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Quote Sheet: Bruce Arena Conference Call


U.S. Men’s National Team manager Bruce Arena was featured on a nationwide media teleconference ahead of Wednesday’s match vs. Mexico at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas (7:30 p.m. CT, Telemundo, FoxSports World, HDNet, MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics). He answered questions about the Mexico rivalry, Tim Howard being named the top goalkeeper in the EPL and many other topics.


Bruce Arena’s opening comments:
“Hello everyone and thank you for joining us. We are looking forward to the match on Wednesday versus Mexico in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The U.S. team has not been in Dallas for a while. As you know we played Mexico last year in Houston and we got a great turnout. We’re hoping that we get the same kind of turnout for this match on Wednesday. Again, it should be a very good, entertaining game. The U.S. team, as you know, is comprised of mainly MLS players, with one foreign based player in Conor Casey. This is a game we look forward to playing and a game that allows me to finalize some of my thinking for our roster for World Cup qualifying, which will begin in June. That is basically all I have to say and I’d be glad to entertain your questions."

On if a new player can make an impression this close to World Cup qualifying...
"A player can make a very favorable impression at this game. It’s a good game against one of the better teams in CONCACAF, and I think that if you can perform well in this game then you are the type of player that can help us in qualifying."

On his evaluation of the Mexican goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez…
“From what I’ve seen out of him over the last year, year and a half, he is an excellent goalkeeper. (He is) very aggressive coming off his line, has demonstrated to be a very good shot blocker and is pretty good in the air.”

On why Jonny Walker has been selected from the pool of MLS goalkeepers the most this year...
"One thing that has separated him from the MLS keepers as far as the domestic keepers go is that he is more consistent. I think that has to do with his experience playing a little longer than some of our other keepers. He has more big-game experience having been in South America and some good competitions there. We have a number of MLS goalkeepers that are fairly comparable and Jonny’s experience gives him an edge over most of them."

On if Walker will start and play all 90 minutes vs. Mexico on Wednesday...
"I haven’t seen Jonny yet. He had a game yesterday, and I haven’t decided yet."

On Pat Noonan’s performance in camp this year…
“He’s played well in camp. I know he hasn’t gotten a whole lot of time on the field with us, but he is young, I believe he is 24 years old. I think he is a player with a promising future. He has some good versatility as he can play in the midfield as well as up top. He’s a player we want to continue to bring in and give him the kind of experience to see what we’re all about. As I continue to follow him with the Revolution, I think he is a guy that we think can play a role during qualifying and hopefully be part of the process over the next couple years. A good attacking player, good athleticism, pretty good pace and has a good nose for the goal."

On the atmosphere he expects at the games...
"Anytime we play Mexico in the U.S. the crowd is generally pro-Mexico. It is a good experience for our players. We kind of look at these as a road game, not a home game. It is good for our young players to get this kind of experience to help them prepare for World Cup qualifying."

On the Mexican squad being closer to their usual full squad and if that puts the U.S. at a disadvantage…
“I don’t think so. We never worry about that. Whenever we play Mexico or anyone else, our objective is when we step on the field is to win the game. We feel the players we have on this roster are certainly capable of beating Mexico.”

On Conor Casey being the only player called in from Europe for this game...
"We think that at this point in time it is a difficult journey for players playing in Europe. We have a number of players who are playing with club teams that are fighting relegation or are in position for promotion. In their best interest and the best interest of their club it makes sense for them to remain in Europe at this point in time."

On whether the match against Mexico is more than just a friendly…
“No, I don’t think so. It is a friendly game. We play them almost on a regular basis. Obviously, because of the geographical proximity of the two countries it has become a bit of a rivalry, but it’s a friendly game and we don’t read into it much more than that.”

On Tim Howard…
“He obviously had a good year with Manchester United. He experienced some ups and downs, but mostly positives during the year. Obviously, he sat for five, six, seven games, I’m not exactly sure of the number, but is now back in the first 11. He has developed well. I’ve spoken with Tim on an off over the past month or so. I’ve not yet determined what to do with him during the summer. He’s played for a long stretch of time. Last year’s MLS preseason and regular season, then joining Manchester United, so he’s been going on for a pretty steady basis for 18 months and it hasn’t yet been determined if he’s going to need a break during the summer or not. I will discuss that with him over the next couple of weeks. And As you know he was recently named on the player’s first 11 in the Premiership, so that is certainly a great honor. He follows another American, Brad Friedel, who won that honor last year. That caps off what I think has been a very good year for Tim."

On his expectations of the U.S. vs. Mexico match in terms of fan support and a result...
"I hope that we do have a number of fans cheering for the U.S. team, that would be great. My expectation is to win the game. Every time we step on the field that is what our expectations are. We are asking this group to perform better than they have in previous games domestically, and I think we want to see an improved performance like we presented to our group in Poland last month. We want to continue to improve our previous performances in order to give us the kind of momentum that we want to have going into World Cup qualifying."

On having the luxury to mix and match lineups and experiment while not being afraid to lose a game, where other coaches seem to have to win even a meaningless friendly…
“In all honesty, I think you are accurate in saying that. I don’t think there is a ton of pressure on our team like there is on other countries. Unfortunately, at this point and time there aren’t too many Americans that follow the national team on a regular basis. Probably not that many people are aware of this game in our country on Wednesday. It certainly takes a lot of pressure off the coach, but I’d like it to get to a point where there is some real pressure on the coach and players every time we step on the field. However, because of our current environment in our country, it certainly doesn’t mimic the pressure perhaps the Mexican coach will have on Wednesday, or coaches in Europe and South America.”

On the U.S. not participating in Copa America...
"The reason that we do not participate in Copa America is because we have a domestic league that is in process. Our league does not shut down for Copa America and it does not shut down for World Cup qualifying. The league is comprised of small rosters and by having our National Team participate in Copa America would hurt MLS. Additionally, our European based players are on break at that time. The timing for Copa America with the combination of our European based players on break and our MLS season in its midst it is difficult to figure out how we can productively participate."

On if the U.S. could judge its level of play by participating in Copa America...
"Whoever participates in Copa America has a number of good matches. We know the level that we are in. We have participated in a recent World Cup and we frequently play a number of countries around the world. Over the last five to six years we’ve played basically every team in the Top 10 in the world. We do think that if we participated in Copa America we’d be playing very good matches against good opponents. Because of the reasons I stated above we are not able to do that, and that’s unfortunate."

On the difference between former Mexican coach Javier Aguirre and current coach Ricardo Lavolpe…
“Perhaps Lavolpe’s team is a little more aggressive going forward, but basically the coach can only have so much influence. It is about the players and the players on the current Mexican team are still the same number of players that have been around for a long time, such as Borguetti, Bravo, Carmona, and Pardo. It’s a lot of the same players, so the style of play is still relatively similar.”

On Chris Albright moving from attacking role to right back...
"In the off season when I had Chris in camp I felt that was a position based on his athleticism and experience in the league that would be good for him. I think he has now moved forward with the Galaxy and he is getting experience at that position on a weekly basis. Over time, he can develop into a very good outside back. We will wait and see, but I think he has the kind of qualities you want in an outside back hopefully over time he will develop into a good one and challenge for a position on this team."

On if the U.S. has advantage after playing Poland and Holland earlier this year…
“We just don’t feel that this type of game is any different than games we’ve played. We don’t believe that this opponent in this match on Wednesday is any better than the previous opponent, so that experience against quality teams always helps in these games. I feel when our players step on the field on Wednesday will be comfortable and will have the type of confidence they’ll need to win the game.”

On whether this match will be more open than the one against Mexico last year in Houston…
“You never know, however, this field is more suited to a more open game than we saw last year in Houston. When we played in Houston we played on a narrow field and it wasn’t in great condition. The Cotton Bowl is an excellent field with full width that should offer the players more space and have a more open, attacking game than the one we saw last year.”

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