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U.S. Men's National Team vs. Poland: Pre-Match Quotes

U.S. Men's National Team vs. Poland
International Friendly
Soldier Field; Chicago, Ill.
Oct. 9, 2010

U.S. Men's National Team head coach BOB BRADLEY
On playing in Chicago:
“It’s always great when we come back to Chicago. We say it everytime. There are a number of us that have spent some good days here. This week the weather has been super. It’s our first chance following the World Cup to get back to a training camp, where we’ve got days to work on some things and prepare. On that end, time has been very good. The attitude has been super. You can tell guys are excited to come back into the national team, catch up with some of their buddies and try to keep going with the work that we’ve put in. Whenever you play Poland in Chicago it carries a bit of extra special motivation and feeling for everyone and we really look forward to the match.”

On what he’s looking for at this point in the cycle:
“It’s a balance between the long term view, which is always focused toward the final round of qualification and then the World Cup in 2014, but also the things that happen along the way, the short-term vision. As a group we’ve talked about the first big event, the Gold Cup next year in June. Transition is always interesting. On one hand, there is a need to start the process with younger players who we think could potentially help the team, but at the same time it’s done with the sense that some veteran players continue to play really well. Carlos is a good example where at St. Entienne this year, the team is off to a good start. He’s played very well and continues to be a very important part of our national team. I think we understand that within the team you always want to find the good balance between strong leadership, experience, guys who have been there and really grown in their roles with the national team along with some younger players who we think have the talent to help us. It’s a balancing act for sure.”

On the inclusion of Eric Lichaj in this camp:
“Eric has done well so far this week. He’s a player that has come through our system and we’re very aware of him. We had him in with the national team previously just so he could start to get that experience and I think this time around you can see he’s more comfortable than the first chance. He’s a young player we have high hopes for. He’s physically strong, he has good speed, good power and he continues to improve at Aston Villa. You can see that he’s more confident and these are things that we look for.”

On Poland:
“Poland is a team that has done a good job in terms of trying to pressure opponents and make it hard for them, and also the ability to win the ball and go quickly in the attack. Our ability to also pressure them becomes a battle to see which team is able to put the other team on the defensive and take control of the game, especially in the midfield. The sense that when the ball turns over, the team is good at the counterattack so your ability to stop that has a lot to do with the reactions in situations where the ball turns over. These are good things for us to focus on.”

On different strategies for different opponents:
“I think that if you look at the last few years there are games when we’re able to dictate the terms a little bit more and that we now are able to have more of the ball, possess the ball and move the ball well. We’re confident on those days, that is something we can do and we want to continue to improve. There are other days when you play against an opponent and on that day they manage to win that part of the game. That’s just how soccer works. We’ve tried to understand that. A good example was last year when a team like Inter Milan faces Barcelona, I think Inter Milan knows that the likelihood is that Barcelona is going to have the ball more. That doesn’t interfere with their sense of what it takes to win the game. We try to be a team that understands on different days how we can win the game. Nonetheless, we need to continue to grow, continue to improve technically, tactically. I think our vision is to continue in that direction.”

On bringing in Jermaine Jones:
“We’ve had the chance to bring Jermaine in already. That helps certainly. He knows people a little bit. He’s a personable guy and he’s a pro. His ability to come into a group, mix in well and still focus on training well and everything. He’s got good starting points and, in training, it’s more of the same. He’s got a good work ethic, a good mentality and he’s someone I think fits well with what we’re trying to do.”

On Clint Dempsey’s role with the U.S. team:
“The roles that Clint has had at Fulham and the roles that we’ve given him with the U.S. team have been similar. He’s an attacking player. He’s comfortable playing in the midfield but also equally comfortable playing up front underneath another striker. The bottom line is that Clint is an important player in terms of being a little bit different. His ability to make a chance for himself or a teammate, there are times where he can come up with something unexpected and make it something big for a goal. We believe that those are special qualities that help our team. He’s shown that at Fulham as well. I think the transition for him back and forth between his club team and the national team in the last few years has been made easier by the fact that expectations on both sides are pretty similar.”

On the veteran leadership in the U.S. team:
“For the most part we have a group of players who have been with us for a few years. They have a sense when they come into camp of what’s expected. There are certain routines, certain things we work on in training and I think that makes it easier. In that respect, the players come back into camp with a level of expectation. It’s our job as coaches to come up with a few thoughts to refocus everybody on areas where we’ve worked in the past, areas where we can continue to improve. But I can point to ward veteran players like Carlos, like Steve, who have been part of the national team, and who in the past four years have played very important roles. They do a very good job of setting that tone as soon as they get back into a national team camp.”

U.S. Men's National Team defender and captain CARLOS BOCANEGRA
On playing in Chicago:
"I love coming back here. Soldier Field is a great venue but, as Bob said, a lot of us have ties to Chicago and it’s always fun to come back to this city and against Poland it’s extra special because of the big Polish population in the city. It’s exciting."

On Jermaine Jones:
“Jermaine came into the Holland camp and we met him, so I think that made it a bit easier for him. He’s got a little bit in common with the guys in Germany, Michael [Bradley] and Steve [Cherundolo]. He’s a good guy and I think he’s pretty excited to be in with the U.S. team and he’s trying to take advantage of his opportunity.”