Post-Game Quote Sheet: U.S. U-23 MNT 1, HON 0
U.S. Head Coach PETER NOWAK
On earning the two penalty kicks:
“I think we created chances, regardless of the referee’s decisions. We showed spirit and pushed for a win, so it’s not like the penalty kicks come from thin air or someone gives it to you as a present. I think the boys worked hard on the field and you have to give them credit.”
On the number of scoring chances the team created:
“If you see the whole three games we played here in Tampa, I think we created a lot of chances. We had a good goal versus Cuba and then a great ball from Eddie Gaven to Jozy Altidore for the PK (against Panama). If Jozy is not touched by the ‘keeper I think he can score, so all three of the goals we did score it was from the run of play, whatever that outcome was at the end of the day. As I said, we still need to be more focused and concentrate whenever the chances come. Robbie Findley had a very good chance in the first half, and we had a couple good crosses from the wing to our forwards. I think it’s just the final touch.”
“We know a lot about Honduras and I also watched them in the pre-qualifying tournament in Panama. We knew it was going to be very difficult to play against this team. They have a couple of guys who can make a difference. Ramon Nunez came on with 30 minutes to go in the game and created a couple good opportunities for his team. I wish the best of luck to Honduras in the semifinals and I think they will be very tough to play against.”
On goalkeeper Dominic Cervi’s performance:
“Dominic is pretty calm in the goal and very athletic. He can really organize the backline. It was a pretty good performance by him.”
On the lineup changes for tonight’s game:
“As we said from day one, we were looking for 20 players who could be together, who understand each other and are going to push themselves to the limit. With three games in five days, you can’t have only 14 guys (play) and we have to have the back-ups. We had a couple of yellow cards, a couple of knocks from the last game against Panama because it was a very hard played game, so it was important to give everyone time, but we also have to keep our quality of play. It’s not like they were just replacements for this game. As I said from the beginning, it’s important to have all 20 guys ready to play every single day.”
On the possibility of facing Mexico:
“It’s too early to say something about that. It’s important to have team spirit and understand where we are going. Our goal was to qualify for the semifinals and we did that. We are looking now at who will be the next opponent after tomorrow’s games. We can’t predict anything will happen as we wish. The unity and spirit of the team after a win in the last second of the game was pretty encouraging, and we would like to keep this spirit in Nashville.”
On getting ready for the semifinal game:
“We as coaches put a lot of emphasis on the mental side of the game because our players are away from their home for four or five weeks right now. The games are tough physically, but sometimes it’s even more mental. That’s why I said it’s important to get this win and keep the spirit going. On the physical part we still have a couple of days to rest and get ready for the semifinal. From this point, the most important thing is that we have no injuries and no suspensions, so we are going with the full 20 players to Nashville.”
On if knowing they were already going to advance affected their play:
“You try to always find a balance and talk to the players about that. Before we even entered the field I stressed to them that we have to play our best because that’s what we represent and are all about. Winning is a habit. If you don’t have that habit, then it’s difficult to put your best performance on the field. We encourage our players to have this mentality from game to game.”
On if he has a rotation on who takes the penalty kicks:
“We did talk before the game on who would take the PKs. I always felt like the mentality of the penalty taker must be someone who is strong. The most important thing is you have to have the players who in that moment, even during a 90 minute game, they have the heart and ability to put the ball in the net.”
On whether the decision on not Freddy Adu was due to rest or his yellow card:
“I think it was a combination of both. You never know what’s going to happen. Freddy did play two 90-minute games and it’s important to make sure that he’s ready for next week.”
U.S. midfielder EDDIE GAVEN
On taking the penalty kick:
“It was a great run by Charlie. I just stepped up, took a deep breath and kicked it in. But like I said, it was a great play by him. I thought we had a really good play from our full team today.”
On playing without Freddy Adu:
“Freddy obviously played really well in the first two games, and he definitely makes us a better team. But I think the other guys that came on tonight definitely stepped up, played well and worked hard in his absence. We just had really good team spirit, so hopefully we can keep that up for the semifinal game.”
On the venue and crowd in Tampa:
“I thought it was a great stadium and I thought the crowd was really, really good tonight. They were like a 12th man tonight. They were cheering, they had their drums out and everything else and I think that makes it easier for players to feed off that energy. Hopefully, when we go to Tennessee it will be the same thing.”
U.S. Goalkeeper Dominic Cervi
On earning his first-ever National Team cap:
It was amazing. I can’t really put it into words, my first U-23 game. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was a lot of fun and it was nice to get a shutout and great to get a win, too.
On whether the level of play was different than he’s used to:
I’ve gotten used to the level of play through training camps. I think the biggest difference is that I don’t have to be as far off my line. I can let my defenders do their job. So I get to sit back and be more of a goalkeeper and I don’t have to use my feet as often.
On advancing to the semifinals:
It was huge to win our group – it doesn’t really matter who we play from the other group. The mindset to get the win tonight was just the most important for us.
U.S. Defender Hunter Freeman
On tonight's game:
"For us, we were committing people forward but we were also tentative as well. Both teams would have been fine with a tie but obviously our objective at the beginning of the game was to win. We kept taking chances when we could, but we were smart about it also. In the end we got another chance and we won the game."
U.S. Defender Kamani Hill
"It was just a matter of that final ball and finishing. Its good for the team that we kept plugging away and played the whole 90 minutes because it finally came at the end for us."
On playing outside back, a new position for the converted forward:
"It’s a new position for me but I like playing it a lot. I get a lot of support from my teammates, from my outside forwards and inside backs. There’s a lot of talk and communication. Along with their support and my ability to just try to learn and take things in its been going well.
On the upcoming semifinal game:
Its all or nothing, and that’s a different mentality than the group. Here you get to look at the other teams in the group, you see the points and you see how everything is going. Sometimes in a group you can play for a tie, but in an elimination game you have to get a win."
U.S. Midfielder Dax McCarty
On the team playing different types of styles
You have to find a medium. Sometimes you need to be relaxed and composed on the ball, but in other times you need to have urgency. In these types of game against CONCACAF opponents, they’re going to make it difficult. They’re going to put ten and nine people behind the ball and it makes it really tough to break them down. You have to play quickly, make sure you’re making good passes and make sure you’re reading the game well. Against these opponents its tough but we did a good job of staying patient and we take our chances when we can.
U.S. Midfielder Stuart Holden
On the upcoming semifinal, and playing for the chance to go to Beijing:
This one game is going to mean a lot, going to the Olympics and hopefully we can go in with a good mentality and come out with a victory. There’s been a lot of preparation and now the opportunity to [go to the Olypmics] is finally here. The Olympics are amazing and its something that everyone on this team wants to be a part of. Thinking about the possibility of representing our country in Beijing is going to give us a little bit of extra motivation [when we take the field on Thursday].