U.S. MNT Head Coach Bob Bradley
On the draw:
“Certainly we know that Barbados would be the favorite to advance. We know Barbados from having played against them twice in the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. They are a team that typically is physically talented and are starting to have more players competing overseas. The experience of a player like Paul Ifill at Crystal Palace continues to make teams like Barbados increasingly difficult to play against as they gain international experience. It is always important to respect opponents like that. Their recent efforts in the 2007 Caribbean Cup that included a draw against host Trinidad & Tobago indicate that they are a capable team.”
“All the teams in CONCACAF continue to improve, making qualifying for the World Cup increasingly competitive. The time we have spent in South Africa has given an indication that it will be great World Cup. It helps sight your sights on what you need to do in order to be a part of it.”
On plans for 2008:
“We will start 2008 with a January camp in California like we do every year. We have the match against Mexico on Feb. 6 in Houston and will be looking to play on the international fixture date in March. Overall, we will continue to build on the work of 2007 with the understanding that qualifying is always difficult and competitive.”
On potential opponents for the semifinal round:
“If things go according to form, the teams in the semifinal phase would be Cuba, Guatemala, T&T and the United States. Cuba had a good run of form in the Gold Cup, so we know that they have the ability to get results. We played Guatemala twice this year, so we are aware of what they are all about and the qualities of a player like Carlos Ruiz. While T&T did not fare well in this year’s Gold Cup, we know that they were not able to bring their best team to that event. We certainly know the players and their abilities. History has shown that qualifying in this region can be full of surprises, so we will need to be prepared.”
On quality of CONCACAF competition:
"It's fair to say that teams in CONCACAF are improving across the board. If we end up meeting Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago and Cuba we could be in for a very hard test. They are teams that we know well, and we know they are very talented opponents. 2007 has been a lot about bringing in new players to the US national team and I think that we are doing a good job of encouraging the newer guys to step up and try to fill the gaps left by the retirement of Brian McBride, Eddie Pope and Claudio Reyna."
U.S. Captain Carlos Bocanegra
On the draw:
"We're pretty excited to get the process started. Now it becomes real. We've been playing in good competitions over the last year, but starting next year is when it really counts. We have the outline for World Cup qualifying laid out for us. The coaching staff will start getting prepared, and as players we can look foward to our potential opponents. It's a long road, but the prize at the end is the World Cup and we are anxious to get going."
On the potential opponents in the second round:
"Either team will be a challenge. We have never played Dominica, and obviously we have experience against Barbados from the semifinal round of qualifying in 2000. The second match in Barbados proved that there is no such thing as an easy opponent. Regardless of who we play, they will be big games for us and we are not going to take either team lightly. We're going to respect our opponents and put our best team out there so we can try and move on to the next round."
On the potential opponents in the semifinal round:
"We're not going to look past the second phase, but if things go well and we advance, there are tough opponents ahead. Playing in Cuba would be a new experience. As we know from previous qualifying campaigns, it's tough to play in hostile environments like the ones we find in Guatemala and T&T. From difficult conditions to hostile fans, you can't take any of these games for granted. Particularly in the semifinal phase, there is not a lot of room for error. Right from the outset, we want to have a good start to the campaign and build on that."
On the experience of having played in South Africa:
"Playing in the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup was an excellent experience for us. We got a good feel for what the conditions will be like, and overall it was fantastic. The atmosphere in the stadium that day was amazing, with the festive music and the unbelievable passion from the fans. If it's like that three years before the World Cup, I can't imagine how great it will be in 2010. Seeing how it was down there makes us all want to get there that much more."