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Post-Match Quotes: U.S. U-17 MNT 3, North Korea 2


U.S. Head Coach John Hackworth
On getting the win:
“It was our first game in the World Championship and we came away with three points, so we accomplished our goal. I’m proud of the guys’ effort today, but we can play much better and we’re going to have to if we want to progress in this tournament. We did what we needed to get the win today though and now we are concentrating on our next match against Italy.”

On North Korea:
“That is a good side. I think someone might think that North Korea hasn’t been here before (so they might not be good), but that is a very good soccer team. Give credit to them for taking us to our limits today. We’ve played games where we have to battle until the end and we did that today.”

On their next match:
“Italy is now our focus and we will turn our attention to them. We’re going to have to play better to get a result against Italy.  I know we’re capable of doing that. We’ve played some very good soccer leading up to this tournament so we’ll go back, prepare for Italy and hopefully give them a very good match.”

On what improvements he’ll work on before facing Italy:
“Each opponent is going to provide some different challenges. I think we need to do a much better job of keeping the ball, finding our own rhythm, playing our own game and not getting into our opponents’ style of play, which is something we did a bit too much today. We have to do a little better job of winning balls in the air as we got beat on a number of headers we normally wouldn’t lose. But it’s just little stuff. It’s our first game. We’ll go back to work, evaluate and come back stronger.”

On if the players were nervous:
“I’d like to say no, but I think anytime you go into a World Championship and play in front of a crowd like today with a fantastic atmosphere it is very natural (to be nervous).”

On what the team did best:
“I think we capitalized on some opportunities, that was the best. We got some opportunistic goals and defended when we had to. We won the game and got three points, and that’s all that matters right now.”

On goalkeeper Bryant Rueckner:
“Bryant Rueckner has my full confidence. He’s our No. 1 goalkeeper. There’s no doubt about that. He can play better, just like everyone else on the team. He’s our man and I know he can play better.”

U.S. Goalkeeper Bryant Rueckner
On if he was nervous:
“Just a little bit. They put a lot of pressure on us, but we were able to get out well a few times and a few times we got shaky in the back and they took advantage of our mistakes.”

On how the team played overall:
“It was our first game and our first game is usually a little shaky. We just need to get back to practice and work on what we didn’t do right so in our next game against Italy we can do what we need to do.”

U.S. Captain Ofori Sarkodie
On if they were surprised by the play of North Korea:
“One thing that I was surprised about was their physical aspect. I think they surprised our midfield with how physical and tenacious they were, especially to winning second balls. That was a big part of their offense.”

On the tense final moments of the match:
“We knew we couldn’t let another goal in. We had made two mistakes and let two goals slip in, so we had the mindset to make up for them right now and get out of here with a win and three points. We were able to do that and we’ll have to use this as a learning tool for Italy.”

U.S. Midfielder Ryan Soroka
On his opening goal:
“It was off a play we had been working on and I was at the back post and the ball fell to me. I just hit it and it went to the right spot, which was great.”

On if they could have played better:
“We definitely should have found the midfield more, but we got the result and that’s what matters. It was the first game and we had nerves so it was bit difficult to get the ball moving well. But to get through this first game with a win is a lot off our backs.”

On how he’ll celebrate the win:
“I’m just going to smile and enjoy it. Sit back and relax before tomorrow when we’re back to work and getting ready for the next match.”

U.S. Forward Preston Zimmerman
On his game-winning goal:
“We had practiced that corner kick in practice and the ball just kind of fell to me. I had a little bit of space and I just took a shot and it went in.”

On if they were prepared for North Korea:
“The coaches did a great job of scouting the team and everything they did we knew about. We knew they we’re going to be direct and their back four was going to pump the ball forward, and that's exactly what they did. Our reaction to it wasn’t exactly the way we had planned on doing it. As a forward, we shouldn’t have let them get free service forward. We knew what they were doing we just didn’t execute as well as we could have.”

U.S. Midfielder Kyle Nakazawa
On his goal off the indirect free kick:
"They were lined up. I just found my spot in the goal and placed it. I've been working on free kicks all week every chance I get I try to put it on target."

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