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Clint Dempsey

Post-Match Quote Sheet: U.S. MNT vs. Antigua & Barbuda


U.S. Men’s National Team head coach JURGEN KLINSMANN
Opening comments:
“We discussed prior to the game that it would be difficult to break them down. Antigua did a very good job defending and made it very tight. They made it very difficult for us to create more chances. I think we created quite a few chances and we could have scored a few more goals. Those games are tricky. At the end of the day, I think the three points is the starting point we wanted to have. We know we have to step it up a lot going into Guatemala, which we will do. Overall, we give a complement to Antigua and a complement to the crowd of over 23,000 coming to the game. It was amazing. Now we’ve got to look toward Tuesday and we’ve got to give Guatemala a real fight.”

On if the goals came as a result of the team simply taking more shots:
“It’s not a simple as that. A couple guys tried in the first half but there were always three or four bodies in front of them. I mentioned it at halftime. I said, ‘You guys have got to shoot more often. Once you have a little bit of open space, pull the trigger.’ And Clint [Dempsey] said, ‘We’re trying, but we always have three, four bodies in front of us’. I think we tried a lot coming over the wings. Landon [Donovan] did quite a good job there, often breaking through. For us a big bummer was obviously the injury of Jose Torres. We’ll see tonight how his x-ray is. It’s not looking very good right now. We got a lot from him, constantly going down the left side, bringing balls in and getting more numbers in the box, which we also told them at halftime. One thing is getting crosses, the other thing is having presence in the box. I think there are points where we can obviously do better than tonight.”

On if there is frustration that the team did not score more goals:
“There’s not a level of frustration. I think there’s kind of a reality check that you’ve got to kind of wear everybody down first. You have to play fast out of the back. If you watch our training sessions, you see there’s speed, there’s one-two touches, there’s constant movement off the ball, and we didn’t see that in the first half hour. There were enough chances to score more goals, obviously, but then you’ve got to be clinical enough to put them in. The guys know they didn’t do that. They know they can step it up and they will step it up. But also, it’s not the expectation just to overrun Antigua more, or whatever country that looks a little bit weaker on a piece of paper. That’s not the case. They came here, they played their game. For them, it’s big time. They gave everything they had and made it difficult. We just heard that Mexico had a similar experience tonight with Guyana, winning 3-1 at home. But still, the important thing is the players understand what they did okay and what was not so okay, so they will hear that from me and then we’ve got to step it up in Guatemala City.”

On the things to take from the game:
“I think that we just have to circle the ball around faster. We’ve got to find the midfielders playing in more forward positions and not having midfielders, as I mentioned at halftime, coming back and picking up behind. I told Michael [Bradley] and Jermaine [Jones] to ask for the balls further up because we need the ball further up in their half. Even there, if you watch a bit from the first half, we often had the midfielders on the same line and then we had the forwards on the same line. There needs to be a lot more movement off the ball, which is easier when you have space. Obviously we don’t have space because they’re defending really well there and were very compact with 10 guys behind the ball. It’s a bit more tricky. But that’s when you just have to release the ball earlier. You have to control your pass or try a one-touch if possible so you can get behind their backline faster.”

On winning his first World Cup Qualifier with the U.S. team:
“I’m excited about every game we have an opportunity to play. Definitely, what I would like to see going forward is that no matter if you play a qualifier or a friendly, you take it the same way. You’re not holding back anything. That’s why I was a little bit disappointed in Canada. I thought, ‘Okay, we had heavy legs, but we can still beat them.’ It didn’t happen. I think we have to develop a real sense of urgency over time. Be urgent in everything we do, whether it’s training, whether it’s a game, no matter who’s the opponent … we need to develop that understanding that coming in here and being with the U.S. National Team means a lot. Sometimes in the last year we had the feeling that it’s only friendlies. Maybe it’s because there’s no peer pressure like you have in Europe and South America because it’s not such a big ordeal if you lose a game. It’s interesting for me, and I’m learning as well.”

U.S. MNT forward LANDON DONOVAN
On the game:
“We were OK. We can improve. They were a little more organized defensively than I thought they might be, but they did a good job, so give them credit. The important thing is to win and get qualifying started the right way.”

On the need to shoot more:
“I think we just wanted to get the perfect opportunity. We probably should have been better about shooting. We were a little unlucky with a few plays that didn’t come off, but on the night we probably had 20 chances or so to score. I think three is a good number. It would have been nice to score more.”

U.S. MNT forward HERCULEZ GOMEZ
On the World Cup qualifying process:
“You know going into this that it’s a long process. It’s a long 16 games, long 18 months, and you know there’s going to be ups, there’s going to be downs, there’s going to be good games, not so good games, and bad games. But the most important thing is just the commitment to do whatever it takes to get points, to get results and to make sure that at the end of it all you’re in the World Cup. I think we all can look at ourselves close enough to know it’s certainly not our best night. But having said that, it’s three points.”

On where the team could improve moving forward:
“When you play against these teams you know they’re going to come in, they’re going to defend, they’re going to try and make it difficult. They’re going to put numbers behind the ball. And that means that now for us the challenge is can we be sharp enough and just dangerous enough in how we play and how we move and how then we put them under pressure. I thought at times it was good and at times I thought that part could have been better.”

U.S. MNT goalkeeper TIM HOWARD
On the challenges throughout a long qualifying process:
“Qualifying is horrendously difficult. I think Jurgen or someone said yesterday that between now and by the time we get to the World Cup we’re going to play like 16 or 18 qualifying games. It’s not like you can knock that out in a day and you forget how long that process actually takes. This is a small step on the way there. Tonight was a first step, and though it didn’t look pretty I think there’s going to be a lot of days along the way where we think, ‘We got the three points.’”

U.S. MNT forward CLINT DEMPSEY:
On Friday’s result against Antigua & Barbuda:
“The good thing is we were able to score tonight and we got three goals. When you’re scoring, a team has confidence in front of the goal. It was good for me to get a goal. It gives me a little bit more confidence going into the next game. But we’ve just got to be a little more clinical in front of the goal and that comes with confidence and it comes with the next game. We’ve got to step sup, go out there and get the job done, and take advantage of the chances that we get.”

On improving the rate of play in the final third:
“You’d like to play as quickly as possible and you want to try to create space for yourself so you can get shots. A good way to do that is rate of play and also give-and-gos. The team we played tonight really sat back. I don’t think Guatemala’s going to sit back at home, so I don’t think we’re going to have to deal with that problem. I think they’re going to be on the front foot. They’re going to be playing with that confidence that they’ve got the whole stadium behind them, and I don’t really see them being a team that’s going to sit back at home during a World Cup qualifier. In that sense, we don’t have to worry about them packing it in the back. We’ve still got to move the ball quickly and take our chances when they come. We’re still a work in progress. We’re still trying to figure out what our best 11 is, what our best formation is, and we’ve got the games coming up to prove it. We’ve got to win away from home if we want to qualify for the World Cup and that starts with the next game.”

 


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