US SoccerUS Soccer

June 20 Press Conference with Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey

U.S. Goalkeeper TIM HOWARD

On the team’s mentality going into Wednesday:
“I think we’ve been training for this for six months when we found out the draw, and we’ve been saying all along that we felt it was going to take three games to get through. A win the other day would have been great, maybe would have seen us through but it’s not like we’re disappointed because we knew that if we played well throughout three games that we would get through the group so that’s still on our minds.”

On playing better with their backs against the wall:
"It’s something that’s been with this team for a number of years now and it’s not something we enjoy, no one likes going behind in a game. But we seem to be very resilient and we start to play more to our strengths. What I mean by that is that we start playing direct and letting the boys up there kind of ‘hit them in the mouth’ and push them around. You saw how well we did there. That’s not always on your mind when the game starts, we want to be a little prettier and a little flashy. We can all go around and say ‘let’s get an early lead,’ but that doesn’t always translate on the field but hopefully with a little more concentration and maybe a little luck we can get on the other end of the score early on.”

On whether long-ball is the team’s style:
“You want to get into the rhythm of the game and get the ball on the ground, and there is something to be said for that. Maybe we can even mix it up better, but I don’t think we’re a direct long-ball team. I do think we have success though when we do that.”

On where he places the U.S. in the spectrum of underdog or favorite in this tournament:
“It’s been a crazy World Cup, and it’s hard to tell now when a game kicks off, who is going to win. I think the usual suspects are still there and you can’t discount them. I think that puts a team like ours in a good position to go further than we have. There is a long way to go and we still have to get out of our group, but if we use the 2002 World Cup as our benchmark then we’ve certainly shown we’re capable of playing to that standard. It’s going to be hard, we still have to get out of the group and for us to think beyond that is silly.”

On the reaction of the disallowed goal at home:
“Some of those stories have been trickling into our camp, how people are up in arms and can’t believe the call, and that’s pretty cool. For most people who are soccer fans, that’s a small detail of that game, it was so up and down. At the end of the day it was just a referee’s call that got the American fans to show that, one they care and two that they are getting into the game and understand how it all works.”

On Algeria’s lack of scoring:
“We don’t really know what to expect and you can’t go just based on that. They have been creating chances and at this level, chances will sooner or later turn into goals. We’ve seen that with our own team. It’s a separate game and there is so much on the line now in our group with these last 90 minutes, so the fact that they haven’t scored doesn’t mean a whole lot.”

On whether he’s frustrated that he hasn’t scored:
“Not really, I haven’t really even thought of it like that. It’s more important how we do. I think the moment we put individual wants or needs over what we’re doing as a team is when we crash. In the locker room before the game, you can see that everybody cares how we do as a team. That’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter who scores or how we score as long as we get the results.”

On a change in strike partners with Robbie Findley suspended for the Algeria game:
“It doesn’t really matter at this point. I think everybody in camp is prepared for what’s ahead and what’s at stake. Whether it’s Edson or even Clint, I think we all understand what this game means so I think everyone has done a good job of getting involved.”

On what kind of game he expects from Algeria:
“We’ll have to gauge that. If someone has their arms around me, I’m going to sit there and say ‘ok, that’s fine.’ I’m going to try to bust out of that and get in position to try to score a goal. If they let that type of thing go on, then that’s how you play. If the ref is calling it tight, then you’re not going to do that. You have to adapt to the game and that’s what we’ll do.”

On how Algeria’s approach may affect the game:
“It depends on what their game plan is. Initially, I think it’s a game that’s going to be tight, but as the game goes on it’s going to have to open up. We’re going to have to take risks because we know a draw may not get us through. We’ll just have to manage the game and see how it goes, and I think they’re going to do the same. They’re going to stay compact defensively, pick and choose moments when to go forward; but if it’s 0-0 in the 65th minute, you’re going to see the game open up.”

On the approach to the Algeria game:
“Algeria is a good team. They’re athletic, they’re good defensively, they made some big tackles during that game against England. We just have to play our game, keep moving the ball and trying different things, take our opportunities when we can. The positive that we’re taking from this World Cup is that we’ve scored in each game that we’ve played in so far, so on that front, we’re doing well. We’re just going to go out and play our game and I think our game is good enough to win if we play our best.”

On having a shorter turnaround and how they’ll be fresh for Wednesday:
“That’s easy, we’re in a World Cup and we’re motivated by that. We know what we have to do to get our minds and bodies right for this game. We’ll be ready to put in the same type of effort because this opportunity doesn’t come along a lot in your life. Obviously qualifying is difficult and we’re in a good position right now, just like we were in 2006, where a win would have moves us on. We didn’t succeed then so now we’re trying to right the wrongs. We’re not going to show any signs of fatigue, I can tell you that. We’re going to leave our lungs and our hearts on the field.”