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Bob Bradley

U.S. MNT Head Coach Bob Bradley Discusses 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Roster

U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach BOB BRADLEY

Opening comments:
“We certainly look at this Gold Cup as being such an important tournament for the United States and something that we really put a lot of time and effort into. It’s a roster that certainly has experience from previous Gold Cups and World Cups and yet includes some new players that we think in the moment have earned the opportunity and that we’re excited to bring into this tournament.”

On Freddy Adu:
“We have followed Freddy since he transferred to Rizespor. We’ve watched him a number of different times on the computer. We’ve not managed to get there. We watched one of his playoff games this morning, but we still feel that there are good signs from him as a player that have shown us soccer qualities that we think help our team. It hasn’t always added up enough yet with the full national team but this seems like it’s a good opportunity to get him back in with us where we have a good month together and can challenge him. We hope that he has continued to grow and mature and can play a bigger role with the national team.”

On Brad Guzan:
“Brad made a personal decision and his schedule didn’t allow him to be available for this Gold Cup.”

On Timmy Chandler:
“We were pleased with what it was like to bring him into the camp in March and get him on the field. We continued to follow his play at Nürnberg and we’ve had a number of different discussions with Timmy and with the club and when we added them all up at the end of the season, his first real season playing at this level, we felt that it didn’t make sense at this time for him. He’s carried a few little injuries of late. He has told us that physically and mentally this season has been a hard one. We feel strongly that we’ve worked hard to build a good relationship with him and felt that when you added everything up that the time wasn’t right for this Gold Cup.”

On Charlie Davies’ progress:
“We certainly have seen a lot of progress from the start of the MLS season until now. We’re excited about that. I had a good conversation with him on the telephone the other day and just told him that I still feel that it’s still not totally where it needs to be. Part of that is tricky because you’re looking at strikers and you want to see goals. Obviously he’s done well to put himself in some good goal scoring situations but in terms of his all-around contribution to the team I still think he’s working his way back. Hopefully he can take those comments and keep moving forward.”

On Teal Bunbury:
“Teal is a young striker that we certainly see a lot of potential in. I think we’ve had a good opportunity to work with him in some camps. I spoke with him and just felt that this time, in terms of our whole roster; I didn’t think it was the right time for him. I don’t think he’s been as sharp as we would like so far in the season. I think that’s a sign of him continuing to mature and grow. Quite honestly, another part of it is the fact that as we watched different games we felt strongly that Chris Wondolowski was in good form. He has scored some good goals, some very different goals and Chris seems to be a player that gets a couple of chances every game. There are always a lot of variables when putting a whole roster together but those are some of them that played into the situation with Teal.”

On Alejandro Bedoya:
“He’s a player we’ve seen some good things from when he’s come on into games. He has energy and willingness to be involved in the game in a good way, but nonetheless we looked at some of the other players and now in some cases you have to make some tough decisions where certain guys are almost in the same category. In this particular case, some decisions went in the favor of some other players.”

On Robbie Rogers:
“Robbie is a player that everyone knows has ability to run at people, get behind people, and he’s capable of playing on both flanks. Thus far in MLS this year he started the season having missed the January camp because he had knee surgery following last year. I think his mobility and his energy in the team have been good. We felt it was a good time to get him back with us and build on some of the things that we’ve seen over the years. We all know that Robbie has a lot of talent and in different moments with the national team it has come out in a very good way and now we think this is a good time to see if we can push it a little further.”

On how experience comes into play when picking the roster:
“That certainly was a factor. Robbie Rogers, Sacha Kljestan and Freddy Adu are players that we know well. They are players that have shown that when they come in for these types of tournaments, they understand the way we work and the way we do things. People certainly respect what they bring when we go into a month long tournament so those were definitely factors.”

On the importance of this year’s Gold Cup and 2009’s Gold Cup:
“Obviously what happens is every other Gold Cup determines who is going to represent CONCACAF in the Confederations Cup and so like 2007 this is one of those years and that means that in addition to being the best team in CONCACAF, there’s that extra part of representing CONCACAF in the Confederations Cup and what that means in terms of experience and how you prepare for a World Cup. We certainly look at this Gold Cup as carrying that extra bit of importance. If you look back at 2009, I think it’s actually the last 30 minutes of the final game, we remember that well and prior to that moment we felt very good about the way we had moved forward in that tournament. That was a final where there was a lot at stake, a great crowd at Giants Stadium and it was a tough way for us to finish and that sticks with us. There were tough decisions that needed to be made because we all know with the schedule around the world it’s not possible to play in a Confederations Cup and turn right around and in most cases play in the Gold Cup as well. We feel good about the decisions that we made. If you take out that last 30 minutes, we still feel like we got a lot out of that Gold Cup and its helped us move forward.”

On who will play left back:
“Carlos Bocanegra and Jonathan Bornstein obviously give us two left-backs to begin with but we have seen Eric Lichaj play as of late at left back. Jonathan Spector has played some at left-back too, so we do think we have some different possibilities there and we’ll certainly look at all of them when we get into camp. Carlos, in the latter part of the season for St. Étienne played a good amount as a center back so again that’s all a part of the versatility that fits in well when you put a roster like this together.”

On Nick Rimando:
“The way we have always handled this in the past is the one spot on this roster that has a different situation is if it’s the third goalkeeper. If the third goalkeeper is an MLS goalkeeper then primarily he is staying with his club team, he will continue playing in the league and we would bring him in when needed. We have some decisions to make when we get into camp to reassess exactly how we’re doing with Timmy Howard and Marcus Hahnemann but one possibility for sure is at least to begin with that Nick will be with Salt Lake and I’ve discussed that with him and I’ve also discussed it with Jason Kreis.”

On Juan Agudelo:
“We still feel that we’ve had good opportunities to work with Juan and in that regard it’s similar to Teal and now when I mention the different things that get sized up these are all things that get weighed. We feel that Juan in different camps has done well. We’d like to see him play as a starter with the Red Bulls but in different situations it’s easy to see, given the form of Luke Rodgers and Thierry Henry, that sometimes you have to fight hard to get your spot again. We know how that works but we still feel this is a good Gold Cup for Juan and the good things that we’ve seen so far will hopefully come into play as we move forward in this tournament.”

On Zak Whitbread:
“Zak Whitbread had a very good second half of the season, injury free and helped his team. We’ve had a chance to watch him. In a perfect world this would have been a nice time to get to know him better because we’ve not had him in a camp. But when we put the roster together this time around, it just didn’t work for Zak and we hope he’ll continue to play well and we’ll have a chance to see him up close in the future.”

On Mixx Diskerud:
“Mixx is a younger player that has shown promise. So many different things get put into it when you’re looking at a roster. I think Mixx is a player, and this is true with Teal as well, when you think about the Olympic team situation coming up and other opportunities including friendlies with the national team that we’ll see him again.”

On the health and progress of Oguchi Onyewu:
“That is something that we will of course need to assess very carefully when he comes into camp. He had initially gone on loan with Twente and had worked his way back to where he was getting regular games. He was able to play against Argentina but we kept him out of the Paraguay game. He’s had some ups and downs with injuries since then. We’ll have to play close attention to how he does when we start up camp. Certainly it’s been important for him to get back to playing. The loan with Twente by and large was a good move and has helped. We will assess it further when we get going. He is a vital player, a vital defender for us. I do think when you consider even these last friendlies we’ve got some different options. Tim Ream had a good performance against Paraguay and continues to be a defender that we feel good about. Clarence Goodson had a broken toe so he wasn’t able to come in but I’ve seen him play now at Brondby a number of times and that timing of him coming off good games at Brondby I think works well. Carlos Bocanegra has played a number of games in the center-back position so when you combine that with Gooch I think we’ve got some good options so it will be a competitive situation.”

On Clint Dempsey:
“I think that Clint continues to be a player that improves and gets better and establishes himself more and more with his teammates and his managers. Earlier in the year at Fulham, with a new manager, it wasn’t exactly clear how it would all work but Clint works hard. He earns respect by the way he goes about his business every day. Whether you play him in the midfield or as a striker, and really whether he’s playing underneath as a striker or where Fulham has used him at times up higher, he works hard. He puts himself in good positions. He’s got an ability to make a chance for himself out of nothing. He’s got an instinct and an aggressiveness to get into spots and score goals and I think that continues to show.”

On what went into selecting Freddy Adu:
“I think it’s important to say that it’s not that we’ve seen anything specific playing for his new club that shows how he’s made progress or how he’s improved. It’s a package of things. He’s a player that certainly we all know at different times has shown some soccer abilities that are special. He hasn’t always been able to make them count in different situations at different levels but we respect the fact that he made this move to go to a smaller club because he had to show people he was willing to do whatever to keep going. As a coaching staff we’ve discussed it and we’re looking forward to seeing when he’s in camp, how he’s handling things, a maturity, a way that tells us how experiences along the way have been measured and he understands that all of it needs to come together to continue to move on. It’s an opportunity that has been earned based upon the fact that he’s shown talent and earned by the fact that when we looked at all the different possibilities on this roster we felt it would be a good time to bring him back in and challenge him and see where it all stands.”

On what the fans would consider the biggest surprise to make the roster:
“Freddy, probably because he has fallen out of the scene a little bit and typically playing in the second division in Turkey doesn’t bring you back into the team. It’s not like you can point to a game or a play that’s really happened there other than the knowledge that he’s shown certain abilities in the past even when decisions didn’t go his way. That didn’t mean that in our minds the story was over. So we never thought the story was over but now we will find out where it fits for right now. The fact that we think this is a good chance to size it all up doesn’t mean automatically that it’s all there either. There are still challenges for Freddy to show that the things that he’s been able to do at times, let’s say at some of the youth levels, that they can really make a difference whether it’s for the senior national team or a top club. Those are things that we all need to assess and it yet it works well sometimes and it’s a gut feeling sometimes that this is a good time to size this guy up again and that’s probably where it comes into play.”

On the balance of having an experienced roster for the 2011 Gold Cup while looking at players that may be in the picture for the World Cup in 2014:
“We certainly thought first and foremost about putting a team together that has the best chance to win this Gold Cup. With that we believe that there are players here that we see for sure being key parts in 2014, so I hope those things go together well.”

On whether it is more important for young players to get into a match or to be around the national team environment in order to grow:
“It certainly helps young players when they have a chance to be in a tournament like the Gold Cup because it’s different than the in-and-out of a single, if not a double, fixture. We believe that in the past, these tournaments lay a lot of good groundwork for our future. We get to know guys, guys get a good feel for how things work and so we think that when you look at how things develop over a four-year cycle, those times where you’re together for four weeks or longer, they’re so important for the whole process. We certainly think a lot about that.”

On the concern of a few players struggling to get playing time with their clubs:
“That’s a concern for sure when we get into camp we have the ability to assess the sharpness and the fitness of players, both Johnny [Bornstein] and Michael [Bradley] have shown in the past that they are two of our fittest players so they both do a good job in that regard. Again, we have the ability as we go through training day in and day out to see exactly where they are.”

On whether Timmy Chandler is considering playing for Germany:
“The simple matter is that in the way things work in soccer these days, until a player plays in an official match, you don’t know for sure. In all of our conversations with Timmy he’s always expressed how excited he is to have played for the U.S. and we feel that there’s been a very good level of discussion and follow-up with him and it’s all been with the idea that he’s going to continue to play a role for us.”

On how this team compares to the team he selected for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in regards to versatility:
“I do think that we have some more versatility with this team and so whether that means we have some different options in terms of how we line up on the field, those are discussions that we’ve had. I think that we’re excited about seeing how those things play out so for sure that was part of the thought process. We talked earlier about Clint, but whenever we’re looking at a roster and thinking about forwards it’s a matter of saying, where does Clint fit in all this. We talked about his 12 goals, the fact that he’s shown the ability to get into goal scoring positions and finishing chances in different ways, all those things are important. Again, as far as versatility then you’re looking at what are your different options, if indeed you choose to play Clint up front, and what does that add in the midfield, and what kind of players come into play. Those are definitely the kind of things we try to lay out in the whole thing.”

On Jozy Altidore:
“It was certainly not a situation where we were looking at Jozy [Altidore] versus Herculez [Gomez]. His club form hasn’t been what he would want or what any of us would want but Jozy has certainly shown that he is an important player for our national team. He has scored important goals as we went through qualifying, he has scored goals in the Confederations Cup and as much as he did not score in the World Cup we still felt he was a little bit unlucky in that regard and now we continue to work with him. Let’s not forget that Jozy is still quite young in this whole thing and I will emphatically say we believe that Jozy has done a lot of important things for us and we’re going to continue to put him forward because he’s a big part of things for U.S. Soccer. Herculez did finish the season on a good note, scoring, I think, four goals in his last five or six games. We took note of that. Herculez, whenever you bring him in, works hard. He’s a mobile guy but in this particular case, different things added up in a way and we made the decisions that we did. It is important to make it clear that it never came down to Jozy versus Herculez.”

On Benny Feilhaber’s progress:
“Benny’s situation at Aarhus, I saw him play there at different times and for a while it had gone well for him, but it seemed that for whatever reason maybe both sides needed a change. I know Benny was excited to come back to Major League Soccer and I’ve watched different games for the Revolution and I think the last couple of weeks in particular have been good for Benny. We are starting to see good mobility, good reaction. I think as far as finding good spots on the field and helping in terms of the rhythm of the game, Benny has always been a player that we feel has an ability to see the final pass and set up plays, but he also, in these last few weeks, has shown that he’s moving the ball quickly and running off the ball to get in good positions. I think that so far it looks like he’s responded well. My take is that as they’ve gotten to know him, he’s made the Revolution a better team and that’s what it’s all about. That means it’s a good time to be bringing him in.”

On whether he has named injury alternates:
“That is such that you don’t have to name specific alternates so, if indeed there are injuries, we can consider replacements at that time.”

On where Jay DeMerit stands:
“Jay [DeMerit] continues to be somebody that we think can play a big role for our national team. He took a lot of time off after the World Cup and so the number of games that he’s played in the last year, I think, if you were to consider the range of what Jay is all about on the field, he’s working his way back to the high end of what Jay’s all about and that was thrown off a little bit by some injuries thus far this year. He now has 90 minutes under his belt in the cup game last Wednesday and so, we’re hopeful that Jay is going to now consistently be on the field and pick his game back up to the level that it’s been at the last two summers for us. Those are things that we’ll continue to monitor, for sure.”

On Robbie Rogers being selected over someone like Brad Davis:
“Yes, Brad Davis is a player that is on our radar. We respect what he is all about for Houston and in this particular case we felt, again, I’ve tried to give good ideas of what we were thinking but I don’t want it to seem like it was ever Robbie versus Brad, for instance, but, I think Robbie’s ability in terms of going at people, his speed, his ability to play on both sides, his versatility, some of those things came into play.”

On Steve Cherundolo:
“I have had good conversations with Steve from the end of the World Cup until now. He had an excellent season at Hannover. He continues to play really well and one of the things that I think is really important, we’ve been really fortunate that we’ve had players like this in the past: veterans who have been big parts of our national team who have a mentality and an attitude that says if you think I can help the national team, I’m open to being considered. They didn’t choose to make an official retirement. Steve has had an open mind and if we feel he can help us, great. When you look at everything that has happened throughout this year, he’s shown that he’s one of our best players. He’s had a great season at Hannover and I know he’s really looking forward to this Gold Cup.”

On Canada’s roster:
“I did not see any surprises. I think Canada has a very good team. A number of guys are coming off really good seasons with their clubs and it’s really a great first match. It’s a rivalry and the fact that we end up playing in Detroit with the proximity to Windsor, Ontario, and fans coming across for that game probably set up a great atmosphere and a match that we look forward to. We have a lot of respect for the team that they’ve put together for the Gold Cup.”