U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team
QUOTE SHEET from
2004 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Guadalajara, Mexico -- February 7, 2004
U.S. U-23 MNT head coach Glenn Myernick
On how he and the team approached what was basically a placement game:
"We knew it could be a strange affair, which it was. As you saw, I don't think Honduras was in a hurry to try to win the game. But the things that we said to our players is that we really only know how to play one way and that's to win. We knew that with a draw, we were still going to play Mexico, so why not win the group and be the only team in the tournament that got nine points and scored the most goals. There's nothing wrong with that."
On Eskandarian's three-goal performance and precise finishing:
"Since we've had this program together, Esky's been one of the leading goal scorers over the past couple of years. When he's given the chance, he's generally a good finisher. I would like to see him get into finishing positions a little bit more. I know he had a frustrating year in MLS, but I believe in the kid and I think he can score goals at every level if given the opportunity."
On 17-year-old Eddie Gaven's 90-minute performance at the playmaking midfield role:
"Eddie Gaven's a talented player. He's just a punk from my neighborhood that I invited to fill out the roster. You can see that he's got some ability. He's fun to coach and he's fun to have on our team. I think he's truly a talent of the future for the U.S."
On what he saw out of his players off the bench who were placed into a starting role today:
"Coming into the match, we only had two players -- David Stokes and Doug Warren -- that hadn't got any minutes, so I'm delighted that these guys who have put in a lot of effort over a two-year period were here to help us win the group and get nine points. I was delighted that they could make a contribution and now all of our players have played. For some (players) to get a little bit more match fitness in today, while resting some of our key players, that in and of itself was a success today."
On what the defense has learned over the three opening round games:
"Not to kick off so much. I don't know how you translate that..."
On the challenge of facing Mexico in the semifinals on Tuesday:
"The Mexican team will start the game with 12 players, because of the 60,000 (fans), but none of them are allowed to kick the ball, so that's an equalizer. We knew that coming here that we were going to face a very good team; it didn't matter whether it was Costa Rica or Mexico in the semifinal. Getting to the Olympics is a big prize, and it shouldn't come easy, and it won't. I think it's a great opportunity for our young players to get international experience playing in big games like this in Mexico, because if they're to continue to have an international career, they'll play in big games like that all the time. We're excited about it; we're not apprehensive about the game at all."
On Mexico U-23 MNT head coach Ricardo Lavolpe's prediction that his team would be victorious no matter who they play in the semi's due to their superior team unity:
"I can't control what he says. I'd be disappointed if he didn't think like that about his group; it's a coach's job to think tha way about his group. I feel the same about my team. I think we both have some very talented players, and the game will just have to speak for itself."
On what he thinks Mexico's key strength is:
"I think every game is an entity in and of itself. I don't think we can draw one overall opinion from some of the things that have happened in this tournament. I personally felt that our group was a much better group. And I think that Mexico's first two games in their group weren't much of a test for them. I don't mean any disrespect to Jamaica or Trinidad & Tobago, but they simply weren't up to the same standard as some of the other teams in the tournament, and certainly not to the standard of the teams in our group. I just think Mexico has really only had one hard game in their group. But the game (on Tuesday) is going to be very, very good."
U.S. U-23 MNT defender Chris Wingert
On the team's overall performance to this point:
"I think we're happy so far. It was nice to win the group and win all three games and to have a positive ending before we head into the semifinal. The tournament really starts now for us. Obviously, are expectations are to go the Olympics. It's going to be a tough match on Tuesday, but we're looking forward to it."
On the USA-Mexico rivalry:
"I think part of it is that it's the two best teams in CONCACAF, at least since I've been alive. I think part of it is that the full teams have had some great battles, so that kinda carries over to the Olympic and youth teams. Now that we're here in Mexico, that just adds to it ... to the excitment, to the rivalry. It's going to be a great game on Tuesday."
U.S. U-23 MNT forward Alecko Eskandarian
On Honduras' passive performance:
"Obviously, they were happy with losing, ya know? If they're happy with losing, we're going to let them lose. The last 15 minutes were a little bit boring, but if they're not going to pressure us, we're going to keep the ball. That was their choice, not ours."
On playing Mexico in the semi's instead of the final:
"It's part of the tournament. We knew we were going to have to play Mexico eventually, so bring it on. We'll deal with them on Tuesday. You've got to be ready to play anybody in a tournament like this to get to the Olympics. That's our job and that's what we're going to do."
U.S. U-23 MNT midfielder DaMarcus Beasley
On if how much the 2-0 win over Mexico in the 2002 World Cup will be in their minds:
"Aw, they don't forget that kind of stuff. They know that we beat them in the World Cup, and we pretty much beat them the last few times, so they know they've got to come out and win for their country. It's going to be a tough game, and we hope we come out on top."
On how much they notice the anti-U.S. chants and other crowd behavior:
"Oh yeah, of course. We can definitely hear it. We hear all the things they say about us, and it would be the same (behavior from U.S. fans) in our country. They have die-hard fans like we do. That's just the way soccer is."
On how much the day off from playing will help those that didn't appear in the match:
"I think it will help us a lot, to get our legs back and recuperate. I think the guys that start the game on Tuesday will be fresh and ready to run for 90 minutes and even more with extra time or whatever. We're going to do whatever it takes to get to the Olympics and we have to go through Mexico."
On how the U.S. matches up with Mexico:
"They're a good team. I think they've played the best soccer in this tournament. They've played well; they've got a lot of guys attacking forward. But we'll look at tapes, and we'll look for their weaknesses and hopefully we can exploit them."
U.S. U-23 MNT forward Landon Donovan
On the USA-Mexico rivalry:
"I don't know how to compare it to something in American sports, maybe Yankees-Red Sox; I don't know. When you get to the biggest stage and a berth to Athens is on the line, there's nothing bigger, especially playing in Mexico."
On his relationship with the Mexican fans:
"Yeah, they like me a lot (Sarcastically). I understand (their behavior). They're proud, and they love their country."
On what motivates the U.S. players in a hostile playing environment like what awaits on Tuesday:
"That's easy. As fun as it is to win a game at home in front of a lot of people, there's nothing better than beating a team on their home turf ... especially to go the Olympics, it would be indescribeable. I can't picture a better scenario. If we win, you couldn't write a better script. It would be awesome."
U.S. U-23 MNT midfielder Kyle Beckerman
On the upcoming semifinal:
"We know it's a game that can get us into the Olympics, so we're just excited to be in the position to be one game away."