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Quote Sheet: U.S. U-20 MNT 0, Guatemala 0 Post-Game Quotes


U.S. U-20 MNT Head Coach Thomas Rongen
On if this loss puts the team in a tougher position going into the match vs. Panama than he would have liked: “Yes, our goal today clearly was to qualify and we knew that three points would get us there. We designed a game plan for us to be victorious and get three points, but we also knew that this would be a tough game against a very disciplined and well organized Guatemala team. I think at the end of the day, us not being good in the final third, not great finishing touches for us, that’s what let us down. Those missed opportunities are what disappoint us.”

On if the U.S. approached this game differently than the opening match vs. Haiti:
“They’re two different opponents. Haiti allowed us some more space and Guatemala didn’t. They played very compact, very organized and very disciplined with a lot of numbers behind the ball and they were very hard to penetrate. We came with the same lineup with one exception, we made one change in our lineup. Our philosophy, the way we wanted to play was the same against Haiti: To be aggressive, we wanted to go forward, create chances and we wanted to finish and that’s the game. It’s always unpredicatable, and clearly we weren’t as sharp as I’d like us to be and Guatemala was highly motivated to get a result and a draw for them was obviously huge.”

On how the team’s mentality changes heading into the final match vs. Panama:
“We’ve qualified for five consecutive Under-20 World Cups and we’re trying to break the record. We know that anytime you go on the road in CONCACAF, it’s always tough. I think the differences between the countries are not as huge as they used to be. Panama has a very good team and I respect (Julio) Dely Valdez and his players a lot. We know we will have a tough game on our hands and we will have to get a win or a tie in order to get to the World Cup, and that's something we realize. We will clearly go with the mentality to get a result and get us to our sixth consecutive World Cup. That was our aim before the first game and will continue to be our aim before the last game.”

On if the U.S. was over-confident going into the match vs. Guatemala:
“No, I don’t think so. Our team had a very good mindset going into the game. I think we realized that with three points, we were able to clinch a berth for the World Cup and with that in mind, we had a highly motivated team. We just didn’t play well today and that happens in football and there are lessons to be learned for our still very young players, and we have to hope that our experience over the past few years, with so many players being involved in qualifiers and other World Cups will put us through in our last game. We weren’t over confident, we didn’t play well enough for us to get a result today and that’s really the bottom line.”

U.S. U-20 MNT Defender Nathan Sturgis
On his reaction to the draw vs. Guatemala:
“We’re disappointed. If we had won, we would have been through already and we’re disappointed that we missed that opportunity. We’ve still got Panama to play and we’re still in a pretty good position to get through, so we just need to focus now on Panama and getting a result on Sunday.”

On the disappointment of not clinching vs. Guatemala and needing to get a result vs. Panama on Sunday:
“It’s just something we need to do. We could have clinched it tonight, but we didn’t, so now we just need to focus on Panama. There’s no other way to look at it; We need to prepare and be ready because that will be a tough game since they’re the home team, but I think if we come out and play well, we’ll be okay.

U.S. U-20 MNT Defender Tony Beltran
On getting the start vs. Guatemala after coming on late vs. Haiti:
“It helped me a little bit but I was playing a different position and it was a completely different game. Tonight I came out and had a different mentality because I was expected to play the full 90 minutes if I did well. Overall I thought I had a good performance, both offensively and defensively. I’m a little more comfortable, with the U-20s, at the right back position. It’s where I’ve played predominantly in the past with this team, so I felt I went in there and did a good job.”

On his ability to get up and down the wing from the right back position:
“That’s part of the game plan. Part of that position, with the formation we play, is that coach Rongen wants the wide backs to get involved a lot, and we’re supposed to get forward and overlap the outside midfielders and get some crosses in, so that’s something I’m always looking to do out of that position. That’s why I think coach plays me there, because I have a good engine and I’m able to get up and down the field for 90 minutes. Early on, Sal and I – we play together at UCLA – we were combining very well and getting to the endline and getting good crosses in, so I think I did well in that aspect.”

On the team’s mentality after the Guatemala match and headed into Sunday’s game vs. Panama:
“Right now I think it’s just recovery and get our legs ready to go on Sunday. With Panama winning tonight, we’ve got to go out on Sunday, play the home team and get a result to get to the World Cup, so our mentality has to be that we have to leave everything on the field and really take it to them.”

U.S. U-20 MNT Forward Robbie Rogers
On how the game vs. Guatemala played out:
“They sat back quite a bit and we just tried to get wide to be able to serve balls in. They kept their centerbacks back to cover things up, so once we got two strikers forward, we were able to swing some balls in and be a little more dangerous. We tried to be patient, but they sat back and got a lot of guys behind the ball and just looked to counter, so it was tough.”

U.S. U-20 MNT Forward Josemer Altidore
On getting his first action of the tournament in the second half:
“I was definitely rusty. I was excited but it was hard to come in to a game at such a high level but I tried my best to make an impact.”

On how getting some playing time vs. Guatemala may help him vs. Panama:
“It will help me get back into the swing of things. Tomorrow in training, I just need to make sure I work my butt off and get ready for Sunday.”
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