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Quote Sheet: U-23 MNT vs. Panama Post-Match Quotes

U.S. Head Coach Peter Nowak

On the match:
“I’m really pleased with the effort. I think our team played with a lot of heart tonight and we got the result after a very hard fight on the field. You have to give credit to Panama because they put a lot of heart into it, too. Both teams know what the situation is in the group and favorites are on paper. We try to play good soccer, make sure we compete as a group and I think we made a couple of great build-ups in the first half. We played the same way in the second half and tried to score another goal…We’re going to recover now and make sure we’re ready for the third game.”

On Honduras having two wins in the group:
“We know that Honduras have two wins and now the situation is that both teams are involved in who will be first or second (in the group). We have to see how the players feel. We made a couple of changes before this game, so we still have one day to recover and make the right selection of the players for this game against Honduras.”

On playing with more patience tonight:
“I think we learned from what happened last Tuesday (against Cuba). Everyone was over anxious. I think we were pushing too much just to score goals. I think today the combinations (we’re better) and we just played faster and found the right people at the right time. The timing was good. The build-ups were very effective, so it’s not only the patience. You can be patient, but still develop your game in the right moment at the right speed.”

On the play of the defense:
“We made a couple of changes in our backline, but the point was still how we would play as a group versus Panama, which was very organized. We were prepared for that. I think starting with Jozy (Altidore) and Freddy (Adu) on top as the first line of defense and then Sacha (Kljestan), Dax (McCarty), Stuart Holden and Eddie Gaven in the middle, and then the backline, they did a very good job to understand how to recover from certain situations, how to stay compact, but also when we win the ball then everyone is involved in the game.”

On preparing for Honduras:
“I think we will prepare ourselves for this game like we did before the Panama game. The most important thing is just to have a good recovery, good spirit and make sure for 90 minutes we will be the team who will make it hard for the other team to play.”

U.S. Midfielder Sacha Kljestan

On playing to win, rather than playing pretty soccer:
“At this point in the tournament we’re going for results, we’re not going to be the team that plays the best style of football necessarily. We knew it was going to be a tough game against Panama. We knew they were going to play hard, and we needed to match their level of intensity on every play, whether it was a header, a loose ball or getting in front of goal. We know against Honduras it will be similar, so we’re looking forward to that.”

On not getting a lot of chances on goal:
“Tonight it was tough. Panama is a pretty good team defensively. They are pretty organized, and their backs and midfielders are very athletic. It was tough for us to get by guys one-on-one as they defended pretty well. We tried to slow the game down and get the ball out wide and get more balls into the box. It was tough to get behind them, but the time we did get behind them it produced the PK. These games are always tough to get chances when teams are fighting for their lives basically.”

On preparing for Honduras:
“I think the main point tonight for our team was the mentality of the group when we came out. Everyone was real focused and real determined to play as a team tonight. I think that was the biggest part in our victory, so we need to have to bring the same thing as we prepare for Honduras on Saturday – a strong mentality and a strong team unity.”

U.S. Midfielder Freddy Adu

On receiving a yellow card in the 90th minute:
“I’m going to do whatever it takes, play with some fight, some attitude, just go out and help this team win in any way I possibly can.”

U.S. Midfielder Eddie Gaven

On his pass that eventually led to the penalty kick:
“Jozy made a great run, and I just hit it over the top, he did all the rest. It was good work by him.”

On the difference between Tuesday’s game and this one:
“I think that both games we played really hard but I thought we came out and played really hard for the full 90 today. We had the focus and the mindset to come out and do what we need to do, take our chances and I think we did that pretty well tonight.”

On playing “pretty” soccer:
“There were times out there tonight where it definitely wasn’t pretty but the most important thing is getting three points and just keep on trying to move forward and get better each and every game. I think we did that from the first game to the second game, now we have to go out and do it for the third game.”

On being concerned of the teams passing:
“I think there were stretches where we did pass pretty well, there were stretches where it was a little bit sloppy. That’s going to happen in games like this. I thought they did a pretty good job of putting a lot of pressure on us, and at times we didn’t handle it well. So, something I’m sure we’re going to look at on tape and maybe make a few changes so it’s better for our game against Honduras.”

On possibly qualifying for the semifinals prior to the game vs. Honduras on Saturday:
“It’s definitely something that could happen but we just want to focus on what’s in our hands right now. Go out and play our game and just try to focus on getting three points and trying to be on a little bit of a roll hopefully for the semifinals.”

U.S. Forward Jozy Altidore

On the match:
“Panama was really physical and credit to them as they played well, but we stayed in there and played for 90 minutes.”

On the rough play:
“You just have to get in there with them. They’re pushing and kicking, and you just have to do the same thing. You can’t let up, and you need to be there for your teammates when they need you. In games like this you can’t back down, you just have to go with it.”

On the win:
“It was huge because now we’re one step closer to being into the next round. Now we just have to concentrate on the next game and possibly finish first in the group. Right now, the morale is good.”

On the mindset for the match against Honduras:
“The mindset is to win. Anytime you play you want to win, but we’re going to regroup and see what we have to do to get the job done.”