereenveen, so I’m sure Michael Bradley will be helpful with a lot of these players, and of course Thomas Rongen, who is so familiar with Dutch soccer. The Dutch are famous for developing good young players.”

On Nigeria:
“The Nigerian team calls themselves the Dream Team right now. They won the Olympics in 1996 and did well at the Under-20 tournament in 2005. I think when you add the overage players, they’re going to be a very difficult team.”

On Japan:
“We did play Japan last year in February when we went over for two games and they’re also a very dangerous team. It’s not an easy group, but that’s what it is.”

On the roster:
“We have to be prepared and find a good roster. We still have a couple of months to look at the players abroad and also those who play in MLS and go over the best possible options.”

On the selection process:
“The MLS season has just started and it’s too early to make decisions on players at this point in the season. As the season progresses we’ll have more information and the European season will also be over the next couple of weeks. We will have a tournament in France and we’ll try to accommodate everything with that because we cannot forget about the senior team’s games coming up. So, it’s still a couple of months and everything is open.”

On overlapping with Men’s National Team games:
“There are a lot of factors in play. The senior team will play a World Cup Qualifier during the Olympic Games. So we will see some of the players during our upcoming friendlies and some will play with the senior team. We will gather enough information before we make a final decision about the roster in July.”

On the possibility of facing a strong Group A opponent in the quarterfinals:
“The first goal is to advance from the group and the second is to see how the teams in Group A play. You never know what’s going to happen in the group stage, so we’ll worry about that when it comes into play.”

On what his team can accomplish during the tournament:
“It’s quite a challenge. When you go to these tournaments you want to take one goal at a time. The first one is advancing from the group, the second is winning the quarterfinal and then to go to the Medal Round. Once you have four games under your belt and you’re in the Medal Stage, you don’t need extra motivation. We just have to take one goal at a time and make sure we’re going to be prepared for every game to accomplish each of these goals.”

U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team Players

Team captain MAURICE EDU:
On being drawn with the Netherlands, Nigeria and Japan:
It’s a tough group, but it’s a challenge that we’re ready to accept. The Olympics are a great stage to play in and we were prepared to find out that we’ll be in a difficult group with three of the best teams in the world.

On what he knows about the opponents:
I don’t know too much about the teams yet, but as we get closer to the games we’ll be studying them more closely. I do know one player, Jonathan de Guzman,from the Netherlands who plays for Feyenoord, and I know he’s a talented player. I would expect the rest of the team to be just as talented.

On playing in Beijing in the final group game:
It will be nice to play in the Olympic city and get a chance to be a part of the whole atmosphere of the games. It will be a chance to get the full effect of not only our Olympic dreams, but the rest of Team USA as well.

Goalkeeper CHRIS SEITZ:
On Group B:
“Anytime you have Nigeria, the Netherlands and Japan together in one group it’s going to be difficult. Nigeria has been very good at the youth level in the past, as have the Netherlands and Japan. So, we know all three will be very competitive games. We all knew that there wouldn’t be any easy games in this tournament.”

On being in goal for a 0-0 draw against Japan in 2007:
“Japan was one of the best youth teams I’ve ever played. They were a very good squad and we were playing at their place, but I’d expect to see the same kind of team in the Olympics. It was a competitive match and we did well to get a tie there.”

On knowing how the tournament is shaping up:
“Now that we know who our opponents are, I think we’ll only have one or two more camps before the Olympic Games and it’s getting closer and closer to the time we have to put all the pieces together and work off of what we did in qualifying.”

On the chance to play in Beijing:
“I think we are all excited to be able to add to our Olympic experience by seeing the Olympic village, and to actually play in the Olympic host city. I’m definitely excited about the potential to have that experience. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and with only an 18-man roster so I don’t want to get get ahead of myself or get too excited yet but I’ve never been to Beijing. So I’ll be looking forward to that if I do make the roster.”

On comparing this draw with last year’s difficult Under-20 World Cup draw:
“I think we’re going to have to bring the same mindset into this tournament as we did in Canada. We knew we were going to have to take one game at a time and we didn’t overlook anyone. You always want to start off group play on a good note and set a good tone for your team, so we’re looking to do the same thing in this tournament.”

On being drawn into Group B:
“It’s a really tough group, maybe one of the hardest there is. We’re really going to have to be at the top of our game in order to get past the first round. At the same time it’s exciting. It’s not going to be an easy road. I’ve played against the Netherlands at the youth level but it’s going to be different than that experience at the Olympics. None of the games are going to be easy, but if I’m selected for the team, I hope to be able to play a part in helping the U.S. get through those games.”

On knowing the schedule and how the groups took shape:
“Knowing our opponents and the schedule makes it that much more exciting. We know how competitive it’s going to be, so now we know that whoever is lucky enough to make this team, we’re going to have to work very hard to get as far as we can.”

On the chance to play in Beijing:
“I think the opportunity to play in Beijing will add to the Olympic experience. At the same time, we hope by the third game to be in a position to advance to the next round. The third game is likely going to be very important.”