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Pre-Match Quotes: Italy Preview

U.S. Head Coach John Hackworth
On preparing for Italy:
“We really only have one day to get ready, but we’ve done a very good job scouting them to gather as much information about them as possible. We’ll make a couple of adjustments, but we’re going to concentrate on what we need to do to improve our own play. I think that is our best strategy going into our game against Italy.”

On the play of Italy:
“They absorb pressure better than any other team in the world. Ivory Coast was constantly attacking and Italy still stayed composed, trusting in their organization and their defense. Eventually, they wore Ivory Coast down and then capitalized at the end of the match. They are going to be a very tough team to break down. They always are. They also have some very talented attacking players, and we’re going to have to make sure we tighten things up in the back and are aware of their two front-runners.”

On their two tall forwards:
“They are pretty imposing, but they also can play. Technically, they are strong and, tactically, they have a really good relationship as they know where each other are during the match. Their runs are interesting because you usually think of guys of that stature of coming back to the ball, but they seem to want the ball facing goal. We’ve worked on that a little bit, but we just need to tighten things up so we can play to the best of our ability.”

On making sure the team doesn’t have a letdown after a big win:
“Hopefully we addressed that right from the start. I told the guys after dinner on Saturday to enjoy the win, but when they wake up in the morning they should forget about it and that their whole focus should now be on Italy, which is the most important game at this point.”

On any changes from the first game:
“We’re going to try and put our best 11 players out there. We have a strong bench and if we need to make a couple of adjustments we’ll do it. I have total faith in this whole team and, whoever we put out there we believe can get the job done.”

On what they need to do to play better:
“I’ve watched the tape a couple of times and we actually played very good soccer at times. We just didn’t play our game for 90 minutes. We got sucked into playing North Korea’s style. If we can just make sure we have stronger stretches of our rhythm, that’s what we’re looking to do. I know we can play better and our players know they can, too, so that’s what we are going to try and do.”

U.S. Captain Ofori Sarkodie
On entering the second match with three points:
“I think it is huge coming into the game with three points. I think most U.S. teams that have won that first game tend to move onto the next round so we’re pretty confident going in towards Italy.”

On playing on the turf:
“I think it played to our advantage. I think we used it with our speed on the outside with Quavas Kirk and Ryan Soroka. It was a benefit to us for most of the game.”

On Italy:
“We played them about a year-and-a-half ago and if they are the same team, they will be a very organized team and have a lot of individual talent. It will take the full 90 minutes for us to beat Italy.”

On how the defense will handle Italy’s tall forwards:
“Organization is the key word. From the backline’s standpoint, we have to stand our ground and win our individual battles. As long as we do that we’ll be alright.”

U.S. Goalkeeper Bryant Rueckner
On facing Italy:
“I think we have the opportunity to play a lot better in this game because we’ve gotten rid of the nerves and fear out of us that we had in the first match. That game (against North Korea) just wasn’t a good game for me, and I think I’ll play better against Italy.”

U.S. Forward Preston Zimmerman
On what they need to do to be successful against Italy:
“We just need to be dangerous. We need to get the ball and look to attack so we can make them hesitant. If we can go at them for 90 minutes then we can be successful.”

On getting revenge for the U-20s loss to Italy in the FIFA World Youth Championship:
“It’s Italy. They’re a world power in soccer and they beat our U-20s, so we want to get a little revenge for that. We don’t want them to think they can walk all over the Americans.”

For those interested in a more analytical view of the match against North Korea, and more quotes from Head Coach John Hackworth and Assistant Coach Keith Fulk, check out's latest CoachCast. is the official website of U.S. Soccer, the governing body of soccer in the United States.