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Quote Sheet: Bob Bradley Discusses the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup Roster

U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley held a conference call with media members to discuss the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup roster.

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley

Opening comments:
“Good afternoon to everyone. Good morning to those of you on the West Coast. We are excited to announce our roster for the Gold Cup. Without a doubt, the roster has been put together with consideration tp many different factors including, of course, the Copa America, which will follow the Gold Cup. We feel very good about the mix of talent on this roster. It gives us, I think, a very good blend of youth and experience, which we think is very, very important for Gold Cup play. We all look forward to getting together and starting to work hard to defend the Gold Cup championship.”

On whether he is going into the Gold Cup with a No. 1 goalkeeper:
“We enter this tournament with the thought that Tim Howard is our number one goalkeeper. It’s a discussion that we’ve had with Tim and with Kasey (Keller). I do forsee the idea that in the first round Kasey will also play one of those games. Following those games, decisions get made upon form and what we feel is the best decision on the day for our team. I’m please that we can have two experienced goalies in Tim and Kasey. They know each other very well. I felt that in the last camp they really challenged each other and pushed each other and really worked well. The third goalkeeper on this list is Brad Guzan. I think Brad, as a young goalkeeper, has benefited greatly from working with Timmy and Kasey. The plan at the moment is that Brad would be the third goalkeeper but would stay and play games with Chivas USA unless we suffer an injury and need to call him in.”

On how many players he expects to change for the Copa America roster and whether Tim Howard and Kasey Keller will be available for the Copa America:
“I’ve said all along that we expect a handful of players to play in both events. In reality, the hope is that it’s more than a handful of players. It would be divided into MLS players as well as European-based players. We have more time to finalize the roster for Copa America and there will always be a possibility of late developments that could change some of those decisions. At the moment the feeling is that neither Tim nor Kasey would play in Copa America. It’s possible that that could change, but that’s the feeling at this time.”

On what he knows about the China National Team and whether the roster for that match will be similar to the Gold Cup roster:
“I’m familiar with China from some games in the past and I’m expecting some tapes of more recent games. As far as our roster for that game, as mentioned, the European-based players for the Gold Cup will be coming into camp on Sunday (May 27). We are going to supplement that group with some younger players that are part of the Under-23 group and get them some experience. We are also going to take advantage of the fact that Chivas USA does not have a game on the weekend of June 2 and June 3. We’ll announce that roster next Tuesday (May 29).

On whether the China game will help determine who will be in the starting lineup for the Gold Cup:
“That game will always help us make decisions but, obviously, we’ll factor that in with everything that we’ve seen so far this year, both in camps and games that we’ve had as well as in MLS games.”

On what interested him about Jay Demerit and whether he should have been part of the 2006 FIFA World Cup player pool:
“What interests, I think, all of us is that week in and week out he continues to compete very, very well for Watford. We know that it’s a great story. As far as any decisions prior to this year, I think Jay is still a player who is developing. He’s a player whose experiences continue to push him up the ladder and I think Bruce’s (Arena) decisions prior to this year took that into account.”

On whether he or U.S. Soccer views either tournament as more important than the other, and its impact on the roster:
“It’s a difficult question. I think our answer in the past has always tilted towards the idea that the Gold Cup, given that it’s the championship of our region and it also gives the opportunity to play in the Confederations Cup—the winner plays in the Confederations Cup in the summer of 2009 in South Africa—perhaps holds a little bit more weight. When we say that, however, we certainly all know and understand the history and significance of Copa America. We are absolutely set on trying to compete at the highest levels in both events. We’ve had to take into account so many different factors in putting these two rosters together and our goal all along was to have the two best groups ready to go.”

On the confidence level of players such as Clint Dempsey and Oguchi Onyewu:
“In Clint’s case, I think his confidence is fine. He understood when he signed at the point of the season that he did with Fulham that breaking into the team, especially when that team is fighting to stay in the Premiership, is difficult. I had very, very good conversations when I was in England with Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra about Clint and both felt that he was training very well, working very hard. He obviously got a reward in the sense that he played more towards the end of the year and scored a huge goal for that club. In his case I think he’s excited for the schedule this summer. In Gooch’s case, it’s different. As we know, Newcastle was a difficult situation. There was some turmoil in and around the club and it’s not easy for anyone to settle in given those circumstances. I know that he’s anxious to see what the next move in his career will be but I think he continues to believe in his ability, as we do. We feel that this summer is an important time for him to continue to show people that he’s a young, talented defender with great physical qualities.”

On Michael Parkhurst and whether his eligibility to play for Ireland factored into his decision to call him in for the Gold Cup:
“That wasn’t a huge factor. I had very good conversations with Michael about some of the options that he has. He has always indicated to me that his goal is to play for the U.S. National Team. As I mentioned earlier, he impressed everyone in January but we didn’t feel it was the right time. Based upon his play so far for New England we feel this is the right time.”

On whether Michael Bradley will be a candidate for the Copa America roster or whether he will be with the Under-20 MNT at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup:
“The plan is for Michael to play with the Under-20s.”

On how the players’ preference for playing in either tournament was taken into consideration:
“In all situations, we’ve made it very clear to the players that it’s our responsibility to put two good teams together and that it’s not a situation where a player chooses what he wants to do. But we always understand the specifics of different situations. Certainly, throughout this year we have made decisions that we felt took into account a player’s situation with his club, his need to be at training in order to make it in a first team place and factors like that. I think that we have shown already that we will consider the different factors but nonetheless we wanted to establish a clear idea that these are both important and it’s our responsibility to field very good teams.”

On whether he is more receptive to a player requesting to play in both tournaments:
“It’s always nice to hear that even as players are successful with club teams that they continue to see the National Team as being very, very important. Any time a player speaks like that I think it fits in with the whole message that we’ve tried to get across since the beginning.”

On Michael Bradley’s development:
“He has shown in the camps this year that he’s one of the young midfielders that I think we want to continue to work with. He possesses a good understanding of the game and a maturity of play for a young player and that’s continues to be something that we feel is important to see in our younger players across the board. Whenever the player is ready to push into national team camps and play for the National Team, that’s always the priority, but that has to be balanced with the fact that the Under-20 world championship is still an important event for U.S. Soccer. One of the things that we are also looking for going forward is to see some of our younger players develop leadership qualities. Peter Nowak, Mike Sorber and I discussed this at great length, and we discussed it with Thomas Rongen, and the feeling was that his role in the Under-20s is important and also challenges him to take that kind of leadership role and make a difference in the team and we hope that those are things that will continue to grow so that they can help in the full team as time goes on.”

On whether he has best-case scenario goals for the Gold Cup and Copa America:
“I don’t usually think in those terms but the starting point would be to say that we are setting out to defend the Gold Cup championship and I think all of us look at this tournament as being very important. We all know that the potential would exist to play, possibly, Mexico in the final in Chicago. We’ve set out to get to the final and defend our championship. Copa America is a great tournament. As everyone knows, we open with Argentina. We expect that to be a great game, a difficult game, but again, whenever you go into those kind of events, really like the World Cup, the starting point is to advance out of the first round and then once you’ve done that anything can happen.”

On Jonathan Spector’s development:
“He was part of the Chicago Sockers club and I had a chance to see him quite a bit as a younger player. The main thing that I think he has shown since he went to England is just an ability to compete in these games. Even as a young player he’s confident, he believes in himself. At times he has played, actually, all the positions of the back four and it’s impressive to see a young player put in difficult situations and show that he belongs and that he can compete at that level. We’re hopeful that type of experience will pay dividends for us with the National Team.”

On Michael Parkhurst’s role on the team:
“Michael Parkhurst has had an excellent start to the season. He was in our January camp and we were impressed with his play. We made a decision going into the Denmark game that it wasn’t the right moment for him, but he has done very well to start the season with New England, and we’re excited to bring him into the team and we feel strongly that he is a young defender with good qualities both in terms of reading of the game and his ability to pass out of the back. We’re excited to have him for the Gold Cup.”

On Michael Parkhurst’s size:
“Without a doubt people look at size, especially for centerbacks, as being important but there are always exceptions to rules. Typically, players who are exceptions are players that read the game well, players that have just a good sense of positioning and timing. At this point, I think Michael has shown those qualities and it’s important for him to get experience with the full team to see if he can take the soccer qualities that he has and make them count on a higher level. There were people who question his size even as an MLS player but he’s been able to handle the challenges so far and we are very, very hopeful that he’ll continue to move himself forward.”

On what kind of negotiation goes on with the MLS coaches regarding player availability:
“There were very good discussions on a number of levels. First off I’d like to thank Don Garber and Ivan Gazidis. We worked closely with them. Sunil has been in contact with them in terms of establishing the ideas for our summer schedule, and I feel very good about the cooperation of all of the MLS coaches, teams and general managers. We know the schedule this summer is difficult. Many different factors went into decisions. First and most importantly we wanted to put a team together that can defend the Gold Cup title. Certain things that go along with that, we tried to keep in mind the schedules for different teams and to keep decisions as balanced as possible.”

On how has Chris Albright’s injury disrupted things:
“We’re all very disappointed for Chris. We know that he’s facing surgery and we’ll have more information after the surgery is complete. We absolutely wish him a quick and speedy recovery.”

On the roles of veterans Steve Ralston and Frankie Hejduk:
“We tried to put together a roster to be the best possible blend of youth and experience. What I’ve also tried to do is look closely at MLS games this year and I believe that both Steve and Frankie have played very well. Both are very good competitors and guys that come into this team with the ability to really help us in this tournament. Decisions were made with regards to the Gold Cup and defending the title, but the hope is always that there are going to be veteran players that can continue to contribute going forward. We never rule out the possibility of a player who stays in good form, stays in good shape and continues to help as we move along.”

On the status of Bobby Convey, Steve Cherundolo and Cory Gibbs:
“In all cases, there are injury concerns. Bobby is rehabbing, he is not back into training at this time, and he is concentration on rehabbing and getting ready for the start of the season in England. Cory, I believe, has just started to do some training, but with him being out for this amount of time this is not the right situation for him, and I know his focus is on his preseason abroad. Steve Cherundolo finished the season with some injury concerns, and he’s going to spend the summer assessing those injuries with Hannover and make sure he’s ready to go when they start.”

Whether any players, other than Brad Guzan, will be released back to their club teams during the Gold Cup:
“As a general rule, no, but one other situation we’re discussing is Pablo Mastroeni, who still has two games left on his suspension from the World Cup, which makes him ineligible through the June 9 game. Colorado plays on June 7, so that is the one situation we’re still discussing. Other than that, we will not have players going back and forth.”

On Jay DeMerit’s role in the tournaments and whether he’ll have an opportunity to get some playing time:
“Jay will be considered for Copa America. His first camp was an opportunity for us to get to know him a little bit better and obviously his competitive qualities come out very quickly. We know his team plays very directly, and with our team we’re looking to find a balance long passes and short passes, and his play out of the back is an area we’ll continue to work with because it’s something that’s different than what is demanded of him week in and week out. He played against Guatemala with Jimmy Conrad and we saw at that camp that those two formed a good partnership, and I don’t see any reason he can’t form similar partnerships with guys like Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu. Without a doubt we feel like Jay has a good starting point and we hope to continue to build on it.”

On which forward will be a better fit to play with Landon Donovan:
“We’ll see when we get into camp. Obviously we’re excited to see Taylor (Twellman) playing well for New England. His form has been excellent. Brian (Ching) has qualities beyond just being a goal scorer. We do count on him for goals, but his ability to open up space for others and to hold the ball, create advantages for people around him is very important. It’s not very different from the things that Brian McBride brought to the national team for so many years. I think we’re lucky to have some options and we’ll use the camps and the games to figure out what we’ll expect. I also want to mention that Eddie Johnson has had a very good start to the season with Kansas City and that’s also very promising. I feel good about the players that we’re bringing in. Lastly, Clint Dempsey has played as a forward for Fulham at the end of year and obviously scored a very important goal for them. I think we’ve got some good options and we want to look at all the possibilities.”

On whether Landon Donovan will be included in the Copa America roster:
“There is a group of players that is on both rosters and we all understand that it’s our responsibility to put together two very good teams for both of these events. It’s a situation in which some of the players will be asked to play in both tournaments. We understand that it makes for a difficult calendar, but nonetheless, the discussions that have gone on across the board that both the Gold Cup and Copa America are important events for us. I’m hopeful to have Landon be a part of as many games as possible with our national team, he’s an important part of what we’re doing.”

On what the team will do logistically if they play in the Gold Cup Final and have to play Argentina in Venezuela just a couple days later:
“It’s not perfect, but we will travel as a team to Venezuela on Monday, June 25. MLS players who are not a part of the Gold Cup roster will play with their MLS teams through that weekend and there will not be a separate camp for those players. We know there are challenges with that schedule, but the hope is that there is a good nucleus of players that will participate in both the Gold Cup and Copa America and that the additional MLS players will continue to stay sharp while playing with their MLS teams and that they’ll be ready to go when we get to Venezuela.”

On who will be playing in both tournaments:
“I feel that its best not to give names at this point, as that roster still has time to be finalized. I feel it’s best not to give specific names, but I feel comfortable saying that it’s more than a handful of players – about 8 to 12 – that includes both MLS and European-based players, knowing that there are factors that can change that number. Whether those factors are injuries, or having to return to a club team earlier than expected.”

On the pressure of getting results while giving younger players experience:
“I think that fits with situations that we’ve been in all year. It’s part of a new cycle, and we’ve always made decisions based on what we felt was good for the long run, but we always recognize the importance of getting the results on any day. We feel that so far we’ve been able to balance those things, and I think the roster we’ve put together for the Gold Cup reflects our understanding of both ideas. Hopefully we’ll continue to have experienced players that take big roles and set good examples for our younger players. We also hope to continue to have younger players step up and take advantage of the opportunities with the national team.”

On how Frankie Hejduk fits into plans for the four-year cycle:
“Our decisions involving veteran players is that they can help us out right now, and he is a player in good form who brings the qualities that make our group stronger for this event. With the inclusion of players like that, the hope is that they will continue to stay in good form, stay in good shape, be healthy and continue to show that they have a role with the national team. I think Frankie is a player that always contributed with his work ethic and mentality within the team, and I think Frankie realizes that he brings the kind of qualities day in and day out that everybody respects and appreciates. We’re excited to have him on this team and we hope that he can continue to be healthy and be someone that we can always consider for our rosters.”

On his belief in the 4-4-2 system:
“It changes with both the players and the game. It changes with the way you can take advantage of the skills of the players you have. Even if we leave four in the back, the ability to tweak other players into all sorts of formations is there. Going forward we’re going to look to have some flexibility to take advantage of some of our attacking players. As far as changing in the back, you’re right I do generally believe in playing four in the back. With the national team, we did want to have a starting point of that, that we know we could adjust accordingly.”